August 25, 2019

    Sickle cell anemia might be treated in the future with a new and precise gene editing technique
    New gene editing technique cures blood disorder in fetal mice - health science news

    New research shows that it is possible to correct a genetic defect by a new site-specific gene editing technique in fetal mice. In this study, scientists injected nanoparticles carrying donor DNA as well as synthetic molecules, peptide nucleic acids (PNAs), in mice embryos to repair a gene involved in anemia. The nanoparticles are taken up by the cells, and PNAs, which resemble DNA, bind the target gene to form triple helix (unlike the natural double DNA helix). The cell will try to repair this, and use the donor DNA with the correct gene for this that was delivered by the nanoparticles. Four months after the mice had been injected in uterus of the mother, they were living without any signs of anemia. The new technique makes it possible to treat single-gene disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell very early in life, so that babies will not develop disease.

    Read the full story: Yale
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Insulin might be packed in a capsule for oral intake in the future
    Insulin in a pill - health science news

    To overcome the obstacles associated with daily insulin injections, researchers have long sought after ways to deliver insulin orally. Now, this is coming close to reality. Scientists have packaged insulin in a specially designed capsule, where it is carried in an ionic liquid. This allows the insulin to be transported through the hostile, acidic environment of the stomach, and to be released in the small intestine. With the aid of the ionic liquid, insulin can then pass the intestinal wall and enter the blood. The formulation is biocompatible, safe, not too expensive to make, and survives for two months at room temperature. Long-term toxicology and bioavailability studies still have to be done, but all in all, this new technique for oral insulin delivery is definitely promising, and might change the life of many diabetes patients.

    Read the full story: Harvard – John A. Paulsen School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

    Arresting movement of cancer cells could be an effective way of therapy
    A drug to prevent cancer cells from spreading - short science articles

    Researchers have shown that it could be possible to freeze cancer cells and then kill them. The drug named KBU2046 has shown effectiveness to inhibit cell mobility in human cell models of solid cancers like prostate, breast, colon and lung. This drug engages with the heat shock proteins, the cleaners of a cell. The drug binds to these cleaner proteins which stop the movement of the cells. This could be a new way of treating cancer since several drugs solely concentrate on killing the cancer cells but the majority of cancer mortality is due to metastasis of these cells to distant organs.

    Read the full story: OSHU
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    The organization of the blood vessels in the kidney, where the blood is filtered, is quite different than previously thought
    New views on the structure of the kidney - Health science news

    The structure of the kidney has been studied essentially to completion over the last 170 years, or so we thought. Now, researchers have discovered that the structure of the blood vessels within the kidney is quite different from what has been presented for years in the textbooks. Using improved microscopic analyses, the researchers have identified until now unrecognized blood vessel regions that may be lacking in smaller species or even human infants, as there is simply no place for them in smaller kidneys. This, however, needs further confirmation. The current study might lead to a better understanding of kidney diseases.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology

    Increased salt intake unequivocally linked to increased risk of death
    High salt intake linked to increased death risk - short science articles

    There has been controversy recently regarding the relationship between increased risk of death and salt intake. However, a new study suggests that an inaccurate estimation technique was responsible for these paradoxical results. Previous studies used spot test to determine sodium excreted in human urine samples; however there is wide fluctuation in the sodium level in the urine and hence for a more accurate measurement, one needs to do a 24 hrs measurement. Scientists used this gold standard technique of using an average of multiple non-consecutive urine samples of 3000 patients with pre-hypertension and found that there was a direct relationship between increased sodium intake and risk of death.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: International Journal of Epidemiology

    It is important to minimize the risk of mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent
    Keystone virus jumped from mosquitos to humans for the first time - health science news

    The Keystone virus, first found in the Tampa Bay-area in Florida, has been found in a teenager that was hospitalized with a rash and fever symptoms in August 2016. While the patients did not report symptoms of encephalitis, viral cultures from his samples showed that the virus grows well in mouse neuronal cell cultures, suggesting that the virus can infect the brain. The Keystone virus is a member of the California serogroup of viruses that can cause encephalitis in humans, and can apparently be transmitted by mosquitos, just like the Zika virus for instance.

    Read the full story: University of Florida
    Scientific publication: Clinical Infectious Diseases

    Thioredoxin-interactive protein could enable the ageing process
    Important molecule for ageing discovered - short science articles

    Scientists have discovered an important protein which is a central switch in the ageing process. The protein named TXNIP (thioredoxin-interactive protein) is responsible for shifting the balance of reactive oxidative species (ROS) from optimal to harmful amounts. These ROS accumulate in the cell and cause damage to the DNA which then ultimately changes the proteins and lipids in the cell. The cells of 55-year-old volunteers were significantly higher in TXNIP as compared to younger volunteers. Then the researchers bred flies with high or low levels of TXNIP and found that those with higher TXNIP lived shorter. Since these proteins are highly conserved in all species, it is highly likely that similar mechanisms exist in humans.

    Read the full story: German Cancer Research Center
    Scientific publication: FEBS letters

    A higher fat content could be associated with lower breast cancer in young women
    Younger women with high body fat associated with lower breast cancer risk - short science articles

    In sharp contrast to the increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with obesity, a large-scale study in premenopausal women has shown that higher body fat is linked with lower breast cancer risk. This is true for women even in the normal weight range. The largest risk reduction was seen in women in the age group of 18-24 years, with a decreased risk of 23%. Several factors could contribute to this link of higher BMI and lower breast cancer such as differences in hormones, growth factor or breast density. For example, the estrogen produced in fat tissue could induce a negative release effect on estrogen from the ovaries thereby controlling the release of growth factors. This isn't an excuse to gain weight, but an indication that we still need to understand the factors contributing to breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.

    Read the full story: UNC
    Scientific publication: JAMA oncology

    Being married decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases
    Your marriage literally protects you against diseases - short science articles

    Researchers conducted a pooled analysis of available data and found that being married might protect us against the development of heart diseases and stroke. Those who were married had a 42% lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and a 16% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Further, those who weren't married had an increased risk of death due to heart disease or stroke by 42% and 55% respectively. In-depth analysis showed that divorcees had a 35% while widowers had a 16% higher risk of stroke. There could be several reasons for better health of married people including early recognition of health problems, better financial security and enhanced wellbeing. This is prompting researchers to include marital status as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular heart diseases.

    Read the full story: BMJ news
    Scientific publication: Heart

    Intermittent fasting diet induces weight loss
    16:8 diet for weight loss - short science articles

    Researchers have found that time-restricted eating, i.e. fasting during a select few hours in a day could induce weight loss in obese individuals as compared to controls. This time restricted dieting plan actually resulted in a lower consumption of calories through the day. Additionally, there was a fall in the blood pressure as well. This diet is named so because it involves 16 hours of 'fasting' and 8 hours of 'feasting'. These results are similar to the alternate day fasting regimen but the 16:8 diet plan is easier to maintain for people.

    Read the full story: University of Illinois
    Scientific publication: Nutrition and Healthy Aging

    Some chemicals routinely found in daily care products may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
    Chemical in toothpaste and soap may help create superbugs - science news in short

    A new study investigated the relationship between chemicals found in personal care products, such as toothpaste and hand soap and antibiotic resistance. They found that triclosan, a chemical present in more than 2000 care products, can induce antibiotic resistance contributing to the creation of “superbugs” (antibiotic-resistant microorganisms). "These chemicals are used in much larger quantities at an everyday level, so you end up with high residual levels in the wider environment, which can induce multi-drug resistance,” said one of the authors. This discovery calls for a re-evaluation of the impact of the chemicals found in care products since antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health.

    Read the full story: The University of Queensland
    Scientific publication: Environment International

    Bacteria in the fat mouse contribute to mood and insulin resistance problems
    Gut microbiota contribute to mood changes and insulin resistance in obesity - health science news

    Bacteria living the guts of mice fed with a high-fat diet can contribute to anxiety and depression that is frequently observed in obese people and diabetes type 2 patients. Also, the presence of these bacteria in the gut induced insulin resistance in two important brain areas, the hypothalamus (helps controlling body metabolism) and the nucleus accumbens (involved in mood and behavior). Transplanting the gut bacteria to mice that were germ-free (thus without any bacteria of their own) was enough to induce all of these symptoms, and the use of antibiotics reversed them back to normal. The results suggest that getting rid of the wrong bacteria, or promoting the growth of good ones, can be helpful to treat these symptoms in type 2 diabetes.

    Read the full story: Joslin Diabetes Center
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry

    Replacing starchy food with lentils decreases blood sugar levels
    Blood glucose levels significantly reduced by lentils - short science articles

    Researchers have found that replacing rice or potatoes with lentils can reduce the blood sugar levels by at least 20% and 35% respectively. The study lead authors state that pulses are very nutrient dense foods which can reduce chronic diseases which are associated with deranged blood glucose levels. The lentils can slow down the digestion and release of sugars found in the starchy foods which can ultimately reduce the blood glucose levels. Further, the researchers state that the lentils contain substances which inhibit the enzymes involved in absorption of glucose and the fibre content in them facilitate the production of short chain fatty acids also leading to lower blood sugar levels.

    Read the full story: University of Glueph
    Scientific publication: The Journal of Nutrition

    A small moelcule PM-43I could help treat asthma effectively
    A tiny molecule could defeat asthma - short science articles

    At the epicentre of asthma attacks which cripple millions worldwide is a transcription factor STAT6 which is necessary for expression of several genes in the lungs which then produce all the inflammatory substances involved in the attack. Now, scientists have designed a small molecule PM-43I which specifically inhibits the STAT6 in the lung cells which additionally doesn't trigger unwanted side-effects. PM-43I is able to reverse preexisting allergic airway disease in mice did not have any long-term lung toxicity and is efficiently excreted out by the kidney. An important advantage of this drug is that patients could stop taking steroids which have several side effects like suppression of immunity. Researchers are moving the drug towards next stage of testing it in humans.

    Read the full story: Baylor College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Journal of Biological Chemistry

    Implantable, patient-friendly, device for continuous delivery of drugs to the heart. Image: Second Bay Studios/Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Direct and continuous delivery of medication to the heart to prevent heart failure - health science news

    Scientists have engineered a device that can be implanted on the heart for the delivery of drugs on a continual basis to treat the after effects of a heart attack. The device can be connected to a pump through a tube so that it can be refilled, not only with drugs but also with stem cells or proteins, should this be desired. This device is especially designed to prevent or treat the scarring that occurs after a heart attack, which can lead to heart failure.

    Read the full story: Harvard – John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Nature Biomedical Engineering

    New approach to treat cancers, including certain types of lung cancer
    Targeting a cancer cell’s metabolic need to fight tumors - health science news

    Researchers have successfully targeted an understudied metabolic pathway in cancer cells to arrest cell growth and survival. This pathway concerns oxidative phosphorylation, which can now be inhibited by a newly developed drug. The drug was tested in preclinical studies for treating lung cancers with a special genetic mutation, which makes the cancerous cells sensitive to the drug, as these cells consume more oxygen and display increased oxidative phosphorylation for their metabolic needs. This study therefore provides the basis of the development of new medication for a number of cancers.

    Read the full story: University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine – drug
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine – preclinical lung cancer study

    Recovery of dementia might be possible thanks to a drug that is already used for the treatment of asthma
    Medication for asthma reverses cognitive impairment in mice with dementia - health science news

    A common type of pathology in the brain observed in dementia (tau pathology) can be reversed by a drug that is already approved for the treatment of asthma, and is known as zileuton. It reduces the levels of leukotrienes (fat-like substances that play a role in allergies), which are normally useful for the protection of neurons at the short term, but are detrimental at the long term. In the brain of experimental mice with dementia, zileuton reduced the levels of leukotrienes by 90% and completely restored synapses that neurons use to communicate. This is the first study showing that it is possible to intervene after dementia has been established in mice.

    Read the full story: Temple University
    Scientific publication: Molecular Neurobiology

    Stopping smoking might be easier in the future with new therapeutic molecules
    New molecules to quit smoking in development - health science news

    In an effort to develop drugs that can facilitate smoking cessation therapies, researchers have modified a commonly used drug, cytisine, to make it more specific for nicotine receptors in the brain. The new molecules will thus reduce the side effects of cytisine, and will still give partial reward, which is required by smokers to cope with cravings. The new molecules will be at the basis for further drug design to create effective and specific therapeutic agents, making cessation of smoking easier.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Chem

    Negative social media experiences correlate with depressive symptoms
    Negative social media experiences induce depression symptoms - science news in brief

    A new study investigated the correlations between social media experiences and depression symptoms reported by young adults. It was found that positive social media experiences were not linked in any significant way with depression. However, the negative experiences were strongly associated with it. Each 10 percent increase in negative experiences was associated with a 20 percent increase in the odds of depressive symptoms. The findings may be useful for designing interventions and clinical recommendations to reduce the risk of depression. Just another reminder that we should be cautious and critical while using the social media!

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh
    Scientific publication: Depression and Anxiety

    The more time a young person spends in education, the higher the chances for developing myopia
    Too much time spent in education may induce myopia - science news in brief - health

    A study investigated the causal link between the time spent in education and myopia, in a large population cohort from the UK. The conclusion was that the more time people spend educating themselves, the higher the chances of developing myopia. For every additional year of education, there was an increase in myopic refractive error of ‑0.27 dioptres/year. Exactly how this happens is not clear from the study. One likely explanation is that children spend less time outdoors. This is in agreement with previous studies that showed that spending more time outdoors protects against myopia. The findings have important applications for educational practices.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: BMJ

    Human kidneys in the body
    New test coming on the market that can predict diabetic kidney disease - health technology science news

    A new test can accurately predict diabetic kidney disease before the disease sets in. The test concerns measurements of certain proteins in the blood. About 10% of diabetic patients will develop loss of kidney function, and this test aims to prevent kidney dialysis and make early preventive measures possible. The test is now slowly brought on the market in the US, and the company producing the test, Proteomics International Laboratories from Perth, Australia, is now discussing with other countries as well to make the test widely accessible.

    Read the full story: University of Western Australia

    Detection of scarring wounds might be facilitated with newly developed nanoparticles
    New nanoparticles might replace biopsy to assess skin scarring - health science news

    Using nanoparticles coated with pieces of DNA, researchers have developed a new tool to detect abnormal skin scarring in an early stage. The nanoparticles penetrate 2 mm into the skin and then enter skin cells. The DNA will light up in the cells when genes are active that promote abnormal scarring, and this can be seen with the aid of a hand-held fluorescent microscope. This new technique could replace biopsies in the near future, and allows doctors to intervene early in the scarring process. Also, the DNA can be changed so that it might detect e.g. skin cancer cells in future applications of the nanoparticles.

    Read the full story: Nanyang Technological University Singapore
    Scientific publication: Nature Biomedical Engineering

    Toxic chemotherapy can be safely omitted in 70% of breast cancer patients
    Most breast cancer patients can refrain from chemotherapy - cancer science news

    A groundbreaking study has revealed that most women suffering from breast cancer do not need chemotherapy. Scientists and medical doctors have come to this conclusion on the basis of the expression of 21 genes that together provide a risk profile of cancer recurrence. This assessment shows that as much as 69% of the patients can safely refrain from chemotherapy, without the outcome of their therapy and life-expectancy being compromised.

    Read the full story: Loyola University Medical Center
    Scientific publication: New England Journal of Medicine

    Feeding fruit flies with probiotics and supplement prolongs their lives by 66%
    Feed your microbiome well, and you will live a long and healthy life - health science news

    Scientists feeding fruit flies with a combination of probiotics and an herbal supplement observed that the flies lived up to 66 days old. This is 26 days more than without the supplement. Further, the flies with the supplement were protected against chronic diseases associated with aging, such as insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress. The study shows the importance of the microbiome, and its influence on the brain and healthy aging in fruit flies. This may also apply to human health, the researchers say.

    Read the full story: McGill University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    Submissive mice live shorter than dominant mice as a consequence of social stress
    Social stress linked to shorter life span in mice - health science news

    Mice holding a low position on the hierarchical ladder suffer from social stress imposed by dominant conspecifics. These socially stressed mice show earlier onset of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, a new study shows. They are also at a higher risk than dominant mice of developing cancer. These pathologies coincide with age-related pathologies, and stressed mice indeed have a lower lifespan. These findings parallel observations in humans, where low social and economic status increase the risk of disease and mortality. With the new animal model, researchers aim to increase our understanding of the processes underlying the negative influences of social stress on human health.

    Read the full story: University of Minnesota
    Scientific publication: Aging Cell

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