April 26, 2019

    Infants born at home have a higher variety of beneficial bacteria for at least one month after birth
    Babies born at home have better gut bacteria - short science news health

    According to a recent study, babies born at home have a more diverse bacteria in their guts. This has a positive impact on the development of their immunity and metabolism.

    The reason why babies born at home have different bacteria compared to those born in a hospital is not known. The study involved 35 infants out of which 14 were born at home.

    Understanding why this difference occurs could help prevent disease later in life.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University | The State University of New Jersey
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Many humans are immune to Cas9 that is used for gene therapy
    Our immune cells attack Cas9 that is used for gene therapy - health science news

    CRISPR-Cas9 is a new molecular gene editing technique that is used to make specific changes in the DNA of animals and plants, and could also be used in humans. However, scientists found that most of us have immunity to Cas9, so that the technique cannot be used safely in humans in its current form. Immunity is caused by infections of Streptococcus bacteria, from which Cas9 is derived. Thus, new solutions have to be found to prevent dangerous immunological reactions before CRISPR-Cas9 can be used safely in humans.

    Read the full story: Charité Berlin
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine


    Recent research shows that higher levels of vitamin D in the blood are linked to better cardiorespiratory fitness
    Vitamin D important for healthier heart and lungs - daily science news headlines

    A new study showed an interesting link between the levels of vitamin D in the blood and the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the muscles (cardiorespiratory fitness).

    People that had the highest levels of vitamin D showed a 4.3-fold increase in cardiorespiratory ability, compared to the individuals with the lowest levels. The difference was significant even after adjusting for additional factors (age, sex, smoking, etc.).

    It was known that vitamin D was good for healthy bones, but this study suggests it is also important for heart and lung functions. Clinical trials should be conducted to see if vitamin D supplements are beneficial, considering that people with higher cardiorespiratory fitness are healthier and live longer.

    Read the full story: European Society of Cardiology
    Scientific publication: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology


    Obese mice lost weight after treatment with BP3 protein
    A natural protein helps obese mice lose 1/3rd of their fat - short science articles and news

    While fat mice look cute, some obese mice have a genetic predisposition to obesity as well as the metabolic complications associated with them such as the diabetes and fatty liver. Now, researchers have found that the protein BP3 which is a natural protein and not an artificial drug enhances the activities of other proteins involved in metabolism of carbohydrates and sugars. This led to the discovery that treatment of BP3 over 18 days could reduce the obesity in mice for 33%. Also, it decreased the excess blood sugar which is usually linked to diabetes and eliminated fats from their fatty liver. Surprisingly, there were no microscopic and clinical side effects of the protein which could help develop human treatments.

    Read the full story: Georgetown University
    Scientific publication: Scientific reports


    Cell replication by cancer cells is accelerated as compared with that by healthy cells
    Cancer cells speed up cell division - cancer short science news

    Cancer cells have been found to accelerate cell replication, leading to rapid tumor expansion. Using advanced microscopic imaging techniques, scientists observed that cancer cells duplicate their DNA a lot faster than healthy immune cells. This observation confirms that cancer cells escape from the tight regulation of cell division, and also that DNA replication does not take a fixed amount of time as previously thought. These data provide more insight into cancer, and could be important for the development of drugs to combat cancer, for instance with those that restore the regulatory machinery that normally keeps cell division in check.

    Read the full story: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
    Scientific publication: Cell Cycle


    Paracetamol during pregnancy could accelerate puberty in the girl child
    Earlier puberty in girls whose mothers took painkillers during pregnancy - short science articles and news

    The worldwide average intake of paracetamol during pregnancy is steadily increasing over the past few years. Now, researchers have shown an effect on the girl child due to this increasing trend. There is an advancement on the beginning of puberty in the girl child by at least 1.5 to 3 months if the mother took paracetamol during pregnancy. There was no effect on the puberty of the male child. The study is based on the largest public data record of Danish birth cohort of at least 100,000 women who informed on their use of paracetamol during pregnancy. This certainly challenges the notion that paracetamol is harmless during pregnancy.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Epidemiology


    Mouse pancreatic islet in which the glucagon (purple)-producing alpha-cells have been labeled with a fluorescent tag (green). Some of them have started to produce insulin (red), and they appear as yellow (green-and-red merge). Image: UNIGE Pedro Luis Herrera
    Pancreatic cells reprogram themselves to produce insulin - health science news

    When applying an insulin receptor antagonist to block insulin signaling, one to five per cent of pancreatic alpha cells that normally produce glucagon start to synthesize insulin in mice, researchers found. Thus, insulin produced by pancreatic beta cells act as a break on insulin synthesis in alpha cells. This break is removed in diabetes type I, as beta cells stop synthesizing insulin and die. Such reprogramming could be explored further to try to restore insulin production in diabetes type I patients. On a broader level, this study shows that mature cells can change their function, even when they have already completely differentiated into a particular cell type.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Nature Cell Biology


    Grief promotes inflammation, which in turn increases the risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, and premature death
    Loss of a loved one could kill yourself too - health science news

    By conducting interviews with, and analyzing blood parameters of, people whose spouse recently died, researchers found more inflammation markers in those of were grieving the most. Inflammation is known to contribute to many diseases in older adulthood. For example, depression is linked to higher levels of inflammation, and those who lose a spouse are at higher risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. The current study shows that grief, regardless of people’s depressive symptoms, is associated with inflammation, which, in turn, can be cause of disease and even death.

    Read the full story: Rice University
    Scientific publication: Psychoneuroendocrinology


    Finally, there is some hope for triple-negative breast cancer patients, a hitherto essentially untreatable and aggressive form of breast cancer. A new treatment, consisting of standard weekly chemotherapy and immunotherapy medication atezolizumab, which is given once every two weeks. The chemotherapy changes the appearance of the cell membrane of cancer cells (it is getting rougher), which can then be attacked by the body’s own immune system, as it recognizes the cancer cells as foreign objects. This combinational therapy prolongs the life of patients by ten months, and reduces the risk of cancer progressing by up to 40 per cent. The new therapy is currently under review by health authorities.

    Read the full story: Queen Mary University of London
    Scientific publication: New England Journal of Medicine


    Nicotine changes the DNA in sperm cells, causing cognitive deficits in the offspring
    Smoking by fathers may cause health problems in their children - health science news
    Studies in mice have revealed that nicotine exposure induces epigenetic changes on the DNA in sperm cells. When the male mice that had received nicotine at the time of sperm production were mated with nicotine-free female mice, their offspring displayed hyperactivity, attention deficit and cognitive inflexibility. These neural problems were not caused by behavioral changes of the father, but by epigenetic changes of multiple genes. This included the dopamine receptor D2 gene, which is important for learning and brain development, and could be at the origin of the cognitive deficits in the offspring. Further research is necessary to determine whether similar epigenetic changes occur in sperm cells of smoking men.

    Read the full story: Florida State University
    Scientific publication: PLoS Biology


    Migration of primordial germ cells in the human embryo. Image: Laurence Zulianello
    Origin of some cancers in young women revealed . health science news

    A new study has found that primordial germ cells (cells that will give rise to oocytes during adulthood) at times do not migrate to the gonads, but end up in the pancreas or the ovaries during embryonic development. Here, they increase the risk for cancer, which can occur thirty years later. This mechanism underlying these so-called « mucinous cancers » was found following large-scale analyses of genomic data. The faulty migration of primordial germ cells explains why only young women, not men, can have pancreatic cancer without the involvement of sex hormones.

    Read the full story: Université de Genève
    Scientific publication: Journal of Pathology


    Ground zero. Interest for the effects of terrorism on mental health was sparked by the events of 9/11.
    Terrorism does not increase PTSD more than expected - health science news

    By reviewing more than 400 scientific publications describing the association between acts of terrorism and mental health, scientists conclude that terrorims does not cause more post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than would be expected from any other traumatizing or distressing event. This observation goes against the much heard view in the media that terrorist attacks negatively impact on peoples’ psychological wellbeing. The scientists argue that policy-makers should focus more on promoting social bonds and people’s resilience in response to terrorist attacks, rather than stressing peoples’ psychological vulnerability.

    Read the full story: University of Bath
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Psychiatry


    The pattern of the presence of many metabolites is the best predictor of obesity-related diseases
    Metabolites predict the risk for obesity-related diseases - health science news

    Predictors of future diabetes and cardiovascular disease for a person with obesity can be found among the body’s metabolites, new research shows. Metabolites were analyzed in almost 2400 people and it appeared that the composition of metabolites was profoundly altered with obesity. The most important changes concerned the metabolites that influence how the body distributes fat. 49 of the metabolites showed a strong correlation with the body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity. The measurements allowed for an accurate prediction rate of obesity status of 80-90 percent. The study shows that looking at one metabolite or one indicator often is not enough for proper prediction of disease, but that the pattern of metabolites as a whole is the best biomarker.

    Read the full story: Scripps Research
    Scientific publication: Cell Metabolism


    Device uses laser technology to detect glucose levels under the skin, an alternative to painful pricking. Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Noninvasive blood glucose test appears effective - diabetes science news

    In the queste for noninvasive methods to measure glucose in the blood, researchers have now established a laser device that accurately detects glucose levels under the skin. When comparing the results of glucose measuring through a painful finger prick, the new laser technology obtains similar acurate glucose values in twenty healthy volunteers, before and after drinking a glucose-rich beverage. For those living with diabetes, and having to monitor their glucose levels on a daily basis, there seems to be hope on the horizon that, after further testing of the device, painful finger pricking will no longer be necessary in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: University of Missouri
    Scientific publication: Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry


    Repair of DNA by gene editing techniques might be the way forward to treat metabolic diseases in the future
    Genetic metabolic disease cured in mice by gene editing - health science news

    By using a new genome editing technique, researchers have repaired a gene (phenylalanine hydroxylase) in the liver that causes the metabolic disease known as phenylketonuria. This disease should be diagnosed as soon as possible in babies, because the baby’s diet has to be phenylalanine-free to prevent accumulation of this amino acid, and subsequent mental retardation. Gene repair was achieved by delivering the genes necessary for the repair in a harmless virus that infects liver cells. These cells will make use of the genes brought by the virus, and repair the gene, so that the liver can metabolize phenylalanine. Thus, this new gene editing technique holds great promise for the future treatment of this and other metabolic diseases in humans.

    Read the full story: ETH Zürich
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine


    Two cancers originating from different organs share very similar genetic mechanisms when they become invasive. A microscopic image of small cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer. Credit: UCLA
    Aggressive prostate and lung cancers share similar mechanisms - health science news - cancer

    The development of late-stage prostate and lung cancers is similar in the genetic mechanisms that underly their aggressivity, according to a new study.

    Even if initially they are genetically very different, when they reach the small cells stage (highly malignant cancer) they become almost identical.

    Discovery of the shared mechanisms could lead to a better understanding of invasive cancers and may help to discover the “master genes” that regulate cancer development and spreading.

    Read the full story: University of California, Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: Science


    A natural killer (NK) cell binds to a malaria-infected red blood cell and destroys it. Credit: Weijian Ye, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology
    Malaria severity depends on immune cells variations - science news

    According to new research, the severity of malaria is influenced by the failure of some components of the immune system to effectively destroy infected blood cells.

    Basically, a type of immune cells (NK – natural killer) cannot activate a genetic programme required to fight the disease. This doesn’t happen in all individuals, due to variations in the NK cells, and it explains why some people are more likely to experience more severe symptoms of malaria.

    Researchers managed to re-activate these cells in the lab, suggesting the possibility to develop treatments that could reduce the severity of malaria.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: PLOS Pathogens


    Resveratrol is found in grapes and, at least in mice, has been found to protect against lung cancer
    Resveratrol, found in grapes, protects against lung cancer - health science news

    Scientists have created a new formula for the application of resveratrol to protect against lung cancer. Resveratrol, which is found in grapes and red wine, was found to be most effective when applied intranasally in mice that had been exposed to a carcinogenic substance from cigarette smoke. The amount of resveratrol that reached the lungs was 22 times higher when compared with oral intake that is without effect. As resveratrol is already used in food supplements, no further toxicity studies are needed prior to commercialization as a preventive treatment of lung cancer.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Cancers satisfy their appetite by creating a diabetes-like state
    Cancers feed on glucose by inhibiting glucose uptake by healthy cells - cancer science news

    Cancer cells have been found to induce a diabetes-like state so that healthy cells take up less glucose, leaving more glucose available for the cancer cells and tumor growth, a new study in mice reports. They do this in two ways. First, tumor cells stimulate fat cells to produce more IGFBP1 protein. This makes healthy cells less sensitive to insulin, so that more insulin is required for glucose uptake. Second, cancers turn the production of insulin down. In part they do this through the gut. Mice with leukemia miss bacteroids in their intestines, which produce short-chain fatty acids that in turn feed the health of cells lining your gut. The gut cells will now stop the production of hormones called incretins that normally help to get glucose levels down after a meal. On top of this, tumors reduce the activity of serotonin, an essential molecule for the synthesis of insulin. Giving mice with leukemia short-chain fatty acids and serotonin prolongs their lives and reduces tumor growth, suggesting that it should be possible in the future to develop treatments that favor healthy cells, and disfavor cancer cells. 

    Read the full story: University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus
    Scientific publication: Cancer Cell


    Tumor signaling can stop development of secondary tumors in the case of some breast cancers
    Pressing the pause button for breast cancer development - latest science news headlines

    A team of scientists has discovered an interesting fact about some types of breast cancers: they have a “pause button”! When cancer cells break away from the primary tumor, they travel in the body and eventually grow into dangerous secondary tumors. However, the study showed that the initial tumor can signal the immune system to follow the runaway cells and ‘freeze’ them. In this paused state, the cells cannot grow anymore, stopping secondary tumor growth. The research was performed in mice, however, there are indications that the same process likely happens in humans.

    Read the full story: Garvan Institute of Medical Research
    Scientific publication: Nature Cell BIology


    James P. Allison (left) and Tasuku Honjo (right) discovered how to unleash the immune system to fight tumors. Credit: NobelPrize.org
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded for cancer therapy - daily science news in short

    This year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine goes to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”. The two scientists discovered how inhibiting the brakes of the immune system can be used to fight cancer. James P. Allison studied a known protein that slows down the immune system. He realized the potential of releasing the brake and thereby unleashing our immune cells to attack tumors. In parallel, Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Both discoveries were later used for new cancer therapies.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine


    A minimally invasive treatment gives hope to people diagnosed with mitral regurgitation - a problem with the valve between the ventricle and the atrium of the heart
    New procedure improves outcomes for heart failure patients - daily science news in short - medical

    A new clinical trial reported that a minimally invasive procedure called transcatheter mitral valve repair significantly reduced hospitalizations and mortality for heart failure patients. The trial enrolled 614 heart failure patients with moderate-to-severe or severe specific heart conditions at 78 sites in the United States and Canada. The patients who had the new minimally invasive procedure had 47% fewer heart failure-related hospitalizations and 38% fewer deaths than those who were managed medically. “Patients with heart failure… now have substantially more hope because we can improve their quality of life and survival” Gregg Stone, co-principal investigator of the trial, said.

    Read the full story: Columbia University
    Scientific publication: The New England Journal of Medicine


    Microbial diversity of healthy humans. Image: Jonathan Bailey, NHGRI
    Fecal microbiota transplantation restores beneficial bacteria population in cancer patients - health science news

    Fecal microbiota transplantation is a safe and efficient way to restore the beneficial bacteria population in the intestines of cancer patients that underwent antibiotics treatment, a new study shows. Antibiotics are necessary in the case of stem cell transplantation to prevent bacterial infections in stem cell recipients (i.e. the cancer patients). While antibiotics destroy the natural, beneficial bacteria population in the gut that normally enhances immune function and prevents infections, it is important to restore the patient’s microbiota fast. By transplanting the patient’s own microbiota that had been harvested before antibiotics treatment began, this is achieved in a matter of days, rather than weeks with normal hospital care practice.

    Read the full story: NIH – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Scientific publication: Science Translational Medicine


    Bacteria are absent in the spleen of a normal rat (left), but occur in the spleen of MAVS-deficient rat (right). Spleen cells in blue, bacteria in red. Image: Ana Hennino, David Bauché, Emilie Plantamura / CIRI
    What a virus detection system, microbiota and skin allergies have to do with each other - health science news

    Biologists have observed that mice lacking the MAVS gene, necessary for virus detection by the immune system, have an altered composition of intestinal bacteria and severe allergic skin reactions. Transfer of the abnormal bacteria (microbiota) to normal mice caused the same skin allergies as in MAVS-deficient mice, showing that gut microbiota are responsible for the skin health problems. Furthermore, the altered gut microbiotica increased the permeability of the intestines, so that some bacteria could enter the body and migrate to the spleen and lymph nodes. This increased the skin allergies even further. Thus, there is a direct link between the immune system, gut microbiota, and skin allergies, which could be taken into consideration for development of new therapies.

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


    Hunger can make you feel stressed, anxious, and even depressed
    Link between hunger and mood revealed - health science news

    Rats that experienced a sudden blood glucose drop suffered more from stress and anxiety, and experience a depressed mood. In a new study, rats received a metabolism blocker to induce the experience of hypoglycemia in one chamber, and received water in another chamber. Rats would then avoid the chamber where they felt hypoglycemic, and where they had more stress hormones in their blood. Also, the hypoglycemic rats were more sluggish, which was not due to decreased energy supply to the muscles, but rather a result of depressed mood, as this could be reversed by antidepressants. Thus, a sudden drop in blood glucose levels can change mood, making metabolism a factor to reckon with in the treatment of mood disorders, researchers say.

    Read the full story: University of Guelph
    Scientific publication: Psychopharmacology


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