Thursday, 5 October 2017

New Target to Fight Motor Neurone Disease Using Gene Therapy

In the UK, six people die each day from Motor Neurone Disease, which results in paralysis that is progressive as the nerves supplying muscles deteriorate for reasons that are not fully known. At a given time, there are almost half a million people all over the world that have this condition but in most of the cases the reason why the nerves supplying muscles or the motor neurons die is not known. The most common known reason is a gene mutation known as C9ORF72.About 1 out of 10 Motor Neurone Disease cases is related to having an extended repeating region of DND in a portion of the C9ORF72 gene that is uncommonly converted into protein.

Scientists at SITraN have stumbled upon an important trail in the C9ORF72-linked Motor Neurone Disease by probing into the molecular principals of the behaviour pattern of this gene’s products in the cell. Testing patients’ cells and minute models of the Motor Neurone Disease indicatethat focusing on this plan is a unique way to tackle the nerve cells degeneration that takes place in Motor Neurone Disease.

Dr Guillaume Hautbergue from the University of Sheffield, who has spent over 25 years studying the molecular biology of RNA, also studied mechanisms that transfer messenger RNA to the cell cytoplasm from the nucleus through a model of how this functions in humans. Interpreting the findings in vital discovery science into actual profits for patients is the ultimate goal for SITraN and so using Dr Hautbergue’s findings in the RNA biology field has now led to the innovation of a new beneficial approach of neuroprotection in Motor Neurone Disease and possibly other diseases that are neurodegenerative.

While the primary function of DNA is to code for proteins that are to be built in the cell, we are aware that many DNA does not, after all, code for protein, like the region that is repetitive of the C9ORF72 gene. The repeated region is simply left out of the RNA replica of the gene before it is sent out of the nucleus, in its healthier version. Dr Hautbergue and his colleagues have developed their expertise in the field of RNA nuclear export mechanisms.

They have also put in a research in the area of the pathological recurring originator RNA molecules that is generally restrained in the nucleus itself. These may be getting exported out to the cell cytoplasm where the protein is produced, which is toxic in nature. Findings showed that only one component of the nuclear-cytoplasm transport system was the reason for the transportation of the RNA out of the nucleus and into the cytoplasm. This is a protein called SRSF1 and a significant discovery found in this research is that this protein in required only to assist the pathological C9ORF72 RNA to exit the nucleus.

Rest of all the other useful RNAs that code proteins can get to the cytoplasm without this. There were no undesirable effects in the fruitfly models and culture cells from the MND patients once the SRFS1 was partially removed from them using gene therapy and the only result was that the toxic dipeptide replicates were prevented from being formed. This is the first instance where the nuclear export of the RNAs that are pathologically repeated has been made clear in a neurologically degenerative disease and it is revealed for the first time that focusing on this method provides a reliable remedial approach of neuroprotection.

Surprisingly there are a number of other genes that cause diseases that are neurodegenerative such as Huntington’s disease, Myotonic Dystrophy, Fragile-X associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome and other disorders that have an effect on muscle dexterity. These include related recurring expansions like those found in the C9ORF72-MND gene.

So observing whether those expansions are transformed into proteins that are toxic and whether this can be avoided by deactivating a particular nuclear exporter also, this might give rise to a whole new avenue of possibilities for research in the field of neurodegenerative disorders treatment. An application with exclusive copyrights was filed for the use of SRSF1 adversary in the treatment of neurological disorders.
The Technology Explained
The approach of gene therapy used in the research utilised a virus that was engineered therapeutically, to get an RNA molecule inside the cell that would meddle with RNA for the manufacture of SFSR1. Interfering RNA thwarts the production of the targeted protein. Efficiently pulling down the quantity SFSR1 in the cell blocked the toxic C9ORF72 dipeptide repeat protein from being produced and salvaged the cell from neurodegeneration. Using viruses in the gene therapy is exceptionally successful as the virus remains inside the cell and incessantly creates the therapeutic interfering RNA for an extensive duration while the treatment of a genetic disease is going on.

At SITraN, Dr Hautbergue along with colleagues Prof MimounAzzouz and Prof Pamela Shaw are at present making efforts to collaborate with companies such as AveXis Inc. and Pfizer to further develop on a translational gene therapy program.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Light-Dependent Regulation of Sleep and Wake States

Lights Out: The Neural Association between Sleep and Light

Humans are animals that are diurnal in nature, that is, we sleep during the night time and are awake and active during the day, as a result of light partly available or completely absent. It has been observed that light indirectly affects sleep by altering the length of our circadian rhythms a bit, quickly and directly due to an occurrence called as masking. But while a lot of information is available about how the circadian rhythms are affected by light, there is very little knowledge about the how light affects sleep directly: Why does one’s sleep gets disturbed if the lights are switched on in the middle of the night? Why does being in d dark enable us to sleep better?

Caltech researchers in Professor of Biology David Prober’s laboratory said that they have discovered the answer partly: a particular protein in the brain that is responsive to light and its absence sets and maintains the accurate balance between sleep and alertness. Prober also added that earlier, researchers had recognized the photoreceptors present in the eye to be essential for the direct outcome of light on sleep and wakefulness but how the brain uses this ocular data to induce and control sleep was unknown.

Zebrafish was used as a model organism for observing the sleeping pattern at the Prober laboratory. These organisms are visually transparent, which allows for non-invasive recording of their neurons through images. They also have diurnal sleep and wake patterns similar to like that of humans.

To study and observe in their experiment, how their sleep is responsive to the availability or absence of light, a former graduate in Prober's lab, Wendy Chen, directed the studies where they examined a specific protein present in the zebrafish brain called prokineticin 2 (Prok2).

Chen genetically engineered zebrafish to excessively produce Prok2, which resulted in the availability of the protein in a large quantity. She observed that in comparison to normal zebrafish, these animals were more liable to fall asleep during the day and stay awake at night.

Amazingly, the effects did not rely on the engineered fish's typical circadian sleep/wake cycle but to a certain extent depended only on whether the lights were switched on or off in their surroundings. These studies put forward that a surplus of Prok2 restrains both the natural awakening result of light and the sedating outcome of darkness.

Chen then produced zebrafish with metamorphosed structures of Prok2 and its receptor, and studied the sleep defects in these animals that were dependent on light. For instance, Chen found that a zebrafish with an altered Prok2 receptor were more alert and active in the presence of light and less active in the absence of it, which was quite the contrary of what she had noticed in the animals that over expressed Prok2 and had Prok2 receptors that were functional.

Prober stated his observations saying that although diurnal animals like zebrafish for example, spend their nights sleeping and are awake during the day, they also take small naps during the course of the day and sometimes wake up at night which is very similar to what humans do.

He also added that their experiment’s results put forward that levels of Prok2 play a very vital role in maintaining the accurate balance between wakefulness and sleep during both the course of the day and night.

In their next step, the researchers wanted to observe and study how Prok2 was adapting the effect of light on sleep. To find out the answer to this question, they decided to observe whether other proteins present in the brain that affect sleep, were needed for of Prok2 to have an effect on sleep behaviour.

They found that that the sleep-inducing effect of Prok2 over expression in light requires galanin, which is a protein that promotes sleep. They also observed that Prok2 over expression enhanced the level of galanin expression in the key sleep-promoting centre of the brain, the anterior hypothalamus. But in the animals that were engineered to be deficient in galanin, over expression of Prok2 did not enhance sleep.

These conclusions offer the foremost insights into how light interrelates with the brain to affect sleep and provide a foundation for scientists to start discovering the genes and neurons that trigger the occurrence. However, additional work is required to understand fully describe how light and dark directly impact sleeping and waking, and to establish whether Prok2 has a function akin to humans. If it does, these studies will ultimately result in new drugs that promote sleep and wake.

The title of this paper is based on regulation of sleep/wake states dependent on light with the help of prokineticin 2 in zebrafish. Postdoctoral scholars Chanpreet Singh and Grigorios Oikonomou are other Caltech co-authors.

Sabine Reichert and Jason Rihel of University College London also made contributions to this study. The National Institutes of Health; the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation; the Rita Allen Foundation; and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funded the work.

Monday, 25 September 2017

One Vaccine Injection Could Carry Many Doses

Library of Tiny/Encased Vaccine Particles

An innovative 3-D fabrication system has been designed by the MIT engineers that tend to generate a novel kind of drug-carrying particle enabling various doses of a drug or vaccines to be provided over an extended time period with only an injection.

 The innovative micro particles are said to be made of biocompatible, FDA approved polymer that can be considered to degrade at specific times, spilling out the contents of the `cup’. Robert Langer, the David H Koch Institute Professor at MIT had commented that they are excited regarding this work since for the first time they can create a library of tiny, encased vaccines particles wherein each are programmed to release at an accurate, predictable time in order that individuals could probably receive a single injection which in effect would tend to have several boosters that are built in it already.

This could have a substantial influence on the victims everywhere particularly in the developing world where the person’s compliance seems to be at the lowest. A research scientist at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Ana Jaklenec and Langer are the senior authors of the paper which appeared online in Science on Sept 14.

Several Doses of Vaccines/One Injection

The lead authors of the paper are postdoc Kevin McHugh and earlier postdoc Thanh D. Nguyen presently an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut. As part of a project subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Langer’s lab started working on the innovative drug delivery particles that was looking for means of delivering several doses of vaccines over specified period to time with only one injection.

This would enable babies in developing nations who may not see a doctor often to get one injection after birth which would deliver all of the vaccines they would need during the first one or two years of life. Langer had earlier developed polymer particles with drugs implanted all over the particle enabling them to be gradually released over a period of time. But the researchers needed to come up with a way to deliver short burst of a drug at particular intervals, for the project to mimic the manner in which a series of vaccines could be administered.

PLGA – Biocompatible Polymer

In order to accomplish their goal on drug or vaccines, they started to cultivate a sealable polymer cup made from PLGA that is a biocompatible polymer which had been already approved for usage in medical devices like the implants, sutures as well as prosthetic devices.

It is said that PLGA could also be intended in degrading at various rates enabling for fabrication of numerous particles which tend to release their contents at various times. Conservative 3-D printing techniques is said to incompatible for the material as well as the dimension which the researchers needed and hence they had to create a new method of fabricating the cups gaining inspiration from computer chip manufacturing.

They developed silicon molds for the cups as well as the lids utilising the photolithography. Huge selections of around 2,000 molds are placed on a glass slide wherein these are utilised in shaping the PLGA cups (cups with edge lengths of some hundred microns) and lids. The researchers had engaged a custom-built, automated dispensing method of filling each cup and the system was heated slightly till the cup and lid fused together, sealing the drug within, when the selection of polymer cups had been shaped.

StampED Assembly of Polymer Layers

Jaklenec had stated that every layer is fabricated at first on its own and thereafter assembled together. Part of the novelty is really in how they align and seal the layers. By doing so they developed a new system which could make structures that current 3-D printing methods are unable to do. The latest system is known as SEAL – StampED Assembly of polymer Layers, and can be utilised with any thermoplastic material enabling fabrication of microstructures with complex geometries that tend to have broad application comprising of injectable pulsatile drug delivery, pH sensors together with 3-D microfluidic devices.

An assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University, Leon Bellan stated that the approach tends to provide an impressive amount of control in constructing 3-D micro particles. Bellan who had not been involved in the study stated that it seems to be a new take on 3-D printing procedure as well as an elegant solution in building macroscopic 3-D structures out of material which are relevant for biomedical application.

The molecular weight of the PLGA polymer together with the backbone structure of the polymer molecule tends to regulate how quick the particles could degrade after the vaccines. The rate of degradation determines when the drug would be released and on injecting several particles which degrade at varied rates, the researcher could create a strong burst of drug or vaccines at predetermined time point.

Vaccines in One Shot

McHugh had stated that in the developing world that could be the variance between not getting vaccinated and receiving all of the vaccines in one shot. The researchers showed that in mice, particle release in sharp bursts without previous leakage was at 9, 20 and 41 days after the injection. Thereafter they examined particles that were filled with ovalbumin, which is a protein that is found in egg whites and is generally utilised to experimentally motivate an immune response.

Utilising a mixture of particles which tend to release ovalbumin at 9 and 41 day after injection they discovered that a particular injection of these particles had the capabilities of inducing a strong immune response which was equivalent to that triggered by two conservative injections with twice the dose. Besides this, the researchers also designed particles which could degrade as well as release hundreds of days after the injection.

 The researcher state that one experiment of developing long-term vaccine based on these particles is of ensuring that the encapsulated drug or vaccines tends to be stable at body temperature for a long time before being released. They now intend to test these delivery particles with various drugs comprising of prevailing vaccines like inactivated polio vaccine together with fresh vaccines which are in the development stage. Moreover they are also working on plans of stabilizing the vaccines.

The researchers have also designed particles that can degrade and release hundreds of days after injection. One challenge to developing long-term vaccines based on such particles, the researchers say, is making sure that the encapsulated drug or vaccine remains stable at body temperature for a long period before being released. They are now testing these delivery particles with a variety of drugs, including existing vaccines, such as inactivated polio vaccine, and new vaccines still in development. They are also working on strategies to stabilize the vaccines.

“The SEAL technique could provide a new platform that can create nearly any tiny, fillable object with nearly any material, which could provide unprecedented opportunities in manufacturing in medicine and other areas,” Langer says. These particles could also be useful for delivering drugs that have to be given on a regular basis, such as allergy shots, to minimize the number of injections.

Other authors on the paper are Allison Linehan, David Yang, Adam Behrens, Sviatlana Rose, Zachary Tochka, Stephanie Tzeng, James Norman, Aaron Anselmo, Xian Xu, Stephanie Tomasic, Matthew Taylor, Jennifer Lu, and Rohiverth Guarecuco.

Friday, 22 September 2017

As 'Flesh-Eating' Leishmania Come Closer, a Vaccine Against Them Does, Too

Leishmania – Second-Deadliest Parasite in the World

Parasites which affect the skin and can mutilate the face; tend to seriously damage the internal organs, have been coming nearer to the southern edges of the United States. Though no vaccines are available against Leishmania, researchers have almost come close in bringing about a change.

 An innovative experimental vaccine complete with proprietary biological particles established at the Georgia Institute of Technology tends to have immunized laboratory mice which had been genetically changed to imitate the human immune system. As per a new research, the vaccine is said to exploit a weakness which the tricky chemical mask in Leishmania tends to generally hide from the disease fighting cells of the victim to activate a forceful immune response against the parasite.

According to the World Health Organization, Leishmania is said to be the second-deadliest parasite in the world surpassed only by malaria. There are around 30 strains of Leishmania. They are said to be transmitted mostly through the bit of a phlebotomine sand fly that tends to feed on the blood. The global warming has been expanding the potential habitat of the insect towards the north of Latin America. The epidemic regions nearest to the United States of leishmaniasis, the disease affected by the parasite has come now almost to 300 miles of the border.

Leishmania –Different Symptoms

With those who contract Leishmania, the parasite is said to cultivate leishmaniasis and the disease tends to have different symptoms or probably also shows no outwards indication of the disease. However when it tends to break out, it could cause grave skin boils as well as some types of severely eat away at the nose and lips and also removal of some parts of them. If another type of the parasite tends to get into the bloodstream it could also injure the liver as well as the spleen in the most dangerous way of the disease known as the visceral leishmaniasis which is also called black fever.

A professor in the parasitology department of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil and also one of the lead researchers on the new experimental vaccine, Alexandre Marques had commented that `if it is not treated within 20 to 40 days, visceral leishmaniasis often tends to kill the victim’. However conventional treatment generally effective could leave small numbers of the parasite that could lead to relapse in the patient or act as a carrier in a likewise manner as in the case of malaria. A vaccine would prove to be helpful in preventing epidemics.

Leishmania are said to be single-cell organisms which are the size of large bacteria that have been a menace in around 90 countries in South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia together with southern Europe. Researchers have been working to discover a vaccine against them and identical parasites with much success for years.

 M. G. Finn leading the work on the new vaccine had commented that in comparison to viruses and bacteria, there seems to be much more complex organisms and more tough to crack. Finn is said to be a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences and in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry which he also heads.

The innovative vaccine leverages intimate knowledge which the team of Marques had obtain living as well as working on the edge of leishmaniasis epidemics areas. Finn had informed that one of the students of Marques, Alex had gathered the sand flies and then extracted the parasites in the lab to do complex mass spectrometry together with the other tests to research the molecular makeup in impressive detail. The team had discovered minute details on the exterior surface of Leishmania which tends to make it susceptible to human immune reaction.

New Vaccine Employs Fake Virus

The prospective of the new vaccine, designed at Georgia Tech tends to employ a fake virus as an inducement to draw major immune systems forces to these faults to attack them. The replica virus or virus-like particles does not seem to be infectious and the body terminates it after usage. Several variations of such particles in recent years had been developed at the lab of Finn together with other products comprising of the same have already been through phase II human clinical trials.

The results of their vaccination development as well as testing had been published by Marques and Finn on September 13, 2017 in the journal ACS Central Science. It is said that the research had been financed by the National Institutes of Health, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as well as Brazil’s National council for Scientific and Technological Development. The following queries and answers would be beneficial in comprehending how the vaccine could influence the chemical facade of Leishmania:

What is so tricky regarding chemical fa├žade of Leishmania?

The parasites are said to cover themselves in carbohydrates that seem like food and also tend to cover the other cells in the body. To the body, the Leishmania cells seem inoffensive and the immune system has a tendency to leave them alone.

What is the crack in the facade? 

Some of these carbohydrates tend to truly generate a mild human immune response which is not adequately strong to actually combat Leishmaniasis. However it gave Marques and Finn’s vaccine some headway. It is fortunate that humans as well as some other primates tend to have this precise immune reaction, since the other mammals do not and hence this vaccine would not work on them. To test the new vaccine, the laboratory mice had to be genetically changed to make their immune system react to the carbohydrates the way it tends to do for humans.

How does the fake virus tend to function? 

Finn had informed that they used the virus-like particles to enhance a key carbohydrate on the surface of Leishmania clearly to the body. This tends to persuade its immune system in reacting strongly against it like a foreign structure.

The immune system tends to go after the false virus like guard dogs after an intruder. The researchers had attacked the odd carbohydrate to the false virus which made the immune system recognize that carbohydrate as a severe risk. Immune cells then hunt it down and in this process tend to eliminate the parasite which creates it.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Pen Identifies Cancer in 10 Seconds


The MasSpec Pen – Device of Identifying Cancerous Tissue

As per scientist at the University of Texas, a handheld device has the potential of identifying cancerous tissue in a matter of 10 seconds. It is said that it could enable surgery in removing a tumour much quicker, safer with accuracy. It is likely that it would save on any anguish of leaving traces of cancer behind. The experiments published in Science Translational Medicine have recommended that the technology tends to be 96% precise.

 The MasSpec Pen is said to take the benefit of the exclusive metabolism of cancer cells. Their frantic drive to develop and spread would mean that their internal chemistry could be different to that of healthy tissue. It operates when the pen is touched to a suspected cancer area and then releases a tiny droplet of water. The chemicals within the living cells is said to transfer into the droplet wherein it is then sucked back up to the pen for analysis.

The pen is said to be plugged in a mass spectrometer which is a bit of a kit that has the capability of measuring the mass of thousands of chemicals each second. It is said to create chemical fingerprint which informs doctors if they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer. 

Challenge – Border Between Cancer & Common Tissue

Surgeons are faced with the challenge of locating the border between the cancer and common tissue. It tends to be clear in some tumours though in case of others, the boundary seems to be unclear between healthy and diseased tissue. This device could be helpful to doctors in ensuring that no trace of the cancer is left behind in the patient.

The removal of too little tissue and any trace of cancerous cells could develop into another tumour. However taking too much could cause damage, especially in cases of organs like the brain. Assistant professor of chemistry, Livia Eberlin, at the University of Texas, Austin, had informed BBC that `what’s exciting about this technology is how clearly it meets a clinical need. The tool is sophisticated and simple and can be in the hands of surgeons in a short time’. As part of the research, the technology had been verified on 253 samples and the intention is to continue verifying in order to refine the device before conducting tests during operation next year.

Modern Endeavour of Improving Precision of Surgery


The pen presently is said to examine a patch of tissue 1.5mm across though the researchers have developed pens already which seems to be more advanced and are capable of looking at improved area of tissue just 0.6mm across. The mass spectrometer is said to be costly and large though the pen is quite economical. The MasSpec Pen is considered to be the modern endeavour of improving the precision of surgery.

A team at Imperial College London is said to have created a knife which tends to smell the tissue it cuts in order to define whether it is eliminating cancer. Another team at Harvard have been utilising lasers in analysing how much of a brain cancer can be removed. From Cancer Research UK, Dr Aine McCarthy had stated that `exciting research such as this tends to have the possibility of speeding up on how doctors can determine if a tumour could be cancerous or not and be aware of its characteristics.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Better Drugs, Faster: The potential of AI-powered Humans

Artificial Intelligence

AI – Reduce Time in Development of New Drugs & Cost

Tech companies have stated that scientists working on with artificial intelligence could reduce the time it tends to take in the development of new drugs and significantly also the cost. Increasing pharmaceutical drugs seems to be a very expensive and time consuming affair.

As discovered by AstraZeneca recently, disappointing drug trials could knock millions off your stock market value in a blaze. Hence the sooner we tend to identify promising molecules before it can be turned into viable drugs, the better.

 This is the reason why pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline – GSK, Merck, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson are now turning to artificial intelligence – AI to help them. Prof Andrea Hopkins is the chief executive of Exscientia which is an AI-based drug discovery firm that had recently signed a £33m deal with GSK.

As per Prof Hopkins, AI as well as human beings functioning collectively in a centaur team could be supportive in identifying candidate molecules in a quarter of the usual time and at a quarter of the cost. As per Prof Hopkins’s belief the centaur in Greek mythology is said to be half humans, half horse and seems to be very powerful as well as fast and AI has been providing scientists with such extra power.

`In Silico” – Medical Term for Research

Successful drug discovery is dependent on actual comprehension on how an ailment tends to affect our biological systems according to global life sciences industry leader at consultancy firm EY, Pamela Spence.

She clarifies that once it is identified scientists then search for molecule which can selectively interact with this target and reverse that disruption or slow its impact, a `hit molecule. Scientists often tend to discuss about a disease as the target and the molecule as a weapon being fired at it.

 However, the procedure of drug discovery, which is usually carried out by small groups of scientists carefully investing each potential target and hit molecule in the hope of discovering a winner, seems to be an enormously time-consuming method which also seems to have a very high failure rate.

She states that, considering artificial intelligence is like having a research assistant who has the potential of solving problems through systematic and relentless search at incredible speeds. She further added that what could work and equally essentially what could not work can be identified initially by the AI supercomputer `in silico’. This is said to be a medical term for research that has been done by computer as against `in vitro’ – think test tubes and `in vivo’ – testing on animals and humans.

Human Clinical Trials – Massive Bulks of Drug Discovery Cost

Conducting human clinical trials accounts for the massive bulks of drug discovery cost, and the quicker we tend to identify when something is not moving in the right direction the less money could be saved. Ms Spence had stated that then the physical testing can be conducted on a smaller number of possible new medicines and a much higher success rate can be achieved.

The artificial intelligence process of Exscientia heads masses of data from the structure of diseases to the ability of prevailing drugs, from peer-reviewed studies to observations of slides under a microscope. All these possibilities have been tapered down in a process where Prof Hopkins relates to natural selection.

He commented that they are not attempting to rule out the uncertainty, this is messy, dirty data and these are very interesting analogies between how human creativity tends to work and growth. The purpose is to come up with small molecules as candidates for around 10 disease-connected targets which could then be put through medical examinations.

Prof Hopkins, who is also chair of medicinal informatics at the UK’s Dundee University, had informed that every pill one may make could cost pence to manufacture though it is actually a precision-engineered product. He further added that there is almost infinite number of other molecules which could have been. One needs to make decisions as to which one could be safe and effective.


Cost – Target To Clinic

Most do not lead to anything. The artificial intelligence driven approach also tends to make it easy to come up with molecules which tend to have two diverse goals. For instance, a cancer drug tends to also improve the immune system and is also said to confront the disease.

GSK intends getting behind the idea and recently has set up a discovery performance unit directed on enhancing drug discovery via the use of `in silico’ technology comprising of artificial intelligence, machine learning together with deep learning.

The initiative is being headed by John Baldoni, head of R&D of GSK. He has commented that they have various amounts of these deals which they intend putting in place and the one with Exscientia is possibly the one which is furthest along.

 However they have a few others in flow as well a few internal projects themselves. He has also informed that the cost of discovery from target to launch is around $1.7bn (£1.3bn). The cost related here is from target to clinic which is around 33% of that and it would take about five and a half years. He added that their goal was to reduce that to one year and reduce the cost proportionate along with that.

AI-Based Drug Discovery – Effective/Cheaper Drugs – Quicker

Artificial intelligence has also been making its way into other characteristics of the drug discovery process. For instance, Benevolent AI tends to utilise natural language process in order to select through published literature like chemical libraries, medical databases together with scientific papers in order to come to some decisions regarding the possible new drug candidates.

One of the its candidates for a drug to treat motor neurone disease which is also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – ALS, was earlier this year, found to prevent the death of motor neurones in cells taken from real patients and deferred the onset of the disease in animals.

The founder and chairman of Benevolent AI, Ken Mulvaney had commented that they were extremely encouraged by these discoveries. Patients need to be encouraged also. The artificial intelligence-based drug discovery tends to be promising in bringing about more effective, together with cheaper drugs on to the market in a much quicker manner.

Monday, 28 August 2017

This App Could Help the Blind Experience the Solar Eclipse

App to Assist Blind People to Experience Eclipse

After a blind colleague had asked solar astrophysicist Henry Trae Winter to describe what an eclipse would be like, it kept him thinking and speculating on it thereafter. Winter commented that he was caught totally flat-footed and had no knowledge how to convey what seems to go on during an eclipse to someone who had never seen it before in their life.

He recalled a story which a friend had narrated to him about how crickets could begin to chirp in the middle of the day as the moon tends to cover the sun at the time of an eclipse. This story he had conveyed to his colleague. Winter informed that the reaction she had seemed powerful which he wanted to reproduce that sense of awe and wonder to as many as he could all over the country.

He began working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts intending to build an app to assist blind people in experiencing this summer’s eclipse. Winter informed that he was of the opinion that it is a glaring omission that it is time to answer. Eclipse soundscapes that has been launched for iPads and iPhones recently tends to feature real-time narration of various phases of the eclipse planned for the location of the user.

Rumble Map – Hear/Feel Phenomena

`Rumble map’ enables the users to hear as well as feel the phenomena when they tend to touch photos of earlier eclipse. The dark spaces in the photos, such as the solid black face of the moon are quiet when touched.

Wispy strands of sunlight shining out from behind the moon release lower hums and on touching the brighter spaces such as the shards of light which peek out from behind the valleys of the moon tend to produce higher frequencies.

The sounds are combined with vibrations, soft for darker spaces and more intense for brighter areas. Miles Gordon, the apps’ audio engineer had informed that they managed in creating frequencies which resonate with the body of the phone so the phone is vibrating completing utilising the speaker.

Winter had stated that `the goal of this app was not to give someone who is blind or visually impaired the exact same experience as a sighted person but hoped this as a prototype, a first step something they can learn from, in making the next set of tools’.

Other tools exist to enable blind people in experience the eclipse including perceptible maps as well as book though it is still comprehended as visual phenomena. Less recognized are the changes in temperature, wildlife behaviour, weather pattern which supplement total eclipses.

Software Easy for Navigation

Colleague, Chancey Fleet who had first asked Winter, to describe an eclipse during a conference some months back was doubtful when she learned about his idea for an app. Fleet who is an accessible technology educator at a library in New York, had informed that `the first time she had heard that blind people were being asked to pay attention to the eclipse, she sort of laughed to herself and attempted to contain her dismissive reaction.

However on learning about the sounds connected with the eclipse, she seems interested in trying out the app of Winter. Fleet commented that she is looking forward in experiencing it and not just hearing or reading about it and nothing is just visual really. The app development team had the support of Wanda Diaz Merced an astrophysicist, who is blind, to ensure that the software is easy for navigation.

She is of the belief that the app will show people that there is more to an eclipse than spooky midday darkness. Diaz Merced had commented that `people will discover, Oh I can also hear this and I can also touch it’.

Eclipse Soundscapes – Grant from NASA

She also perceives the app as a tool to get more blind kids involved in science stating that` it is very important’. The Eclipse Soundscapes team supported by a grant from NASA has engaged the National Park Service, Brigham Young University together with citizen scientists to record audio of how people as well as wildlife tend to respond at the time of the eclipse.

Phase two of the project is to build an available database for those recordings in order that blind people could access them with ease. That is the component of the project which Diaz Merced is excited about from a scientific perspective.

After Fleet had lost her sight in her late 20s she had to develop her own computer program in order to alter telescope data to sound files in order to continue her research. She expects that this project would spur more interest in making the data reachable to scientists like her.

Diaz Merced had commented that what she hopes is that databases in science will use this database model for people like them to be capable of having meaningful access to the information and probably through the database they will not be segregated. And in this way she hopes that the impact of the eclipse would last much longer than a day.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Osteoporosis: Potential New Drug Target Uncovered

Altering Healing Methods – Osteoporosis

New reason for osteoporosis has been discovered by researchers in the so-called senescent cells of the body. By directing these particular cells with anti-aging drugs, the discoveries have the possibility of altering healing methods for the treatment of growth-related bone loss.

According to the report of the National Osteoporosis Foundation – NOF, which is in the United States, around 10 million people tend to live with osteoporosis, a disorder where the bones tend to get brittle and break while another 44 million U.S individuals are presumed to have low bone density. Moreover the NOF had warned that almost half of all people in the country from 50 years and above tend to be at risk of breaking a bone and need to be worried about bone health.

A new cause for osteoporosis in mice had been discovered by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The leading author of the study is said to be Joshua N. Farr of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Centre on Aging and Division of Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic college of Medicine. The results had been published in the journal – Nature Medicine. The so-called senescent cells of the body are the ones which are involved in the usual development of aging and in diseases connected to aging.

Senolytic Drugs

Farr together with his colleagues, in the new study for osteoporosis, had designed numerous mouse models in which the mice had bone loss, aged between 20 and 22 months, which is comparable of being over 70 years old in the case of human years. The researchers had directed these cells in a series of ways.

They had switched off the genes for these cells and had eliminated them utilising the so-called senolytic drugs that had been meant to kill off senescent cells. Eventually they had utilised a drug which tends to constrain the activity of a kind of enzyme known as Janus kinase enzymes in order to obstruct the production of a pro-inflammatory element secreted by senescent cells.

The director of the Aging Bone and Muscle program at Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Centre on Aging, Dr Sundeep Khosla, had explained that the results of the research, stating that the effects of all three approaches on osteoporosis were strikingly similar.`They had enhanced bone mass together with strength by decreasing bone resorption though maintaining or increasing bone formation which is fundamentally different from all present osteoporosis drug’.

Combination Senolytic Drug – Eradicated Senescent Cells

Some of these methods had also been attempted on young mice of about 12 months. Genetically killing off senescent cells and constraining them with senolytic drugs did not show any beneficial effect on the bones of the young mice.

This further had strengthens the causal link between senescent cells and the growth-related osteoporosis. The drug senolytic utilised were dasatinib and quercetin had been administered in combination once a month. Co-corresponding research author Dr James Kirkland, Ph.D., director of the Kogod Centre on Aging had moreover explained the results.

He stated that although the combination of this senolytic drug had been present only in the mice for a few hours, it had eradicated senescent cells and had a long-lasting effect. He further added that this is another piece of the mounting evidence which senolytic drugs are targeting basic aging processes and could have widespread application in treating various chronic diseases’.

Bone Resorption

The authors moreover explained the advantage of administering this drug combination only occasionally, which is said to be at clearly set monthly intervals in comparison to the presently available osteoporosis medication that tends to be taken on daily basis and can have serious side effects.

The authors explained that the prevailing medication for osteoporosis seems to have a significant negative effect wherein it tends to decrease the bone resorption which in turn reduces the bone formation.

 Bone resorption is related to the process wherein the bone is naturally removed throughout one’s lifetime while new bones tend to form. In this study the senolytic drugs utilised is said to have lowered the bone resorption though preserved bone formation as well as at times increased it.

Khosla had stated that though they are aware from earlier work that the accumulation of senescent cells tend to cause tissue dysfunction, the role of cell senescence in osteoporosis at this point had been unclear.

He added that the novelty of this work for the bone field is in the fact that instead of targeting a bone-specific pathway as is the case for all present treatments for osteoporosis, they had directed theessential aging process which had the potential of improving not only bone mass but also ease other growth-related conditions as a group.

He concluded that they need to continue in pursuing these potential interventions that target important aging mechanisms as hopefully, an ultimate way of reducing the burden of fracture together with other conditions, like cardiovascular dysfunction, diabetes and frailty.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Gene Editing Transforms Research Similar to Cut and Paste Tool

Gene Editing

Latest gene editing research makes manipulating genes as easy as the cut-and-paste job

Gene Editing has always been dream of a number of the scientists and researchers but the real application of it was never such successful. The advancement made in the bio medical technology in the last decade and on-going research in the gene editing methodologies and techniques had given a ray of new hope to the researchers. Scientists have been altering genes for quite some time and it has been widely used in the field of agriculture and pharmaceuticals. However this is the first time that the researchers have been successful in performing gene editing with human embryo.

Better, precise and influential than ever before

The latest will be better and more precise to work with thereby allowing scientists to later the DNA of the living cells ranging from the plants, animals to humans. In simple word the new age technology will be just the cut-and-paste tool used in the modern programs.

Gene editing isn’t very fancy or dreadful area of the bio medical technology rather it is a fun, exciting and optimistic field of work. Herein scientists devote their time towards finding and fixing the defective genes through genetic therapies or gene editing methods. The latest tool called CRISPR-Cas9 brought a boom in the research as it got adopted in the laboratories across the globe quite faster than expected. Using this tool is extremely simple and requires minimal training but paves the way for the manipulation of multiple genes at the same time with higher success rate.


Overcoming the problems & issues

The major issue or problem associated with the gene editing is that it requires highest level of precision to bring desirable results. A minor mistake can lead to grave mistakes like accidently cutting the DNA. Researchers also make use of out-of-body treatments in order to ensure that they solve one problem but don’t end up in sparking another. Manipulation of genes in plants and animals using bio medical technology is not seen as the right thing to do by many and when it comes to human experiments then it becomes a matter of medical ethics.

Researchers and scientists wishes to do away with the defective genes in the human body by altering the genes in sperms, embryos and eggs and helps in spreading the changes in the future generations. This whole process is known as ‘germline engineering’ but a number of people believe that this is ethically not the right approach as we are taking the away the right to consent from our future generation by manipulating the genes. Secondly if any kind of long term negative effects are associated then it will come in foreground in the initial years and we will be designed corrupt genes unknowingly.

Embroiled in the ethics controversy stemming from the gene editing using bio medical technology, a number of nations have banned such researches. Like Europe doesn’t allow any kind of germline research when comes to human testing while Britain at most only allows scientists to carry out lab research.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Size matters: for bacteria, smaller is better for causing superbug infections

small cells

New Insight – Common Hospital Superbugs Cause Infection

A fresh understanding has been discovered into how one of the most public hospital superbugs tend to cause infection, something which could have been utilised to develop fresh antibiotic treatments, by the scientists at the University of Sheffield. Infection is harmful which can be due to micro-organisms that are considered as germs.

Micro-organisms or microbes are said to be living organisms which seem to be so miniature in size that they are not seen without the help of a very powerful microscope and they are microscopic. The micro-organisms which tend to cause infection are called pathogens. Bacteria viruses, pathogenic fungi together with the parasites are said to be some examples of micro-organisms which tend to cause the infection.

Led by researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, of the University of Sheffield had explored the Enterococcus faecalis, a kind of bacteria which is usually found in the digestive tracts of humans and multi-resistant to antibiotics, could overcome the other microorganisms causing life-threatening infections. E-faecalis is often responsible in causing hospital-acquired infection like urinary tract infections, heart valve infections and bacteraemia, but the scientist presently tend to have little knowledge regarding the same.

Study – Formation of Short Chains of Cells

The University of Sheffield-led research team has now established several difficult mechanisms directing the maintenance of the distinctive shape of E. faecalis which tend to form cell pairs or short chains of cells. The team has disclosed that the development of short chains of cells tends to be a vital element in stopping bacteria from being recognised as a risk by the immune system.

This in turn allows infection to spread. Dr Stephane Mesnage, leading the research from the University of Sheffield stated that `their study describes that the formation of short chains of cells by E. faecalis seems to be a critical step in causing an infection. Bacteria which tend to form long chains of cells are recognised efficiently and immersed by the host immune system while short chains of cells are efficiently recognised and immersed by the host immune system and spread in the host to cause infection’.

He further added that `E. faecalis is an opportunistic pathogen and is naturally resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, inclusive of synthetic penicillin derivatives. Following an antibiotic treatment, E. faecalis can out-compete other microorganisms in causing infection. Their work recommends that targeting the mechanisms controlling the formation of short chains of cells could be a novel strategy for developing new treatments to combat E. faecalis infections’.

Developing Radical Solutions

Bacterial size matters, research – multiple mechanisms controlling septum cleavage and diplococcus formation are said to be critical for the virulence of the opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis, has been published in PLOS Pathogens – Bacterial size matters (PLOS Pathogens journal. Discoveries from the study construct on the position of the University of Sheffield at the forefront of the world-class research into infectious diseases.

The scientists at the University have been developing radical solutions to the global threat of disease together with antimicrobial resistance as a means of signature research projects like Florey, Imagine and the Sheffield Antimicrobial Resistance Network – SHAMROK.

Moreover the University has also been training the next generation of highly skilled scientist through its undergraduate as well as postgraduate programmes in locating some new exciting approaches to bioscience in attempting some of the biggest biomedical issues in the world. Having almost 27,000 of the brightest students from across 140 countries and learning together with 1,200 of the best academics from all over the world, the University of Sheffield is said to be one of the most leading universities in the world.

Being one of the members of the prestigious Russell Group of leading-led institutions of UK, Sheffield tends to provide outstanding teaching and research excellence across an extensive range of disciplines.

Power of Discovery/Understanding – Means of Transforming the World

With the combination of the power of discovery together with understanding, staff and students at the university have been devoted in discovering new means of transforming the world in which we tend to live in. Sheffield is believed to be the only university to be included in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisation to Work for 2017 and has been voted as number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014.

 It has also won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in the last decade in recognition of the amazing contribution to the intellectual, economic, cultural as well as the social life, to the United Kingdom. It is said that Sheffield had six Nobel Prize winners among former staff as well as students and its alumni tend to be holding positions of exceptional responsibilities together with influence all across the globe thus making a significant contributions in their selected fields.

The global research partners together with the clients comprise of Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus together with many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cow Antibodies Bring Hope for eEfective AIDS Vaccine Soon

Potential HIV antibody detected in cows

The immune system provides human protection against all possible viruses. Researchers from the US found a solution to inject patients the antibodies. They are produced by cows. Cows could be the key to the development of an HIV vaccine. According to a new study, they are able to produce effective antibodies.

Special cows are given special treatment: "These are probably the most carefully watched and pampered cows around the world. Their entire diet are strictly controlled, their health is checked daily.

The animals, of whom Matthew Frieman speaks here, are drug factories on four legs, says the US Virology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. To make them, scientists have changed the genotype of cattle. "These transgenic cows have an additional chromosome in their cell nuclei, and they contain genes from humans that encode human antibodies, and the interesting thing about this technology is that if you vaccinate such a cow against a particular pathogen, it does not produce any cow antibodies against it”.

Despite years of research, there is still no vaccine against HIV infection. This is because the virus is constantly changing, even in the body of an already infected human being. Science is therefore feverishly searching for a so-called broadly neutralizing HIV antibody. This would protect against a variety of HIV strains.

An international research team has for the first time injected HIV proteins into four calves to test the response of the ruminant's immune system to the intruder. To the astonishment of the scientists, the cows produced within a very short time broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies. Already after 42 days, the cow antibodies neutralized 20 percent of the tested HIV strains. After 381 days it was as much as 96 percent, as the researchers reported in the journal "Nature".

Side effects of cow digestion

Although a small percentage of people are able to produce broad-neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies, it takes three to five years. One reason for this is that antibodies that act against the HI virus differ strongly from normal human antibodies.

To effectively attach to a virus, it needs a chain of about 30 amino acids that protrudes from the antibody. This is twice as long as that of an ordinary human antibody. For a cow antibody, however, it is short. And so the researchers came to the idea of trying their luck in cows. The complex digestive system of ruminants, which are populated with pathogenic bacteria, may be due to the fact that cows are capable of producing such antibodies.

Hope for vaccine


The researchers now hope to use the obtained findings to bring the human body to produce antibodies with long amino acid sequences. This could be the basis for an effective vaccine, the researchers believe. It is also possible that the cow antibodies themselves could be used for a drug for HIV treatment should their effectiveness be confirmed in other organisms

Anthony Fauci, director of the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, supported the research, the BBC said: "Already at the beginning of the epidemic, we have recognized that the HI virus is very good at evading immunization. That is why exceptional immune systems that produce broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies are very interesting - whether they are human or cows. "

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

3 Tips on How to Protect & Prepare Your Business From Severe Weather

Severe weather can wreak havoc on a community, including the businesses within it. If you are a business owner in an area where severe weather can occur, check out these tips on how to protect your business from storms and other severe weather.


In order to protect and prepare your business for severe weather, you need to be familiar with what type of severe weather your area can experience. Does your area experience tornados often? Perhaps your business is near the beach where hurricanes are a threat. Whatever the weather, you will need to know what to expect beforehand in order to prepare. Once you know what to expect, you can research ways to prep for the disaster and even contact local weather stations and emergency services for more specific tips.

Have a plan

Having a plan is essential to keeping your business safe during severe weather. Many commercial weather stations use software to detect severe weather and will alert the community accordingly, so being in tune with their updates is important. Your plan should include how to get your employees safely out of the building or to a safe space within the building, a stash of safety equipment and supplies that are checked frequently, training for employees on what to do during the emergency, assignment of employees for specific tasks, etc. Your employees should be aware of the plan and retrained consistently to keep the plan fresh in their minds.


Communication is the best way to keep safe during severe weather. Always communicate with your employees to let them know whether they should report to work or not and keep them aware through severe weather tracking systems. It is important that the communication is present in order for everyone to be on the same page.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Algorithm That Diagnoses Heart Arrhythmias

Cardiac arrhythmia is in most cases harmless extras without the disease. Both a slowing of the heart rate (bradycardia) and a speeding up of the heart rate (tachycardia) can also become life threatening. Nearly every person is affected by cardiac arrhythmia during his life.

These can be harmless or dangerous. Often they are only subjectively unpleasant ("stumbling-heart") and do not need treatment. However, untreated pre-fibrillation is accompanied by a marked increase in stroke risk. This makes it all the more important to have an early and reliable algorithm diagnosis. However, they can also lead to dangerous incidents and subsequent episodes.

But how can pre-fibrillation be detected when it occurs irregularly and the patient himself often does not notice it? An ECG - that is, the measurement of cardiac currents - is the gold standard in the algorithm diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. In that case, it can help measure cardiac currents over a longer period of time and keep the heart in view all the time. It is important that even small signals and short episodes can be perceived.

Definition and types of cardiac arrhythmia

The normal heart rate is 50 to 100 beats per minute. The heart rate is generally higher in young women than in men, presumably because in men the rest frequency decreases by frequent sports. A heart rate <50 a="" bradycardia="" called="" frequency="" is="" min="" slowed=""> 100 / min at rest is too fast (tachycardia). Both manifestations of cardiac arrhythmia can be life-threatening. They then usually occur as a result of severe structural heart disease, e.g. Heart attack, cardiac insufficiency, or heart valve defect, or in the case of congenital or severe hypertension caused by hypertension.

Cardiac arrhythmia can be divided into disturbances of stimulation and disorders of the excitatory conduction. Causes of ectopic stimulus formation can be increased automatization, abnormal automatism, and triggered activity. Excitation line disturbances can lead to arrhythmias in linear closed conduction pathways or also in the spatial whole cellular network.

Thanks to the computer scientists at Stanford, who developed an algorithm that diagnoses 14 types of Heart defects. These group of Stanford scientists led by Andrew Ng has developed this deep learning algorithm. With the collaboration with the iRhythm – the heartbeat monitoring company, roll up a solid data set that they used to teach a profound neural network model.

The new heart monitor has now been developed for this purpose. The special feature of this heart monitor, which can also be used on an outpatient basis, is its intelligent design. Its not only records the ECG, it also analyzes it and sends the most important episodes on the so-called home monitoring - a technology built into the implant - to the treating physician every day.

Thanks to this close-meshed observation of the cardiac rhythm, can be detected reliably. This is not only crucial for a safe diagnosis at the beginning of the therapy for cardiac arrhythmia- it may also be necessary to keep a close eye on the heart during treatment.

For example an ablation, that is, an intervention for the obliteration of the diseased cardiac muscle tissue, the doctor sees thanks to home monitoring, whether the procedure was successful or if again atrial fibrillation occurs. The physician can control the therapy better, and the patient gains safety.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Scientists Have Inserted a Gif of a Horse into Living Bacteria

Mind boggling DNA wonders!

As we know, basic Biology lessons in school and further, for people who have studied in the future, DNA has a wide spectrum usage in genomic studies as well as genetic dispositions in our entire human race. This technology news now run through our news feed every morning. Genes are what differentiates a human being from the rest of the crowd, genes are what we carry from our parents to future generations, and these molecular level proteins ultimately runs the living race in the world. From bacteria, to viruses and human beings- everything is governed by genes.

With inventions running in every genetic lab in the world, current genetic engineers and researches have managed to insert a GIF of a horse into live bacteria. Yes, shocking indeed.

Astonishing inventions!

A GIF of a moving horse has now been successfully incorporated into a bacterium, that too a live one! The genetic tool called CRISPR is often used in the genetic world for data storage purposes. It is a mind boggling wonder tool in the genetic tool which allows genetic professionals to explore the wide spectrum and possibilities of DNA and its uses in the near future. Medicine holds a lot of scope, thanks to this technology.
The technological news says that scientists in Harvard University have managed to incorporate CRISPR associated proteins called Cas1 and Cas2 as primers which will be programmed to work as a computer’s Ctrl-X tool. This enables scientists to manipulate with the DNA segments, interchange them and club them if needed.

Using the Cas1 and 2 sequences, the iconic horse GIF has been encoded and put together with high accuracy. What the CRISPR technology does is, it codes the pixel values of black and white horses and incorporates it into the genomic sequence of a live bacteria! Astonishing indeed!

The results showed spectacular multiplication of the bacteria and also hereditary patterns in the following generations.

The point of this invention is the purpose of data storage. DNA is a great device of data storage, and using this technology as per the technology news, we can access vital information about genomic studies with ease. The amount of data that a single gram of DNA can hold could possibly be information of the entire human race, all crammed into one room, which is truly insane.

DNA technologies have progressed highly over the years and will continue to do so. But with this GIF incorporation, a news meaning and growth of genomic studies and researches have been established. The wide spectrum and diversity of this technology will be a boon to the medicinal world and curing of lethal genetic diseases. Various novel syndromes and anomalies can be detected at such early stages, which would previously be unimaginable. With the hope of further growth of the technological wonders of DNA this new invention is cherished and will possibly change the way medicine is perceived.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Grape-Based Compounds Kill Colon Cancer Stem Cells in Mice

Resveratrol – Grape Seed Extract – Treatment of Colon Cancer

As per a team of researchers, compounds from grapes could destroy Colon Cancer stem cells in a petri dish as well as in mice. Resveratrol, the compound that is found in grape skins as well as seed could ultimately also lead to treatments of supporting in the prevention of colon cancer according to Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Pen State.

The second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. is colorectal cancer as per The American Cancer Society. Vanamala, who is a faculty member at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, had commented that the combination of resveratrol together with grape seed extract is said to be very effective in destroying colon cancer cells and what is learnt is that the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells.

The researchers reporting their discoveries in a recent issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine recommended that the discoveries tend to make way for clinical testing of compounds on the colon cancer of human. This is said to be the second most common cancer among women and the third in men. If it tends to be successful, the compounds could be utilised in a pill in assisting in the prevention of colon cancer as well as reduce the relapse of the ailment in colon cancer survivors.

Shotgun Approach to Cancer Prevention

Vanamala had commented that they are mainlyconcerned in aiming stem cell since as per cancer stem-cell theory, cancerous tumours are driven by cancer stem cells which are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and also maintain their stem cell-like appearances even after invasion and metastasis.

According to researchers, if taken in low doses, separately, resveratrol together with grape seed extract does not seem to be as effective against cancer stem-cell suppression when they are combined together.According to Vanamala, the combined effect of grape seed extract together with resveratrol could provide clues to the reasoning of why cultures with plant-based diet seems to have lower colon cancer rates.
These diets may naturally be offering a shotgun approach to cancer prevention on utilising an extensive variety of valuable compounds to aim on numerous pathways which cancer stem cells utilise to live.

Advantageous in Promoting Bacterial Diversity

Vanamala further added that this also links well with a plant-based diet which is structured in order that the person gets a bit of diverse categories of plants, of various parts of the plant with different colours of the plant.

 According to Vanamal this could be advantageous not only in promoting bacterial diversity but also in averting chronic diseases together with eradicating the colon cancer stem cells. If the human trials tend to be successful, the compound can be taken in low doses with the prevailing available supplements for grape seed extract as well as resveratrol that are also found in wine.

But he added that there seems to be some more work to be done in order to comprehend the mechanism behind the anti-cancer properties of the grape extract together with the other colourful fruits and vegetables. More study would be focused in discovering the precise anti-cancer compounds as well as enhanced understanding on how those compounds seem to work synergistically in creating much more effective colon-cancer prevention and treatment approaches.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Apollo Mission to Drive Therapeutic Innovation

Therapeutic Innovation
Image Credit:Taema

Age of Mounting Biomedical Invention

 Stimulations of a rebellion has given way through hundreds of laboratories which are aiming to cause new medicines that will be faster with less disappointments. This is being led by three UK universities together with three global pharmaceutical corporations. A four strong team has over the past year indulged in hundred meetings with scientist at three UK universities and towards the end of this year would probably tend to have another hundreds of such meetings.

They have been storing the maximum complete sense of what tends to occur at the bench across the three UK universities namely Cambridge, Imperial College London and University College London – UCL, which anyone had ever accumulated. Their task is to detect research which seems to have the greatest possibility of making it all the way through in being a new medicine and thereafter in supporting it to occur.

The team headed by Dr Richard Butt has explained that the drive behind their meetings are that they tend to live in an age of rapidly mounting biomedical invention, an age where the development of new medicine needs to be at an all-time high though the number of new drugs that are developed seems to be largely static.

 Valley of Death

  The time between getting promising results in an academic lab, in drug discovery, and receiving real interest from an investor or pharmaceutical corporation seems to be known as the `Valley of Death’ and with a good reason. Discerning as well as developing likely new medicines needs not only money but also knowledge together with quick delivery of industrial-kind science.

Several of the drug patients tend to succumb along the way before it is known whether they have fulfilled an unmet remedial requirement. The tech transfer offices – TTOs of Cambridge, Imperial College and UCL, had joined forces with three global pharmaceutical corporations, AstraZeneca (AZ) GSK and Johnson & Johnson, in January 2016, to develop a £40m collaboration known as Apollo Therapeutics.

According to Butt, their focus was in streamlining the academia-to-industry pipeline by discovering the best translatable science funding it fast and running the right development programme in making it appealing to industry. Apollo in consequence, tends to focus in maximising the opportunity wherein a probable drug would be developed from emerging basic science on investment of a state-of-the-art drug discovery programme which pharma company would find it appealing to license.

  Apollo Approach – New & Revolutionary

  Dr Iain Thomas, head of Life Sciences of Cambridge Enterprise – Cambridge’s TTP has commented that the Apollo approach is completely new and revolutionary. One could say that Apollo is building reassurance and the hardest part of the job at Cambridge Enterprise is selling good technology to pharma.

It relates to the psychology of buying and people do not tend to purchase complicated stuff with plenty of risks without much scrutiny. Guarantee tends to come in from being engaged with an opportunity for a long time. Partnership and engagement seems to be at the heart of the Apollo model.

Initially, Butt’s team spoke to the academics and TTOs of the universities in recognizing thrilling predictions before taking some of the ideas to the wider team of investors, comprising of the three companies together with the TTOs. He commented that as scientists, they would always be happy in spending time engaging in discussion with any academic regarding their job. He added that as drug discoverers, they had been very particular on what to take forward. They have filtered aggressively to maximise the opportunity of success.

  Goal – Finding New Medicines for Patients

  Apollo and the academics would work together, once a project has been designated for investment, to develop the discovery to a phase which will be appealing to a company to license and then take it ahead. This labour could occur in the laboratory of academic or in one of the Pharma Corporation or in a contract company. Moreover it could also take place at the Milner Therapeutics Institute, research laboratories which would open on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus towards 2018 devoted to adopting close combined connections between academia and industry.

Dr Ian Tomlinson, Chair of Apollo had informed that the significant is bringing together the skill sets, philosophies together with expertise of those who discover with those who know what to do with that discovery and that they are all motivated by the goal of finding new medicines for patients.

 He further added that the conventional pipeline functions thus – an academic does some great science, takes it as far as they are capable to within the limits of the lab and thereafter if they need to take it further, it either forms a spin-out or licenses to pharma.

 This tends to have its place though it would take time and is expensive. If the team of Richard tends to bring the investment team with a good idea, Apollo could fund it and be working with the academic within a few weeks.

  Drug Improvement Programme

  Amidst the Butt and his three colleagues they have more than 60 years of experience in the pharma industry. He informed that they saw the boom of the late 80s/early 90s of drug approvals and then genomics, high-throughput screening together with a seeming wealth of targets led to the mind-set of `we can scale this success’ – if we run thrice more projects and be three times more successful.

The basic biology nearly ended to matter. Projects seem to run which should not have been and R&D costs mounted though the output of new drugs flat-lined or even dropped. His team has already recognized eight projects all over the three universities to receive Apollo subsidy.

The first to be supported originated from a 20-year search by Dr Ravi Mahadeva at Cambridge’s Department of Medicine to treat Alpha-1 trypsin deficiency – AATD, for a small molecule drug. AAT is said to be a protein which usually protects the lungs and in AATD, a single genetic mutation causes it to aggregate in the liver. The outcome affects the liver and lungs are disabling leading to serious problems.

Presently there is no effective long-term treatment for this ailment. Apollo funds, for professor Randall Johnson, has meant that his research in Cambridge’s Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience tends to have been constant effortlessly through a drug improvement programme without the need of stop-start of waiting for subsidy, licensing or creation of a spin-out.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Science without borders is needed to solve the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders

Unpublished research at Symposium developed to fast-track prevention, together with treatment as well as cure for the unbearable disease affecting 1 in 3 seniors has been shared by 16 of the top Alzheimer’s scientists of the world.

Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Rohit Varma had welcomed the elite group to the 4th annual Zilkha symposium on Alzheimer Disease & Related Disorders. Varma had stated that he is delighted to host this conference that tends to bring together the best and the brightest physician-scientists from across the globe for studying new, basic, translational as well as clinical efforts in the field of Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative disorders.

He expects that with their wisdom, insight together with hard work they would put an end to the menace of this disease. Rudolph Tanzi of Harvard University, David Holtzman – Washington University, John Trojanowski and Virginia Man-Yee Lee - University of Pennsylvania, Kaj Blennow – University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Roger Nitsche – University of Zurich, Christer Betsholtz – Uppsala Universitet in Sweden and Ronald Petersen – Mayo Clinic college of Medicine are said to be some of the researchers that have joined Keck School of Medicine scientists Berislav Zlokovic and Paul Aisen in presenting their new discoveries.

Symptoms – 15 Years After Sticky Amyloid Proteins – Dull the Brain

According to Aisen, director of the USC Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute that leads eight clinical trials on the disease, states that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s tends to appear around 15 years after sticky amyloid proteins seem to dull the brain.

Quoting data from the on-going Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study, Aisen had informed that around 80% of the participants having amyloid deposits in their brain but no symptoms of Alzheimer’s have developed symptoms of the disease within the next nine years.

Relatively only about 20% of the people devoid of amyloid deposits had later on developed related symptoms. He further added that he was of the opinion that they needed to carry this study further till they would feel that almost everyone with elevated amyloid would progress to symptomatic AD.

 Moreover it seemed reasonable to anticipate that they tend to start the trashy of anti-amyloid, 15 years prior to the expected onset of symptoms, they would be capable of preventing the development of clinical Alzheimer’s disease. In order to the trace the development of the disease over a period of time, Aisen has been enrolling healthy individuals having no symptoms of Alzheimer’s in clinical studies.

Biomarkers in Blood

In comprehending the disease and its progress would assist in the development of a `liquid bipsy’ blood test which would bring about an insight to the doctors wherein individuals could be at high risk for Alzheimer’s. In future, once the doctors tend to identify that a patient has early build-up of amyloid, they will be capable of prescribing a drug that could destroy the same.

 Thereafter, individuals could take a drug like a BACE- inhibitor in order to prevent amyloid build-up according to Aisen. Aisen had also added that doctors will ultimately be in a position of identifying people likely to develop Alzheimer’s through biomarkers found in blood draws, which will simplify preventive treatment. Director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Zlokovic had challenged the amyloid hypothesis of Aisen stating that amyloid is not ground zero for neurodegeneration.

Zlokovic had commented that he is a bit worried if they consider Alzheimer’s is exclusively amyloid-derived neurodegeneration. He would state that this is a very complex, multifactorial disease which is motivated by genetic, vascular and environmental factors that all can effect disease inception and progression. He further added that disease inception may or may not include amyloid at all.

Healthy Brain – Healthy Blood Vessels

He explained that according to latest studies, issues in brain circulation like subtle damage to the smallest brain vessels, capillaries, loss of cerebrovascular integrity as well as blood flow changes taking place early could be vital to disease progression and lead to amyloid and tau pathology.

Zlokovic has been performing pioneering research on how leaks in the vascular system of the brain, the blood-brain barrier, tend to cause a flow of issues, inclusive of amyloid build-up. Zlokovic had mentioned that health epidemic of the 21st century is age-linked small vessel disease of the brain. Small vessel disease is said to contribute to around 45% of all dementias all over the world including Alzheimer’s.

Zlokovic recently had installed as the Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha Chair in Alzhemier’s Disease Research further commented that a healthy brain needs healthy blood vessels. The blood-brain barrier averts the entry into the brain of blood deprived toxic products, pathogens and cells. Over 70 USC researchers over a range of disciplines have been inspecting the health, societal as well as political effects and its implications of Alzheimer’s.

 Zlokovic had informed that they would be looking forward to hosting this symposium again the next year and that it is critical for top experts of Alzheimer’s to come together and share their unpublished discoveries, concept and state-of-the art approaches in order that scientific barriers are eliminated and all tend to work together in arresting and reversing this devastating disease.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Human Stem Cells Model the Kidney Filtration Barrier

Glomerular filtration chip devised by the human stem cells differentiation

Well, it is a relief for the ailing ones especially the kidney patients. The glomerular filtration is the new addition in terms of the kidney related diseases. The best part is that a new chip has been designed which consists of the glomerulus itself and it could bring a smile for the kidney affected persons. The therapeutic therapy has been given a new dimension post this chip manufacturing.

The kidney is one of the most important organ in our body. It is quite essential and performs a lot of functions for our body. The filtering of blood is the most important one and also helps in removing waste elements via urine. It retains the elements in the form of proteins in our body which is beneficial for the circulation of blood and proper metabolism of the body.


The main thing that helps in achieving all the above mentioned activities is none other than the glomerulus itself. There is a membrane which is thin and separates the matrix. It filters the material. The researches go on in every field. The medical field is no exception. We had recently some of the greatest discoveries in the medical arena. It has really got advanced and helped to cut down the mortality rate by a huge margin by inventing new drugs or machines.

This has been possible with the combination of science and technology which has revolutionised the world. The stem cells were under the microscope for a long time which can convert to podocytes. These can be really very helpful for the medical field. Well, the glomerular filtration was not successful when podocytes were taken into consideration in order to culture cells.


Where there is a way, there is a will. Well, certainly there is and nothing is impossible in this digital world. The solution was figured out by the scientists and developers for the glomerular filtration. The new process is something different where the podocytes which are considered to be mature are formed by separating the stem cells of human which have been induced by pluripotent.


And it works as a wonder as the success rate is close to 90 percent. Now these were embedded on a chip and a model of the glomerulus of the human as created. In this fashion, the filtration process reached a new height and all the proteins and toxic elements could be differentiated. This chip which has been developed by the researchers will play a promising role in the near future.

This will also play a key role for more research in terms of experiments and other tests. The aspect of biology will get broader and widened now a bit with the development of the glomerular filtration chip. Well, we need to have patience till the chip is finally rolled out for the treatment purposes. The differentiation is the key to develop such a chip which would save kidney patients in future.