Patrick Cox's Tech Digest

Cancer: Treatment That Prevents Tumor Metastasis Identified in Animal Study

July 25, 2014

University of Louvain researchers in Belgium have revealed in Cell Reports a new technique for potentially cutting off a cancer tumor’s ability to metastasize and spread from one region of the body to another. By examining the mitochondria of cancer tumor cells, the researchers determined that they could block the production of superoxide ions necessary for cancer cells to migrate by using specific antioxidant compounds. In short, by focusing on cancer cell mitochondria and targeting them with antioxidants that rob them of their power to spread, the researchers may have found a way to keep all cancers located where they originate.

In Aging Brain, Extracellular Scaffolding Loses Flexibility, Memory Deficits Worsen

July 25, 2014

University of Luxembourg and VU University of Amsterdam scientists, releasing data in the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, discuss the loss of synaptic plasticity—the ability to form new memory connections—in the aging brain. By studying synapse plasticity on the molecular level, the researchers determined that extracellular matrix proteins increased in number in the brain over time. It is thought that these increases in specific proteins could be connected to the loss of synaptic plasticity and also memory loss. With further research, this new work could also inform the study of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Atomic Structure of Key Muscle Component Revealed

July 25, 2014

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers reveal in the journal Science the biophysics of how actin protein filaments compound and stabilize to form the basic structure involved in nearly all cell movement, but especially muscle movement. At the smallest level, a combination of actin and myosin filaments form a muscle component called a sarcomere, and as these units continue to connect, muscle tissue grows. This new study on the role of the actin protein in muscle formation and function could lead to a variety of useful breakthroughs that benefit other medical research.

Therapeutic Bacteria Prevent Obesity in Mice, Study Finds

July 24, 2014

Vanderbilt University Medical Center scientists, revealing their work in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, report that probiotic supplementation helped mice in a laboratory test resist the negative biological effects of a high fat diet. This new finding follows several stories about probiotics that have appeared in this space in recent days, as compelling results continue to accumulate surrounding the usefulness and potential protective benefits of certain gut bacteria. In previous studies, probiotics were found to help inhibit insulin resistance, a finding that could pave the way for diabetes treatment breakthroughs.

GSK Seeks Approval for World’s First Malaria Vaccine

July 24, 2014

Reuters reports that after 30 years of work, GlaxoSmithKline is now seeking approval for a malaria vaccine to be exported to sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease kills thousands of children each year. After approvals from both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and World Health Organization (WHO), Glaxo intends to begin marketing the vaccine, called RTS,S. While not a panacea, the vaccine did reduce the rate of malaria infection by up to 30% in tests on babies aged six to 12 weeks.

Gene Inhibitor, Salmon Fibrin Restore Function Lost in Spinal Cord Injury

July 24, 2014

University of California Irvine scientists, releasing data in the Journal of Neuroscience, report that fibrin injections into the spinal cord and injections of a gene inhibitor into the brain restored some measure of motor function in a spinal cord injury study conducted on mice. In short, this fascinating new research appears to provide a “scaffolding” structure for new neuronal axons to develop at the site of an injury to the spinal cord. As this work develops with further testing, it could become a breakthrough treatment for paralyzed patients.

Stem Cells Aid Muscle Repair, Strengthening after Resistance Exercise

July 22, 2014

Scientists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, revealing their work in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, report that mice who received stem cell injections into their legs before vigorous exercise similar to human strength training saw muscles repair quicker after that exercise with more muscle growth over time. The researchers injected the mice with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)—cells that occur naturally in the body and are capable of differentiating into a variety of cell types.

Probiotics Might Help Lower Blood Pressure

July 22, 2014

Researchers at the Griffith University School of Medicine in Queensland, Australia, writing in the journal Hypertension, report that supplementing a diet with daily probiotics could help to control high blood pressure. By analyzing test subjects included in prior studies, the researchers found small but significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings when about the amount of probiotic bacteria found in a container of yogurt was consumed daily for eight weeks or more. While probiotic supplementation is in no way a cure for hypertension, it could help those with the condition control it better over time.

Metabolic Enzyme Stops Progression of Most Common Type of Kidney Cancer

July 22, 2014

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, revealing their work in Nature, report that the FBP1 enzyme was found in tests to bind to transcription factors in kidney cells and help regulate energy production inside those cells. Furthermore, traces of the FBP1 enzyme were missing from kidney cancer tissues in the study, suggesting that the presence of the FBP1 enzyme could serve as a biological roadblock to the development of cancer.

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