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November 6, 2009, 8:56 AM CT

New Synthetic Molecules Trigger Immune Response

New Synthetic Molecules Trigger Immune Response
Scientists at Yale University have developed synthetic molecules capable of enhancing the body's immune response to HIV and HIV-infected cells, as well as to prostate cancer cells. Their findings, published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, could lead to novel therapeutic approaches for these diseases.

The molecules - called "antibody-recruiting molecule targeting HIV" (ARM-H) and "antibody-recruiting molecule targeting prostate cancer" (ARM-P) - work by binding simultaneously to an antibody already present in the bloodstream and to proteins on HIV, HIV-infected cells or cancer cells. By coating these pathogens in antibodies, the molecules flag them as a threat and trigger the body's own immune response. In the case of ARM-H, by binding to proteins on the outside of the virus, they also prevent healthy human cells from being infected.

"Instead of trying to kill the pathogens directly, these molecules manipulate our immune system to do something it wouldn't ordinarily do," said David Spiegel, Ph.D., M.D., assistant professor of chemistry and the corresponding author of both papers.

Because both HIV and cancer have methods for evading the body's immune system, therapys and vaccinations for the two diseases have proven difficult. Current therapy options for HIV and prostate cancer - including antiviral drugs, radiation and chemotherapy - involve severe side effects and are often ineffective against advanced cases. While there are some antibody drugs available, they are difficult to produce in large quantities and are costly. They also must be injected and are accompanied by severe side effects of their own.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 6, 2009, 8:55 AM CT

Research Study On Near Vision

Research Study On Near Vision
The Cornea and Laser Eye Institute is participating in a research study to determine if an investigational corneal inlay can safely and effectively reduce the need for reading glasses. Dr. Peter Hersh, the study doctor, will perform the procedures.

The investigational AcuFocus Corneal Inlay (ACI) is intended to improve near vision in patients with presbyopia, which is the loss of near vision, and reduce dependency on reading glasses. Qualified participants will receive the procedure at no charge.

Presbyopia, the loss of near vision happens when the eye's natural lens loses the ability to focus light from both far and near objects. As a result, near tasks like reading or computer work are blurry. However, it is possible for far objects to still be clear. Presbyopia is a natural occurrence that happens to most of us by age 45. Patients 45 to 60 years are eligible to participate.

Smaller than a contact lens, the ACI Corneal Inlay looks like a small brown ring. It is 5 microns thick and 3.8 mm across with a small hole in the center. Over 8,000 tiny holes throughout the ACI help maintain the health of the cornea. It is placed within the body of the cornea, directly in front of the pupil. The ACI lets the central rays of light continue on to the retina while blocking out some of the more out-of-focus rays. This is similar to the effect seen when one looks through a small pinhole. This increased focus may improve near vision. With the ACI placed in one eye, the depth of focus is anticipated to provide improved near and in-between vision while having little effect on far away vision.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


November 6, 2009, 8:52 AM CT

Nanoparticles for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment

Nanoparticles for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment
Whether it's magnetic nanoparticles (mNPs) giving an army of 'therapeutically armed' white blood cells direction to invade a deadly tumour's territory, or the use of mNPs to target specific nerve channels and induce nerve-led behaviour (such as the life-dependant thumping of our hearts), mNPs have come a long way in the past decade.

The future for mNPs however appears even brighter. With the design of 'theranostic' molecules, mNPs could play a crucial role in developing one-stop tools to simultaneously diagnose, monitor and treat a wide range of common diseases and injuries.

Multifunctional particles, modelled on viral particles such as the flu and HIV, are being researched and developed to carry signal-generating sub-molecules and drugs, able to reach target areas through a safe sprinkling of tiny mNPs and external magnetic forces, creating a medical means to confirm specific ailments and automatically release healing drugs while inside a living system.

A landmark selection of review articles published this week in IOP Publishing's Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 'Progress in Applications of Magnetic Nanoparticles in Biomedicine', shows just how far magnetic nanoparticles for application in biomedicine have come and what exciting promise they hold for the future.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:45 AM CT

How the heart is formed?

How the heart is formed?
Cardiac melanocyte-like cells in the mouse heart, identified by transgenic expression of a marker gene, are located in the region of the atria and the pulmonary veins and may serve as triggers for atrial arrhythmias.. (Click to view larger version.)
While studying how the heart is formed, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine serendipitously found a novel cellular source of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of abnormal heart beat. Jonathan Epstein, MD, William Wikoff Smith Professor, and Chair, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Vickas Patel, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, have identified a population of cells in the atria of the heart and pulmonary veins of humans and mice that appear to be the seat of AF. The finding may lead to a more precise way to treat AF, with reduced side effects. Their findings appear online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

This group of cells expresses the protein DCT, which is also involved in making the skin pigment melanin and in the detoxification of free radicals. The scientists also showed that the DCT-expressing cells in the mouse heart were a distinct cell type from heart-muscle cells and pigment-producing cells, eventhough they conduct electrical currents important for coordinated contraction of the heart. The location of these cells in the pulmonary veins suggested their possible role in AF because AF can arise in these blood vessels. Atrial fibrillation is a very common and debilitating disease that greatly affects quality of life.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 29, 2009, 9:14 PM CT

Blocking heat shock protein to fight cancer

Blocking heat shock protein to fight cancer
This image shows an accumulation of holes, called vacuoles, inside a cell, which are associated with protein aggregation and disrupted regulation of normal protein degradation processes following exposure of cells to the HSP70 inhibitor.

Credit: Donna George, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Like yoga for office drones, cells do have coping strategies for stress. Heat, lack of nutrients, oxygen radicals all can wreak havoc on the delicate internal components of a cell, potentially damaging it beyond repair. Proteins called HSPs (heat shock proteins) allow cells to survive stress-induced damage. Researchers have long studied how HSPs work in order to harness their therapeutic potential.

Donna George, PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics, and Julie Leu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Genetics, both at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in collaboration with the lab of Maureen Murphy, PhD at Fox Chase Cancer Center, identified a small molecule that inhibits the heat shock protein HSP70. They also showed that the HSP inhibitor could stop tumor formation and significantly extend survival of mice. They describe their findings in this month's issue of Molecular Cell

HSP70 is an intracellular quality control officer, refolding misfolded proteins and preventing protein aggregation, which among other disorders, is linked to neurodegenerative diseases. HSP70 also ferries proteins to their proper intracellular locations. Tumor cells, which face an abundance of cellular stresses, typically overexpress HSP70, making it a potentially interesting anticancer target.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 29, 2009, 7:14 AM CT

Treating steroid-induced osteoporosis

Treating steroid-induced osteoporosis
A recent study determined glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (OP) is now treatable with Teriparatide, a synthetic form of the human parathyroid hormone. Scientists found patients with glucocorticoid-induced OP who were treated with teriparatide for 36 months had a greater increase in bone mineral density (BMD) and fewer new vertebral fractures than those treated with alendronate. The findings of this study are reported in the recent issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that are naturally produced in the body or synthetically created compounds (drugs) used to reduce inflammation. These steroid drugs are used to control inflammation in patients with such autoimmune diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Crohn's disease as well as inflammatory conditions such as asthma. Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis occurs when patients taking steroid medications such as prednisone, prednisolone, dexamethasone, and cortisone exhibit reduced bone mass and bone strength.

This 36-month, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, led by Kenneth Saag, M.D., from the University of Alabama, was conducted at 76 centers located in 13 countries. A total of 428 patients between the ages of 22-89 with confirmed OP who had received greater than 5 mg/day of prednisone or equivalent for more than 3 months preceding screening were included. Research measures included changes in lumbar spine and hip bone, BMD, changes in bone biomarkers, fracture incidence, and safety.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 26, 2009, 7:33 AM CT

Master control switch for regeneration of nerve fibers

Master control switch for regeneration of nerve fibers
Scientists at Children's Hospital Boston report that an enzyme known as Mst3b, previously identified in their lab, is essential for regenerating damaged axons (nerve fibers) in a live animal model, in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. Their findings, published online by Nature Neuroscience on October 25, suggest Mst3b or agents that stimulate it as a possible means of treating stroke, spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injury. Normally, neurons in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) cannot regenerate injured nerve fibers, limiting people's ability to recover from brain or spinal cord injuries.

The study, led by Nina Irwin, PhD and Larry Benowitz, PhD, of the Laboratories for Neuroscience Research in Neurosurgery and the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Children's, builds on prior discoveries in the lab. In 2002, they showed that a naturally occurring small molecule, inosine, stimulates axon regeneration, later showing that it helps restore neurological functions in animal models of injury. In 2006, Benowitz and his colleagues reported a previously unknown growth factor, oncomodulin, to have dramatic effects on axon growth.

Investigating the mechanisms of action of inosine and oncomodulin, Irwin and Benowitz discovered that both compounds activate Mst3b, an enzyme that may be a master regulator of a cell-signaling pathway controlling axon growth. Mst3b, a protein kinase, in turn activates signals that switch on the genes necessary for axons to grow.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 7:10 AM CT

Gleevec may be helpful in sclerodema

Gleevec may be helpful in sclerodema
Investigators have identified a drug that is currently approved to treat certain types of cancer, Gleevec, that could provide the first therapy for scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease for which a therapy has remained elusive. The news will be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology on October 18 in Philadelphia.

"There has never been a drug that has been shown to be effective for this condition. I think there is a very good chance of Gleevec becoming a real therapy for a previously untreatable disease," said Robert Spiera, M.D., an associate attending rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery who led the study.

For the study, researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery enrolled 30 patients with diffuse scleroderma, a widespread severe form of the disease, and gave them 400 mg of Gleevec per day. Patients were reviewed monthly for 12 months during therapy and were seen for follow-up three months after discontinuing the drug.

To measure the effectiveness of the drug, scientists used a tool known as the modified Rodnan skin score, a measure of how much skin is affected by the disease. "The skin score seems to be a very good marker of disease status and most scleroderma trials use this as an outcome measure," said Dr. Spiera, who is also an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. The researchers also measured lung function using tests for forced vital capacity (FVC), the maximum volume of air that a person can exhale after maximum inhalation, and diffusion capacity, a measurement of the lung's capacity to transfer gases. Lung disease is the main cause of mortality in scleroderma.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 6:50 AM CT

Making better stem cells from adult tissue

Making better stem cells from adult tissue
A team led by researchers from The Scripps Research Institute has developed a method that dramatically improves the efficiency of creating stem cells from human adult tissue, without the use of embryonic cells. The research makes great strides in addressing a major practical challenge in the development of stem-cell-based medicine.

The findings were published in an advance, online issue of the journal Nature Methods on October 18, 2009.

The new technique, which uses three small drug-like chemicals, is 200 times more efficient and twice as fast as conventional methods for transforming adult human cells into stem cells (in this case called "induced pluripotent stem cells" or "iPS cells").

"Both in terms of speed and efficiency, we achieved major improvements over conventional conditions," said Scripps Research Associate Professor Sheng Ding, Ph.D., who led the study. "This is the first example in human cells of how reprogramming speed can be accelerated. I think that the field will quickly adopt this method, accelerating iPS cell research significantly".

In addition to its significant practical advantages, the development of the technique deepens the understanding of the biology behind the transformation of adult human cells into stem cells.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 6:47 AM CT

Metals could form an effective treatment against cancer

Metals could form an effective treatment against cancer
Professor Peter Sadler, University of Warwick

Credit: University of Warwick
Drugs made using unusual metals could form an effective therapy against colon and ovary cancer, including malignant cells that have developed immunity to other drugs, as per research at the University of Warwick and the University of Leeds.

The study, reported in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, showed that a range of compounds containing the two transition metals Ruthenium and Osmium, which are found in the same part of the periodic table as precious metals like platinum and gold, cause significant cell death in ovarian and colon cancer cells.

The compounds were also effective against ovary cancer cells which are resistant to the drug Cisplatin, the most successful transition metal drug, which contains the metal platinum.

Dr Patrick McGowan, one of the main authors of the research from the School of Chemistry at the University of Leeds, explains: "Ruthenium and Osmium compounds are showing very high levels of activity against ovary cancer, which is a significant step forward in the field of medicinal chemistry.

Sabine H. van Rijt, lead researcher in the laboratory of Professor Peter Sadler in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, said:.

"Most interestingly, malignant cells that have shown resistance to the most successful transition metal drug, Cisplatin, show a high death rate with these new compounds."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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