Biology & Medicine News and Discussions

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Biology & Medicine News and Discussions

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Biology & Medicine News and Discussions

This thread covers general news and developments in biology, healthcare, genetics, longevity, and so on.

More specific and indepth coverage of particular fields or companies will be found in other threads (e.g. CRISPR, lab-grown meat).


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Tiny, Wireless, Injectable Chips Use Ultrasound to Monitor Body Processes
Columbia Engineers develop the smallest single-chip system that is a complete functioning electronic circuit; implantable chips visible only in a microscope point the way to developing chips that can be injected into the body with a hypodermic needle to monitor medical conditions
https://www.engineering.columbia.edu/pr ... -processes
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Mothers can influence offspring's height, lifespan and disease risk through mitochondria

by University of Cambridge
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
Mitochondria—the 'batteries' that power our cells—play an unexpected role in common diseases such as type 2 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, concludes a study of over 350,000 people conducted by the University of Cambridge.

The study, published today in Nature Genetics, found that genetic variants in the DNA of mitochondria could increase the risk of developing these conditions, as well influencing characteristics such as height and lifespan.

There was also evidence that some changes in mitochondrial DNA were more common in people with Scottish, Welsh or Northumbrian genetic ancestry, implying that mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA (which accounts for 99.9% of our genetic make-up) interact with each other.

Almost all of the DNA that makes up the human genome—the body's 'blueprint' - is contained within the nuclei of our cells. Among other functions, nuclear DNA codes for the characteristics that make us individual as well as for the proteins that do most of the work in our bodies.
https://phys.org/news/2021-05-mothers-o ... sease.html
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An asthma vaccine effective in mice
Inserm teams led by Laurent Reber (Infinity, Toulouse) and Pierre Bruhns (Humoral Immunity, Institut Pasteur, Paris) and French company NEOVACS have developed a vaccine that could induce long-term protection against allergic asthma, reducing the severity of its symptoms and thus significantly improving patient quality of life. Their research in animals has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Asthma is a chronic disease affecting around 4 million people in France and 340 million worldwide. Allergic asthma is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes and respiratory discomfort caused by the inhalation of allergens, most often dust mites. This exposure to dust mites and other allergens leads to the production of antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) and type 2 cytokines (such as interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-13) in the airways. This leads to a cascade of reactions resulting in hyperresponsiveness of the respiratory tract, overproduction of mucus, and eosinophilia (when there are too many eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the airways).
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05- ... -mice.html
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New combination immunotherapy plus ART expand innate cells critical to controlling HIV

by Emory University
Yerkes National Primate Research Center researchers in collaboration with Institut Pasteur have determined a combination immunotherapy of Interleukin-21 (IL-21) and interferon alpha (IFNα) when added to antiviral therapy (ART) is effective in generating highly functional natural killer (NK) cells that can help control and reduce simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in animal models. This finding, published online today in Nature Communications, is key for developing additional treatment options to control HIV/AIDS, which impacts 38 million people worldwide.

ART is the current leading treatment for HIV/AIDS. It is capable of reducing the virus to undetectable levels, but is not a cure and is hampered by issues such as cost, adherence to medication treatment plan and social stigma.
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05- ... cells.html
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New immunotherapy double-crosses cancer to kill it from within
By Michael Irving
May 13, 2021
One of cancer’s crafty tricks involves manipulating the host’s immune cells to protect the tumors instead of fighting them. But now, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have turned the tables around again, transforming these cells back into cancer killers.

In a fair fight between the immune system and cancer, the immune system would win most of the time. But cancer doesn’t fight fair – it uses a range of underhanded tricks to gain the upper hand. To promote its own growth, cancer creates its own microenvironment around it to sap nutrients and weaken the immune response in the area.

One of the most devious ways it does this is by hijacking the function of immune cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs). Normally these cells play an important role in keeping the immune system from attacking the body’s own cells, which would lead to autoimmune diseases. But some types of cancer will selectively let Tregs into their microenvironment, where they then fight off other immune cells that come to kill the tumor.
https://newatlas.com/medical/immunother ... une-cells/
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https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11- ... senescence.
The research team led by Dr. Ermolaeva found that the very same metformin treatment that prolonged life when C. elegans worms were treated at young age, was highly toxic when animals of old age were treated
Using proteome and lipid metabolism analysis, the team showed that metformin treatment initiated at an advanced age induces a cascade of metabolic failures culminating in lethal mitochondrial decline, exhaustion of ATP and ultimately in cell death. Interestingly, the toxic effect of metformin in old animals was reduced by simultaneous administration of rapamycin, an immunosuppressive drug found by the authors to stabilize the ATP levels in metformin-treated cells—a possibility to alleviate metformin toxicity in older organisms and advance the idea of metformin as an anti-aging drug.
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Creation of Programmable Artificial Tissues from Synthetic Cells
May 20, 2021 by Brian Wang

Scientists have created new artificial tissues that mimic some of the complex characteristics and abilities of living tissues, paving the way towards unprecedented advances in medicine, soft-robotics, and micro-engineering.

Above – Photograph of a floating mould containing a protocellular material in the shape of a triangle with 1.0 cm sides being lifted from a Petri dish. Credit: Dr Pierangelo Gobbo and Dr Agostino Galanti

They can produce centimetre-sized artificial tissues of any shape and with complex internal structures.
https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2021/05/c ... cells.html
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New research could lead to better treatment for epilepsy
May 20, 2021 by University of Nottingham

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Scientists have discovered that the way in which neurons are connected within regions of the brain, can be a better indicator of disease progression and treatment outcomes for people with brain disorders such as epilepsy.

Many brain diseases lead to cell death and the removal of connections within the brain. In a new study, published in Human Brain Mapping, a group of scientists, led by Dr. Marcus Kaiser from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, looked at epilepsy patients undergoing surgery.

They found that changes in the local network within brain regions can be a better predictor of disease progression, and also whether surgery will be successful or not.

The team found that looking at connectivity within regions of the brain, showed superior results to the current approach of only observing fiber tract connectivity between brain regions. Dividing the surface of the brain into 50,000 network nodes of comparable size, each brain region could be studied as a local network with 100-500 nodes. These local networks showed distinct changes compared to a control group not suffering from epileptic seizures.
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05- ... lepsy.html
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"Take it easy, nothing matters in the end."
– William Shatner
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