The interleukin-20 (IL-20) subfamily of cytokines comprises IL-19, IL-20, IL-22, IL-24 and IL-26. These cytokines are all members of the larger IL-10 family, but have been grouped together to form the IL-20 subfamily based on their usage of common receptor subunits and similarities in their target-cell profiles and biological functions. Members of the IL-20 subfamily facilitate the communication between leukocytes and epithelial cells, thereby enhancing innate defence mechanisms and tissue repair processes at epithelial surfaces. In this Review, we describe the cellular sources and targets of the IL-20 subfamily cytokines, and we detail how their expression is regulated. Much of our understanding of the unique biology of this group of cytokines is still based on IL-22, which is the most studied member of the IL-20 subfamily. Nevertheless, we attempt a broader discussion of the emerging functions of IL-20 subfamily cytokines in host defence, inflammatory diseases, cancer and metabolism.
Dialysis machines are needed by patients with renal (kidney) failure to clean their blood of wastes produced by the body. In 2008, Dr. Victor Gura, an internationally known kidney specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, proposed the first miniature portable dialysis machine.. An Alternative to Conventional Dialysis
The US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) fasttrack program, Innovation Pathway, streamlines the approval process for breakthrough technologies. In 2012, the “Wearable Artificial Kidney” (WAK), promoted by the Wearable Artificial Kidney Foundation, Inc., was awarded fast-track status, along with two other renal projects.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) kills more than 385,000 people in the United States each year, and more than half of those who die suddenly have no previous symptoms.
A new blood test that could reduce CHD-related illness and mortality by predicting the risk of future heart disease has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The PLAC Test for Lp-PLA2 screens for cardiovascular inflammation which can lead to a build up of rupture-prone plaque and result in a heart attack or stroke.
Statins form the pharmacologic cornerstone of the primary and secondary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In addition to beneficial cardiovascular effects, statins seem to have multiple non-cardiovascular effects. Although early concerns about statin induced hepatotoxicity and cancer have subsided owing to reassuring evidence, two of the most common concerns that clinicians have are myopathy and diabetes. Randomized controlled trials suggest that statins are associated with a modest increase in the risk of myositis but not the risk of myalgia. Severe myopathy (rhabdomyolysis) is rare and often linked to a statin regimen that is no longer recommended (simvastatin 80 mg). Randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses suggest an increase in the risk of diabetes with statins, particularly with higher intensity regimens in people with two or more components of the metabolic syndrome. Other non-cardiovascular effects covered in this review are contrast induced nephropathy, cognition, cataracts, erectile dysfunction, and venous thromboembolism. Currently, systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines indicate that the cardiovascular benefits of statins generally outweigh non-cardiovascular harms in patients above a certain threshold of cardiovascular risk. Literature is also accumulating on the potential non-cardiovascular benefits of statins, which could lead to novel applications of this class of drug in the future.
Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated hospitals have uncovered an easily detectable, “pre-malignant” state in the blood that significantly increases the likelihood that a person will go on to develop blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome.
The scientists showed that the Parkin protein functions to repair or destroy damaged nerve cells, depending on the degree to which they are damaged People living with Parkinson's disease often have a mutated form of the Parkin gene, which may explain...
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2014 Jun;39(11):2071-5. English Abstract; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Pasquale Valente's insight:
To observe the effect of Astragali Radix polysaccharides (APS) on the learning and memory functions of aged rats, in order to explore its mechanism for improving the learning and memory functions. Natural aging female SD rats were selected in the animal model and randomly divided into the control group, the APS low-dose group (50 mg x kg(-1)), the APS high-dose group (150 mg x kg(-1)) and the piracetam-treated group (560 mg x kg(-1)). They were orally administered with the corresponding drugs for consecutively 60 days. Besides, a young control group was set. The learning and memory functions of the rats were tested by the open-field test and the Morris water maze task. The Western-blot method was used to observe the levels of relevant neural plasticity protein N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA receptor) in hippocampus, calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMK II), protein kinase (PKA), the phosphorylation level of CAMP response element binding protein (CREB) and the protein expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF). In this study, the authors found that the learning and memory functions and the hippocampus neural plasticity protein expression of the aged rat group were much lower than that of the young control group (P < 0.01). Compared with the aged rat group, the APS group showed the significant improvement in the impaired learning and memory functions of aged rats and the up-regulation in the hippocampus neural plasticity protein expression. The results showed that APS may improve the learning and memory functions of aged rats by increasing the expressions of relevant neural plasticity proteins.
A sleep-promoting circuit located deep in the primitive brainstem has revealed how we fall into deep sleep. This is only the second 'sleep node' identified in the mammalian brain whose activity appears to be both necessary and sufficient to produce deep sleep.
Stanford Bioengineer Christina Smolke has been on a decade-long quest to genetically alter yeast so they can brew opioid medicines in stainless steel vats,
Stanford bioengineers have hacked the DNA of yeast, reprograming these simple cells to make opioid-based medicines* via a sophisticated extension of the basic brewing process that makes beer.
Led by Associate Professor of Bioengineering Christina Smolke, the Stanford team has already spent a decade genetically engineering yeast cells to reproduce the biochemistry of poppies, with the ultimate goal of producing opium-based medicines, from start to finish, in fermentation vats.
“We are now very close to replicating the entire opioid production process in a way that eliminates the need to grow poppies, allowing us to reliably manufacture essential medicines while mitigating the potential for diversion to illegal use,” said Smolke, who outlines her work in the August 24 edition of Nature Chemical Biology.
Smolke added five genes from two different organisms to yeast cells. Three of these genes came from the poppy itself, and the others from a bacterium that lives on poppy plant stalks.
Researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.
EPFL scientists Aurélie Pala and Carl Petersen have observed and measured synaptic transmission in a live animal for the first time, using optogenetics* to stimulate single neurons in the mouse barrel cortex (which processes sensory information from the mouse’s whiskers). They shined blue light on the neurons containing a gene-based light-sensitive protein, activating the neurons to fire. Then using microelectrodes, they measured resulting electrical signals in neighboring interneuron cells.
They also used an advanced imaging technique (two-photon microscopy) that allowed them to look deep into the brain of the live mouse and identify the type of each interneuron they were studying.
The data showed that the neuronal transmissions from the light-sensitive neurons differed depending on the type of interneuron on the receiving end. Only a few studies have directly investigated synaptic transmission between specific neocortical neurons in vivo, presumably due to the technical difficulties in obtaining intracellular recordings from connected pairs of neurons in vivo, the authors say in their (open-access) paper in Neuron.
The research overcomes a limitation of in vitro (lab) studies, where associated biomolecules are different from those in a live animal, and where cutting neural tissue for lab work also introduces artifacts, the researchers suggest. “This is a proof-of-concept study,” says Pala, who received her PhD for this work. “Nonetheless, we think that we can use optogenetics to put together a larger picture of connectivity between other types of neurons in other areas of the brain.”
The scientists are now aiming to explore other neuronal connections in the mouse barrel cortex. They also want to try this technique on awake mice, to see how switching neuronal activity on and off with a light can affect higher brain functions.
* Optogenetics works by inserting the gene of an light-sensitive protein into live neurons, from a single cell to an entire family of them. The genetically modified neurons then produce the light-sensitive protein, which sits on their outside, the membrane. There, it acts as an electrical channel – something like a gate. When light is shone on the neuron, the channel opens up and allows electrical ions to flow into the cell; a bit like a battery being charged by a solar cell. The addition of electrical ions changes the voltage balance of the neuron, and if the optogenetic stimulus is sufficiently strong it generates an explosive electrical signal in the neuron
Persistent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic liver diseases and is a global health problem. Although the sustained virologic response rate in the treatment of genotype 1 using new triple therapy (pegylated-interferon, ribavirin, and telaprevir/boceprevir) has been improved by more than 70%, several severe side effects such as skin rash/ageusia and advanced anemia have become a problem. Under these circumstances, a new type of anti-HCV oral drug with few side effects is needed. Our recently developed HCV drug assay systems, including the HuH-7 cell line-derived OR6 and AH1R, and the Li23 cell line-derived ORL8 and ORL11, allow genome-length HCV RNAs (several strains of genotype 1b) encoding renilla luciferase to replicate efficiently. Using these systems as anti-HCV candidates, we have identified numerous existing medicines that can be used against HCV with few side effects, such as statins and teprenon. To obtain additional anti-HCV candidates, we evaluated a number of oral health supplements, and found that the capsule but not the liquid form of Cordyceps militaris (CM) (Ascomycotinanorth, North Chinese caterpillar fungus), which is used as a Chinese herbal medicine, exhibited moderate anti-HCV activity. In combination with interferon-α or ribavirin, CM exhibited an additive inhibitory effect. Among the main components of CM, cordycepin, but not ergosterol, contributed to the anti-HCV activity of CM. In consideration of all these results, we suggest that CM would be useful as an oral anti-HCV agent in combination with interferon-α and/or ribavirin.
Pasquale Valente's insight:
"cordyceps militaris would be useful as an oral anti-HCV agent in combination with interferon-α and/or ribavirin"
Most people intuitively understand that exercise can improve your mood, but it was only last week that scientists figured out how it works. Their findings are of enormous importance to everybody who experiences stress at work.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, exercising causes your muscles to release a set of chemicals that block other chemicals the body releases in response to frequent stress.
In other words, constant stress brings you down, but consistent exercise lifts you up.
Engineers at Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) have invented a lab device to give cancer researchers an unprecedented microscopic look at metastasis (spread of tumor cells, causing more than 90 percent of cancer-related deaths), with the goal of eventually stopping the spread, described in their paper in the journal Cancer Report.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells spread from the primary tumor into the bloodstream that might represent an important biomarker in lung cancer. The prognosis of patients diagnosed with lung cancer is generally poor mainly due to late diagnosis. Recent evidences have reported that tumor aggressiveness is associated with the presence of CTCs in the blood stream; therefore, several studies have focused their attention on CTC isolation, characterization, and clinical significance. So far, the CellSearch® system is the only approach approved by FDA for metastatic breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer intended to detect CTCs of epithelial origin in whole blood and to assess prognosis. To date, no specific biomarkers have been validated in lung cancer and the identification of novel tumor markers such as CTCs might highly contribute to lung cancer prognosis and management. In the present review, the significance of CTC detection in lung cancer is examined through the analysis of the published studies in both non-small cell and small cell lung cancers; additionally the prognostic and the clinical role of CTC enumeration in treatment monitoring will be reported and discussed.