eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology
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eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology
Innovative Science & Technology: to create a better world and overcome human limitations. Topics from nanomedicine to astrophysics with a pinch of criticism & optimism). Comments and discussions are always welcome!
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Fusion, anyone? Not quite yet, but researchers show just how close we've come

Fusion, anyone? Not quite yet, but researchers show just how close we've come | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

The dream of igniting a self-sustained fusion reaction with high yields of energy, a feat likened to creating a miniature star on Earth, is getting closer to becoming reality, according the authors of a new review article in the journal Physics of Plasma

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How Technology Has Changed Our Idea of ‘Knowledge,’ and What This Means for Schools

How Technology Has Changed Our Idea of ‘Knowledge,’ and What This Means for Schools | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

When you think of knowledge, what immediately springs to mind? What visual images do you conjure up to associate with the word? How do you think these visualizations are effected by the development of our current generation? It's interesting how technology has changed our perspective on things, and also just how many things it's changed both in our inner and outer worlds. This article from eSchool News has more on this topic.

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Change is inevitable!

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:54 AM

Change is inevitable!

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New target to fight HIV infection identified | University of Cambridge

New target to fight HIV infection identified | University of Cambridge | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

A mutant of an immune cell protein called ADAP (adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein) is able to block infection by HIV-1 (human immunodeficiency virus 1), new University of Cambridge research reveals. The researchers, who were funded by the Wellcome Trust, believe that their discovery will lead to new ways of combatting HIV.

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

ADAP protein as a new target for drugs against HIV. Blocking ADAP could reduce replication and spread of the virus. Do we need nanopharmaceuticals? Or will a simple small molecule inhibitor do?

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:36 AM

ADAP protein as a new target for drugs against HIV. Blocking ADAP could reduce replication and spread of the virus. Do we need nanopharmaceuticals? Or will a simple small molecule inhibitor do?

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Should you have your whole genome sequenced?

Should you have your whole genome sequenced? | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

Think about it – would you want to know what’s in your genes and what possibly lies ahead?

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Should you have your whole genome sequenced? Experts opinion on aspects and ethics.

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:15 AM

Should you have your whole genome sequenced? Experts opinion on aspects and ethics.

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‘Pan-cancer’ study unearths tumours’ genetic trademarks

‘Pan-cancer’ study unearths tumours’ genetic trademarks | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it
Analyses reveal cancer-associated genomic changes that can occur in many types of tumour.
Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

New cancer commonalities found. They could lead to a new generation of cancer drugs.

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:03 AM

New cancer commonalities found. They could lead to a new generation of cancer drugs.

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First mind-controlled bionic leg a 'groundbreaking' advance

First mind-controlled bionic leg a 'groundbreaking' advance | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

After losing his lower right leg in a motorcycle accident four-and-a-half years ago, 32-year-old Zac Vawter has been fitted with an artificial limb that uses neurosignals from his upper leg muscles to control the prosthetic knee and ankle. The motorized limb is the first thought-controlled bionic leg, scientists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago reported Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.



Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Brain-computer interface operated prostetics are getting more and more abundant.

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:09 AM

Brain-computer interface operated prostetics are getting more and more abundant.

Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:17 AM

Brain-computer interface operated prostetics are getting more and more abundant.

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Graphene Photodetector Integrated into Computer Chip

Graphene Photodetector Integrated into Computer Chip | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

Today, most information is transmitted by light – for example in optical fibres. Computer chips, however, work electronically. Somewhere between the optical data highway and the electronic chips, photons have to be converted into electrons using light-detectors. Scientists at the Vienna University of Technology have now managed to combine a graphene photodetector with a standard silicon chip. It can transform light of all important frequencies used in telecommunications into electrical signals. The scientific results have now been published in the journal “Nature Photonics”.



Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Graphene photodetector: towards better transmission between semiconductor chip and optical data transfer.

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Carbon nanotube computer

Carbon nanotube computer | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

The miniaturization of electronic devices has been the principal driving force behind the semiconductor industry, and has brought about major improvements in computational power and energy efficiency. Although advances with silicon-based electronics continue to be made, alternative technologies are being explored. Digital circuits based on transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to outperform silicon by improving the energy–delay product, a metric of energy efficiency, by more than an order of magnitude. Hence, CNTs are an exciting complement to existing semiconductor technologies1, 2. Owing to substantial fundamental imperfections inherent in CNTs, however, only very basic circuit blocks have been demonstrated. Here we show how these imperfections can be overcome, and demonstrate the first computer built entirely using CNT-based transistors. The CNT computer runs an operating system that is capable of multitasking: as a demonstration, we perform counting and integer-sorting simultaneously. In addition, we implement 20 different instructions from the commercial MIPS instruction set to demonstrate the generality of our CNT computer. This experimental demonstration is the most complex carbon-based electronic system yet realized. It is a considerable advance because CNTs are prominent among a variety of emerging technologies that are being considered for the next generation of highly energy-efficient electronic systems3, 4.

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

The first all CNT-transistor (CNFET) is a fact! Nothing special yet: no fast speeds or low energy consumption. Lets wait and see how this evolves.

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Chemical Reprogramming of Stem Cells | The Scientist Magazine®

Chemical Reprogramming of Stem Cells | The Scientist Magazine® | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it
A new method for producing pluripotent stem cells using just small molecules, without the need for inserting genes, could yield safer therapies.
Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

It would be interesting to enable targeted delivery of these chemicals in order to produce stem cells in specific cells. This could yield a new age in tissue regeneration.

 

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Beyond the code: addressing complexity in cancer genetics

Beyond the code: addressing complexity in cancer genetics | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

“This is why our drugs fail. Look at it. How do you treat that?” The professor, speaking to our graduate genetics technology class, was referring to a figure similar to the one shown here.

 

If that seems complicated to you, don’t worry – this is a genetic map of a single breast cancer, with every black line around the edge representing one mutation. When it comes to using data like this, scientists are overwhelmed by it, too.

 

The field of genetics has flourished with the publishing of the complete human genome in 2001, aided by the advent of fast, affordable sequencing technology. A completed genetic code of a healthy person allows us to compare against the genetics of cancer. With advanced analytical techniques, and decades of research into the characteristics of different forms of this disease, it seemed that it was finally time to pull out the answers from the code itself by looking for the mutations that cause or support the cancer’s growth – the differences between the cancer cell and a normal cell. But when the answers didn’t bubble up from our statistics and reams of data, it became clear that the questions left for us were far more complicated.

 

Life is messy: our distinctions between different species, different organisms, and different cells are largely arbitrary, because as much as we attempt to separate and define these categories, we always run into exceptions to our rules. As scientists, we seek to investigate the world through observation, classification, and prediction, but every distinction we make dissolves once we look closely enough: even the line between life and non-life is blurred. Even though this is an old problem in biology, cancer geneticists are only now running up against this as we attempt to decipher the specific changes to the genetic code responsible for driving cancer progression. To develop a specific drug for a specific cancer, we need to be able to tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell in a meaningful way. But it’s not so easy.

 

(click on link above to read full article)

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Life is complex and so are some diseases such as cancer. To become a tumor, cell must accumulate different mutations enabling cancerogenic functionalities such as producing own growth signals, insensitive to anti-growth signals and apoptosis, limitless replication, angiogenesis, tissue invasion, metastasis, loss of DNA repair mechanism, etc. To make it even more complicated, these functionalities can be created and sustained by many different mutations. This means that cancer cells are very unique, not only between different tumors, but even inside one tumor. In order to target and attack these cells and their functionalities one should have a greater understanding of the machinery behind it, meaning their defective pathways and proteins (and thus their defective genes and gene regulators). Gene sequencing, statistics, and data analysis tools could enable a better understanding of these complex diseases, onde day hopefully offering an effective treatment.

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Tiny Computers That Collect Data from Anywhere | MIT Technology Review

Tiny Computers That Collect Data from Anywhere | MIT Technology Review | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it
A computer two millimeters square is the start of an effort to make chips that can put computer power just about anywhere for the vaunted “Internet of Things.”

 

- Click on link above to read full artcile -

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Kl02 chip by Freescale is a full computer (memory, RAM, processor, etc.) of just 2x2mm. The idea was to create a computer that you can swallow (cheap and small). This new development comes close to the concept of "Nano-Dust" will make "Internet of Things" possible. Imagine these computers being eveywhere around you, and even inside you. Now, imagine these computers having sensors and wireless communication capabilities. One can easily see tons of applications in medicine, climate controle, surveilance, consumer goods, and more. And it is not that far away. By the end of the year Freescale wants to launch the chip with Wi-Fi capabilities and it hopes to add the sensors (e.g. temperature, gps, chemicals, pressure) soon. All good things come with a cost however. Ethical debates about privacy issues will definetly be necessary!

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Mining the human genome for marketing opportunities

Mining the human genome for marketing opportunities | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

A Minneapolis-based startup company called Miinome has revealed plans to store, manage and sell human genetic information between the public, researchers and marketing companies. It intends to act as an “opt in” membership club, and says that ownership of your genetic data would remain with you.

 

So what would marketing companies want with human genetic information?

Well, for example, if they know that you carry genes associated with lactose intolerance they could target you with enticements to buy lacto-free products – in a futurist extension of the type of information gathered by your Tesco Clubcard or Nectar Card.

 

The medical and marketing possibilities presented by the human genome are enormous. However, the amount of data analysis required to produce meaningful results is also pretty huge, and the ethical implications will need very careful consideration.

 

- Click on link above to read more -

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Genome wide exome (areas of DNA that contain information about your proteins, i.e. the functional building blocks of life) scans are available for only $700 and prices are still dropping. The idea of using genetic information for marketing purposes seems far-fetched, but is actually is pretty realistic. Miinome wants to be the first to jump on this train. However, the age of genetics and information brings about many ethical issues and questions that need to be addressed. Miinome takes this conversation one step further by not talking about the medical benefits. This will be an interesting tread to follow!

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RNA in single cells sequenced and up to 1000-fold variability in transcription levels found

RNA in single cells sequenced and up to 1000-fold variability in transcription levels found | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

A team of scientists at the Klarman Cell Observatory at the Broad Institute recently completed an effort to read, or sequence, all the RNA — the “transcriptome” — in individual immune cells. Whereas DNA in a cell’s genome represents its blueprint for making the building blocks of cells, RNA is more like the cell’s contractor, turning that blueprint into proteins. By sequencing RNA in single cells, scientists can obtain a picture of what proteins each cell is actively making and in what amounts.

The Broad researchers sought to adapt a recently developed technique for single-cell RNA sequencing, known as SMART-Seq, and apply it to a model of immune cell response well-studied by Regev, Broad senior associate member Nir Hacohen, and their fellow researchers. In this model, immune cells known as bone-marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) are exposed to a bacterial cell component that causes the cells to mount an immune response.

Working with scientists in the Broad’s Genomics Platform, notably research scientists Joshua Levin and Xian Adiconis, the team established the SMART-Seq method for use in their model system, using it to gather RNA sequence data from 18 BMDCs in this pilot phase.

The team first analyzed the data for differences in expression, or activity, of various genes among the cells, seen as alterations in RNA abundance. Although they were working with a single cell type — BDMCs — they did expect to see some variation in gene expression as cells activated various pathways during their immune response. But the team discovered that some genes varied greatly, with 1000-fold differences in the expression levels between cells. “We went after a narrowly defined cell type that has a specific function that we think of as being very uniform,” said Shalek. “What we saw was striking — a tremendous variability that wasn’t expected.”


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Even at the bottom, enities are unique! However, to what extend is this a relevant observation? Does "some genes" refer to genes relevant to the triggered immune response or not? Of course one can imagine that one cell can encounter somewhat more or less stress during an assay, giving rise to different expression levels. Also events such as cell-cell contact in vitro can strongly alter gene expression. However, the observation would be very interesting if we could confirm that the the strong variance in expression was induced specifically by the immune trigger. Spatial and temporal variations in triggers could induce different expression patterns in identical cells. Imagine that a BMDC cell n° 1 is the first t encounter the bacterial components. This cell will then undergo changes in its expression levels and produce cytokines (chemical triggers that message to neighbouring cells). Now, cell n° 2 will get challenged with the bacterial components and the cytokines. And maybe cell n° 3 will never get into contact with the bacterial components, and only with the cytokines. Furthermore, at some time at some place, cytokine levels may be so high that a negative feedback loop is induced (for example expression of countering cytokine). So, one can imagine that in this complex temporal and spatial mixture of triggers and messages, every cell will respond somewhat different. It is possible that this differentiation and pattern formation is important to enhance the immune response by creating different cell with different purposes.

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Novel self-powered nanoparticles developed to deliver healing drugs directly to bone cracks

Novel self-powered nanoparticles developed to deliver healing drugs directly to bone cracks | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

A novel method for finding and delivering healing drugs to newly formed microcracks in bones has been invented by a team of chemists and bioengineers at Penn State University and Boston University. The method involves the targeted delivery of the drugs, directly to the cracks, on the backs of tiny self-powered nanoparticles. The energy that revs the motors of the nanoparticles and sends them rushing toward the crack comes from a surprising source—the crack itself.

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Very clever: using the electric field of ions leaking from bone cracks as a homing beacon for drugs!

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 11:01 AM

Very clever: using the electric field of ions leaking from bone cracks as a homing beacon for drugs!


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Nano-dissection identifies genes involved in kidney disease (Genome Research) | Princeton Journal Watch

Nano-dissection identifies genes involved in kidney disease (Genome Research) | Princeton Journal Watch | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

A new method developed by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Michigan called “in silico nano-dissection” uses computers rather than scalpels to separate and identify genes from specific cell types, enabling the systematic study of genes involved in diseases.

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Brain Circuit Toggles Eating | The Scientist Magazine®

Brain Circuit Toggles Eating | The Scientist Magazine® | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

The lateral hypothalamus (LH) has for decades been known as a brain region involved in regulating eating. Researchers now describe in Science today (September 26) that activating a cluster of neurons, which reach into the hypothalamus from another region of the brain, turns on “voracious” feeding behavior in rodents. The authors propose that perhaps dysfunction of this circuit drives pathological eating habits in humans. “Both eating disorders and obesity have a neurological basis to them,” said Garret Stuber, lead author on the study and a neurophysiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “What we would hypothesize is that neural circuit dysregulation in these areas could contribute to eating disorders and obesity.”

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Optogenetics used to to create a switch in the eating behavior of mice. Shining light onto thegenetically modified neurons triggers vigorous eating behavior. Could become a potential model for  eating disorders.

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 9:55 AM

Optogenetics used to to create a switch in the eating behavior of mice. Shining light onto thegenetically modified neurons triggers vigorous eating behavior. Could become a potential model for  eating disorders.

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Titanium Dioxide Nanotubes May Help Improve Longevity of Dental Implants

Titanium Dioxide Nanotubes May Help Improve Longevity of Dental Implants | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it
A brighter, better, longer-lasting dental implant may soon be on its way to your dentist's office.
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A foundation for future research

A foundation for future research | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

Since its discovery, researchers have hailed Cas9 — a protein “machine” that can be programmed by a strand of RNA to target specific DNA sequences and to precisely cut, paste, and turn on or turn off genes — as a potential key to unlocking a host of new treatments and therapies for genetic conditions, but only if they fully understand how it works.

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Cas9 can cut, paste, and turn on/off genes. This is a very potential candidate for advances in gene therapy. Together with the righ delivery system, this could become a potential therapeutic for a wide range of disorders.

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Jeroen Verheyen's curator insight, October 7, 2013 9:48 AM

Cas9 can cut, paste, and turn on/off genes. This is a very potential candidate for advances in gene therapy. Together with the righ delivery system, this could become a potential therapeutic for a wide range of disorders.

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Creating electricity with caged atoms

Creating electricity with caged atoms | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

A lot of energy is wasted when machines turn hot, unnecessarily heating up their environment. Some of this thermal energy could be harvested using thermoelectric materials; they create electric current when they are used to bridge hot and cold objects. At the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna), a new and considerably more efficient class of thermoelectric materials can now be produced. It is the material's very special crystal structure that does the trick, in connection with an astonishing new physical effect; in countless tiny cages within the crystal, cerium atoms are enclosed. These trapped magnetic atoms are constantly rattling the bars of their cage, and this rattling seems to be responsible for the material's exceptionally favourable propertie

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

This new thermoelectric material can efficiently harvest energy from heat. This could become very useful for energy conservation and waste minimalization.

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What a chromosome really looks like

A new method for visualising chromosomes is painting a truer picture of their shape, which is rarely like the X-shaped blob of DNA most of us are familiar wi...
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TUI

TUI | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

TUI is currently developing a revolutionary suite of technologies called "SpiderFab" to enable on-orbit fabrication of large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. SpiderFab provides order-of-magnitude packing- and mass- efficiency improvements over current deployable structures and enables construction of kilometer-scale apertures within current launch vehicle capabilities, providing higher-resolution data at lower life-cycle cost.

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Robotic spiders able to perform 3D printing and assembly in space should be operational within a decade! This will strongly reduce the cost of spacecraft components: no man laber (on earth or in space) and no fragile components need to be launched into orbit. We would just need to send raw materials and program the robots, which will do all the rest using only solar energy.

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Seven Multi-trillion dollar technologies

Seven Multi-trillion dollar technologies | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it

The McKinsey Global Institute identifies 12 technologies that could drive truly massive economic transformations and disruptions in the coming years. Applications of the 12 technologies discussed in the report could have a potential economic impact between $14 trillion and $33 trillion a year in 2025. This estimate is neither predictive nor comprehensive. It is based on an in-depth analysis of key potential applications and the value they could create in a number of ways, including the consumer surplus that arises from better products, lower prices, a cleaner environment, and better health. Some technologies detailed in the report have been gestating for years and thus will be familiar.

1. Mobile Internet $3.7-10.5 trillion
2. Automation of knowledge work $5.2-6.7 trillion
3. Internet of things $2.7-6.2 trillion
4. Cloud $1.7-6.2 trillion
5. Advanced robotics $1.7-4.5 trillion
6. Autonomous or near-autonomous cars $0.2-1.9 trillion
7. Next generation genomics $0.7-1.6 trillion

 

(click link above to read full article)

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Interesting times! Try this: pick a couple of technologies and try and come up with an application. It's a fun thought experiment that can have some awesome outcomes.

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Jeroen Verheyen's comment, May 29, 2013 12:46 PM
Note: in the full article, all these technologies are further explained. Certainly worth checking out!
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Graphene Allows Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes to Grow on Diamonds

Graphene Allows Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes to Grow on Diamonds | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it
What may be the ultimate heat sink is only possible because of yet another astounding capability of graphene. The one-atom-thick form of carbon can act as a go-between that allows vertically aligned carbon nanotubes to grow on nearly anything.
Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Researchers were succesful in bringing 3 allotropes of carbon together: diamond, graphene and carbon-nanotubes. When coated with graphene, CNT-forrest can be grown on virtually anthing. Although pasting CNTs to diamond via graphene sounds very cool, there are endless other applications. CNTs can now be connected to other electronic components with minimal contact resistance, ideal for sensors and high-powe devices.

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New Approach to Genome-Wide Studies

New Approach to Genome-Wide Studies | eVolv with Innovative Science & Technology | Scoop.it
By analyzing just 48 patients, researchers have found multiple mutations in a single biological pathway that, when occurring together, contribute to schizophrenia. Could this approach work on other diseases?
Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Complex diseases such as schizophrenia are not caused by a single genetic mutation. For long it has been tought that genome-wide scans are not predictive for these diseases. This article, however, proves otherwise. A sub-group of schizophrenics have a defective neuregulin signalling pathway. This study now shows that these patients have mutations in many different genes that are involved in the neuregulin pathway. This finding also opens doors for predicting other complex diseases by developing assays that look for different mutations in multiple genes in a certain cluster.

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Patients With Traumatic Spinal Injuries Benefit From Cell Replacement Therapy With Fetal Human Stem Cells

Human foetal stem cell grafts improve both motor and sensory functions in rats suffering from a spinal cord injury, according to research published this week in BioMed Central's open access journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy. This cell replacement therapy also improves the structural integrity of the spine, providing a functional relay through the injury site. The research gives hope for the treatment of spinal cord injuries in humans.

Grafting human neural stem cells into the spine is a promising approach to promote the recovery of function after spinal injury. Sebastian van Gorp, from the University of California San Diego, and team's work looks specifically at the effect of intraspinal grafting of human foetal spinal cord-derived neural stem cells on the recovery of neurological function in a rats with acute lumbar compression injuries.

A total of 42 three month-old female Sprague-Dawley rats, with spinal compression injuries, were allocated to one of three groups. The rats in the first group received a spinal injection with the stem cells, those in the second group received a placebo injection, while those in the third group received no injection.

Treatment effectiveness was assessed by a combination of measures, including motor and sensory function tests, presence of muscle spasticity and rigidity which causes stiffness and limits residual movement. The team also evaluated of how well the grafted cells had integrated into the rodents' spines.

Gorp and colleagues found that, compared to rats who received either the placebo injection or no injection, those who received the stem cell grafts showed a progressive and significant improvement in gait/paw placement, reduced muscle spasticity as well as improved sensitivity to both mechanical and thermal stimuli. In addition to these behavioural benefits, the researchers observed long-term improvements in the structural integrity of previously injured spinal cord segments.

The authors say: "Importantly, spinal cavity formation and muscle spasticity are frequently observed in human patients with high-speed, high-impact induced spinal cord injuries. Our findings demonstrate that human foetal spinal cord-derived neural stem cells, with an already established favorable clinical safety profile, represent a potential cell candidate for cell replacement therapy in patients with traumatic spinal injuries."

Jeroen Verheyen's insight:

Since Human Fetal Stem Cells are injected into rats, one can easily undestand that the cells do not directly induce a better/faster recovery from SCI. Stem cells are not differentiating and integrating simply because they are human cells and not rat cells. It has been shown before however that stem cell injection reduces the immune-response followed by SCI. Since the immune response is a damaging event for the neurons, stem-cell induced immunesuppresion can prevent further decay. It is also possible that the injected ectopic stem cells induce stem cell growth in the local stem cell, imporving the recovery.

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