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Was Tamiflu effective in curbing H1N1?

Was Tamiflu effective in curbing H1N1? | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

The drug Tamiflu was given to tens of thousands of people during the H1N1 flu pandemic. A recent study claims that the drug does nothing to halt the spread of influenza. This could mean that the UK and US Governments wasted £500 million and $1.5 billion stockpiling the drug, respectively.

 

The review published in the British Medical Journal, claims that Roche, the drug’s Swiss manufacturer, gave a “false impression” of its effectiveness and accuses the company of “sloppy science”.

 

Dr Tom Jefferson, the lead author said, “The stuff is toxic. It increased the risk of psychiatric events, headaches and renal events in one in 150 people. People reported nausea, vomiting and constriction of the airways. In Japan eight children jumped out of windows and committed suicide.”

 

However, Dr Daniel Thurley, UK medical director of Roche , countered: “We disagree with the overall conclusions of this report. Roche stands behind the wealth of data for Tamiflu and the decisions of public health agencies worldwide, including the US and European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation."

 

Indeed, a previous review published in the Lancet highlighted the effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors such as Tamiflu in reducing mortality at the peak of the H1N1 pandemic.

 

Read more about:

 

BMJ Tamiflu campaign  http://goo.gl/yfs7Xc

Dr Tom Jefferson's review http://goo.gl/ff09pj

Lancet's contrasting Tamiflu review http://goo.gl/tn70rm

 

 


Via Sepp Hasslberger
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Science is a self-correcting community effort. Therefore, disagreements, debates and controversy is commonplace among scientists. However, huge political egos, prestigious journals and vested corporate interests have a way of prolonging scientific controversies such as climate change http://sco.lt/86HUtl

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Sepp Hasslberger's curator insight, April 12, 8:28 AM

Half a billion pound sterling is what the British shelled out for stockpiling an ineffective, even dangerous drug, all on the hype of a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, May 31, 12:36 PM
@Sepp Hasslberger, great scoop. However, there is more to the controversy than highlighted in the Telegraph. Lancet published a review which contradicts the one in BMJ http://sco.lt/5tRXHt
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A Message From The Curator

A Message From The Curator | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

Biotech and Beyond comprises a series of articles on a range of topics which include novel therapies, research and of course, biotechnology.

 

My first degree was BSc. Biotechnology which was awarded by Monash University. However, I have moved on to phytochemistry and food science for my PhD and currently teach chemistry at UCSI University. Nonetheless, I still find biotechnology issues, discoveries and therapies fascinating.

 

Please follow my topic and share my scoops if you found the curated articles interesting, and check out the popular tags listed in the post above. I also welcome suggested scoops related to this topic and give credit where credit is due.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

I teach chemistry at UCSI University, Malaysia and most of my research is centered around phytochemistry.


My research interests can be viewed here:
http://scholar.google.com.my/citations?user=iVv3xbAAAAAJ&hl=en


I manage the Facebook and Google+ pages belonging to the Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University. Curated scoops are shared here:
https://www.facebook.com/Applied.Sciences.UCSI

https://plus.google.com/117901649282247944098/posts

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Biofortified probiotics could prevent obesity and insulin resistance

Biofortified probiotics could prevent obesity and insulin resistance | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

Scientists were able to reduce weight gain in mice by feeding them a genetically modified version of E. coli, a common intestinal bacterium. The biofortified microbes were designed to produce N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE)  which the bodies of mice and humans convert into N-acylethanolamide (NAE) a hormone that signals the brain to reduce appetite. 

 

In the study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, mice given the microbe and un-dosed animals were both put on a high-fat diet. The animals fed the bacteria via their drinking water ate less and gained less weight, and also showed less insulin resistance, a marker for diabetes. 

 

The finding raises the possibility that these bacteria, which basically amount to an engineered probiotic, could be imported into humans to do the same thing. That's obviously a ways off and hypothetical at this point, since mice are not humans.

 

However, if the biofortified microbe is deemed safe for consumption, it would have several advantages of current treatments for obesity (of which there are few). E. coli colonizes the human gastrointestinal tract better than most probiotics and the genetically modified bacterium has been shown to exert its effects for at least four weeks between interventions. This would negate the need for taking a pill everyday.

 

Read more here:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/study-suggests-probiotics-could-prevent-obesity-and-insulin-resistance

 

Read the research article from The Journal of Clinical Investigation here: http://www.jci.org/articles/view/72517


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

The term biofortification is often applied to the nutritional enhancement of crops via selective breeding or genetic modification. I felt that term was suitable for describing the genetic enhancement of probiotics as these bacteria confer nutritional benefits and are often incorporated into functional foods.

 

I also find this technology fascinating because it much simpler and than other comparable therapies such as a bionic pancrease http://sco.lt/6W8BuL

 

Functional foods are another topic which interest me and more scoops on the topic can be read here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/food-health-and-nutrition/?tag=Functional+Foods

 

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Deborah Verran's comment, July 26, 7:31 AM
NB This research was performed in mice. The value of probiotics as for eg in some manufactured brands of yoghurt remains to be seen.
Pierre-André Marechal's curator insight, July 28, 9:23 AM

A vos commentaires...  PAM

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Gene ‘Switch’ Reverses Cancer in Common Childhood Leukemia Model

Gene ‘Switch’ Reverses Cancer in Common Childhood Leukemia Model | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
Melbourne researchers have shown a type of leukemia can be successfully ‘reversed’ by coaxing the cancer cells back into normal development. The discovery was made using a model of B-progenitor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), the most common cancer affecting children.

 

Institute researchers Dr Ross Dickins and Ms Grace Liu led the study with Walter and Eliza Hall Institute colleagues and collaborators in Vienna. The study was published in the journal Genes & Development. Ms Liu said the team used a newly developed ‘genetic switch’ technology to inhibit then reactivate Pax5 in the leukemia model.

 

“Along with other genetic changes, deactivating Pax5 drives normal blood cells to turn into leukemia cells, which has been shown before,” Ms Liu said. “However we showed for the first time that reactivating Pax5 enabled the cells to resume their normal development and lose their cancer-like qualities, effectively curing the leukemia. What was intriguing for us was that simply restoring Pax5 was enough to normalize these cancer cells, despite the other genetic changes.”

 

In leukemia, immature white blood cells replicate abnormally and build up in the bone marrow, interfering with production of normal blood cells. Ms Liu said Pax5 was a gene frequently ‘lost’ in childhood B-ALL. “Pax5 is essential for normal development of a type of white blood cells called B cells,” she said. “When Pax5 function is compromised, developing B cells can get trapped in an immature state and become cancerous. We have shown that restoring Pax5 function, even in cells that have already become cancerous, removes this ‘block’, and enables the cells to develop into normal white blood cells.”

 

However, Dr Dickins said that genes that are lost in tumor cells are not traditionally drug targets. Nonetheless, the genetic switch technology used to study Pax5 could also be used to understand ‘tumour suppressor’ genes in other cancers, he said.

 

Read more here: 

http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2014/06/gene-%E2%80%98switch%E2%80%99-reverses-cancer-common-childhood-leukemia-model

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Cancer is not a simple disease with a simple cure http://sco.lt/7yHpNR

 

Nonetheless, there have been several example of successful gene therapy:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Gene+Therapy

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Cancer is not a single disease with a simple cure

Cancer is not a single disease with a simple cure | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

For many years, the general public has been misled by the notion that we will find “The Cure”, the one miracle drug that has the ability to destroy any cancer. Fundamentally, cancer is different from other diseases – normal diseases have vulnerabilities our human cells do not possess.


Since cancer shares the same genetic makeup as the rest of our body, the chemicals that harm cancer cells invariably affect normal cells. Rather than a single medicine, or magic bullet, curative treatments will require a well-defined combination of innovative diagnostics, targeted therapies, and new advances in immunotherapy.  


Almost all cancers have distinct subtypes that predict better responses to one therapy over another. For example, most breast cancers respond to estrogen while a smaller portion have high levels of a pro-cancer gene called Her2. Trastuzumab, a therapy for Her2-type breast cancers, does not work on the estrogen-responsive breast tumors, while anti-estrogens do not work on the Her2-only tumors.


The advent of the personal genome sequencing era has allowed for the tremendous possibility of further refining this method by individually mapping each patient’s tumor for the underlying mutations that cause the cancer.


Read more here: http://www.breakingbio.org/cancer-will-never-be-cured-at-least-not-the-way-we-think-of-a-cure/

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

The quest for the magic bullet which cures all cancer caught the public's imagination since 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared the War on Cancer.

 

Unfortunately, most experts are now of the opinion there is no single cancer but many different cancers.

 

Read more about how whole genome sequencing is allowing physicians and researchers to see how each cancer develops: 

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7239/abs/nature07943.html

 

Read other scoops on novel therapies here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Novel+Therapies

 

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Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, July 17, 7:22 AM
@Breaking Bio thanks for the scoop. However, providing a link to an actual academic research or review publication would lend a lot of credibility to the article.
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Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood

Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

Our bloodstream is considered to be an environment well separated from the outside world and the digestive tract. According to the standard paradigm large macromolecules consumed with food cannot pass directly to the circulatory system.

 

During digestion proteins and DNA are thought to be degraded into small constituents, amino acids and nucleic acids, respectively, and then absorbed by a complex active process and distributed to various parts of the body through the circulation system.

 

Here, based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies, we report evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments which are large enough to carry complete genes can avoid degradation and through an unknown mechanism enter the human circulation system.

 

In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA. The plant DNA concentration shows a surprisingly precise log-normal distribution in the plasma samples while non-plasma (cord blood) control sample was found to be free of plant DNA.

 

Read the full scientific article here:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069805

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This research article has raised fears that DNA from genetically modified organisms (GMO) may enter our bloodstream and integrate with our DNA. Such fear mongering can be seen here: 

http://www.lifeadvancer.com/dna-from-gmos-can-pass-directly-into-humans-study-confirms

 

It is however, important to note that this study was not working specifically with DNA from GMO. This means that DNA from any of our food items e.g. a sandwich with beef, tomatoes and wheat can enter our bloodstream.

 

I am still slightly skeptical of the findings of this study given that the mechanism which allows large DNA molecules to be absorbed still has not been identified. However, I am certain that DNA in food does not pose a food safety risk whether or not the food item has been genetically modified or not. It is highly unlikely that genes from our foodstuff can be integrated into our genome.

 

Imagine this: If we accidentally ate a spider, we would all receive spider powers if we could meld genes from the spider with our own.

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Why Do Joints Pop And Crack?

SciShow explains what really causes those popping sounds your joints make -- fluid dynamics, people! -- and what you should watch out for if you're a habitual knuckle-popper!

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Did you know that our clothes affect our ability to do certain tasks? http://sco.lt/79KaTh

 

Have you also wonder why do women feel the cold more than men? http://sco.lt/7klLvd

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Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of immune system

Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of immune system | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
In the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system, a study shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage -- a major side effect of chemotherapy -- but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

 

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then "flipped a regenerative switch": changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed.

 

The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as we age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles -- periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months -- kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones, the research also has implications for chemotherapy tolerance and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmunity disorders.

 

"We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system," said corresponding author Valter Longo, the Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

 

Read more here: 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605141507.htm

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Intermittent fasting seems to be an area of current research and something much discussed by health enthusiasts http://sco.lt/7tFrKD

 

@PAT NOVAK also scooped a good infographic on intermittent fasting here: http://sco.lt/67F0RF

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Why stress affects some more than others?

Why stress affects some more than others? | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

In response to stress, some people cope easily while others succumb to depression or other mood disorders. While depression can develop from a wide variety of biological and genetic factors, stressful events are often a major trigger. But why does stress make some people develop mood disorders while others remain resilient?

 

Learning more about the changes in the brain following stress could help answer this question and lead to better methods and treatments. Recently, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York did just that, using a mouse model of human depression to ask questions about the effects of stress on depression and the brain.

 

What they found was that in “depressed” mice, neurons fire differently than they do in resilient mice. In addition, these neurons can turn a resilient mouse into a depressed mouse when activated.

 

To test their theory, the researchers electrically stimulated the medial prefrontal cortex neurons to see how much stimulation was required for the neurons to fire. When they ran electric currents through those neurons in depressed mice, they fired very readily in response, indicating that these neurons had strong connections with their neighboring neurons. In contrast, the stress-activated neurons in the resilient mice did not fire easily in response to the electric stimulation, indicating that these same neurons in the resilient mice had weaker connections with their neighbors.

 

We’re still a long way from knowing how and where to stimulate the brain to effectively treat depression, but this study takes us one step closer.

 

Read more here: http://www.popsci.com/blog-network/ladybits/new-study-uncovers-why-stress-leads-depression-some-not-others

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Psychiatry lacks definitive tests for many diseases and diagnosis if often subjective in nature.

 

Better understanding of the brain would allow for brain scans with more definite indicators http://sco.lt/8xB2Pp

 

Read more about the brain here:
http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond?q=brain

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Newly developed bionic pancreas outperforms insulin pumps

Newly developed bionic pancreas outperforms insulin pumps | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

Clinical trials show that a smartphone-linked artificial pancreas could help free patients with type 1 diabetes from needing to regulate their blood glucose levels. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed the bionic pancreas was much better at keeping user's levels stable.

 

While these traditional methods can help type 1 diabetics to live normally with their disease, they require constant attention and can often result in dangerous glucose highs and lows. Previous research has shown that by keeping blood glucose levels in this normal range, patients can avoid complications such as heart, kidney and eye disease.

 

The results showed that type 1 diabetics who used the bionic pancreas were more likely to have blood glucose levels consistently within the normal range than those who used fingerstick tests and then manually injected insulin.

 

The new bionic pancreas, created by a team from Boston University, has a tiny removable sensor located in a thin needle, which is inserted under the skin of a patient and beams their glucose levels in real time to a smartphone app.

 

The app calculates the levels of insulin or glucagon needed to balance blood sugar, and tells an implanted pump to administer the required dose automatically. Before eating, patients can simply input data about their meal to have the app factor it in. Other than that, the patients don't need to think about their levels.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141606-25685.html

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25732-bionic-pancreas-frees-people-from-shackles-of-diabetes.html

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1314474

 

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Gene therapy may soon be available for HIV

Gene therapy may soon be available for HIV | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

About 1 per cent of people of European descent are resistant to HIV, because they carry two copies of a mutation in the gene for a protein called CCR5. The virus must lock onto this protein before it can invade white blood cells, and the mutations prevent it from doing so.


Researchers led by Yuet Kan of the University of California, San Francisco have proved the basic principle of altering the genome of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to give them a rare natural mutation that allows some people to resist HIV. White blood cells grown from these altered stem cells were resistant to HIV upon testing. The technique of inducing of pluripotent stem cells was itself a significant disovery meriting the Nobel prize.


Kan has not yet grown the iPSCs into the specific type of white blood cells – called CD4+ T cells – that are ravaged by HIV. What he instead plans to do is turn the iPSCs into blood-forming stem cells, which when transplanted into the body would give rise to all of the cell types found in the blood. "One of the problems is converting iPSCs into a type of cell that is transplantable," says Kan. "It is a big hurdle."


Read more about this novel therapy here:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25698-gene-editing-tool-can-write-hiv-out-of-the-picture.html


Read more about iPSCs here:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22348-cloning-and-stem-cell-nobel-for-gurdon-and-yamanaka.html


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Cancer and AIDS are widely thought to be the bane of mankind’s existence. Any therapy which could restrict either of these diseases is significant! Read about more novel therapies here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Novel+Therapies

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Laser blast stimulates tooth regeneration

Laser blast stimulates tooth regeneration | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
No more fillings! Scientists have figured out how to regenerate dentin, the material inside our teeth.

 

Research published in Science Translational Medicine uses a low-power laser can trigger stem cells in teeth to form dentin.

 

This is a big step forward as currently dentists can only replace damaged dentin with synthetic material, for example, when you get a filling or root canal.

 

Read more here:

http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20143005-25584.html

http://gizmodo.com/a-simple-blast-of-laser-could-help-your-teeth-grow-back-1582828844

 

The associated research article can be viewed here:

http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/6/238/238ra69

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This technology is similar to Fraxel Laser Treatment, a non-surgical technique for facial rejuvenation.

 

On a related note, red wine has been shown to inhibit dental biofilms http://sco.lt/6lxJHF

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Was Tamiflu effective in curbing H1N1?

Was Tamiflu effective in curbing H1N1? | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

The drug Tamiflu was given to tens of thousands of people during the H1N1 flu pandemic. A recent study claims that the drug does nothing to halt the spread of influenza. This could mean that the UK and US Governments wasted £500 million and $1.5 billion stockpiling the drug, respectively.

 

The review published in the British Medical Journal, claims that Roche, the drug’s Swiss manufacturer, gave a “false impression” of its effectiveness and accuses the company of “sloppy science”.

 

Dr Tom Jefferson, the lead author said, “The stuff is toxic. It increased the risk of psychiatric events, headaches and renal events in one in 150 people. People reported nausea, vomiting and constriction of the airways. In Japan eight children jumped out of windows and committed suicide.”

 

However, Dr Daniel Thurley, UK medical director of Roche , countered: “We disagree with the overall conclusions of this report. Roche stands behind the wealth of data for Tamiflu and the decisions of public health agencies worldwide, including the US and European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation."

 

Indeed, a previous review published in the Lancet highlighted the effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors such as Tamiflu in reducing mortality at the peak of the H1N1 pandemic.

 

Read more about:

 

BMJ Tamiflu campaign  http://goo.gl/yfs7Xc

Dr Tom Jefferson's review http://goo.gl/ff09pj

Lancet's contrasting Tamiflu review http://goo.gl/tn70rm

 

 


Via Sepp Hasslberger
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Science is a self-correcting community effort. Therefore, disagreements, debates and controversy is commonplace among scientists. However, huge political egos, prestigious journals and vested corporate interests have a way of prolonging scientific controversies such as climate change http://sco.lt/86HUtl

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Sepp Hasslberger's curator insight, April 12, 8:28 AM

Half a billion pound sterling is what the British shelled out for stockpiling an ineffective, even dangerous drug, all on the hype of a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's comment, May 31, 12:36 PM
@Sepp Hasslberger, great scoop. However, there is more to the controversy than highlighted in the Telegraph. Lancet published a review which contradicts the one in BMJ http://sco.lt/5tRXHt
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Post-Antibiotic Medicine

Post-Antibiotic Medicine | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
Drug-resistant bacteria kills, even in top hospitals. But now tough infections like staph and anthrax may be in for a surprise. Nobel-winning chemist Kary Mullis, who watched a friend die when powerful antibiotics failed, unveils a radical new cure that shows extraordinary promise.

 

Many pathogens are becoming resistant to our antibiotics. Consider penicillin, for example. We took it from a fungus that grew in the soil and killed bacteria for food. Because of this warfare, some bacteria had developed a resistance via DNA, to penicillin. Over time, they passed this resistance via DNA up to the pathogens that infect our bodies. So now many organisms—like Staphylococcus aureu, the cause of Staph infections—are, in large part, unaffected by penicillin.

 

Altermune is a distinct change in direction for the medical treatment of microbial infections. The invention uses DNA aptamers designed to bind specifically to pathogens. DNA aptamers are attached to an epitope which instead of killing the bacteria, attracts human macrophages which would consume the pathogen. This effectively enhances our natural immune system.

 

This novel therapy  has been used to cure anthrax in mice. If you infect a mouse with anthrax and then wait 24 hours and treat it with a penicillin-type drug, you get about a 40 percent survival rate. But using our drug you get a 100 percent survival rate. Of course, it is unlikely that you are going to get anthrax, but that is sort of a model system.

 

Read the interview by SEED magazine here: 

http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_curing_everything

 

Learn more about Altermune therapy here: 

http://www.karymullis.com/altermune.shtml

 

Watch Kary Mullis on TED talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/kary_mullis_next_gen_cure_for_killer_infections

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

The World Health Organization has been warning of a 'post-antibiotic' era in their April 2014 report  http://sco.lt/7HUsa1. Novel therapies such as Altermune are becoming increasingly important given the rise of drug resistant bacteria. 

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First man-made biological leaf

RCA graduate Julian Melchiorri says the synthetic biological leaf he developed, which absorbs water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen just like a plant, could enable long-distance space travel.

 

"Plants don't grow in zero gravity," explains Melchiorri. "NASA is researching different ways to produce oxygen for long-distance space journeys to let us live in space. This material could allow us t0 explore space much further than we can now."

 

"The material is extracted directly from the fibres of silk," Melchiorri explains. "This material has an amazing property of stabilising molecules. I extracted chloroplasts from plant cells and placed them inside this silk protein. As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does."

 

Read more here:

http://www.dezeen.com/2014/07/25/movie-silk-leaf-first-man-made-synthetic-biological-leaf-space-travel/

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Really interesting union of science and art. Previous attempts to create artificial leaves resulted solar powered fuel cells.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_photosynthesis

 

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a peer reviewed article scrutinizing the functionality of Melchiorri's "Silk Leaf".  Nonetheless, below is one of his earlier inventions featured in an academic journal:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576514001477

 

MIT researchers have also attempted to enhance the photosynthesis of plant leaves and add additional functionalities to leaves using nanotechnology http://sco.lt/8rBN69

 

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Footage of cardiac transplant, not for the faint of heart

Almost half a century ago, the world’s first heart transplant was performed in South Africa in 1967. The following year, Australia’s first heart transplant was performed by Dr Harry Windsor at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. 

 

According to the Heart Foundation, the procedure usually takes between three and six hours, and will be one of two types of transplant operations. An orthotopic heart transplant is the most common type (as seen above), and this involves removing the diseased heart from the body through an incision made in the middle of the chest. A donor heart is then placed inside.

 

Under rare circumstances, selected patients can undergo heterotopic heart transplants i.e. two hearts. Read more about heterotopic heart transplants here: http://sciencealert.com.au/features/20140807-25842.html

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Really interesting video if you do not mind the sight of blood. Otherwise,  watch other science videos here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Video

 

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Rats Feel Regret After Making Wrong Choices

Rats Feel Regret After Making Wrong Choices | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
Researchers studied brain areas involved in decision making, evaluating outcomes.

 

Could've, should've, would've. Everyone has made the wrong choice at some point in life and suffered regret because of it. Now a new study shows we're not alone in our reaction to incorrect decisions. Rats too can feel regret.

 

Regret is thinking about what you should have done, says David Redish, a neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. It differs from disappointment, which you feel when you don't get what you expected. And it affects how you make decisions in the future.

 

Redish and colleague Adam Steiner, also at the University of Minneapolis, found that rats expressed regret through both their behavior and their neural activity. Those signals, researchers report today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, were specific to situations the researchers set up to induce regret, which led to specific neural patterns in the brain and in behavior.

 

Redish would also like to be able to translate what he's seen in his rats to human behavior. "Humans avoid regret," says Redish. "Do rats?"

 

Read more here: 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140608-regret-rats-neuroscience-behavior-animals-science/

 

Read related research papers here:

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n7/full/nn.3740.html

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n7/full/nn.3745.html

 

 

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Dolphins, crows, apes are well known smart animals. But there are lots of animals such as rats which are smarter than you think. Read more about it in this scoop: http://sco.lt/819AvJ

 

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Is Urine Really Sterile?

Despite what you might've seen on some wilderness-survival show, there's increasing evidence that your pee isn't sterile. So don't do anything crazy with it.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

This is an interesting piece of trivia which indicates that proponents of urine therapy should probably stop drinking their own pee. Much of the claims have no scientific basis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine_therapy

 

On a more serious note, urine could be used as a source of renewable energy. Read more here: http://sco.lt/8qK8w5

 

Read more science trivia here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Trivia

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FOXO1: Genetic switch for insulin production by human gastrointestinal cells

FOXO1: Genetic switch for insulin production by human gastrointestinal cells | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

By switching off a single gene, scientists have converted human gastrointestinal cells into insulin-producing cells, demonstrating in principle that a drug could retrain cells inside a person’s GI tract to produce insulin.

 

"People have been talking about turning one cell into another for a long time, but until now we hadn't gotten to the point of creating a fully functional insulin-producing cell by the manipulation of a single target," said the study's senior author, Domenico Accili, MD, the Russell Berrie Foundation Professor of Diabetes (in Medicine) at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

 

The Columbia researchers were able to teach human gut cells to make insulin in response to physiological circumstances by deactivating the cells' FOXO1 gene. Accili and postdoctoral fellow Ryotaro Bouchi first created a tissue model of the human intestine with human pluripotent stem cells. Through genetic engineering, they then deactivated any functioning FOXO1 inside the intestinal cells. After seven days, some of the cells started releasing insulin and, equally important, only in response to glucose.

 

The finding raises the possibility that cells lost in Type 1 diabetes may be more easily replaced through the reeducation of existing cells than through the transplantation of new cells created from embryonic or adult stem cells. Although insulin-producing cells can now be made in the lab from stem cells, these cells do not yet have all the functions of naturally occurring pancreatic beta cells.

 

The new research was reported in the online issue of the journal Nature Communications:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140630/ncomms5242/full/ncomms5242.html


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

These findings indicate that gastrointestinal cells and insulin producing β cells in the pancreas probably differentiated from the same line of cells during development. Insulin production in gastrointestinal cells is probably deactivated by the FOXO1 gene.

 

This opens up new possibilities as there is already a proof of concept for treating HIV with induced pluripotent stem cells. http://sco.lt/7yg3g9

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M. Philip Oliver's curator insight, July 2, 3:28 PM

Dr Stefan's post reegarding Diabetes update!

Peter Phillips's curator insight, July 2, 3:43 PM

New hope for diabetics - without a transplant.

malek's comment, July 10, 4:52 AM
an epiphany when you have it in the family
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Achilles’ heel in antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Achilles’ heel in antibiotic-resistant bacteria | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
Scientists at the University of East Anglia have made a breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance.

 

New research published today in the journal Nature reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.

The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.

The discovery doesn’t come a moment too soon. The World Health Organization has warned that antibiotic-resistance in bacteria is spreading globally, causing severe consequences. And even common infections which have been treatable for decades can once again kill http://sco.lt/7HUsa1

 

Group leader Prof Changjiang Dong, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We have identified the path and gate used by the bacteria to transport the barrier building blocks to the outer surface. Importantly, we have demonstrated that the bacteria would die if the gate is locked.”

 

Lead author PhD student Haohao Dong said: “The really exciting thing about this research is that new drugs will specifically target the protective barrier around the bacteria, rather than the bacteria itself. “Because new drugs will not need to enter the bacteria itself, we hope that the bacteria will not be able to develop drug resistance in future.”

 

Read more here: 

https://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2014/June/antibiotic-resistance-achilles-heel

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

There may be some optimism in the "post-antibiotic" era after all. Nobel-winning chemist Kary Mullis, recently unveiled a radical new post-antibiotic cure that shows extraordinary promise http://sco.lt/6vJoaP

 

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Chronic stress hurts your memory

Chronic stress hurts your memory | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it

Studies show that memory and stress are more connected than we once thought. There's nothing like stress to make your memory go a little spotty. A 2010 study found that chronic stress reduces spatial memory: the memory that helps you recall locations and relate objects.

 

University of Iowa researchers recently found a connection between the stress hormone cortisol and short-term memory loss in older rats. Their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience this week, showed that cortisol reduced synapses -- connections between neurons -- in the animals' pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain that houses short-term memory.

 

But there's a difference between how your brain processes long-term job stress, for example, and the stress of getting into a car accident. Research suggests low levels of anxiety can affect your ability to recall memories; acute or high-anxiety situations, on the other hand, can actually reinforce the learning process.

 

Acute stress increases your brain's ability to encode and recall traumatic events, according to studies. These memories get stored in the part of the brain responsible for survival, and serve as a warning and defense mechanism against future trauma.

 

If the stress you're experiencing is ongoing, however, there can be devastating effects.

 

Read the accompanying slideshow: 6 ways to keep the brain young

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/17/health/memory-stress-link/

 

Read the academic publications here:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584609003893

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/34/25/8387

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22688258

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Stress has a lot to do with how adversity is perceived. Stess helps us perform better to overcome adversity but over time optimism and impetus changes to depression. Indeed, scientists have also found a link between stress and depression  http://sco.lt/777VfF

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Crazy Soccer Fans: Their Biochemistry

Crazy Soccer Fans: Their Biochemistry | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
Soccer fanatics at the World Cup will go down swinging for their respective team. A new scientific mini-documentary explores why that is. (Hint: It's kind of like war.)

 

The World Cup has drawn more than rabid soccer fans to Brazil. A team of filmmakers are on the ground in Rio de Janeiro documenting the science behind the games, including an exoskeletal kick-off, the genetics of competition, and even the biochemistry of diehard spectators.

 

Imagine Science Films' new series, "Field Work: World Cup," puts these and other cinematic explorations on display. Each of the six short films in the series will debut here on www.popsci.com in the coming weeks.

 

To start things off, we present Amor. Here's how Imagine Science Films describes the flick:

 

"Loyal soccer enthusiasts will defend their team to the end; even in the threat of potential injury. What is it that inspires this epic feeling of diehard love and loyalty? As the stadium pulsates with excitement, fan behavior is highly influenced by the environment. In a large group, the individual disappears only to be encompassed into something much larger. But is this amor?"

 

"Amor gets to the heart of these questions with local molecular biologist Dr. Franklin Rumjanek, from the Center of Health Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro."

 

Watch the mini-documentary below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAI4gJ_YsN0

 

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How to dress for success? Backed by science

On those days when you’re lucky enough to telecommute, working in your pjs and bunny slippers may make you feel more powerful, but could it be having a negative impact on your work performance?

 

Scientists have discovered a phenomenon called “enclothed cognition,” wherein what you wear does, in fact, have an impact on how you think and perform on different tasks.

 

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

As weird as it seems, enclothed cognition is based on sound science:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103112000200

 

Check out other science trivia here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Trivia

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Early exposure to dirt, dander and germs may lower allergy, asthma risk

Early exposure to dirt, dander and germs may lower allergy, asthma risk | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
Infants exposed to rodent and pet dander, roach allergens and a wide variety of household bacteria in the first year of life appear less likely to suffer from allergies, wheezing and asthma, according to results of a recent study. Those who encounter such substances before their first birthdays seem to benefit rather than suffer from them. Importantly, the protective effects of both allergen and bacterial exposure were not seen if a child's first encounter with these substances occurred after age 1, the research found.

 

A report on the study, published on June 6 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, reveals that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect by shaping children's immune responses -- a finding that researchers say may help inform preventive strategies for allergies and wheezing, both precursors to asthma.

 

Previous research have found increased asthma risk among inner-city dwellers exposed to high levels of roach and mouse allergens and pollutants. The new study confirms that children who live in such homes do have higher overall allergy and asthma rates but adds a surprising twist: Those who encounter such substances before their first birthdays seem to benefit rather than suffer from them. Importantly, the protective effects of both allergen and bacterial exposure were not seen if a child's first encounter with these substances occurred after age 1, the research found.

 

"Our study shows that the timing of initial exposure may be critical," says study author Robert Wood, M.D., chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "What this tells us is that not only are many of our immune responses shaped in the first year of life, but also that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way."

 

Read more here: 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140606091157.htm

 

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UCSI students shine at the Intervarsity Biochemistry Seminar

UCSI students shine at the Intervarsity Biochemistry Seminar | Biotech and Beyond | Scoop.it
It was a combination of academic excellence, presentation skill, and confidence that saw UCSI University’s Faculty of Applied Sciences students sweep four

 

Joko Logis and Lim Wan Chi won two of the Best Presentation awards for the oral category while Timmy Richardo and Wong Sook Yee snagged the Best Poster Awards in the poster category. Wong is currently pursuing her degree in food science and nutrition while the others are biotechnology students.

 

All four winners acknowledged that the academic staff played an important role in nurturing and supporting them to achieve their full potential.

 

The full article also features Joko's and Timmy's research:

http://genyes.my/2014/05/ucsi-students-win-4-awards-at-the-intervarsity-biochemistry-seminar/

 

 

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Every year, we send our best students to compete at the Intervarsity Biochemistry Seminar. However, this is the first time our students won four awards at the event! Truly, something worth celebrating.

 

For more updates, follow the Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University on Google+ and Facebook:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/117901649282247944098/

https://www.facebook.com/Applied.Sciences.UCSI

 

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Why do women feel the cold more than men?

Females' hands and feet can be 3°C colder than men's, and there's a fascinating scientific reason why, as RiAus explains in the latest episode of A Week in Science (they also explain why men sweat more).

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's insight:

Interesting science trivia. Check out other science trivia here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/biotech-and-beyond/?tag=Trivia

 

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