March 11, 2014
Cambridge scientists film embryo implantation for the first time
(Reuters) – Cambridge University biologists have cracked the so-called ‘black box’ of embryonic development, a mystery which has long puzzled scientists. The researchers have found a way to record the earliest stages of an embryo’s growth and have filmed for the first time ever, the moment of implantation, opening new possibilities for improved methods of IVF treatment and regenerative medicine.
March 10, 2014
Stem cell study opens door to undiscovered world of biology
(Phys.org) – For the first time, researchers have shown that an essential biological process known as protein synthesis can be studied in adult stem cells – something scientists have long struggled to accomplish. The groundbreaking findings from the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) also demonstrate that the precise amount of protein produced by blood-forming stem cells is crucial to their function.
March 5, 2014
For his next act, genome wiz Craig Venter takes on aging
(Reuters) – Craig Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome over a decade ago and created synthetic life in 2010, is now on a quest to treat age-related disease. Venter has teamed up with stem cell pioneer Dr Robert Hariri and X Prize Foundation founder Dr Peter Diamandis to form Human Longevity Inc, a company that will use both genomics and stem cell therapies to find treatments that allow aging adults to stay healthy and functional for as long as possible.
March 4, 2014
Artificial heart patient dies
(BBC) – The first patient to be fitted with a pioneering artificial heart in France has died. The 76-year-old man, who has not been named, died 75 days after the operation in Paris. The bioprosthetic device, made by French company Carmat, is designed to replace the real heart for up to five years. It is intended to help patients who are in the advanced stages of heart failure.
A powerful new way to edit DNA
(New York Times) – Already the molecular system, known as Crispr, is being used to make genetically engineered laboratory animals more easily than could be done before, with changes in multiple genes. Scientists in China recently made monkeys with changes in two genes. Scientists hope Crispr might also be used for genomic surgery, as it were, to correct errant genes that cause disease. Working in a laboratory — not, as yet, in actual humans — researchers at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands showed they could fix a mutation that causes cystic fibrosis.
Reconstructing faces using human stem cells from fat
(Medical News Today) - Researchers in London, UK, are investigating the effectiveness of stem cell therapies for facial reconstruction. A joint team, from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and University College London’s Institute of Child Health, has published the findings of their research in the journal Nanomedicine. This follows the recent news that another UK-based team, of The London Chest Hospital, has begun the largest ever trial of adult stem cells in heart attack patients.
March 3, 2014
Nanomedicine sensor detects levels of antibiotics in blood
(Nanowerk News) – A new methodology for rapidly measuring the level of antibiotic drug molecules in human blood serum has been developed, paving the way to applications within drug development and personalised medicine. The study, published today in Nature Nanotechnology (“Surface-stress sensors for rapid and ultrasensitive detection of active free drugs in human serum”), describes the exploitation of a sensor for measuring the concentration of effective antibiotics in blood, giving an indication of their efficiency against disease causing pathogens, for instance multidrug resistant hospital “superbugs”.
February 28, 2014
Pancreatic cancer’s killer trick offers treatment hope
(New Scientist) – PANCREATIC cancer’s deadliest trick could be its undoing. Despite each person’s tumours having very different genetic mutations, they all cause the same metabolic changes that help it grow. What’s more, drugs already exist that can block the process. Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal of all common cancers – 95 per cent of people die within five years of diagnosis. One reason it is so deadly is that no two cases are genetically the same.
February 26, 2014
‘Death test’ predicts chance of healthy person dying within five years
(The Telegraph) – A ‘Death Test’ which predicts the chance of a healthy person dying from any medical condition in the next five years has been developed by scientists. Researchers said they were ‘astonished’ to discover that a simple blood test could predict if a person was likely to die – even if they were not ill. They found that the levels of four ‘biomarkers’ in the body, when taken together, indicated a general level of ‘frailty’. People whose biomarkers were out of kilter were five times more likely to die with five years of the blood test.
Video of virus-sized particle trying to enter cell
(Phys.org) – Tiny and swift, viruses are hard to capture on video. Now researchers at Princeton University have achieved an unprecedented look at a virus-like particle as it tries to break into and infect a cell. The technique they developed could help scientists learn more about how to deliver drugs via nanoparticles—which are about the same size as viruses—as well as how to prevent viral infection from occurring.
February 25, 2014
Nanoparticles target anti-inflammatory drugs where needed
(Phys.org) – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a system for precisely delivering anti-inflammatory drugs to immune cells gone out of control, while sparing their well-behaved counterparts. Their findings were published online Feb. 23 in Nature Nanotechnology. The system uses nanoparticles made of tiny bits of protein designed to bind to unique receptors found only on neutrophils, a type of immune cell engaged in detrimental acute and chronic inflammatory responses.
The secret to a bulletproof antidoping test?
(New York Times) – In the lab of Yannis Pitsiladis, a physiologist in Scotland, athletes spend their days injecting synthetic EPO, a popular performance-enhancing drug that tricks bone marrow into churning out more red blood cells, allowing athletes’ bodies to absorb more oxygen. Pitsiladis hasn’t gone rogue. He’s at the forefront of an effort to revolutionize the hunt for dopers in sports by scouring his subjects’ blood cells for a distinctive, long-lasting genetic “fingerprint” left by the drug.
February 24, 2014
Nanotechnology to help healing hearts
(Phys.org) – Precision is also required in the large strategic research opening by Tekes which Franssila and his research group are participating in with the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital. The project has an ambitious goal: getting damaged organs to heal themselves. Achieving this goal requires drugs that are targeted at an organ, such as the heart or the brain, using nanotechnology. The drugs then locally enhance the differentiation of stem cells so that the necessary new heart or nerve cells are created.
Scientists transform skin cells into functioning liver cells
(Nanowerk) – The power of regenerative medicine now allows scientists to transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble heart cells, pancreas cells and even neurons. However, a method to generate cells that are fully mature—a crucial prerequisite for life-saving therapies—has proven far more difficult. But now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have made an important breakthrough: they have discovered a way to transform skin cells into mature, fully functioning liver cells that flourish on their own, even after being transplanted into laboratory animals modified to mimic liver failure.
New stem cell research may give the elderly rejuvenated muscles
(Tech Times) – Researchers have taken an old mouse whose heart has thickened and enlarged with age, circulated a newly discovered protein in its blood, and saw that the heart reverted back to a more youthful state. They now believe the same effect can be achieved with elderly humans, using a new process that rejuvenates older muscle stem cell populations so they function like younger cells.
Turn your body into a cartilage factory
(Wired) – Using scaffolds outside of the body to generate synthetic tracheas, cell-grown blood vessels and ears (kind of) is already an established practice in bioengineering research. But what happens once those scaffolds have been implanted? A team from Duke University is working on getting them to become fuel-generating systems that continually encourage stem cells to grow inside the body, to directly rebuild cartilage on site.
February 21, 2014
MIT’s Synthetic Biology Center collaborates with Pfizer to advance synthetic biology research in drug discovery and development
(MIT News) – Today, MIT’s Synthetic Biology Center (MIT SBC) announced a collaboration with Pfizer Inc. that is designed to translate leading discoveries in synthetic biology to advance drug discovery and development technologies. This three-year research collaboration spans multiple therapeutic areas at Pfizer and involves several core investigators within the MIT SBC. The MIT SBC is an interdisciplinary research and educational initiative of the Department of Biological Engineering, which integrates faculty from other MIT departments.
February 20, 2014
A powerful and undetectable new kind of doping may be happening at the Olympics
(Business Insider) – “The world may be about to watch one of its last Olympic Games without genetically enhanced athletes,” wrote H. Lee Sweeney, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Time to cherish the old-fashioned athletes of Sochi? It might be too late. Sweeney actually penned that warning a decade ago, in a Scientific American article exploring a little-known practice called gene doping. In 2004, gene doping was not yet a real risk. But now? The technology has advanced, and authorities have reason to be concerned.
How gene therapy targest liver cells [video]
(Scientific American) – Advances in gene therapy over the past 15 years are finally allowing investigators to safely treat a growing number of carefully selected patients with a broad range of defective or missing genes, as reported by Ricki Lewis in the March issue of Scientific American. One of the biggest obstacles researchers have learned to overcome is the immune system’s propensity to over-react when thousands of copies of the stripped-down viruses carrying normal genes are injected into the body, mistakenly treating them as foreign invaders.
February 19, 2014
What technology is revolutionizing cancer treatment? The same one that is changing the world
(Medical Daily) – What are the most tomorrow technologies in the field of cancer medicine? The first thought that comes to mind for many people would be personalized medicine, while others would immediately champion nanotechnology. Yet underlying both these revolutionary fields is the new technology that has been made possible by the startling advances in genomic sequencing: synthetic biology. Scientists are beginning to design DNA molecules, proteins, and complex genetic circuits — biological organisms.
February 18, 2014
Can ‘robotic’ pills replace injections?
(The Wall Street Journal) – The adage “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” is destined for a futuristic makeover. Doctors may just as easily recommend swallowing sophisticated gadgets instead. That is the hope of prolific inventor Mir Imran, who has created a robotic pill to replace injectable drugs for chronic conditions such as diabetes. The gadget, in preclinical studies and backed by Google Inc.’s venture-capital unit, consists of an ingestible polymer and tiny hollow needles made of sugar that are designed to safely deliver drugs to the small intestine.