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EC 'confident' in brain project

EC 'confident' in brain project | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

The European Commission has responded to criticism of its billion-euro Human Brain Project, declaring confidence that objections will be satisfied.

The statement also defends the ability of the project to set its own scope, which critics have said is too narrow.

But it says new recommendations for management of the HBP and the balance between its core and partner projects (both contentious issues) are expected in September.

Critics cautiously welcomed the reply.

Under the heading "no single roadmap for understanding the human brain", Robert Madelin (the relevant director-general within the EC) responded directly to last week's open letter.

"As a public funding agency, we take all such signals seriously," he wrote. "We welcome debate."

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Quarter of skin 'on road to cancer' - BBC News

Quarter of skin 'on road to cancer' - BBC News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
More than a quarter of a middle-aged person's skin may have already made the first steps towards cancer, a study suggests.

Analysis of samples from 55- to 73-year-olds found more than 100 DNA mutations linked to cancer in every 1 sq cm (0.1 sq in) of skin.

The team, at the Sanger Institute, near Cambridge, said the results were "surprising".

Experts said prevention was the best defence against damage from the Sun.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers.

Ultraviolet-radiation from sunlight bombards our skin and transforms it from healthy to cancerous tissue.
Seeds of cancer

Many of the mutations that culminate in skin cancer are already known, but the team wanted to know when they first started to appear.

The researchers analysed excess skin that had been removed from the eyelids of four patients.

They then drilled down deeply into the skin's DNA to discover the very first steps being taken on the journey to cancer.

Dr Peter Campbell, the head of cancer genetics at Sanger, told the BBC News website: "The most surprising thing is just the scale, that a quarter to a third of cells had these cancerous mutations is way higher than we'd expect, but these cells are functioning normally."
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Why men are not biologically useless after all ...

Why men are not biologically useless after all ... | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Does the world really need men? It has been suggested that, in the age of cloning – and with enough sperm banks around to populate several future generations – the question is legitimate. However, new research suggests that the reason that we need two sexes is because it improves the overall genetic quality of a species and reduces the risk of population extinction.

The question of why sex is so widespread across nature has intrigued and puzzled scientists for a very long time. From a biological perspective, the purpose of life is to pass on your genes to the next generation. Asexual organisms, such as bacteria, do this simply by duplicating themselves. The offspring is an identical copy of the parent, which passes on all its genes.

Sexual organisms, however, need a partner to reproduce. Sexual species have two sexes, but only one of these can bear young. This means that sexual populations can only grow half as fast as asexual populations. Sex is also inefficient for the reason that you need to find a mate, which takes time and energy. Overall, life would be a lot simpler if we could just split in two to reproduce.

So why did sex evolve? The explanation may lie in mutations. Mutations are typos that occur as DNA is copied. The result is that we all have new variants of DNA that our parents don’t have. Most mutations have no effect, but some can be useful, and help an organism to survive. Other mutations, however, result in a loss of function in the gene they affect.
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Blueprint for a Better Human Body

Blueprint for a Better Human Body | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
When Elizabeth Wright smacks her right leg on a table, she says “ow.” That’s only interesting if you know one more thing: that her right leg is made out of carbon fiber and metal. It’s also part of her. “It is my right leg, just as my left leg is my left leg, and just as your right leg is your right leg.”

Wright was born with something called congenital limb deficiency—neither her right arm or right leg grew to their full length in the womb. At 2 years old, she was fitted with a prosthetic leg, something she describes as “a revelation.” Around the time she was 6 years old the doctors decided it was time for her to try a prosthetic arm. That didn’t go as well. “This was in the 80s,” Wright says, “before the fancy hands you can use to pick up eggs and not break them. The arm that I got it was purely for aesthetic reasons, it just hung there like some kind of weird dead arm, and I couldn’t do anything with it. I could actually do less. So I think it lasted two or three days and then it got relegated to the cupboard. I refused to wear it.” And it stayed there. Today, Wright still uses a prosthetic leg, one that is wholly hers, entirely a part of her identity, and she still rejects the use of a prosthetic arm. She says she’s learned how to do things without it.
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New evidence that electrical stimulation accelerates wound healing | KurzweilAI

New evidence that electrical stimulation accelerates wound healing | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The most detailed study to date of skin wound healing, conducted by University of Manchester scientists with 40 volunteers, has provided new evidence that electrical stimulation accelerates wound healing.

In the new research, half-centimeter harmless wounds were created on each upper arm of the volunteers. One wound was left to heal normally, while the other was treated with electrical pulses over a period of two weeks. The pulses stimulated angiogenesis — the process by which new blood vessels form — increasing blood flow to the damaged area and resulting in wounds healing significantly faster.
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Olga Troyanskaya Brings Order to Big Data of Human Biology | Simons Foundation

Olga Troyanskaya Brings Order to Big Data of Human Biology | Simons Foundation | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
A multi-year study led by researchers from the Simons Center for Data Analysis (SCDA) and major universities and medical schools has broken substantial new ground, establishing how genes work together within 144 different human tissues and cell types in carrying out those tissues’ functions.

The paper, published today online by Nature Genetics on April 27, also demonstrates how computer science and statistical methods may combine to aggregate and analyze very large — and stunningly diverse — genomic ‘big-data’ collections.

Led by Olga Troyanskaya, deputy director for genomics at SCDA, the team collected and integrated data from about 38,000 genome-wide experiments (from an estimated 14,000 publications). These datasets necessarily contain not only information about cells’ RNA/protein functions, but also information from individuals diagnosed with a variety of illnesses.

Using integrative computational analysis, the researchers first isolated the functional genetic interconnections contained in these rich datasets for various tissue types. Then, combining that tissue-specific functional signal with the relevant disease’s DNA-based genome-wide association studies (GWAS), the researchers were able to identify statistical associations between genes and diseases that would otherwise be undetectable.

The resulting technique, which they called a ‘network-guided association study,’ or NetWAS, thus integrates quantitative genetics with functional genomics to increase the power of GWAS and identify genes underlying complex human diseases. And because the technique is completely data-driven, NetWAS avoids bias toward better-studied genes and pathways, permitting discovery of novel associations.
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Mediterranean diet plus olive oil or nuts associated with improved cognitive function | KurzweilAI

Mediterranean diet plus olive oil or nuts associated with improved cognitive function | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Supplementing the plant-based Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts has been associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain, according to an open-access article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Previous research suggests following a Mediterranean diet may be associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia. However, the observational studies that have examined these associations have limitations.

The researchers compared a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts with a low-fat control diet.

The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women; average age was nearly 67 years) who were at high cardiovascular risk and were enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea nutrition intervention.

Of the participants, 155 individuals were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week; 147 were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams per day of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; and 145 individuals were assigned to follow a low-fat control diet.

The authors measured cognitive change over time with a battery of neuropsychological tests and they constructed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal cognition (attention and executive function), and global cognition.

Mediterranean-diet subjects showed improved memory or cognition

The study found that individuals assigned to the low-fat control diet had a significant decrease from baseline in all composites of cognitive function. Compared with the control group, the memory composite improved significantly in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group, while frontal and global cognition improved in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group.

At the end of the follow-up, there were 37 cases of mild cognitive impairment: 17 (13.4 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group; eight (7.1 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group; and 12 (12.6 percent) in the low-fat control group. No dementia cases were documented in patients who completed study follow-up.

“Our results suggest that in an older population, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counteract age-related cognitive decline,” the researchers suggest.

“The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean diet are encouraging but further investigation is warranted.”
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New type of stem cell could lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine | KurzweilAI

New type of stem cell could lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered a novel type of pluripotent stem cell that develops into a tissue type that is based on the stem cell’s region, or location, in a developing embryo.

Pluripotent stem cells are cells that are capable of differentiating (developing) in the embryo into any of the three germ layers: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system), normally based on what stage of development they are in.

Generating new therapies in the lab with “region-selective pluripotent stem cells” (rsPSCs)

In the paper, published May 6, 2015 in Nature, the scientists report using these new stem cells to develop the first reliable method for integrating human stem cells into nonviable mouse embryos in a laboratory dish in such a way that the human cells began to differentiate into early-stage tissues.*

“The region-specific cells we found could provide tremendous advantages in the laboratory to study development, evolution, and disease, and may offer avenues for generating novel therapies,” says Salk Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, senior author of the paper and holder of Salk’s Roger Guillemin Chair.

The researchers dubbed this new class of cells “region-selective pluripotent stem cells” (rsPSCs). The rsPSCs were easier to grow in the laboratory than conventional human pluripotent stem cells and offered advantages for large-scale production and gene editing (altering a cell’s DNA), which are both desirable features for cell replacement therapies.

The researchers found rsPSCs showed distinct molecular and metabolic characteristics as well as novel epigenetic signatures — that is, patterns of chemical modifications to DNA that control which genes are turned on or off without changing the DNA sequence.
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3D printing of living tissues is easier and cheaper with BioBots

3D printing of living tissues is easier and cheaper with BioBots | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Had bioprinting been around in Vincent van Gogh's day, he would have had to do something more dramatic to express his inner torment than cutting off his ear – American startup BioBots has been demonstrating that he could have easily just 3D-printed a new one.
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Scientists identify novel drug mechanism that fights brain cancer

Scientists identify novel drug mechanism that fights brain cancer | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed and tested a molecule that has the ability to disrupt the body's regulation of cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct rather than multiply. The method was found to be effective when tackling dormant brain cancer cells that existing treatments are ineffective at eradicating.

The study focused on a UC Davis-developed molecule known as UCD38B, looking at its effects on human glioma cells, which are responsible for an aggressive form of brain cancer. The targeted cells are produced by glial cells in the brain, which themselves provide structural protection to neurons.

While conventional treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are effective at removing active cancer cells, they often fail to eradicate a population of dormant, non-dividing cells that can later activate and regenerate tumors.
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Great Gut Extinction: Has modern life destroyed our health? - BBC News

Great Gut Extinction: Has modern life destroyed our health? - BBC News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Our modern lifestyle is often blamed for the explosion in conditions like asthma, diabetes and obesity - but the evidence that our predecessors didn't suffer such ailments has been hard to come by - until now.

In 2008 a military helicopter chanced upon a previously uncharted group of huts in the remote Amazonas region in southern Venezuela, home to 15,000 Yanomami people.

Thought to have been completely isolated since their ancestors arrived in South America after the last ice age, the semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers have never been exposed to modern civilisation - therefore neither have their guts.

The community hunts for small birds and mammals as well as frogs and fish and the occasional tapir. They also eat wild bananas, plantain and cassava.

Water is collected from a stream about five minutes' walking distance from the village.

An international team of scientists has studied the group - whose exact location has been protected - to see what micro-organisms (microbes) lived in and on them.

Some microbes cause disease but the majority are completely harmless but humans couldn't live without them,

The microbes we are born with - which mainly come from our mother's birth canal - form the basis of our lifelong microbiome.

We are literally covered in them, inside and out. But modern life can alter the microbial composition.
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New insight into how the brain makes memories | KurzweilAI

New insight into how the brain makes memories | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Every time you make a memory, somewhere in your brain a tiny filament called a dendritic spine reaches out from one neuron and forms an electrochemical connection to a neighboring neuron. Now a team of biologists at Vanderbilt University has discovered more about how these connections are formed at the molecular and cellular level.

In a series of experiments described in the April 17 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the researchers report that a specific signaling protein, Asef2, a member of a family of proteins that regulate cell migration and adhesion, plays a critical role in this spine formation. This is significant because Asef2 has been linked to autism and the co-occurrence of alcohol dependency and depression.

“Alterations in dendritic spines are associated with many neurological and developmental disorders, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Down Syndrome,” said study leader Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Donna Webb. “However, the formation and maintenance of spines is a very complex process that we are just beginning to understand.”
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Implanted micropump could deliver epilepsy drugs right into the brain

Implanted micropump could deliver epilepsy drugs right into the brain | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
A promising new treatment for epilepsy directly targets the nerve cells, deep within the brain, that cause seizures. The treatment uses an electronic micropump and an anticonvulsant drug to inhibit the relevant areas of the brain without affecting healthy brain regions. It has had promising initial results on mice in vitro and will now be tested on live animals.

Very few epilepsy drugs successfully make it to clinical practice. Many result in harmful (or potentially harmful) side effects while others are rendered ineffectual by the body's natural defenses, which prevent the drugs from reaching their intended destination. Yet 30 percent of the approximately 50 million epilepsy sufferers around the world are resistant to all existing treatments.

Researchers at the Institute of Systems Neuroscience, École des Mines de Saint-Étienne, and Linköping University sought to combat this problem by devising a treatment that could control epilepsy without affecting healthy brain regions. Their solution involves a micropump 20 times thinner than a hair.

When an electrical current is applied to this micropump, small positively charged molecules – in this case ions that carry the drugs – get flung (or "pumped") towards the target area. Once there, the ions activate the GABA A and B receptors in the brain (these receptors can halt messages being sent to the central nervous system). This leads to an influx of chloride ions into the cell and decreases the resistance of the cell membrane, with the net effect being a reduced chance that the nerve cell will fire (i.e., contribute to a seizure).
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Remote tribe has antibiotic resistance genes - Futurity

Remote tribe has antibiotic resistance genes - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The Yanomami "had no exposure to modern antibiotics; their only potential intake of antibiotics could be through the accidental ingestion of soil bacteria that make naturally occurring versions of these drugs," says Erica Pehrsson. "Yet we were able to identify several genes in bacteria from their fecal and oral samples that deactivate natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic drugs."
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Crispr: is it a good idea to ‘upgrade’ our DNA?

Crispr: is it a good idea to ‘upgrade’ our DNA? | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Last year Tony Perry made mice that would have been brown-furred grow up white instead. That Perry, a molecular embryologist at the University of Bath, tweaked their coat colour isn’t new – scientists have been making so-called knock-out mice, in which certain genes are disabled, since the technique was invented in 1989. It is a long and cumbersome procedure that involves combining pieces of DNA in embryonic stem cells and mouse breeding.

But Perry, who published his study in December, didn’t use this method. Instead he used a new genome-editing technology that has been taking the scientific world by storm since it was first developed from the bacterial immune system in 2012, and shown to work in human cells in 2013.

The powerful tool, known as Crispr, allows the precise and easy manipulation of the DNA in the nucleus of any cell. Make the manipulations in sperm, egg or a one-cell embryo, which is just about to start replicating its DNA, and they can become permanently sealed in the so-called germ line, to be inherited by future generations. Using the procedure on the germ line, Perry inactivated a key gene for mouse coat colour.

But Perry’s work added a unique flourish. He did the editing not in a one-cell mouse embryo – which is how most animal germ-line editing by Crispr has been done to date – but earlier, during the process of fertilisation, by injecting the Crispr components and the mouse sperm into the mouse egg at the same time. It is the same technique – intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – widely used in IVF. And it worked. “This or analogous approaches may one day enable human genome targeting or editing during very early development,” notes the paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. If human germ-line editing were ever to be used clinically, incorporating Crispr into the ICSI phase of IVF is how it might be.
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A new milestone in non-pharmaceutical treatments for depression | Nick Davis

A new milestone in non-pharmaceutical treatments for depression | Nick Davis | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Mood disorders such as depression are devastating to sufferers, and hugely costly to treat. The most severe form of depression, often called clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), increases the person’s likelihood of suicide and contributes significantly to a person’s disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), a measure of quality of life taking into account periods of incapacity. The healthcare burden of MDD is large in most countries, especially when the person requires a stay in hospital. Putting these factors together, it’s clear we need to develop effective treatments to combat depression.

The mechanisms of depressive disorders are not well understood, and it seems likely that there is no single cause. Most modern therapies use drugs that target neurotransmitters – the chemicals that carry signals between neurons. For example, the class of drugs known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, prevent the neurotransmitter serotonin from being reabsorbed by a neuron; this means that more serotonin is available to wash around between the nerve cells, and is more likely to activate cells in the brain networks that area affected in MDD.
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Scientists Are Stopping Malaria With Viagra

Scientists Are Stopping Malaria With Viagra | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
With over 584,000 deaths due to malaria each year, fighting the mosquito-transmitted disease is a major world health priority. Now, reports Popular Science’s Alexandra Ossola, there’s a new ally in the fight against malaria — Viagra.

A new study shows that Viagra can increase the spleen’s ability to filter malaria from the blood. Ossola explains that once Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, hits the human body, it “spends one very important [developmental] stage in human red blood cells found in bone marrow.” These blood cells are soft and malleable, which allows them to elude the blood-filtering spleen, which looks for firm or dead blood cells instead.

By bypassing the spleen’s filtering abilities, malaria is able to spread through the blood. But researchers were able to put a stop to that process with Viagra when they learned that the enzyme inhibitor that gives the pill its popular effects stiffens infected blood cells, too. In the lab, they used an artificial spleen to filter infected, Viagra-stiffened blood cells — and learned that they were “less likely to circulate through the spleen.”

This isn’t the first time Viagra has been found to have effects that have nothing to do with the bedroom. For example, doctors now use the drug to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure between the heart and the lungs) and altitude sickness.

Will malaria eventually make its way to that list? Researchers hope so. “This discovery could help find new ways to stop the spread of malaria in a population,” the team said in a release.
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Ringing ears light up the brain's emotion center - Futurity

Ringing ears light up the brain's emotion center - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
People with tinnitus “hear” ringing, buzzing, or hissing in their ears much like an amputee might “feel” pain in a missing limb. While exposure to loud noise may contribute, some cases have no apparent trigger.

Though it’s not known yet exactly where and how tinnitus occurs in the brain, says Richard Salvi, director of the Center for Hearing and Deafness at the University at Buffalo, functional MRI studies with rats show the abnormal activity underlying tinnitus and a related condition called hyperacusis isn’t confined to a specific brain location, but actually involves a neural network.

Salvi and colleagues induced tinnitus in rats by administering the active ingredient in aspirin, which has long been known to produce tinnitus and hyperacusis symptoms in humans.

“Certain brain regions become very active once tinnitus is induced, much more so than it is for an animal with normal hearing,” says Salvi, one of the authors of the study published in the journal eLife. “Even though high-dose aspirin induces a hearing loss and less information is being sent from the ear to the brain as a result, the brain responds with greater activity.
“It’s paradoxical, like a car getting better gas mileage with a less efficient engine.”
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Palm 'holds secrets of future health' - BBC News

Palm 'holds secrets of future health' - BBC News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The chances of having a heart attack, stroke or dying young may be hidden in the palm of the hand, a study suggests.

A trial on nearly 140,000 people in 14 countries, published in the Lancet, suggests grip strength is better than blood pressure at predicting risk.

The international research team said it would be a "simple, inexpensive" tool for doctors.

Experts argued the link between grip and the heart was unclear and needed more study.

The maximum crushing force you can exert in your grip naturally declines with age.

But those whose grip strength declines fastest may be at greater risk of health problems, the study suggests.

Women in their mid-20s have a grip strength about 75lb (34kg), which falls to 53lb in a 70-year-old.
The equivalent figures for men are 119lb (54kg) falling to 84lb.

The huge trial, in 14 countries, showed each 11lb (5kg) reduction in grip strength increased the odds of an early death by 16%.

The odds of a fatal heart problem increased by 17% and a stroke by 9%.

Doctors currently calculate the chances of a heart attack or stroke by filling out a questionnaire with the patient by assessing age, whether they smoke, obesity, cholesterol levels, blood pressure where they live and family history.

The researchers argue grip strength makes more accurate predictions than blood pressure alone and could be a new tool for assessing risk.
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Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine—And America Wants It | WIRED

Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine—And America Wants It | WIRED | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Cuba has for several years had a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. The 55-year trade embargo led by the US made sure that Cuba was mostly where it stayed. Until—maybe—now.

The Obama administration has, of course, been trying to normalize relations with the island nation. And last month, during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s visit to Havana, Roswell Park Cancer Institute finalized an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine and begin clinical trials in the US. Essentially, US researchers will bring the Cimavax vaccine stateside and get on track for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
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A central mechanism of aging identified – and it might be reversible

A central mechanism of aging identified – and it might be reversible | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Research into the underlying causes of a genetic disorder that causes premature aging and death has revealed a key driver of aging in all people. Better yet, this mechanism is reversible – and with it, perhaps, scientists may be able to slow or reverse the aging process.

People with Werner syndrome age faster than normal because of a genetic mutation that disrupts normal DNA cell processes. It affects around one in every 200,000 people in the United States, with sufferers plagued by early-onset age-related diseases, such as cancer, cataracts, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, skin ulcers, and more.

It was previously known Werner syndrome is caused by a mutation to the Werner syndrome RecQ helicase-like gene (WRN for short), and that the normal form of the protein is responsible for maintaining the structure and integrity of a person's DNA. However, it was unclear how this happened.

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, who worked in collaboration with researchers at the Chinese Academy of Science, now have a possible answer. They found a link between the WRN gene and heterochromatin, which is a small, tightly-packed bundle of DNA found in irregular patches inside a cell's nucleus. This bundling serves as a kind of cell switchboard, regulating the complex molecular machinery.
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Loading cancer vaccines into silicon microparticles could stop tumors in their tracks

Loading cancer vaccines into silicon microparticles could stop tumors in their tracks | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
New research now suggests a vaccine for breast cancer might not be all that far away, with the discovery that loading cancer antigens into silicon microparticles serves to greatly boost the body's immune response.
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Most liver transplants by 2020 will be 'linked to over-eating, not alcohol'

Most liver transplants by 2020 will be 'linked to over-eating, not alcohol' | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Most liver transplants are expected to be linked to over-eating rather than alcohol abuse by 2020, an expert has said.

Dr Quentin Anstee, a consultant hepatologist at Newcastle University and the Freeman hospital, warned that the UK faced a “major and growing challenge” as increasing numbers of Britons are diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

A third of Britons are thought to have the condition, according to researchers, which is caused by people eating more than their livers can cope with.

Newcastle University is set to be the centre of a new Europe-wide research programme into liver disease, with Britain among the worst-affected countries.

Anstee said: “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the major and growing challenges facing the UK.

“With such a large proportion of the population at risk, the challenge is identifying which individuals we need to home in on.

“There has been a shift in the entire population. The truth is that the man in the street is carrying a few more pounds than a decade ago. The rate of liver disease has increased 400% since the 1970s.

“It’s predicted that by the end of this decade, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will be be the most common underlying reason why people are required to have liver transplants, overtaking alcohol.”
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asuph's curator insight, May 6, 3:34 AM

Alarming, to say the least ...

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Functioning synthetic blood vessels become the real thing

Functioning synthetic blood vessels become the real thing | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
When a vein or artery gets seriously blocked, a common course of action involves replacing it with part of another blood vessel harvested from elsewhere in the patient's body. While 3D-printed and lab-grown blood vessels show promise as alternatives, scientists from the Vienna University of Technology and Vienna Medical University have developed another option – polymer fabric vessels that transform into biological ones, once implanted.

The artificial blood vessels are made from biocompatible and biodegradable thermoplastic polyurethanes.

Liquid solutions of these polymers are spun in an electrical field, causing them to form into very fine threads. Those threads are then woven onto a long skinny spool, where they form the walls of the vessel. Once removed from the spool, an elongated tube of polymer fabric – the synthetic blood vessel – is the result.
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Neurons Constantly Rewrite Their DNA | Neuroscience News

Neurons Constantly Rewrite Their DNA | Neuroscience News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered that neurons are risk takers: They use minor “DNA surgeries” to toggle their activity levels all day, every day. Since these activity levels are important in learning, memory and brain disorders, the researchers think their finding will shed light on a range of important questions. A summary of the study will be published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience on April 27.
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Can a common cold virus lead to asthma? - Futurity

Can a common cold virus lead to asthma? - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Scientists have long suspected that respiratory viruses—the sort that cause common colds or bronchitis—play a critical role in chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A new study shows a potential link: immune cells dispatched to the lung to destroy a respiratory virus can fail to disperse after their job is finished, setting off a chain of inflammatory events that leads to long-term lung problems.

The findings stem from research into immune cells called macrophages.

“In general, scientists thought this type of macrophage was involved in the repair of the lung,” says senior author Michael J. Holtzman, a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “That may be true in some cases. But like many things in nature, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.”

When large numbers of this type of macrophage accumulate, they appear to stop orchestrating the immune response against acute viral infections and instead participate in a type of response that is more typically directed against parasites and allergens.
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