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.
There are numerous research efforts underway to develop new treatments and improve the lives of people suffering type 2 diabetes, whose ranks have increased dramatically in recent decades due in large part to the so-called obesity epidemic. A new generation of safer and more effective diabetes drugs could be in the offing with researchers at the Salk Institute discovering that when mice with diet-induced diabetes were given a single injection of a protein, their blood sugar levels were restored to a healthy range for more than two days.
Although type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed through a healthy diet and regular exercise in the initial stages, tablets that boost the body's production of insulin are generally prescribed as the disease progresses. Such tablets can have side effects, including nausea and diarrhea, and aren't suitable for everyone, such as pregnant women and those with severe liver, kidney or heart disease. They can also cause blood glucose levels to drop too low, potentially resulting in hypoglycemia.
Now Salk researchers have found that injecting obese mice with the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans with a single dose of protein FGF1 quickly restored their blood glucose levels to normal levels where they remained for more than two days. Importantly, even when given high doses, the mice suffered none of the side effects common to most current diabetes treatments, such as weight gain or heart and liver problems.
Specialized software now combines multiparametric MRI and transrectal ultrasound images to improve targeted biopsy of suspicious lesions. The technology has the potential to significantly improve localization and characterization of prostate cancer when added to a 12-core biopsy.
WHO has published profiles on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) for all Member States, including the 53 countries in the WHO European Region. Where data are available, the profiles estimate for each country the current burden of and recent trends in NCD mortality, the prevalence of selected major risk factors and the national health system’s capacity to respond. They update the profiles produced in 2011.
An international team led by King’s College London and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC) has developed the first lab-grown epidermis (the outermost skin layer) with a functional permeability barrier akin to real skin.
The new epidermis, grown from human pluripotent stem cells, offers a cost-effective alternative lab model for testing drugs and cosmetics, and could also help to develop new therapies for rare and common skin disorders.
The epidermis, the outermost layer of human skin, forms a protective interface between the body and its external environment, preventing water from escaping and microbes and toxins from entering.
Tissue engineers have been unable to grow epidermis with the functional barrier needed for drug testing or produce an in vitro (lab) model for large-scale drug screening. That’s because the number of cells that can be grown from a single skin biopsy sample has been limited.
The new study, published in the journal Stem Cell Reports (open access), describes the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) (stem cells that can develop into different types of body cells) to produce an unlimited supply of pure keratinocytes (the predominant cell type in the outermost layer of skin). These new keratinocytes closely match keratinocytes generated from other stem-cell types: human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and primary keratinocytes from skin biopsies.
A genetic disease has been cured in living, adult animals for the first time using a revolutionary genome-editing technique that can make the smallest changes to the vast database of the DNA molecule with pinpoint accuracy.
The role of enteroviruses, especially Coxsackievirus B (CVB), in type 1 diabetes is suspected, but the mechanisms of the virus-induced or aggravated pathogenesis of the disease are unknown. The hypothesis of an enterovirus-induced disturbance of pancreatic β-cells regeneration has been investigated in the human system. The infection of human pancreas ductal cells and pancreatic duct cell line, PANC-1, with CVB4E2 has been studied. Primary ductal cells and PANC-1 cells were infectable with CVB4E2 and a RT-PCR assay without extraction displayed that a larger proportion of cells harbored viral RNA than predicted by the detection of the viral capsid protein VP1 by indirect immunofluorescence. The detection of intracellular positive- and negative-strands of enterovirus genomes in cellular extracts by RT-PCR and the presence of infectious particles in supernatant fluids during the 37 weeks of monitoring demonstrated that CVB4E2 could persist in the pancreatic duct cell line. A persistent infection of these cells resulted in an impaired expression of Pdx1, a transcription factor required for the formation of endocrine pancreas, and a disturbed formation of islet-like cell aggregates of which the viability was decreased. These data support the hypothesis of an impact of enteroviruses onto pancreatic ductal cells which are involved in the renewal of pancreatic β-cells.
Wounds may heal more quickly if exposed to low-intensity vibration, report researchers. The finding, in mice, may hold promise for the 18 million Americans who have type 2 diabetes, and especially the quarter of them who will eventually suffer from foot ulcers. Their wounds tend to heal slowly and can become chronic or worsen rapidly.
Nano-biotechnologists have reported the discovery of a new, third class of biomotor, unique in that it uses a "revolution without rotation" mechanism. These revolution biomotors are widespread among many bacteria and viruses.
Mice lacking a specific protein (TRAP-1) live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses, such as tissue degeneration, obesity, and spontaneous tumor formation, when compared with normal mice, researchers at The Wistar Institute have discovered.In healthy cells, TRAP-1 is an important regulator of metabolism and has been shown to regulate energy production in mitochondria, which are organelles that generate chemically useful energy for the cell.
Humans can see and name thousands of distinct object and action categories, so it is unlikely that each category is represented in a distinct brain area. A more efficient scheme would be to represent categories as locations in a continuous semantic space mapped smoothly across the cortical surface. To search for such a space, we used fMRI to measure human brain activity evoked by natural movies. We then used voxelwise models to examine the cortical representation of 1,705 object and action categories. The first few dimensions of the underlying semantic space were recovered from the fit models by principal components analysis. Projection of the recovered semantic space onto cortical flat maps shows that semantic selectivity is organized into smooth gradients that cover much of visual and nonvisual cortex. Furthermore, both the recovered semantic space and the cortical organization of the space are shared across different individuals.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have discovered diabetic nerve damage causes more harm in the brain than previously thought, shedding new light on the disease.
Centre will use latest technology to gain insights into human cognition and learn how it becomes disrupted in disorders
The worlds' first computational psychiatry centre has opened in London with a mission to shine a new light on human cognition and understand how it becomes disrupted in disorders such as depression and dementia.
Backed by a five-year €5m (£4.1m) investment from the Max Planck Society and UCL, the centre, which is named after its funders and will be based in London and Berlin, will use powerful modern technology in an effort to create more detailed models than ever before of how the human brain works.
Professor Ray Dolan, academic co-leader of the centre, said: "The brain is at some level an information processing machine and we have to understand what it's doing and how that information processor is working. We are trying to understand normal cognition with respect to the type of processes that go awry in psychiatric disorders and in ageing, we then intend to apply these models to understand ageing, depression or any other psychiatric disorders where we think the models may be appropriate. "