Monday, 8 January 2018

Mini Liver Tumours Created in a Dish for the First Time

Organoids – Developed by Scientists for the 1st Time 

Mini biological models of human primary liver cancers, known as organoids, have been created by scientists in the lab for the first time. Published in the paper `Nature Medicine’, the miniature laboratory models of tumours have been utilised in identifying a new drug which could probably treat certain kind of liver cancer.

The second most dangerous cancer which is known all over the world is the primary liver cancer and in order to comprehend better the biology of the disease and develop potential treatments, the researchers had the necessity of models which could develop in the lab and precisely reflect on how the tumours tend to behave in patients. Earlier, cultures of cells were utilised though these tend to be difficult to maintain and have failed in recreating the 3D structure as well as tissue architecture of human tumours.

The mini tumours had been created up to 0.5mm by the researchers which had been named as `tumouroids’ – mimic the three most common forms of primary liver cancer. The cell of the tumours had been surgically detached from 8 patients and the same were grown in a solution comprising of precise nutrients together with substance that had prevented healthy cells opposing the tumours cell.

Tumouroids Utilised to Test Efficacy of Drugs 

The tumouroids were utilised to test the efficacy of 29 various drugs comprising of those present used in the treatment and drugs in growth, by the group from the Wellcome/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute in Cambridge.

A compound in the form of protein inhibitor had been located to hinder the activation of a protein known as ERK in two of the three kinds of tumouroids, which is a vital step in the growth of liver cancer. Thereafter the researchers had tested the compound in vivo, transplanting two kinds of tumouroids in mice, treating them with the drug. There was a noticeable reduction in the growth of the tumours in mice that had been treated with the drug, ascertaining a probable novel treatment for some kind of primary liver cancer.

The tumouroids had been capable of preserving tissue structure together with the gene expression patters of the original human tumours from where they had been derived. Single subtypes of three various kinds of liver cancer together with the various tumour tissues which came seemed to be different even when they had been developed in a dish for a long time.

Organoids From healthy Liver Tissue

As the tumouroids seems to maintain the biological features of their parent tumour, they could play an important role in developing personalised medicine for patients. The construction of biologically perfect models of tumours could reduce the number of animals required for certain experiments.

The study of animals would be essential in validating discoveries though the tumouroids would enable scientists in exploring main issues regarding the biology of liver cancer in cultures instead of mice. Dr. Meritxell Huch, lead researcher, a Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Colleague from the Gurdon Institute commented that they had earlier created organoids from healthy liver tissue though the creation of liver tumouroids seemed to be a big leap forward for cancer research.

They will enable them to understand much better the biology of liver cancer and with progressed work would be capable of testing drugs for each patient to produce personalised treatment plans. Head of Cellular and Developmental Sciences at Wellcome, Dr Andrew Chisholm stated that this work portrays the power of organoid cultures to model human cancers.

 It is impressive to view just how well the organoids tend to be capable of mimicking the biology of various liver tumour categories. This has provided the researcher with a better way of investigating this disease.

Funded by NC3RS /Wellcome & Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre 

Dr Laura Broutier, one of the researchers had explained that they collect a section of a tumour from a patient and thereafter divide this section into four portions in the lab. One part is utilised to do organoid culture and the other parts are utilised in assessing the genetics of the original tumour.

 These organoids are shown mimicking the original tumours. Cells in 2D cultures acquire new mutations which are not in the patient towards the beginning while these 3D cultures tend to keep the original mutations and do not need new mutations. These models have a tendency to to be vital for the next generation of cancer research and need to permit scientists to minimise the numbers of animals utilised for the purpose of research.

Chief Executive of the NC3Rs Dr Vicky Robinson that had somewhat financed the work stated that they were pleased to see that the funds from their annual 3Rs prize sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, had promoted Dr Huch’s research. Every year the prize gained recognition for exceptional science which furthered the 3Rs. The work is being conducted by Meri and her team and tends to make progress in this area.

This innovation involving liver cancer organoids is said to have the capability of reducing the number of animals needed in the initial stages of liver cancer research and provide more biologically accurate models of human tumours. This work had been funded by a National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement as well as Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) research prize, together with Wellcome and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

'Y’ a Protein Unicorn Might Matter in Glaucoma

'Y’ a Protein Unicorn

First Discovery – Encoded By Gene – Protein Linked with Glaucoma

Recent discovery has been done on Y-shape towards the base of myoclin linking together four popular proteins forms known as olfactomedins or propellers in segments of four. To get some insight on myocilin is essential in definite types of hereditary glaucoma.

Raquel Lieberman, the artist behind this interpretation is said to be the main investigator of the group which has set a Y-shaped structure, considered to be the first ever discovery which had been encoded by a gene and not built from protein component parts. This amazing discovery had been done by researcher regarding protein linked with glaucoma which for more than two years had gone through a tough lab test.

A new research paper had been published regarding the same and what was observed had been certified. It was a Y-shape which had made it peculiarly significant to science and probably to medicine, especially in the treatment of certain kind of blindness.

Raquel Lieberman leading the study had commented that a protein of this kind had not been reported earlier and there seems to be very few Y-shapes in protein at all. Lieberman is a structural biologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and expert on myocilin that is a protein which at times is associated in a form of hereditary glaucoma.

Common Cause of Blindness Glaucoma 

Universally the second most common cause of blindness is glaucoma and hereditary glaucoma is said to be one type of the ailment. Major cause of hereditary glaucoma is genetic mutation in myocilin that tends to strike especially at a tender age particularly in childhood. It is said that there are other forms in protein that tend to look same to the Y, although with significant variances.

Lieberman had commented that the antibodies appear somewhat like this though in antibodies, separate proteins, which are the various genes of the product that fit together making it a type of Y-shape. This Y is encoded by an individual gene sequence which makes it completely exclusive. Besides being apparent unicorn of protein structure, it seems to be the essential binding component of myocilin.

The Y ties along with major components in nailing down the overall form of myocilin over turning the earlier conception regarding the appearance of protein. However the Y has not been associated in particular in glaucoma, its presence could change the way the researchers would comprehend myocilin and how it tends to function in the eye. It make fibrils when mycolin inclines to go wrong or misfolds, damaging tissue known as trabecular meshwork which have a tendency to generally permit the fluid in the eye to drain and relieve the pressure within.


Myocilin Common in Body

Lieberman, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of chemistry and Biochemistry, had commented that if one destroys the cells responsible for draining the fluid, it would clog and the pressure within the eye would increase.

Moreover that pressure could destroy areas of the retina or optic nerve which would cause irreversible partial or complete blindness. In spite of the fact that myocilin tends to be common in several areas of our body, its usual healthy function in the eye and what functions the protein tends to have in the body seems to be yet a mystery.

Lieberman had further commented that he thinks that if they were aware of what this protein could be doing in the trabecular meshwork then they would comprehend more regarding glaucoma in general. This study has enabled them to get more insight with regards to myocilin. The results had been published by Lieberman on October 19, 2017, in the journal Structure.

The research had been financed by the National Eye Institute together with the National Institute of General Medical Science, both at the National Institutes of Health by the National Science Foundation as well as by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

Stingy Abnormal Proteins 

The purpose of the study so far had been on area of myocilin which tends to be the main issue by way of hereditary glaucoma, which is considered to be protein structure known as the olfactomedin domain. This had been extensively researched by Lieberman. It appeared like a protein propeller having five blades surrounding a hole towards its centre.

Lieberman had also stated that when a myocilin propeller tends to misfolds, it unravels forming amyloid fibrils – stingy abnormal proteins. This damaged the cells which maintain the trabecular network. Till then their work had led them to assume that the propellers floated around exclusively as liberated units and not bound together in groups.

 He further added that they were aware that in solutions, those olfactomedins had been just monomers. They did not make much of a higher order with the exception that when they had untied into amyloid fibres, they stuck together and blocked the flow of fluid.

 The Y tends to change the image and anchors the propellers in cluster of four. Two of the propellers – olfactomedin domains, each seem to be linked probably to the tip of the Y’s branches possibly by amino acid strings.

Super Sticky

The overall myocilin with the Y tends to appear like fur pinwheels on strings linked to a slingshot. Additional new discoveries – The Y tends to be sticky like glue and seems to be bothersome while handling in the lab. He informed that it was sticking to the plastic, to the glass as well as to the membrane, to beads and is super sticky. This could serve a biological function. The Y could perhaps fasten the propellers to surface though it is not known.

Lieberman is of the opinion that the main function would be to pair and separate out these olfactomedin domains. Mutations in the Y are not knowingly linked with glaucoma. Lieberman has stated that when it mutates, it tends to misfold though not in a manner which would cause cell death.

However in usual role the Y could promote the speed of misfolding of the propeller protein which is associated with hereditary glaucoma. When the misfolded proteins tends to come in contact with good proteins it is said that the misfolded one make the ones which are good to misfold also.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Inside the Race to Hack the Human Brain

brain control
Dan Winters
Medical Application – Deeper Comprehension Different/Complex Techniques 

A young woman of 25 years old teachers’ assistant, Lauren Dickerson is on the brink of making history in mind control. She awaits her chance in an ordinary hospital room in Los Angeles with computer cables evolving like futurist dreadlocks from her bandaged wrapped head.

A neurosurgeon had drilled 11 holes through her skull and had slid 11 wires which were the size of spaghetti in her brain connecting the wires to a bank of computers. She is now caged in by bed rails having plastic tubes winding up her arms with medical monitors trailing her vigorous signs. She has been making attempts not to make any movement.

The room had been packed with film crew as they prepared to document the events of the day with two separate teams of specialists to begin work - medical experts from a leading neuroscience centre at the University of Southern California and scientists from a technology company known as Kernel.

The company has been concentrating on medical application with the intention of gaining a deeper comprehension of the different and complex techniques the brain tends to fail. Johnson would eventually prefer to move to supplementing the organ in order to make individuals smarter as well as healthier and pave the way for interfacing with computing devices, directly.

Treating Seizures 

The medical team has been looking out for means of treating the seizures of Dickerson which have been a complicated routine of epilepsy drugs controlled well enough till last year till its effect began to be depressing. The wires inserted in her brains would be assisting in comprehending the source of her seizures.

 The scientists from Kernel have been called there for another purpose. They are employed by Bryan Johnson a 40 year old tech entrepreneur who had sold his business for $800 million and has plans of pursuing an insanely ambitious dream which he intends to take control of evolutions creating an improved human.

His intention is to do this by building a neuroprosthesis, which is a device that enables us to learn quicker, recall more `coevolve; with artificial intelligence, unlock the enigmas of telepathy and probably also join into group minds. He would also want to find a method of downloading skills like martial arts, matrix-style.

A Chip in the Brain 

Moreover, he would want to sell this invention at mass-market prices in order that it is not an exclusive product for the rich. Presently he tends to have an algorithm on a hard drive. When he refers to the neuroprosthesis to conference audiences and reporters, he tends to utilise the media-friendly expression - `a chip in the brain’, though he is aware that he will never sell a mass-market product which is inclined to depend on drilling holes in the skull of human beings.

 On the contrary, the procedures would ultimately link to the brain through some variation on non-invasive interfaces that are created by scientists all over the world. These would be tiny sensors which could be injected in the brain to naturally engineered neurons that could exchange data wireless with a hat-like receiver.

These planned interfaces would be either pipe dreams or years in the future, so in the intervening time he is utilising the wires attached to Dickerson’s hippocampus to aim on a much bigger challenge – brain once linked to it. It is what the procedures tend to do. The wires that that are embedded in the head of Dickerson would be able to record the electrical signals which the neurons of Dickerson send to one another at the time of a series of simple memory tests.

Enhancing Memory

Thereafter the signals will be uploaded onto a hard driver where the system will translate them into a digital code which would be analysed and improved or rewritten. This would be for the purpose of enhancing the memory.

The system will then translate the code into the electrical signals which will be sent to the brain. If it is helpful in generating a few images from the memories she may be having at the time of gathering the data, the researchers would understand that the process tends to be working. Thereafter they could attempt to do the same with memories which had taken place over a period of time, something which no one could have done earlier.

 If these two tests are successful, they would be on their way to decoding the patterns and processes which tend to generate memories. Though the other scientists tend to be utilising identical methods on simpler issues Johnson is said to be the only one attempting to make a commercial neurological product which would improve the memory and would be performing his first human test. It would be the first human test for commercial memory prosthesis. He has commented saying that it is a historic day and he is insanely excited about it.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples

Getting Pesticides Off Apples – Baking Soda

A new concept has been discovered by researchers at the University of Massachusetts who have identified an improved method of getting pesticides off the apples by utilising baking soda. To Wash Apple and get rid of the pesticides with baking soda, it was determined that researchers utilised two kinds of pesticides, the fungicide thiabendazole and the insecticide phosmet.

To conduct the research, the apples had been washed utilising three methods namely tap water, a solution of baking soda and water and a commercial solution of bleach approved for usage by the Environmental Protection Agency. The results of Wash Apple method had been reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of American Chemical Society. The results found the baking soda solution to be the best choice.

After a period of 12 minutes, 80% of thiabendazole had been eliminated while 96% of the phosmet had been removed after 15 minutes. Thiabendazole was considered to be complex to Wash Apple since it had the potential to penetrate much more deeply in the skin of the apple according to the study. Moreover, researchers also observed that peeling the apples could also prove effective in the removal of any pesticide though the key nutrients would be lost with the skin. Hence the ingredient from the pantry proved to be the appropriate option.

Usefulness of Commercial Washing Agent

The study discovered the usefulness of commercial washing agent for the elimination of pesticides residues from apples. Methods that were utilised in determining the effectiveness of various washing agents to Wash Apple of the pesticide residues was surface-enhanced Raman scattering –SERS mapping and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry – LC-MS/MS.

The most effective for Wash Apple method was the surface pesticide residues which were done by sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, NaHCO3) solution in comparison to tap water or Clorox bleach. Utilising 10 mg/mL NaHCO3 of washing solution, within duration of around 12 and 15 minute respectively, thiabendazole or phosmet surface residues was totally eliminated.

Thereafter a 24 h exposure to these pesticides had been applied at a concentration of 125 ng/cm2. Results of LC-MS/MS portrayed that 20% of applied thiabendazole and 4.4% of applied phosmet had infiltrated in the apples after the exposure of 24 h.

The systemic pesticide – thiabendazole infiltrated 4-fold deeper in the apple peel than phosmet which is a non-systemic pesticide leading to more thiabendazole residues within the apple that was unable to wash away, utilising NaHCO3 washing solution.

Peeling Effective – Bioactive Composites Lost


From the research it has been observed that the standard postharvest Wash Apple method utilising Clorox bleach solution for a period of 2 minutes does not seem to be effective in eliminating totally the pesticide from the surface of the apples. The NaHCO3 method tends to be more effective in removing surface pesticides residues from the apples.

 Thiabendazole and phosmet, that tends to support the physical removal force of washing, could degrade in the presence of NaHCO3. In general, the effectiveness of eliminating all pesticide residues reduced as the pesticides infiltrated deeper in the apple.

To Wash Apple on daily application with NaNCO3 solution could decrease pesticides mostly from the surface and peeling could be much more effective in removing the infiltrated pesticides, though the bioactive composites would be lost in the peels.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Needle-Free Drug Injector Gets Commercialization Deal

Needle-Free Drug Injector

A unique needle-free drug injector soon to get into mass production with a commercialization deal

In the medical field needles are life saver but it also happens to be a cause of anxiety for some patients. Certainly no one’s likes being poked upon even if it meant getting your health back on track at the earliest. Needle free drug injector has been developed by a group of researchers at MIT which has passed through a commercialization deal which will help in reducing the pain as well as anxiety of having a injection and certainly it will go a long way in improving patent adherence to treatment. It is worth noting that certain kind of treatments like for chronic diseases requires the patients have multiple intravenous for administration of the drugs. But a number of patients sadly stop adhering to the treatment due to the pain and anxiety which comes with it.

The developer behind it

This device has been developed by the researchers at MIT research based on their years of hard work. A startup was created to formally take this jet injection device to the funding round. This needle-free drug injector delivers at a high pressure rapid jetstream of medicine. It doesn’t cause any pain to the patient and comes as thin as strand of hair and can certainly be adjusted as per the dosages.

The developers behind it are George N Hotsopoulos Professor in Thermodynamics along with research scientist Catherine Hogan and aided by a number of students and postdocs from the MIT Bioinstrumentation Laboratory.

Researchers have paired this device with a connected app which helps doctors in tracking each dose along with the effects of the medicine of the patients. In this age of connected devices this device also happens to upload all the information right on the cloud which can be accessed by the doctors and patients later on. This startup is planning get this device in stores as a unique ‘drug-device combination’ product which can be only bought on a prescription.

One tool for every need

This isn’t the first time a needle free drug injector has been developed by researchers. Sadly all the earlier injectors offered no method which can help in controlling the flow of the jet which essentially resulted in the discomfort and other issues among the patients. Secondly these jet injectors happened to eject similar drug dosage every time and at the same skin depth which didn’t helped their cause much.

This device has been designed in such a way that it easily accommodates different therapeutics as per the doctor’s needs. That also happens without making any kind of chance to the device as a whole. Doctors can make use of the high pressure injections of certain kind of drugs while using the low pressure injections they can deliver the drug at a slow pace to the whole surrounding area. Simply this needle free drug injector has become a dream come of true for those who always live in the fear of needles.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Height And Weight Evolved At Different Speeds In The Bodies Of Our Ancestors


Hominin Bodies Developed in `Pulse & Stasis’ Variation

An extensive latest research of fossils covering over four million years suggests that physique and body mass advanced at different speeds at the time of evolution of hominins, the ancestral heredity of which Homo sapiens alone still prevails.

As published in the journal Royal Society: Open Science, the research portrayed that instead of progressively growing in size, hominin bodies developed in `pulse and stasis’ variation with some linages that seemed to be shrinking. Discoveries have come from the largest research of hominin body sizes comprising of 311 specimens that date back from earliest upright species of 4.4m years from the modern humans and followed the last ice age.

Though the researchers have defined the physical evolution of assorted hominin species as `long and winding road having several branches and dead ends,’ they have informed that broad patterns in the data recommends bursts of growth at crucial stages together with plateaus with little alteration for several millennia.

The scientist had been amazed to discover `decoupling’ of bulk and stature of about one and a half million years back when hominin grew about 10cm taller though could not consistently gain any weight for a further million years having an average increase of 10-15kgs taking place at about 500,000 years back.

Increase in Stature – Increase Slimmer Structure

The height and weight in hominin species, before the event seemed to evolve `in concert’ according to the authors of the first study to jointly analyse the aspects equally of body size over millions of years.

Lead author Dr Manuel Will from Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology and Research Colleague at Gonville & Caius College had mentioned that an increase exclusively in stature could have increased a slimmer structure with long legs and narrow hips and shoulder. This could have been a variation to new environments and endurance hunting as early Homo species who had left the forests and progressed to more arid African savannahs.

He further added that the higher surface-to-volume ratio of tall, slender body would be beneficial when stalking animals for hours in dry heat since larger skin area tends to increase the capacity for evaporation of sweat. Besides this he also added that the later addition of body mass tends to coincide with the increasing migrations to higher latitudes wherein a bulkier body would be suited better for thermoregulation in colder Eurasian climates.

Body Size Highly Variable

But Dr Will points out that though these seem valid theories, vast openings in the fossil record endure to cover the complete truth. Dr Will together with his colleagues in fact had to evaluate body sizes often from highly fragmented remains and in some instances, from only a single toe bone.

From the study it was observed that the body size was highly variable at the time of the earlier hominin history having a range of various shaped species, from broad, gorilla-like Paranthropus to the more gracile Australopithecus afarensis.

 The hominin from four million years back had weighed around an average of 25kg and stood at 125-139cm. Dr Will and his colleagues state that evolutionary pressures which could have made their contribution, comprise of `cladogenesis’ the splitting of a lineage with one line, in this instance, the smaller-bodied one seemed to be extinct, probably as a consequence of inter-species competition.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Revolutionary New Cancer Therapies Come With Big Risks

Cancer Therapies
Drug Makers Must Be Prepared As Revolutionary New Cancer Therapies Come With Big Risks 

Personalised cell therapy may have been established today with the authorization of two novel drugs recently called Kymriah and Yescarta that genetically modify the patient’s own immune cells to combat cancer. Still, pharmaceutical companies face many obstacles, which include many ethical
and social problems, if they want to make these cancer therapies a success.

These recent drugs, first of its type in the latest family CAR-T cell therapies, could transform the face of cancer therapies altogether. They function by separating immune cells called as T cells from a patient’s blood, and genetically engineer these cells to create receptors that identify particular tumor cells, producing many millions of replicas of these cells in a laboratory and then injecting them back into the patient. If everything goes well, these cells will identify and destroy the tumor cells in the patient.

Even though a few exciting clinical successes have been achieved, the companies manufacturing these drugs face a variety of problems. Business-wise, they have to figure out how to go into manufacturing of these drugs consistently and affordably, justifying the research through sufficient maintenance of reimbursements and persuade physicians to adopt this new and effective, yet complex treatment concept.

The need of the hour is to get these treatments perfected for patients who have no other alternative. CAR-T cancer therapies will, in all probability, kill some patients more quickly than their cancers would. So efforts need to be stepped up to reduce considerably the grave and occasionally fatal side effects that come along with these cancer therapies and strategies need to be developed to deal with them when they arise.

Companies that commercialise these cancer therapies must be ready for the possibilities of deaths and acute side effects to patients, physicians, regulators and investors. They must also be well prepared in advance to address such events promptly, clearly and realistically, whenever they occur. Also, necessary measures must be taken to create awareness among patients and their advocacy groups and emergency plans and communication strategies need to be developed.

While any demise due to medical reasons is dreadful, for few patients the possible benefit of CAR-T cancer therapies will be an advantage to that risk. This estimate will change quickly, however, as CAR-T cancer therapies will focus on patients with an initial stage cancer who have a wider set of alternatives. It may also be the same case for the society on a broader scale where undesirable events could hamper the development of CAR-T cancer therapies and curb their capabilities.

Despite many requests and pleas from individual patients and patient organisations to swiftly widen the range of use of CAR-T therapy and the huge financial opportunities and the pressures that come along with it, companies need to refuse to give in to the temptation of widening the CAR-T cancer therapies too far and fast. On the contrary, they should tune and tweak these potentially reliable therapies to be useful as a last-option solution for patients, maybe with some support from appropriate government agencies.

Even though it seems like the most common expectation, a slow and cautious approach to this new type of cancer therapies is probably the best shot in transforming personalised cell therapies into a well-known and efficient medical and financial success.