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Cancer Genes Turned Off In Deadly Brain Cancer

New therapy approach goes directly to the source of cancer development.
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Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a small RNA molecule called miR-182 that can suppress cancer-causing genes in mice with glioblastoma mulitforme (GBM), a deadly and incurable type of brain tumor. While standard chemotherapy drugs damage DNA to stop cancer cells from reproducing, the new method stops the source that creates those cancer cells: genes that are overexpressing certain proteins. “Our study identified miR-182 as a glioblastoma tumor suppressor that reduces the expression of several oncogenes that promote cancer development,” said senior author of the study Alexander Stegh, an assistant professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee department of neurology and of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The study, published April 2 in Genes and Development, used a nanostructure called spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) to safely deliver miR-182 across the blood-brain barrier to reach tumor cells. There it directly targeted multiple oncogenes at once, increasing cancer cell death and reducing cancer cell growth. SNAs are composed of multiple strands of DNA and RNA densely arranged around a nanoparticle center. “We demonstrate a more specific, more personalized approach to therapy,” Stegh said. “SNAs are a very promising platform to silence the particular genes that drive or contribute to cancer progression in individual patients.” There are 16,000 new cases of the deadly brain tumor reported in the U.S. every year. Patients have a very poor prognosis, with median survival of just 14 to 16 months. The molecule miR-182 is a microRNA, a type of short non-coding RNA that can bind to hundreds of genes to reduce their protein expression in cells. Looking at large-scale genomic datasets, Stegh and colleagues saw that patients with higher levels of miR-182 had a better chance of surviving glioblastoma mulitforme longer. In the study, they found that miR-182 suppressed Bcl2L12, a cancer gene that blocks cancer cell death in response to chemo- and radiation therapy. The microRNA also impeded two other oncogenes, c-Met and HIF2A. The next challenge was establishing a way to get miR-182 to those specific targets. The solution was in SNAs, a structure invented by Northwestern colleague and co-author Chad Mirkin, the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of medicine at Feinberg. “We designed a novel delivery method for miR-182 using SNAs,” Stegh said. “Small gold nanoparticles are conjugated with miR-182 sequences. They cross the blood-brain/blood-tumor barrier, and accumulate within brain tumor sites, where they target oncogenes, regulate cell growth and differentiation, reduce tumor burden and prolong survival in our mouse models.” SNAs have unique properties that allow them to reach cells safely without causing toxicity or activating the immune system. “Our approach to gene silencing has not been demonstrated before in such a powerful way for the treatment of brain cancers,” Stegh said. “These particles, microRNA based SNAs, could also potentially be used for gene silencing in other cancers and diseases of genetic origin.” Additional studies will be needed to test miR-182 and the nanoparticle delivery before it becomes an option for patients with glioblastoma mulitforme. But first, Stegh and colleagues want to hone the particle design and to investigate treatments that combine miR-182 with established chemotherapy drugs in mouse models.
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How Google's using big data and machine-learning to aid drug discovery | VentureBeat | Health | by Paul Sawers

How Google's using big data and machine-learning to aid drug discovery | VentureBeat | Health | by Paul Sawers | MedTech | Scoop.it
Google is working to expedite the discovery of drugs that could prove vital to finding cures for many human ills, in conjunction with Stanford University’s Pande Lab.
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How Artificial Intelligence and Physics Will Help Beat Cancer

How Artificial Intelligence and Physics Will Help Beat Cancer | MedTech | Scoop.it
Someday statistical mechanics might save your life.
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Google Developing a Pill That Would Detect Cancer and Other Diseases | WIRED

Google Developing a Pill That Would Detect Cancer and Other Diseases | WIRED | MedTech | Scoop.it
Google is attempting to develop a pill that would send microscopic particles into the bloodstream in an effort to identify cancers, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases.
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Why And How Healthcare Institutions Should Prepare For IBM Watson

Why And How Healthcare Institutions Should Prepare For IBM Watson | MedTech | Scoop.it
What even the most acclaimed professors know cannot match cognitive computers. As the amount of information they accumulate grows exponentially, the assistance of computing solutions in medical dec...
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Artificial intelligence, big data and harnessing the "body's hidden drugs"

Artificial intelligence, big data and harnessing the "body's hidden drugs" | MedTech | Scoop.it
Berg, a Boston-area startup, builds off that concept of studying healthy tissues to understand the body's molecular and cellular natural defenses - and what leads to a disease's pathogenesis.
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How The Digital Revolution Can Fix Scientific Publishing And Speed Up Discoveries | TechCrunch

How The Digital Revolution Can Fix Scientific Publishing And Speed Up Discoveries | TechCrunch | MedTech | Scoop.it
Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) publishing is big business. It generates $19 billion in revenue per year, the majority of which is earned by a few..
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uBiome Raises $4.5M From Angel Investors, Andreessen Horowitz To Crowdsource Microbiome Research | TechCrunch

uBiome Raises $4.5M From Angel Investors, Andreessen Horowitz To Crowdsource Microbiome Research | TechCrunch | MedTech | Scoop.it
Microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria that lives within us, which outnumber the number of human cells 10-to-1. Microbes in the microbiome perform functions..
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Andreesson Horowitz backed iBiome will research the bacteria in our bodies and it's affects by also using deep learning techniques on population based microbiome data.
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Apple HealthKit announced: a hub for all your iOS fitness tracking needs

Apple HealthKit announced: a hub for all your iOS fitness tracking needs | MedTech | Scoop.it
Apple just unveiled HealthKit, a new app bundled with iOS 8 that's designed to help users keep better track of their personal health and fitness data. HealthKit appears simply as "Health" on the...
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Vinod Khosla: The Case for Machines Taking Our Jobs

Speaking recently at a conference, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla discussed the impact that technology will have on an evolving workforce.
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Organova Surprises All, Delivers First 3D Printed Liver Tissue to Key Opinion Leader - 3DPrint.com

Organova Surprises All, Delivers First 3D Printed Liver Tissue to Key Opinion Leader - 3DPrint.com | MedTech | Scoop.it
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Brain Tumor Weakness Identified

Discovery could offer a new target for treatment of glioblastoma. Biologists at MIT and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors. The study, led by researchers from the Whitehead Institute and MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, found that a subset of glioblastoma tumor cells is dependent on a particular enzyme that breaks down the amino acid glycine. Without this enzyme, toxic metabolic byproducts build up inside the tumor cells, and they die. Blocking this enzyme in glioblastoma cells could offer a new way to combat such tumors, says Dohoon Kim, a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute and lead author of the study, which appears in the April 8 online edition of Nature. David Sabatini, a professor of biology at MIT and member of the Whitehead Institute, is the paper’s senior author. Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Associate Professor of Biology and a member of the Koch Institute, also contributed to the research, along with members of his lab. GLDC caught the researchers’ attention as they investigated diseases known as “inborn errors of metabolism,” which occur when cells are missing certain metabolic enzymes. Many of these disorders specifically affect brain development; the most common of these is phenylketonuria, marked by an inability to break down the amino acid phenylalanine. Such patients must avoid eating phenylalanine to prevent problems such as intellectual disability and seizures. Loss of GLDC produces a disorder called nonketotic hyperglycinemia, which causes glycine to build up in the brain and can lead to severe mental retardation. GLDC is also often overactive in certain cells of glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive type of brain tumor found in humans. The researchers found that GLDC, which breaks down the amino acid glycine, is overexpressed only in glioblastoma cells that also have high levels of a gene called SHMT2, which converts the amino acid serine into glycine. Those cells are so dependent on GLDC that when they lose it, they die. Further investigation revealed that SHMT2 is expressed most highly in cancer cells that live in so-called ischemic regions - areas that are very low in oxygen and nutrients. These regions are often found at the center of tumors, which are inaccessible to blood vessels. It turns out that in this low-oxygen environment, SHMT2 gives cells a survival edge because it can indirectly influence the activity of an enzyme called PKM2, which is part of the cell’s machinery for breaking down glucose. Regulation of PKM2 can impact whether cells can generate the material to build new cancer cells, but the same regulation also affects the consumption of oxygen - a scarce resource in ischemic regions. “Cells that have high SHMT2 activity have low PKM2 activity, and consequently low oxygen-consumption rates, which makes them better suited to survive in the ischemic tumor microenvironment,” Kim says. However, this highly active SHMT2 also produces a glut of glycine, which the cell must break down using GLDC. Without GLDC, glycine enters a different metabolic pathway that generates toxic products that accumulate and kill the cell. The finding also raises the possibility that these GLDC-dependent cells could be killed with drugs that block GLDC activity, according to the researchers, who are now seeking potential drug compounds that could do just that.
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Discoveries in 3-D Genome Make-Up and Genetic Changes: Clarification of differences amidst chromosome pairs and how gene expression is effected by chromosome folding

Discoveries in 3-D Genome Make-Up and Genetic Changes: Clarification of differences amidst chromosome pairs and how gene expression is effected by chromosome folding | MedTech | Scoop.it
A treasure trove of findings on epigenomics, recently reported in the journal Nature, offers a useful guide for future studies of the epigenome’s function in our evolution and diseases that beset us.
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Research in Etiological Science "A useful guide for future studies of the epigenome’s function in our evolution and diseases that beset us" To recap, genomics comprises the study of genes within a cell or organism, while epigenomics involves study of genomic changes that effect gene expression but are not encoded in the DNA sequence.
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Sanofi embarks on an $845M gene therapy R&D odyssey with Voyager

Sanofi embarks on an $845M gene therapy R&D odyssey with Voyager | MedTech | Scoop.it
Sanofi subsidiary Genzyme is tying up with gene therapy upstart Voyager Therapeutics, gambling $100 million upfront on the hot field and promising up to $745 million in milestones for their partnership on a full slate of development programs.
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New wave of gene therapy companies
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Clinical Chemistry | Mobile

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Lab on a Chip LOC systems represent a new model for laboratory medicine, in which a smartphone-enabled portable laboratory is brought to the patient instead of the patient being brought to the laboratory
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10 Promising Technologies Assisting the Future of Medicine

10 Promising Technologies Assisting the Future of Medicine | MedTech | Scoop.it
Ray Kurzweil says technology is improving at an exponential rate. Peter Thiel says technological innovations couldn't live up to the expectations.
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"the end of human experiments"
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This Woman's Revolutionary Idea Made Her A Billionaire -- And Could Change Medicine

This Woman's Revolutionary Idea Made Her A Billionaire  --  And Could Change Medicine | MedTech | Scoop.it
The next time you get a blood test, you might not have to go to the doctor and watch vials of blood fill up as the precious fluid is drawn from your arm.
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Holmes told Medscape that she targeted lab medicine because it drives about 80% of clinical decisions made by doctors. By zeroing in on the inefficiencies of that system, the Theranos approach completely revolutionizes it.
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Big Data & Health Care | USTelecom

Big Data & Health Care | USTelecom | MedTech | Scoop.it
Big data analytics is also aiding disease research in an unprecedented way. ComputerWeekly documents how a new research project combining wearable technologies, big data analytics and public cloud computing could yield important new discoveries for Parkinson’s disease. The effort, spearheaded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation in collaboration with Intel, is monitoring thousands of patients who are participating in the program by wearing smartwatches that gather and transmit each individual’s data moment-to-moment, in real time. Using the big data analytics platform on the Amazon Web Services cloud, researchers expect to cull precise information that sheds light on how Parkinson’s progresses and could help lead to new breakthrou - See more at: http://www.ustelecom.org/blog/big-data-health-care#sthash.pOe5MMsl.dpuf
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10 Digital Health Trends for the Next 20 Years

The Digital Health Revolution is upon us. Here are the ten trends that will impact each and everyone of us in the coming years to help us live healthier, stron…
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Theranos

Theranos | MedTech | Scoop.it
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Working to shape the future of lab testing. Now, for the first time, our high-complexity CLIA-certified laboratory can perform your tests quickly and accurately on samples as small as a single drop

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In Ten Years, You Won’t Even Know You’re Wearing Them — NOVA Next | PBS

In Ten Years, You Won’t Even Know You’re Wearing Them — NOVA Next | PBS | MedTech | Scoop.it
Here’s how wearable health sensors will become a transparent part of our daily lives.
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Internet of Health It's about the data. As wearables interface to the body and connect to mobiles and networks adding other layers of information such as geomedical data, motion and location etc, other patients data, data mining software will be used to correlate metrics, symptoms and and then compare patients to known patient cohort evidence and help to predict medical events. This era of quantified self and internet of health devices and software has the hurdle of making the data medically useful and regulatory approved but I suspect it's machine learning attributes learning behind the internet of health Eco system may be the way to fast track towards achieving this.
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What doctors, patients want at end of life

What doctors, patients want at end of life | MedTech | Scoop.it
Most doctors say they wouldn't want aggressive treatment in their final days -- so why do so many of their patients get it? ( @kitchensense: Who's that handsome, smart, articulate palliative care Dr discussing communication on TV?
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