A new novel treatment against acute myeloid leukaemia has caused cancer cells to self-destruct, leaving healthy cells completely untouched. The process of programmed cell death is called apoptosis.

For many reasons, a cell may need to die in order to protect the body. In these circumstances, a protein called BAX or the “Executioner Protein”, targets mitochondria of cells and renders them incapable of producing energy, inducing apoptosis. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have activated apoptosis in cancer cells with the help of pro-apoptotic proteins.

Cancers don’t die on their own, which is one of the most distinguishable characteristics of cancer cells. They are able to avoid going into apoptosis by producing large quantities of “anti-apoptotic” proteins that suppress a gene called BAX and even the proteins that activate it.

Researchers have created a compound that attaches to the BAX protein’s binding site with high affinity, re-activating it to destroy cancer cells.

“Our novel compound revives suppressed BAX molecules in cancer cells by binding with high affinity to BAX’s activation site,” associate professor of medicine and biochemistry and senior author Evripidis Gavathiotis said in a press release.  “BAX can then swing into action, killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed.”

One compound from the millions of different molecules that the team screened worked the best for the task. BTSA1 was the best compound against several different human AML cell lines. In AML mice treated with the compound, there was a significantly longer survival rate: 43 percent of the control group was alive and AML-free after 60 days. The BTSA1-treated mice also exhibited no signs of toxicity.

“We’re hopeful that the targeted compounds we’re developing will prove more effective than current anti-cancer therapies by directly causing cancer cells to self-destruct,” Dr. Gavathiotis said in the release. “Ideally, our compounds would be combined with other treatments to kill cancer cells faster and more efficiently—and with fewer adverse effects, which are an all-too-common problem with standard chemotherapies.”

This innovative approach activates and employs the protein responsible for causing cell death to destroy cancer cells, a simple sounding yet complex method.

Read the original article here

 

Antibiotics can be considered a blessing and a curse. Antibiotics have saved millions from falling victim to bacterial infections and were once hailed as a miracle of medicine.

Antibiotics have not changed a lot over the past few decades, which is unfortunate because bacteria has undergone a lot of chemical changes and has now become resistant to antibiotics.  Due to our overuse of antibiotics, the strongest, most adapted strains of bacteria have been free to proliferate to the point in which our last line of antibiotics has proven unable to destory the bacteria.

A new generation of drugs is required to keep up with forever adapting bacteria. Luckily, a company from France is planning on creating a drug to wipe out bacteria from a different approach.

“Antibiotics are weapons of mass destruction: extremely powerful but imprecise,” said Eligo CEO Dr. Xavier Duportet in a statement. “With eligobiotics, we can precisely intervene on the microbiome – targeting specific bacteria for interventions of our choice. By engineering the microbiome itself with sniper-like precision, we can address the cause, not just the symptoms, of bacteria-associated diseases.”

Eligobiotics would use the gene-editing enzyme CRISPR-Cas9 to scan and eliminate disease with precise targeting. The antibiotic resistance demands a greater level of technological and biological advancements that standard treatments can’t match.

CRISPR is the latest and best in gene editing, holding the potential to edit out hereditary diseases like sickle cell. It’s being used for anything from cancer cures to creating crops.

Eligobiotics has big plans for the future, making comments on a potential pill that will act as your microbiome’s person janitor, cleaning up where needed and never harming your healthy cells.

“This is a bit futuristic, but eventually we envision having a pill that will clean your microbiome daily,” Duportet said to Business Insider. “It’s the ultimate form of personalized medicine.”

The WHO have estimated that if antibiotic resistant is not met with an equal or greater force, it could cause the death of over 10 million per year by 2050.

Read the original article here

 

An unlikely hero may be the solution to types of cancers expressing the CD155 protein. Poliovirus, or more commonly known as Polio, has been observed to effectively target and infiltrate certain tumour cells and recruit the immune system to fight cancer.

Polio was rampant in the UK and worldwide, although most people infected didn’t show any symptoms. It can cause temporary or permanent paralysis, which can be life-threatening. Now scientists are able to genetically modify and manipulate poliovirus to their own needs.

The modified version of the poliovirus, known as a recombinant oncolytic poliovirus (PVS-RIPO), is being tested by researchers from the Duke Cancer Institute after a 2011 study showed good results of a modified poliovirus treatment against recurrent glioblastoma. Matthias Gromeier and Smita Nair, studied PVS-RIPO and its impact on melanoma and triple-negative breast cancer.

They observed that cancer cells expressing the proteins CD155, acted as receptors for the poliovirus. This was an open door for the PVS-RIPO to infect the cell and express its own antigens in the cell, alerting the immune system to the tumour site. The virus also infected dendric cells, the ones responsible for arming T-cells.

“Not only is poliovirus killing tumor cells, it is also infecting the antigen-presenting cells, which allows them to function in such a way that they can now raise a T-cell response that can recognize and infiltrate a tumor,” Nair explained in a press release. “This is an encouraging finding, because it means the poliovirus stimulates an innate inflammatory response.”

PVS-RIPO is capable of comprismising cancer cells to manipulate them to their own end. With the additional ability to alert the immune system, this genetically modified virus is a potential life saver.

Read the original article here

 

An antibody is capable of killing 99% of all HIV strains. The study involved a tri-specific antibody consisting of 3 broadly neutralising antibodies.

Broadly neutralising antibodies are effective at attacking HIV and are considered vital in the fight against HIV. Those infected with the virus can have several strains of it present in their body due to HIV’s nature to constantly mutate. However, broadly neutralising antibodies are capable of killing multiple strains of HIV and in a small minority of cases humans can produce these antibodies naturally.

Research carried out by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, has produced an antibody which is 3 broadly neutralising antibodies stuck together and is being hailed as an “exciting breakthrough”. Usually, these types of antibodies kill 90% of all strains but the tri-specific was observed to destroy 99%.

Monkeys received an injection of the tri-specific antibody and another injection full of the HIV virus. All 24 monkeys used in the study didn’t contract an infection from HIV. After this extraordinary result, a clinical trial is expected to be conducted in 2018.

As Sanofi’s Gary Nabel told the BBC, “[The tri-specific antibodies] are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered.”

HIV is not as big as a killer as it was. It used to be a death sentence but now advancements in medicine and easier access to Anti-retroviral drugs, it has become a manageable condition with near normal life expectancy for 20-year-olds diagnosed with HIV. Although it is still estimated that 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS, so a cure and more effective treatment is still in high demand.

Source Science Alert, Futurism

 

crispr

 

A gene vital in the development of embryos has been discovered.

With help from CRISPR, a gene-editing technique, scientists in the UK have successfully uncovered an important gene for fertility. The Francis Crick Institute researchers applied for permission to begin gene editing back in September 2015.  The study was published in Nature.

CRISPR is an enzyme capable of targeting a specific desired gene, cutting it from the sequence and replacing it with an alternative. It has the potential to cut-out hereditary disease and cure cancer.

In this study, OCT4 was a identified as a  “master gene” for fertility. When this gene is blocked, the “blastocyst” which outer shell of the embryo, was unable to form.

“We were surprised to see just how crucial this gene is for human embryo development, but we need to continue our work to confirm its role,” said Dr Norah Fogarty, the study’s first author, in a statement.

“Other research methods, including studies in mice, suggested a later and more focused role for OCT4, so our results highlight the need for human embryo research.”

Researchers edited 41 embryos, donated by couples who had undergone IVF treatment. They developed for 7 days before being stopped for analysis. OCT4 may play a role beyond fertilization and is thought to have some association with stem cell biology.

“One way to find out what a gene does in the developing embryo is to see what happens when it isn’t working,” said Dr Kathy Niakan, who led the research and submitted the application for permission to edit genes back in 2015.

“Now we have demonstrated an efficient way of doing this, we hope that other scientists will use it to find out the roles of other genes.”

Read the original article here

 

Remember getting those jabs when you were a little kid? Your parents would take you to the doctors and you’d get several vaccines shot into your arm as you cried your eyes out, just to do it all over again a few weeks later? For future generations, this process may be a lot less painful.

The all-in-one jab could be the future of vaccines, delivering all of the required vaccines needed in childhood in small microcapsules, releasing the vaccines at the appropriate times.

A mouse study conducted by the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), found that they could successfully deliver different vaccine particles at exactly 9, 20 and 41 days after they were first injected. The results were published in the Science journal.

Professor Robert Langer of MIT, who jointly led the study, said: “We are very excited about this work. For the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it.

“This could have a significant impact on patients everywhere, especially in the developing world.” he added.

The design involves silicone moulds to form the micro-particles. The particles are then removed, filled with the vaccine or drug and allowed to dry. A lid is then added and the whole module heated to seal it.

Depending on the materials used, the microparticles breakdown different times releasing the vaccines at the correct times. This is vital to streamline the vaccination process. Babies receive vaccinations against numerous diseases at eight, 12 and 16 weeks. Booster jabs are also be given between the ages of 1 and 3.

A jab capable of delivering all of the required vaccination would save time, resources and relieve both babies and parents of distress. There could also be an application for those with diabetes that require regular injections.

Read the original article here

Plastic has become an essential part of our daily lives and we can no longer live without it. It has been estimated that 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950’s with most of it left to end up in landfills or the ocean.

Plastics aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Plastic bottles and take up to 450 years to decompose, and the plastic bags we use every day will take up to 1000 years. A major problem crying out of a big solution.

Aspergillus tubingensis is a darkly pigmented fungus found in soil. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Kunming Institute of Botany, have been studying the effect it has on plastics and how it could be our solution to our waste problem. They observed the fungus degrading plastic it was placed on, secreting enzymes capable of breaking down the bonds between individual molecules and then use its mycelia to break them apart.

If utilized efficiently, the fungus could help save us all from drowning in plastic. Researchers have already studied factors such as pH balance and temperature which affect its ability to munch down plastics. Finding the Goldilocks zone for the fungus would increase its plastic consuming abilities.

It may also have uses for water filtration. Microplastics are contaminating our water supplies and there is little to filter out tiny plastic particles.

Read the origianl article here

 

Immunotherapy is used a lot right now due to its approach of tapping into the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Many of these treatments are being trialed on their own or are being used with standard treatments like chemotherapy, to improve the survival of patients.

“Immunotherapy is a very big and active area right now, especially with checkpoint inhibitors,” said Professor Alan Melcher, a Cancer Research UK-funded expert in virus cancer therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

It is now being tested whether viruses could lend a hand in the effort to destroy cancer. Oncolytic viruses are capable of infiltrating and destroying cancer cells, and one called, T-VEC is a modified version of the herpes virus. It has already been approved for use melanoma.

Viruses are very good at provoking an immune response within the body so researchers want to manipulate this ability for patients with ‘cold’ tumours. Not everyone that receives immunotherapy reacts in the same way. Patients that have ‘hot’ tumours react the best, as they already have some immune response, whilst ‘cold’ tumours have very little response.

The study by scientists from Johnson Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Los Angeles and published in Cell,  involved 21 patients with advanced melanoma. They received an injection of T-VEC straight into the tumour site which was followed by treatment with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

Pembrolizumab uses monoclonal antibodies that block the PD-1/PDL-1 interaction between immune cells and tumours. With this blocked, the tumour cells can no longer evade detection from the immune system.

Tumours in 13 patients responded to the combined treatment, more than would be expected with either treatment individually. 7 patients were deemed to have a complete response, meaning their disease was undetectable 4 weeks after treatment.

Melcher said “They also see that there’s an increase in the ‘heat’ of the tumour when the virus is used – in line with the idea that the virus makes the tumour more susceptible to the immunotherapy,”

Lead author Dr Antoni Ribas said: “We had a hypothesis about how these treatments would work together, and when we did biopsies of patients’ tumors we found that they were cooperating in just the way we thought they would.”

After the virus infiltrates the cancer cell, it multiplies till it erupts, releasing antigens that will attract immune cells. With the PD-1/PDL-1 interaction blocked by Pembrolizumab, the immune system can release havoc on the tumour. An amazing duo in action.

Read the orginal article here

 

Researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a way to detect whether someone has Parkinson’s disease a lot earlier before they show any symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease affects the brain and gradually prevents your ability to control your body’s own movements. The 3 main symptoms are involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body, slowed movement, and stiff muscles. It occurs when a neurotransmitter called dopamine is no longer produced, so the brain can no longer communicate with the body.

Currently, there is no cure only treatments to help patients control the effect Parkinson’s has on their body. Unfortunately when signs of Parkinson’s appear, irreversible damage has already been done, so a method to detect the disease earlier is needed.

Chief investigator Professor Dinesh Kumar said many treatment options for Parkinson’s were effective only when the disease was diagnosed early.

“Pushing back the point at which treatment can start is critical because we know that by the time someone starts to experience tremors or rigidity, it may already be too late,” Kumar said.

“We’ve long known that Parkinson’s disease affects the writing and sketching abilities of patients, but efforts to translate that insight into a reliable assessment method have failed – until now.”

The team designed a software that is able to detect whether or not someone will develop symptoms of Parkinson’s just by analysing how they draw a spiral.

“The customised software we’ve developed records how a person draws a spiral and analyses the data in real time. The only equipment you need to run the test is a pen, paper, and a large drawing tablet.

Better screening is high in demand with an estimated 10 million people living with the disease. The study involved 62 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on a scale of no symptoms to highly affected. They tried many different letters or alternative shapes but found drawing a spiral was the most reliable way.

Professor Kumar added, “With this tool, we can tell whether someone has Parkinson’s disease and calculate the severity of their condition, with a 93 per cent accuracy rate.”

“While we still have more research to do, we’re hopeful that in future doctors or nurses could use our technology to regularly screen their patients for Parkinson’s, as well as help those living with the disease to better manage their condition.”

Read the original article here

There is a potential new approach to treat tumours using a chemical you probably wouldn’t suspect but most likely have heard of.

The new technique is very similar to an already existing approach called ethanol ablation, which if you were wondering why it sounds familiar, is more commonly known as alcohol. One of the great things about ethanol is that when compared the cost of surgery, it is relatively much cheaper in the region of $5.

A team of researchers from Duke University has developed a treatment which widens ethanol’s applications for various different cancers. Currently, ethanol ablation can only be used for specific cancers, due to the risk that it may leak into the body. However, the researchers created an ethanol based gel by mixing ethanol with ethyl cellulose. When this solution is injected into a watery tumour site, it becomes a gel which is confident to its initial injection site.

To examine the solution’s capabilities, hamsters with squamous cell carcinoma in their cheek pouches were injected with either the ethanol ablation or the ethanol based gel. Results for the ethanol ablation were not good. After seven days, 0 of 5 tumours regressed completely. The results for the ethanol gel were far superior. After seven days, 6 of 7 tumours regressed completely, with the last regression by the eighth day.

This study has only been a proof of concept but with a 100% cure rate, one can’t help but get excited. This treatment is far cheaper to produce with the potential to be changed to have possible benefits for breast cancers and cervical precancerous lesions.

Read the original article here

 

It isn’t often you hear about tidal energy in the news but it has the potential to power the world. Particularly, Scotland has the potential to exploit the Pentland Firth which is widely considered to be one of the world’s best sites for tidal power.

Oxford University engineers calculated that underwater turbines strung across the entire width of the Firth could generate a maximum 1.9 GW of power, averaged across the fortnightly tidal cycle. That is equivalent to 16.5 TW/h of electricity a year, almost half Scotland’s entire annual electricity consumption in 2011.

A notable achievement of the turbines currently in Pentland Firth happened this August when it generated 700 megawatt-hours of electricity in August, a world record amount.

David Taaffe, the project delivery director at Atlantis Resources, said in a statement: “The production performance from the installed turbines on the MeyGen project has been very good.

“August proved to be a world record month, providing enough energy to power 2,000 Scottish homes from just two turbines. “

“We expect to continue to break records throughout the rest of the year generating both predictable power and revenue,” he said.

Dr. Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “News of this world record for monthly production is a really exciting moment. This is a sign that Scotland is really making progress in harnessing the power of our seas and that we’re on our way to securing a low-carbon future.

“By supporting projects like this one, which provides clean, predictable, homegrown power, the Scottish Government can help fight climate change, strengthen our energy security and drive further job creation in sustainable industries.”

Original article here

 

Australia is setting a good example for renewable energy. The Australian Renewable Energy Index is a country wide report that examines the impact renewables have on Australia has reported renewables produced enough energy to supply 70% of their homes with clean energy.

7.1 million homes have benefited from clean, green energy from July 2016 – July 2017. This accumulates to 17.2 percent of all energy consumed nationwide. Although the sun radiates on Australia most days, solar energy only accounts for one-fifth of the total renewable output. Hydroelectricity produces two-fifths of all renewable energy with wind trailing behind at a third of all renewable output. A decade ago, renewable energy was only at 7% of all total output so it is delightful to see such a turn around in recent years.

“The renewable energy sector has staged a remarkable recovery, after investment completely dried-up under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott,” Tristan Edis, an analyst from Green Energy Markets, told The Guardian. He added that renewables are creating “construction jobs and investment boom.”

Currently, Australia has 46 large scale renewable energy plants under construction, creating full-time jobs for 8,868 people for a year. Solar panel on home rooftops for personal use has also created 3,769 full-time jobs, which have also supplied 150,000 home with electricity.

Australia has a target of generating 20% of its total energy to be produced from renewables by 2020, but they are on course to achieve this by 2018.

car t cell

A first of its kind cancer treatment has got the approval from the FDA. The new therapy clears 83% of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer.

The decision has been called “historic” and marks the first day of the immunotherapy revolution for cancer treatments.

An immunotherapy marketed as Kymriah is a CAR T-cell therapy which uses the patient’s own immune cells to combat cancer. White blood cells called T-cells are extracted from the patient where they are then modified to seek and destroy cancer. The treatment will cost £367,000 but will only be used in circumstances when the standard treatment has proved ineffective.CAR-T-cell-Diagram

One patient was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was on the verge of death but after receiving the CAR T-cell therapy, they bounced back and has been cancer free for 5 years. 83% out of the 63 patients went into remission after 3 months.

Dr Scott Gottlieb, from the FDA, said: “We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer.

“New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” he added.

This type of treatment has close to unlimited potential when it comes to cancer. White blood cells can be modified to target a large range of cancers with a lot of trials showing positive results. However, cancers that have solid tumours, such as lung and melanoma, are difficult to treat with CAR T-cell therapy.

This marks the first step in a revolution in medicine to utilise the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Read the original article here

 

Orange peel and barren wastelands have produced some surprisingly good results down in Costa Rica. A projected started in 1997, saw a juice company dump 1,000 truckloads of waste orange peel in a pasture, producing greenery on an unexpected level.

Two Princeton researchers Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs cooperated with an orange juice manufacturer, Del Oro, to dump 1,000 truck loads of waste orange peel on to a donated part of their land. A total of 12 tonnes of orange peel was dumped on 7-acres of dead soil.

The plan was quickly cancelled within 2 years but by then the orange peel had decomposed and made the soil rich in nutrients.

“[W]ithin about six months the orange peels had been converted from orange peels into this thick black loamy soil,” says ecologist Timothy Treuer from Princeton University.

“This is one of the only instances I’ve ever heard of where you can have cost-negative carbon sequestration,”

“It’s not just a win-win between the company and the local park – it’s a win for everyone.”

The area had become so green and full of life, when Treuer went see the progress it had made, he couldn’t find the area. He first attempted to find the area in 2013 but was unsuccessful. Multiple trips later, he found it last year.

“It didn’t help that the six-foot-long sign with bright yellow lettering marking the site was so overgrown with vines that we literally didn’t find it until years later,” Treuer told Marlene Cimons at Popular Science, “after dozens and dozens of site visits.”

This project is amazing news for the planet. It presents a way to deal with waste that is beneficial for the environment, creating areas rich in greenery which where there was not before. The time scale of how fast this can be achieved is unknown as it was not being documented. However, if more projects like this are created it could help the environment and help restore ecosystems.

Source

T-cell

Scientists have discovered a small molecule capable of manipulating the balance of the immune system. This could have many applications in those with an unbalanced immune system, such as those with autoimmune diseases, which have an over active immune system.

When the body recognises a foreign antigen, the immune system is alerted and the pro-inflammatory cells that boost the immune system are activated. One of these cells is called an effector T cell, responsible for bolstering the immune system when it is under attack. An anti-inflammatory cell called a regulatory T cell helps control the immune system and prevents it from attacking healthy parts of its environment.

The scientists from the Gladstone Institutes, have identified a small molecule that was capable of converting these two types of cells into one another, showing promise for drug development.

“Our findings could have a significant impact on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, as well as on stem cell and immuno-oncology therapies,” said Gladstone Senior Investigator Sheng Ding, PhD, who is also a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Further research could result in exceptional results for immuno-oncology treatments because cancer often suppresses the immune system to avoid destruction. If a drug could increase the amount of effector T cells compared to regulatory T cells, the immune system would be better equipped to tackle cancer.

“Our work could also contribute to ongoing efforts in immuno-oncology and the treatment of cancer,” explained Tao Xu, a postdoctoral scholar in Ding’s laboratory and first author of the study. “This type of therapy doesn’t target the cancer directly, but rather works on activating the immune system so it can recognize cancer cells and attack them.”

Read the original articles and source here

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170802201246.htm

https://gladstone.org/about-us/press-releases/study-reveals-how-reprogram-cells-our-immune-system

https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v548/n7666/full/nature23475.html

 

Unsurprisingly, cancer patients that choose to go down the route of alternative medicines, instead of the tried and tested methods, are more likely to die.

Alternative medicines are therapies outside of the medical and tested practices. They claim to have healing effects, despite being unproven or impossible to prove with some claims going against the laws of nature.  Some have claimed that chiropractic treatment, homoeopathy, acupuncture and juice diets can help cancer patients get cured.

The research conducted by scientists from Yale University concluded that those that choose to take conventional therapies, such as chemo, radio and surgery were more likely to live.

Using the National Cancer Database, they tracked 280 people who were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and opted for alternative medicine and 560 “control” cancer patients who underwent conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine what treatments were used for each individual patient in the alternative medicine group.

Looking at specific types of cancer, the alternative medicine route resulted in twice as many deaths from lung cancer, five times as many deaths from breast cancer, and four times as many from colorectal cancer. The research concluded 78.3 per cent of people who opted for medical treatment were still alive compared to just 54.7 percent of people who opted for alternative therapies, after 5 years.

“We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival,” said lead author Skyler Johnson.

“It is our hope that this information can be used by patients and physicians when discussing the impact of cancer treatment decisions on survival.”

Be vigilant on what alternative medicines say they offer. They have big claims of cures with little to no evidence. Stay on the right side of science.

Original article here

 

Genetically modified piggies might save your life one day. Scientists have been working closely with pigs to ensure their organs will be suitable for humans.

37 pigs have been born completely free of viruses that have been hiding in their DNA. This is a big leap towards human transplants and was made possible by a gene editing technique called CRISPR.

CRISPR has been getting a lot of attention in the past few years, and rightly so. It’s a revolutionary technique capable of editing out entire hereditary diseases passed through generations and is now tackling cancer in human trials.

CRISPR has been used to eliminate the porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) from the pigs DNA. This is a vital step to bring pig-to-human transplants closer to reality. PERVs were shown to be capable to move from pig cells to human cells when mixed together, which is a big issue. When PERVs are in human cells, they act similar to the HIV virus, so it needed to be deleted.

After scientists had rooted out 25 of the PERVs, cloning technology was used to insert the genetic material into a pig’s egg to create embryos. As a result, 37 pigs were produced.

“These are the first Perv-free pigs,” Dr Luhan Yang, one of the researchers from Harvard University and the spinout company eGenesis, told the BBC News website.
They were also “the most genetically modified [animals] in terms of the number of modifications”, he said.

The company eGenesis, responsible for the pig’s creation, has said that although this is good progress preventing pig organs from being rejected by the human body remains a huge challenge.

Source

 

Gonorrhoea has been in the news recently because of its growing resistants to antibiotics, further highlighting the growing threat superbugs pose to humanity.

Studies recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have suggested that oral sex is responsible for gonorrhoea’s increasing resistance to antibiotics. When Gonorrhoea arrives in the throat it becomes much harder to detect with 90% of cases showing no symptoms. When it goes undetected, it mixes with the bacteria in the throat, allowing it to pick up resistance to any antibiotics used to fight throat infections.

“The throat infections act as a silent reservoir,” Dr Emilie Alirol, head of the sexually transmitted infections program at the Global Antibiotics Research and Development Partnership in Geneva, told the New York Times. “Transmission is very efficient from someone who has gonorrhoea in their throat to their partner via oral sex.”

Luckily, researchers have been discovering new antibiotics, tough enough to take on super resistant gonorrhoea. Although we are only at the start of its drug development, it’s been reported to kill 146 out of 149 samples of drug resistant gonorrhoea it has been tested on.

The results of our initial laboratory studies show that closthioamide has the potential to combat N. gonorrhoea,” explains lead author Victoria Miari in a statement. “Further research is needed, but its potential to successfully tackle this infection, as well as other bacteria, cannot be underestimated.”

Antibiotic resistance is a threat to human existence and the World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance one of the “biggest threats to global health”

“Antibiotic resistance, combined with the reduction of drug development, is one of the biggest health issues facing the world today,” says Miari. “The problem threatens to render many human and animal infections untreatable, including gonorrhoea.”

Globally we are crying out for more drug development and resources to be spent on keeping up with bacteria’s growing resistance to antibiotics.

Soares

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/your-throat-is-like-a-horrible-secret-hideout-for-gonorrhea/

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/new-class-of-antibiotic-could-defeat-multidrug-resistant-gonorrhea/

 

A potentially revolutionary clinical trial is underway for curing type 1 diabetes (T1D). If successful, it could change the lives of millions of people.

ViaCyte is a California based company responsible for creating PEC-Direct, a credit card shaped implant that lies under the skin slowly releasing cells derived from stem cells in an attempt to cure type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease affecting 422 million people globally with 10% belonging to the type 1 groups. Currently, type 1 diabetes is uncurable which is unlike type 2 which can be reversed in some cases. Type 1 is classified as an autoimmune disease because the body’s immune cells attack the pancreas, which produces insulin to regulate sugar levels.

Due to the lack of insulin, those with diabetes must take regular insulin shots to help the body regulate sugar levels to live. This can total to astonishing 65,000 injections in their life time.

The PEC-Direct implant would mean millions no longer need to worry about their glucose levels and never have to endure another insulin shot. The cells in the implant are designed to mature inside the human body into the specialised pancreas cells the immune system destroys in those with T1D. The implant is placed just below the skin and releases insulin whenever necessary.

“Patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes complications, such as hypoglycemia unawareness, are at constant risk of life-threatening low blood glucose,” clinical trial investigator Jeremy Pettus from the University of California, San Diego, said in a ViaCyte press release. “The PEC-Direct islet cell replacement therapy is designed to help patients with the most urgent medical need.”

“There are limited treatment options for patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes to manage life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes,” added ViaCyte president and CEO Paul Laikind. “We believe that the PEC-Direct product candidate has the potential to transform the lives of these patients.”

Technologies like this to treat diabetes have been a long time coming. We will not know for sure whether the trial for PEC-Direct is a success for 2 years when the trial ends.

Read the original article here

 

An unsuspecting dietary choice may be affecting your mental health, especially if you’re a man. Researchers claim that there is a strong correlation between the quantity of sugar you consume and the risk of developing common mental illnesses.

Sugar is debated by some as a highly addictive substance. When we ingest it, opioids and dopamine are released, similar to heroin and cocaine. As well as this, sugar can have serious health implications if too much is eaten. Over indulgence could result in the development of type 2 diabetes, it has been linked to obesity and will cause cavities in your teeth.

Now, a study conducted by researchers from University College London (UCL) has used a sample of 5,000 men and 2,000 women recruited for the Whitehall II study in the 1980s. They discovered that men with a high sugar intake, more than 67g a day, were 23% more likely to develop a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety 5 years later, compared to those that consumed less than 39.5g.

Lead author Anika Knüppel, of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health, said: “High sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men. There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“The study found no link between sugar intake and new mood disorders in women and it is unclear why. More research is needed to test the sugar-depression effect in large population samples.

“There is increasing evidence for the physical damage sugar has on our health. Our work suggests an additional mental health effect. This further supports the evidence for policy action such as the new sugar levy in the UK, but this is not addressed in many other European countries.”

In the UK, a sugar tax will come into play in April 2018 which will be a step in the right direction for the health of all UK residents. Further research into the inner workings of how sugar directly affects mental health will need to be conducted if we want to have a full understanding of the cause and effect relationship.

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Researchers have discovered a weakness for some cancers. NOX4 is an enzyme and when inhibited, stops the formation of cancer associated fibroblasts (CAF) which are vital for the progression of some cancers.

Fibroblasts are healthy cells that hold numerous organs within the body together. When hijacked by cancer cells, they form CAFs which help the progression of bowel, head and neck cancers and improve cancer’s ability to invade destruction and spread. Up until now, scientists have struggled to successfully target and inhibit CAFs and very little is understood about them.

A study conducted by the University of Southampton identified that the enzyme, NOX4 was crucial for the creation of CAFs. NOX4 could be blocked by a drug already being developed to treat a condition called organ fibrosis. This new knowledge can be applied to patients which have not responded to the available treatments for cancer.

Professor Gareth Thomas (link is external), lead researcher and Chair of Experimental Pathology at the University of Southampton, said: “These cells make cancers aggressive and difficult to treat, and we can see exciting possibilities for targeting CAFs in many patients who don’t respond well to existing therapies.”

Dr Áine McCarthy, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information officer, said: “Some cancers are incredibly difficult to treat, and can use the body’s own cells to help them grow, evade treatment and spread around the body. Researchers have been trying to unlock the secrets behind this for many years and this study is a big step forward in understanding how some cancers achieve this.

“These findings show that CAFs can be targeted with a drug and their ‘pro-tumour’ effects can be reversed in mice, giving researchers a starting point to develop new and potentially more effective treatments in the future.”

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A small trial involving 18 HIV positive patients has displayed unusual results in one of the participants. An antibody treatment has caused low levels of HIV in one man 10 months after treatment.
The trial led by the US Military HIV Research Program (MHRP), was conducted in Thailand with patients already taking the standard medication for HIV.

During the trial, half received no treatment whilst the others had an infusion of the antibody, VRC01 injected into their bloodstream. Within an average of 14 days, those receiving no treatment saw their HIV return, forcing them to be put back on their regular medication. The half with the treatment took 26 days instead.

These results are not particularly notable, although one participant did stand out, controlling the virus for 10 months after the treatment ended. He received the antibody infusion every three weeks for six months.

Dr Jintanat Ananworanich, one of the MHRP scientists, said “It suggests there’s some impact from the antibody, but how the antibody actually impacts the virus and the immune system – that’s an ongoing investigation.

“I do think antibody therapy has potential because the antibody, in the future, could perhaps be given just two or three times a year.”

Antibody treatment has far greater potential than the antiretroviral drugs that are currently being prescribed to HIV patients. The immune system can be trained by the antibodies which are introduced to the body, causing a lasting effect at keeping HIV at bay. Treatment can become less regular with better benefits.

In a monkey study, antibodies were used to treat HIV infection. The immune system was seen to act on the HIV after treatment.

Dr Ananworanich told the BBC: “That perhaps stimulates the other arms of the immune system, like the T-cells, to better react to HIV – and in that monkey study the monkeys went into remission.”

Further research needs to be conducted to see exactly how antibodies directly impact the immune system and the HIV virus.

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An unusual hero has appeared in the battle against HIV. Cows have shown an incredible ability to fight HIV and it’s baffling scientists.

The new study published in Nature, conducted by the US National Institutes of Health discovered that when cattle are injected with HIV specific antigens, an immune response to produce broadly neutralising antibodies was seen as early as 42 days after exposure.

Everyone infected with HIV will produce antibodies to its antigens, although these are too specific for their particular strain of HIV for any kind of vaccine to arise from these antibodies. Around 20% of humans infected with HIV will produce broadly neutralising antibodies, which can inhibit all strains of HIV, taking a few years after the initial infection. By this time, the HIV will have mutated to avoid destruction by the immune system.

However, the bovine subjects used in this study have exerted an ability to produce broadly neutralising antibodies much earlier after infection. 42 days into the experiment the cattle’s antibodies could neutralize 20 percent of the HIV strains tested. A further 339 days and 96% of the strains tested were neutralized.

“The response blew our minds,” Dr Devin SokIt told BBC News. “It was just insane how good it looked, in humans, it takes three-to-five years to develop the antibodies we’re talking about. “This is really important because we hadn’t been able to do it period. Who would have thought cow biology was making a significant contribution to HIV?”

A theory behind their ability to produce powerful antibodies comes from their gut. A cow’s diet consists of mostly grass which is tough to break down, so plenty of bacteria is needed in the gut for this process. The higher bacteria count, the higher the risk of infection, therefore power antibodies are needed for the species survival.

“HIV is a human virus but researchers can certainly learn from immune responses across the animal kingdom,” said Devin Sok, a study leader and director of antibody discovery and development at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

We can learn from cows and how they naturally produce antibodies to fight off all types of foreign invaders.

Sources: The independent, IFL Science, Nature

 

In the fight against cancer, a novel method has been developed to detect 13 different types of cancer from just a single drop of blood. Most tests require a biopsy, a small sample of the suspected cancer tissue, which can sometimes be difficult to get to.

A team of researchers led by the National Cancer Center Japan (NCC) in Tokyo, together with Toray Industries, Inc., and other institutions, created the new test which detects differences in miRNA, secreted by cells in the blood stream as a means of communication. Cancer cells also do this, allowing the test to detect breast, lung, stomach, colorectal tract, oesophagus, liver, and pancreas cancers.

Samples from 40,000 patients were used, and researchers were able to detect and identify miRNA for specific cancers with 95% accuracy. Note: Samples used were frozen, possibly altering the miRNA which was preserved. A clinical trial involving 3,000 fresh samples is already arranged for August.

This is a first in testing for multiple types of cancer within a sample of blood. “Patients will not need to take multiple tests. In the future, it will become possible to identify cancer stages and characteristics,” said Yet Takahiro Ochiya, head of the Molecular and Cellular Medicine Division at the NCC’s Research Institute, The Japan News reported.

There are already liquid biopsies which can detect cancer years in advance using ctDNA, but this is only for one type of cancer at a time.

This new method has the potential to be life-saving and the team plan on applying for government approval next, which could open their method for practical use in the next three years.

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Back in 2007, a trial for HIV involving 144 babies was conducted, in which they were randomly assigned 40 weeks of antiretroviral drugs. Almost ten years on, and one participant has been “functionally cured” ever since. HIV has never been at a detectable level in the child’s blood.

Functionally cured means they have gone without treatment and they have no symptom from the HIV infection. This is the third case of this happening. This is comparable with the “Mississippi Baby” that was treated for HIV for birth to 18 months. A year later, and the HIV was undetectable, but unfortunately it returned a few years after.

“Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies,” director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Anthony S Fauci, told The Guardian. “However, this new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of lifelong therapy and the health consequences of long-term immune activation typically associated with HIV disease.”

Further research will need to be conducted to determine what is causing this child to be functionally cured to save other children from the burden of life long therapy. Researchers have already identified that this child does not have the same genetic markers as those that are born immune to HIV.  Those that are naturally immune to HIV, some sex workers, are regularly exposed to HIV, yet they have never been infected with it.

More research will need to be conducted to fully understand their two difference and how the human body works to control the disease.

Original article here