October 18, 2018

    Study shows possible association between highly processed aliments consumption and cancer
    Highly processed food could contribute to cancer - short science news

    A recent study suggests consumption of highly processed aliments could trigger cancer in humans. This category of foods includes fizzy drinks, ready meals, sugary cereals and packaged baked goods and snacks; they often have high levels of fat, sugar and salt, but lack in vitamins and fibers. The findings are based on following 104,980 healthy adults. The results show that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with increases of 12% in the risk of overall cancer and 11% in the risk of breast cancer. Further research is needed, but this study is already triggering an alarm call regarding processed food consumption, which in some developed countries accounts for up to 50% of the daily food intake.

    Read the full story: BMJ News
    Scientific publication: BMJ

    Safe use of nanotechnology in medicine is coming closer.
    DNA nanorobots kill tumors by cutting off their blood supply

    A completely new way to fight cancers might be the use of DNA nanorobots that effectively find tumors and induce clogging of the blood vessels that feed the tumors. Nanorobots were injected in laboratory animals, and caused cancers to shrink, acted specifically in the tumors, and did not spread into the brain where they might induce unwanted side-effects. Safe use of nanotechnology in medicine is approaching.

    Read the full story: Arizona State University
    Scientific publication: Nature Biotechnology

    Weight lost by dieting is often regained due to the activity of a protein in the brain.
    Dieting might become effective now that fat burning is better understood

    The end of yo-yo dieting might be in sight now that researchers have discovered a protein in the brain that acts as a switch to control fat burning. This protein ensures that the body stores more energy after a period of food shortage. By manipulating this protein, researchers might one day be able to fool the brain enough so that we won’t regain the weight lost by dieting.

    Read the full story: Monash University
    Scientific publication: Cell Reports

    Lymphocytes attacking a cancer cell.
    Cancer-killing virus puts the immune system on red alert

    A cancer-killing virus that is currently in clinical trials may not only infect cancer cells, but also triggers a strong immune reaction that attacks tumors even far away from the virus-infected region. Researchers found that infecting tumor cells (only 5% of the cancer cells) by the virus exposes the immune system to cancer proteins, which causes an immune response against the rest of the tumor. These findings make it possible to combine the use of the virus with immunotherapy for effective treatment of cancers.

    Read the full story: University of San Francisco
    Scientific publication: Cancer Research

    Naked mole rats live a long life without cancer. Image: Wikimedia Commons
    Further cause found for a long life without cancer in the naked mole rat

    Naked mole rats inhibit metabolic processes in senescent cells much more than mice do, a new study shows. As a consequence, senescent cells keep dividing, and ageing is greatly retarded. In mice and other animals, on the other hand, senescent cells stop dividing to prevent cancer development, but ageing is enhanced. It was already known that naked mole rats do not develop cancers, in spite of cell division throughout life, and it is for these reasons that researchers have turned to this animal species to study the competing biology of ageing and cancer.

    Read the full story: University of Rochester
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

    Gut bacteria influence metabolism
    Intestinal bacteria linked to obesity

    Gut bacteria have an influence on weight gain and obesity, a mouse study shows. This is explained by the activity of a « bacterial sensor » in the intestines that controls gene expression in both the mice and bacteria. In the mice, this involves genes that control metabolism. In the bacteria, these genes regulate food intake, thus leaving more or less nutrients available for the mice. The results imply that treatment of obesity and related illnesses should be possible by manipulating gut bacteria.

    Read the full story: Johns Hopkins Medicine
    Scientific publication: Mucosal Immunology

    Antibodies against sugar molecules coating the cells help identify biomarkers for diseases
    Antibodies against complex sugars enable discovery of biomarkers for diseases. Short science news

    Antibodies are molecules in our blood that recognize specific targets in order to protect the body from infections and other diseases. A new technology is now using antibodies specific for sugar molecules as a tool to discover biomarkers for diseases. Many deadly diseases are difficult to identify early, due to lack of specific biomarkers. The technique has already been used to pinpoint a potential biomarker for ovarian cancer relapse. The technology is in development phase, but it promises to help scientists and doctors quickly identify dangerous diseases.

    Read the full story: Augusta University
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Measles vaccine delivered on time extends the survival rate of children from undeveloped countries
    Measles vaccine has benefits beyond protecting against measles infection. Short science news

    The largest study of children in low/middle income countries shows that correct timing of measles vaccine protects beyond measles infections by increasing child survival rates. Child mortality was decreased when the vaccine was delivered after the third diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) vaccination. The study included 38,000 children from Ghana and it found that vaccinated children had 28% higher chances of survival, in the first 12 months and 18% higher chances by five years of age. The study also found a significantly stronger beneficial effect of measles vaccination for boys in comparison to girls.

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Public Health

    Blood sugar measurements and insulin injections are routine for diabetes patients. Image: Pixabay
    New compound to treat Type 2 diabetes

    Chemists have designed a compound that stimulates insulin release from the pancreas to lower blood sugar levels in diabetes Type 2 patients, but without causing side effects. Side effects, such as nausea, are brought about by the effects of current drugs in the brain. However, by chemically modifying a current drug, the new compound cannot enter the brain, thus eliminating side effects, yet preserving its stimulatory action on insulin release. Removal of side effects would motivate patients to continue their treatment.

    Read the full story: Syracuse University
    Scientific publication: Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism

    Dialysis of patient with kidney failure. Image: Wikimedia Commons
    Functioning human kidney created in mice

    Scientists from the University of Manchester have created human kidney tissue for the first time outside the human body. The tissue, which is able to produce urine, was generated from human embryonic stem cells that were combined with a particular gel that served as artificial connective tissue. This mixture was then injected in mice, which started to form human nephrons, the functional units of kidneys. This is a major research milestone which may help patients with kidney failure in the future.

    Read the full story: University of Manchester
    Scientific publication: Stem Cell Reports

    Triple negative breast cancer better understood. Image: Pixabay
    How cancer stem cells drive a deadly type of breast cancer

    Researchers from Cleveland Clinic have found that cancer stem cells make use of a unique intracellular survival mechanism that makes them proliferate and spread. Cancer stem cells are at the heart of an aggressive breast tumour that cannot be treated effectively due to its biomolecular composition. With the discovery of the survival mechanism of cancer stem cells, researchers hope to have a new target for the development of medication to stop these cells from replicating themselves and spreading to other parts of the body.

    Read the full story: Cleveland Clinic
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Diet choice may influence the spreading of cancer. Image: Pixabay
    Diet may influence metastasis of cancers

    A detailed study performed by more than a dozen of research institutions found that limiting the availability of the amino acid asparagine reduces the spread of a deadly type of breast cancer in laboratory mice. Asparagine, one of the components of proteins in the body, is found in many food products including dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains. Low amounts are found in fruits and vegetables. Results of the study suggest that the choice of diet during cancer treatment may influence treatment outcome. This will have to be tested further in clinical studies.

    Read the full story: Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre
    Scientific publication: Nature

    A new genetic test to identify 200 genetic diseases. Image by pixabay.com
    A novel DNA test for your newborn which looks for close to 200 genetic diseases

    Eric Schadt, the CEO of Sema4 has developed a simple genetic test to identify 193 genes associated with epilepsy, metabolic conditions and anaemia. While the traditional tests involve taking a blood sample, the current test which costs $649, takes only a saliva swab from the kid's cheek and intends to be a supplement to existing screening tests. However, Laura Hercher from Sarah Lawrence College is skeptical since it might be a source of anxiety for parents and could open the proverbial 'can of worms'.

    Read the full story: www.technologyreview.com

    Inflammation in Alzheimer's disease is not properly turned off. Image: Pixabay
    Mechanism discovered that turns off inflammation

    Researchers from the University of Queensland have found how inflammation processes are switched off. They have found a protein that cuts other proteins during inflammation, and also cuts itself to terminate inflammation. This makes sure that inflammation is turned off after an appropriate period of time. Researchers hope they are now able to switch off inflammation manually in diseases likes Alzheimer’s or liver disease where inflammation is continuous and damages tissue.

    Read the full story: University of Queensland
    Scientific publication: Journal of Experimental Medicine

    Fosfomycin may be an efficient antibiotic against drug-resistant bacteria. Credit: bigstockphoto
    An old antibiotic may help fight drug-resistant bacteria

    Fosfomycin, developed 40 years ago as an antibiotic, holds a promise for better fighting multi drug-resistant bacteria. A new study found that a dosing regimen of 6–12 grams per day, divided in 3 doses, is efficient for the treatment of systemic multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections. The drug is found on the market today, however, in most European countries only the oral formulation is approved as a 3 g single dose for treatment of uncomplicated cystitis. If the results are confirmed, the drug could be a useful tool to a growing problem: drug-resistant bacterial infections.

    Read the full story: newsroom.wiley.com
    Scientific publication: Wiley

    Two glasses of wine per day keep the doctor away. Image: Pixabay
    Low doses of alcohol improve brain health

    Although alcohol is generally considered to be damaging to the brain, it turns out that a few glasses of wine might help cleaning the brain from toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the University of Rochester exposed mice to the equivalent of 2.5 glasses of wine for a long period of time, and found that removal of waste from the brain was more efficient, and that the hazardous effects of excessive alcohol consumption such as inflammation and cognitive decline did not occur. Thus, specifically low doses of alcohol improve brain health. Cheers!

    Read the full story: University of Rochester Medical Center
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    Bacteriophages are viruses that can kill bacteria. Credit: bigstockphoto
    New technology developed for building custom viruses

    Bacteriophages, or phages, are naturally occurring viruses that can kill bacteria. Scientists are trying to biologically engineer bacteriophages in order to fight bacterial infections. Now, a team of researchers from ETH Zurich has just presented a new technology that enables the production of genetically modified viruses. The viruses are thus provided with additional properties and then, once delivered in the host cells, they can be activated. The tool is extremely powerful and also quick, allowing scientists to create almost any type of bacteriophage. The new technique may enable the destruction of harmful bacteria, difficult to target otherwise, as in the case of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: PNAS

    Asthma patients use inhalers to open their airways. Image: Pixabay
    Blocking of airways in asthma patients explained

    Houston Methodist researchers have found that a particular class of white blood cells, called T helper cells, overstimulate the production of a sticky protein, mucin, which cloggs up the airways. Mucin protects the surface of the airways, but excessive secretion of mucin, as seen in asthma, is damaging. Now that scientists have resolved the molecular mechanism of T helper cell activation and mucin secretion, new drugs for asthma may be developed that are completely different from the steroids that are being used today.

    Read the full story: Houston Methodist
    Scientific publication: Journal of Experimental Medicine

    Cell phone may or may not damage health. Credit: bigstockphoto
    Effects of cell phone radiation on health still not clear after two more research studies

    Two new studies investigating the effects of radiation emitted by cell phones on health have been made public. However, the research, performed on animals, gave sometime puzzling results and it didn’t resolve the old debate about the issue. Phones emit non-ionizing radiation, similar to the one produced by a microwave and scientists have not managed to conclusively link it to health problems. The study showed that male rats exposed to radiation had a higher risk of developing tumors, but they also lived longer. However, the sometimes-counterintuitive results are very important and provide the foundations for the next step in this line of research.

    Read the full story: http://www.sciencemag.org
    Scientific publication: National Toxicology Program
    Scientific publication: National Toxicology Program

    Colon cancer. Credit: Elizabeth Cook, John Hopkins Medicine
    Bacteria drive tumor formation in hereditary colon cancer

    Scientist show in a new study that two species of bacteria work together to stimulate tumor formation in patients with an inherited form of colon cancer. These patients harbor the bacterial species inside their colon. Interestingly, the same species were also discovered in people who develop a sporadic form of colon cancer. The mechanisms behind the phenomenon are explained in another study performed in mice, in which researchers showed that the bacteria promote an immune response that stimulates the formation of tumors. The findings could lead to new ways to more effectively screen for and ultimately prevent colon cancer.

    Read the full story: John Hopkins Medicine
    Scientific publication: Cell
    Scientific publication: Science

    New treatment may help to improve bone healing. Image: Pixabay
    New therapeutic approach for bone healing

    Delivery of a naturally-occurring protein, Jagged-1, to a fracture improves bone repair in experimental mice. Although the technique needs further optimization, it is hoped that this new approach might be of benefit to patients with impaired bone healing. Currently, these patients are treated with a costly bone grafting surgical procedure or with other proteins that induce unwanted side-effects.

    Read the full story: Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan
    Scientific publication: npj Regenerative Medicine

    Effective cancer treatment in mice, would it also work in humans? Image: Pixabay

    Hopeful news from Stanford University School of Medecine : a new sort of immunotherapy effectively eradicates cancers in mice. The therapy leads to triggering of a T cell immune response locally at the site of the tumour, but some T cells will migrate and attack distant tumours. Mobilizing T cells in this way results in long-term survival of most of the mice tested, and seems effective for the treatment of different types of cancer.

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Science Translational Medicine

    Trying to lose weight encourages others to do the same. Image source: bigstockphoto
    Having a partner on a diet may help you lose weight too

    A new study that followed 130 couples over six months reports that when one member of a couple commits to losing weight the other one will lose weight too, even if not actively engaged in this direction. The researchers called this “the ripple effect”. Approximately one third of the partners not engaged in a diet lost three percent or more of their body weight despite not participating in any active intervention. Researchers explain that this is due to the positive influence from the partners dedicated to losing weight. The positive changes in their behavior are copied by the people around them.

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.22098/full

    Simple blood test reveals high levels of amyloid-beta in Alzheimer's patients. Image: Pixabay
    New diagnostic assay for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease

    Japanese and Australian scientists have developed a simple and cheap diagnostic assay to measure proteins in the blood that are known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins are normally found in the brain, and it has been an outstanding question for a long time whether their presence in the blood could reflect their presence in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. With this assay it becomes possible to diagnose patients in early stages of the disease so that they can be enrolled in clinical trials before their brains are affected.

    Read the full story: nature
    Scientific publication: nature

    Radiography of thorax; lungs appear black. Image: Pixabay
    Possible cure of lung fibrosis in the making

    Treatment to cure lung fibrosis may finally be on the horizon. In a proof-of-principle study, researchers of the CNIO in Spain found that lengthening telomers on chromosomes in mice strongly improves or even cures lung fibrosis. Telomers cap chromosomes to protect the DNA, and become shorter with ageing. Shortened telomers are also found in lung fibrosis. By making telomers longer, the researchers corrected this and lung fibrosis in the mice disappeared.

    Scientific publication: eLIFE

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