Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Scientists Develop Synthetic Cell

Synthetic cells - Towards the giant leap from molecules to life

The cell is one of the most unique creation where on one hand it can be seen as just a group of molecules in a membrane while on the other it is a collection of macro-molecular machine which produces and helps molecules grow, multiply and transfer information. These molecules along with chemical reactions help create life. The mechanism behind this is being studied by Professor Marileen Dogterom of the Bio-nanoscience field, to eventually form synthetic cells by re-creation of cellular machineries. According to her theory, these synthetic cells could provide the insight required to modify and restore human cells which could be used in treatment of cure of diseases easily.

Synthetic cells Extremely Active and Vibrant

Drug research helps in finding out which aspect in the cell is to be treated or worked upon to restore it back to the original version of it that was harmed by the disease. Professor Dogterom says that there will be a lot of trials and errors in drug research as long as the mechanisms in the cell are not fully understood. Once the necessary mechanisms are recreated, there will be a better understanding to how and where diseases originate from. At the same time, this will help reveal how exactly do medications work and how cell mechanisms are repaired. It would, in all probability, lead to more focused drug researches and give an in-depth understanding to disease processes with less detrimental side effects.

The number and intricacy of cell mechanisms that can be reconstructed outside cells has increased vastly in recent years. Dogterom thus is optimistic about the future saying that this will help put together something that has the basic abilities as life within the next two decades. The basic competences of life are the ability to create and use molecules, also known as metabolism, tranfering of cellular information to progeny via DNA and cell evolution and multiplication. Currently the researches are focused on mainly these three competences separately.

How Does Synthetic cells Give Inspiration to Researches?

The combination of these three separate mechanisms might be accessible once they are mastered. Once this combination is achieved there will be a tremendous breakthrough in synthetic cells research, says Dogterom. The research on synthetic cells is very vital and is still a small step in arena of vast possibilities. Dogterom concludes that it is helpful to know what information from the research is relevant to clinicians along with letting the research community know about her works so that both can work hand in hand in the field of researching on synthetic cells. It is inspiring as with their feedback, more progress can be made in this area within a reasonable amount of time.

Synthetic Cells for Building Synthetic Bone Implant

This same research has been applied by scientists to develop synthetic bone tissue that could change the face of bone marrow transplants, which usually produces a lot of undesirable side effects, according to a Medical Xpress report. Patients who require a bone marrow transplant are stereotypically required to undergo radiation treatment. The radiation kills the stem cells in the marrow that would conflict with the donor cells and makes space.

Among the many side effects, patients suffer from nausea, tiredness and infertility resulting from this treatment. As a solution to these problems, a bone-like implant was created using synthetic cells by bio-engineers from the University of California San Diego. This implant allows the donor cells their own space where they can live and grow without any interference from the existing stem cells in the marrow. As a result, the existing stem cells are not required to be killed, thus preventing the use of radiation on patients.

Experiments and researches were conducted on mice, where it was discovered that the implanted bone marrow was fully functional and it allowed the donor cells to grow and live for a long period of time even in the company of host cells. Both the host and the donor cells could travel between the blood circulating through the network of blood vessels formed in the implant tissue and the implant itself. However, there are certain restrictions to its implementation as the bone implants cannot be applied to patients with malignant bone marrow diseases with cancerous cells that have to be killed off.

Raised Stakes in the Quest to Harness Synthetic Life

Craig Venter, a Genomics entrepreneur, has formed synthetic cells that hold the tiniest genomes of any known, independent life form. This discovery is a landmark in his team’s research, spanning about 20 years of time, in making an in-depth study of life’s bare essentials and understanding the process of evolution of life from scratch. He is a co-founder of a company that researches in harnessing synthetic cells for use in the industrial field. His whole research is based on the idea that instead of making a brand new life form, we can build on what already exists and base the research on that.

The first synthetic cells were made in 2010 where an existing bacterial genome was copied and was transplanted into another cell. Unlike those, the minimal cells’ genome is like nothing ever seen in nature and is made up of a whole new and artificial species. In order to test his ideologies, Venter and his team proceeded to build a minimal genome starting from basics by connecting together chemically synthesised DNA segments. With the help of new technologies, they put in efforts in making an exact copy of a genome.

After overcoming many setbacks and obstacles, Venter and his team had a breakthrough where they discovered a gene design which had all the essential genes required for cellular activities such as making proteins, duplicating DNA and constructing cellular membranes. However, their research still had many unsolved puzzles which they yet had to unlock.

This genome designing techniques are believed to be useful by researchers for applications such as editing a genome to include new amino acids. This will be the new favourable approach to conduct therapies. Venter acknowledged that he stumbled upon his find and that it was completely through trial and error instead of being based on a carefully studied approach on how to build an operative genome. However, he said he sees quick improvements in the future and the preferred approach for manipulating life would be the process of genome synthesis from scratch.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Birth Control Made Easier: Scientists Found Sperm’s Power Switch—And a Way to Turn It Off

vasagel
The ancient birth control techniques ranging from using linen to animal bladder sheaths have evolved with time and new age discoveries. The effective and safe contraception or fertility control methods were available from the twentieth century including condoms, IUDs, birth control pills, vasectomy and tubal ligation. Scientists knew very little about the process of fertilization on a molecular level. Discovery of the crucial mechanism of the reproduction can pave the way for new fertility treatments which will eventually improve the fertility rates. Alternatively, it can lead to the production of unisex contraceptive.


In simpler words, sperms need to be kept away from eggs. But putting up a barrier is not the only way. Sperm cells are good in both swimming and drilling. The most common birth control tool is the condom. Proper use of condom actually helps in targeting the swimming portion of the process of pregnancy thereby controlling the sperm cells. But recent discoveries have shown that scientists have been able to find a way to stop the sperm cells in the drilling task. The result would be an effective treatment that would work equally for both men and women.


The sperm cells travel at a high speed to the fallopian tube from the cervix through the uterus moving their tails side to side. It swims around 24000 times of their own length of their body to reach the egg. Now the egg is covered in a thirty-micron thick protective layer known as the zona pellucida which is impossible for the five micron long headed human sperm to penetrate.

The sperm cells then turn into a direction and corkscrewing their head forward pierces through the viscous outer layers of the egg. This process is termed as the " power kick" by the scientists which means a huge amount to calcium ions are dumped into the sperm's tail. A particular enzyme on the tails of these hyperactive sperms responds to progesterone, the female sex hormone, which helps in activation of the power kick which in turn boosts the swimming speed of the sperms. It is believed that progesterone affects the progression the sperms. Scientists in a recent development introduced small electrodes that were attached to the tails of the sperm cells to record their responses to various hormones.


The power kick banks upon the Catsper despite the presence of thousands of different kinds of ion channels. When the sperm gets close to the unfertilized egg the CatSper activates to let in the calcium and encounters the progesterone. Few chemical compounds bind with the CatSper and helps in prevention of the calcium ions dump required for the power kick. There are two most promising compounds that come from plants consumed by the humans - lupeol found in the mangoes, grapes etc.


The previous male contraceptives have either failed or dropped due to its side effects. This new discovery would make a compelling pitch for drug makers. However, vasalgel is an exception here. It is a gel like barrier used to block sperms. It has passed the primate trials and has shown positive results.







Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Researchers Find New Source of Dangerous Electrical Instability in the Heart

Worldwide, at least 30 million people are living with slogans. In spite of improved treatment options, patients with pre-fibrillation still suffer from stroke, develop heart failure, and die prematurely. On the initiative of the Competence Network, and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), an international expert group has now developed a plan to improve the quality of the treatment of pre-slurries. The AFNET / EHRA consensus report is published today in the journal EP Europace.

 More than 70 experts from almost every continent participated in the conference and exchanged their experiences. "In view of the great diversity of health systems worldwide, the different countries can learn from each other and develop better models for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. We hope that this plan, which has been created by specialists from different parts of the world, will help to improve the treatment of squibs in Europe and the world, "said Prof. Gerhard Hindricks, President of EHRA.

Several million people in the world have unidentified and therefore untreated pre-fibrillation, combined with a high risk of stroke and death. The AFNET / EHRA Roadmap recommends the introduction of a large-scale pre-screening screening for over-65s and high-risk populations to enable early diagnosis and treatment of pre-fibrillation.

Anticoagulants (anticoagulant drugs for stroke prevention) can only be effective if taken regularly. Therefore, strategies must be defined to minimize disruption or discontinuation of anticoagulation therapy.

Enlightened patients

For a successful therapy of atrial fibrillation - the experts agree on this - all patients should be involved in the decisions about their treatment. The prerequisite for this is that the patients are well informed. In order to achieve this, the authors recommend to improve the availability of free information on pre-ventilations and associated complications and treatment options.

 Patient-friendly initiatives, such as the EHRA-developed patient website, available in five European languages, are considered to be very helpful to the inclusion of the Patients. In addition, "patient reported outcomes" should be used to capture symptoms and consequences of pre-fibrillation from the patient's perspective.

Structured treatment

Adequate treatment of pre-fibrillated patients is complex. Prof. Andreas Gotte, member of the board, said: "Such a aid of pre-fibrillation should check that all patients are offered information based therapy." Therefore, the AFNET / EHRA Plan recommends a structured approach guided by interdisciplinary teams Of care plans for all vaccine patients. Improved therapy

Several million people in the world have unidentified and therefore untreated pre-fibrillation, combined with a high risk of stroke and death. The AFNET / EHRA Roadmap recommends the introduction of a large-scale pre-screening screening for over-65s and high-risk populations to enable early diagnosis and treatment of pre-fibrillation. Anticoagulants (anticoagulant drugs for stroke prevention) can only be effective if taken regularly. Therefore, strategies must be defined to minimize disruption or discontinuation of anticoagulation therapy.

The experts recommend the development of standards with which the quality and success of the pre-flax ablation can be measured uniformly. Frequently, the rhythm disturbance is not completely eliminated by an ablation. Further studies are needed to find the best treatment for patients with presumptive relapse after ablation.

Personalized treatment

Further research is needed to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pre-fibrillation. The experts propose to evaluate genetic factors, specific biomarkers, and ECG parameters to identify different subtypes of atrial fibrillation in individual patients and to develop more targeted therapies.

For example, new biomarkers or ECG information could be used to better estimate the individual risk of anticoagulation in patients with a medium or low risk of stroke. At present, it is not yet known whether these patients benefit from anticoagulation therapy or not. Prof. A. John Camm, the future president of the EHRA and co-organizers of the Fifth AFNET / EHRA Conference, concludes: "We believe that the proposed research activities can aid to hone the treatment of atrial fibrillation and the treatment for many patients around the world to improve. There is an imperative need for long-term research funding to enable the implementation of sufficiently large studies

Monday, 15 May 2017

First Arrival Hypothesis in Darwin’s Finches Gets Some Caveats

The finch species of the Galapagos Islands became the crowning testimonies of Darwin theory.
Already more than 200 years ago, many scholars had noticed that the living creatures are using all imaginable survival recipes - today one would say to fill all the biological niches - and that the multitude of species could not have all been fit for Noah's Ark. There must have been a development of the species.

In addition, it was already known at the time that innumerable species, which could be reconstructed from fossils, had to have perished. It could not be that the species were created and then not changed. Since skeletons of living beings were found in the fossil-bearing layers, which had to be clearly related to species living today, the idea that there must be a development of the species was obvious. In the sequence of the geological layers, it was also clear (mostly) that the fossils embedded in it were all the more primitive the older the layers were.

Thus, mammals have only existed since the Cretaceous, fish appear later than molluscs, etc. One could even use the fossils to define a sequence of the geological ages; one could use the fossils of a stratum to roughly estimate their age. The idea that first came to the fore was that the life is derived from simple monks who have split up into many species.

Suddenly, nature invented a multicellular organism, probably from a colony-forming single cell, and began the era of the multicellular. At first, "simple" animals such as jellyfish, hollow animals or worms emerged, later (next stage of development) animals with internal skeletal (skeletal) or external skeleton (arthropods) developed And birds, there is a similar sequence for the plants.

Anyone who has slipped over the Pacific waves of Santa Cruz to the neighboring island Isabela without help from the travel agent with the postboat of the Galapagos Islands feels like Darwin. You have finally solid ground under your feet, and the sea sickness leaves you a first time in peace.

The young British naturalist enters the firm's volcanic ground in September 1835, the year when the first railroad line is put into operation on the European mainland in Belgium, the printer Carl Bertelsmann founds a publishing company in Gutersloh, and the Bayerische Hypotheken- und Wechselbank in Munich And Hegel's "Lectures on Aesthetics" appear in book form. 1835 is, however, the year in which Charles Darwin collects those impressions, animal bellies and deeper insights that are decisive for Darwin theory of evolution.

This is what the legend says: On every island, the naturalist sees new species of animals which are very similar to those of the neighboring island. He concludes that these different species had a common ancestor, so that species are altered and not created by God, as the Bible says. Especially a group of animals is supposed to have given him this revolutionary insight when he made island hopping together with Captain Fitz-Roy: the finches living there with their different sized beaks.

The so-called "Darwin-Finches" today, together with illustrations, appear in every textbook, along with the explanation of how they came to their different beaks. On one of the young volcanic islands, which were still bird-free, there had once been a swastika of a mainland, almost a thousand miles distant. It. Their descendants colonize the island. And like the storm that once brought the Eve-Finkin over it, in the following millennia, the Founder-Finch also travels from there to the other islands. And depending on the food supply - insects, cacti, hard-shell fruits - the animals adapt themselves for generations, especially in the form of their beaks. They find their respective ecological niche.
This is Darwin theory of evolution - not in a nutshell, but in a few finches. How do species develop? Not by millions of creatures, but by other means. Why do they arise? Because, when the environmental conditions change, they also have to adapt. How does this adjustment come about? Through "natural selection". The individuals of a species differ slightly from one another, and the characteristics which are of advantage in the respective environment are determined by generations. Why are there so many species? Because of a kind of new species, for example by an "adaptive radiation", in which different ecological niches are occupied by the offspring. Just as the finches have done on Galapagos

Friday, 12 May 2017

New Model Could Speed Up Colon Cancer Research

MIT

Colon cancer buster

Gene editing science has been an area of growth for genetic engineers and researchers across the globe. With progressing research studies, newer treatment options are being devised and successfully delivered. One such research conducted by MIT researchers have used new gene-editing systems to generate colon tumors, resembling human tumors. A new approach to a pre-existing method in genetic sciences. This paves the path for further investigation into knowledge about disease progression.

Metastases and detection:

The highest cause of death due to colon cancer is metastases, which is difficult to detect. The disease progression is so high, that fatality is hard to control even after various treatment procedures. A recent study by the director of Koch Institute, Tyler Jacks, uses similar CRISPR- based technology to build mouse models of the disease, revolutionizing research in the field of oncology.

Various approaches have been used for modeling cancer, one of them being the usage of cancer cell lines in lab dishes. This poses a lot of limitations. Another method used is mutations, which is then genetically engineered in the mice.

Recent studies involving CRISPR, which consists of DNA- cutting enzyme Cas9 and short RNA guide strands, which specialize in targeting specific genome sequences. Using the same method scientists can make targeted mutations, by either removing or adding genes. The genes for Cas9 are packaged into lentiviruses, which are then injected into target organs of the mice, transferred by colonoscopy.

What follows?

Gene editing makes this procedure possible. By virtue of which, after establishment of the tumor, mutations can be added or deleted, making the study process more complicated and informative. The information includes the aspects of metastases, initiation and progression of the tumor from liver to various parts of the body. This also helps in studying the pattern of metastases which again is peculiar in human colon.

The MIT team delivered organoids with a mutated form of the APC gene, which when established, were introduced in a mutated form of KRAS, commonly found in colon and many other cancers. These new approaches have cut short research time and has sped up the process of gene editing.

Implications:

Gene editing, this newest form of development in the field of oncology helps in drug testing, making it more successful. This ensures widening of treatment options. Factors such as age, metabolism, sex etc are also taken into consideration while conducting the study. This helps scientists choose best options for individual patients.

The mice are studied over a period of time to gain results, even though the study is supposed to be prolonged, various new discoveries and science have made it easier and faster. This helps in minimizing of side-effects post treatment and other health implications by three folds.

Genetic research shows a progressive growth over the years, showing immense scope and employment options. Diseases are getting detected sooner and treatment delivered on time. This in turn saves a lot of time, cost, manpower and patient care excels automatically.

How Can We Measure Human Oxytocin Levels?

Smart way to measure the human oxytocin levels

Oxytocin is known in a number of ways as the hype hormone or simply a love and trust chemical. It might seem awkward but this thought process resulted in a number of studies which has tried to find the relationship between the oxytocin and feeling of trust. This particular research paper has been published as a meta-analysis by a group of Norwegian researchers who discovered that level of oxytocin present in blood doesn’t actually result in clearly measuring the same present in the brain. In short the presence of the said hormone in the blood has no relation with its levels in the central nervous system in the normal conditions so measuring it from the blood is quite contradictory.

Research brings some remarkable results

This group of researchers were led by Mathias Valstad who helped in combining the results of 7 different studies wherein the hormone present in the blood was compared against the hormone present in the central nervous system. Central oxytocin is usually measured in the cerebrospinal fluid which is taken from the spinal tap and during the course of their research it was made clear that the there is no evidence which shows a correlation between the said hormone present in the blood and the brain.
They also came to the conclusion that blood works a definite tool for simply assessing the impact of any kind of treatment on oxytocin but it isn’t helpful in studying the hormone in its best state. Usually the treatment utilized for increasing the hormone level included intrasanal oxytocin and blood plasma.

Researchers prove that mood swings aren’t related to plasma oxytocin

Over the time it has been seen a wide amount of research has been attempting to link that particular hormone concentration in the blood with the psychiatric disorder and physiological phenotypes. This has resulted in cementing the unwanted assumption that the effects of the hormone tends to rise or increase in relation to it amount in the blood. The present data collected by the researcher disputes these assumptions and asks for making different experiments for measuring the amount of hormone from the brain to the blood for better benefit of the human kind.

Earlier studies are quite disruptive in their assumptions

The current finding of the Norwegian researcher’s team has shed light on a number of false assumptions and results being crafted by the researchers in the past which helped in bringing a biased opinion for oxytocin. There are a number of studies which offers literally worse assumption like the psychological wellbeing is directly related to the urinary oxytocin. This can be interrelated example as the hormone tends to enter the urine from the blood itself. But this hormone is a proxy of the blood or plasma oxytocin and in no way it shows any relation with hormone present in the brain. It should be noted that this particular doesn’t question all the hormone related studies conducted over the years rather it tries to offer an answer whether the hormone is related to the trust or psychological traits in humans.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Why Our Brains are Split Into Right And Left

Brain

The reason behind our brain being split into right and left

For ages we have been taught that the right part of the human brain is associated with creativity while left brain is logical. This particular widely accepted dichotomy very cleverly dissects the brain into two equal proportion which deals with very specific set of intelligence but a recent has revealed that such division is wrong. In other words research has simply pointed that human brain can’t be divided into hemisphere as well as labelled with specific set of intelligence which defines a human being.
The left and right hemisphere of brain

Physically both hemisphere of the brain happens to be nearly identical and it was in 19th century when physicians started noticing there are some definite differences between the two hemispheres. Researchers were trying to answer the universal question of why the human brain is split in two hemispheres.

The reason behind our being divided two different hemispheres is fairly simple as it helps in delegating different tasks to different sides of the brain. This shows the might of the brain in handling the complexities of the world in a smart and influential manner. Further humans can also make use of the both the sides of the brain to focus on a single tasks or at different tasks without any issues.

With the evolution our brains had become adapted in using both hemispheres at the same time even for different work which is also known as parallel processing. But as an individual grows he started depending or showing preference to one side of the brain more than the other which has helped in shaping the common notion that left side is widely associated with creativity while right is associated with logic. 

Lots of experiments & researches yet fewer answers

Over the years a number of research works has been done to find right kind of asymmetries to define how the human brain works. Quite interestingly experiments with the genes has helped in affirming that the lateral asymmetries of the brain known to influence our decisions to a great extent.

 It is fascinating to note that more than 40 genes get implicated in order to determine whether an individual turn to be a right or left handed and certainly the environmental factors also plays a vital role in it. Some genetic studies have even stated gender also plays a crucial role along with the genes in order to determine which hand we are likely to prefer.

Researchers have found a unique bias in human for the right side, which is not just contained to the hands. It will come as a surprise that the babies likely to suck their right thumb and happens to turn their heads in the right direction while lying down.

A vast majority of people had been seen turning their heads towards the right side while going for a kiss. So it can be easily assumed that environmental factors play a major role rather than the genes when it comes to choosing the right or left side preference.