Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Could doctors one day prescribe a specific diet to prevent the spread of breast cancer?

Researcher Melanie Rutkowski, PhD, from University of Virginia can envision a day when doctors prescribe a specific diet to prevent the spread of breast cancer. A day when doctors could identify women at high risk for breast tumors just by examining the bacteria in their guts. And now Susan G. Komen has awarded her $450,000 to fund pioneering research that could make that happen. Over the next three years, the grant will let Rutkowski, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, expand our understanding of the relationship between the microbiome – the microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies – and the immune system’s response to breast cancer. She will seek to determine if chronic disruption of the microbiome, possibly caused by diets heavy in processed foods, fats and sugar, is hurting the immune system’s ability to battle breast tumors – and perhaps even facilitating the cancer’s spread through the body.

Antibody treatment leads to motion recovery after paralysis

01.jpgKyoto: Spinal cord injury, or SCI, damages motor function and frequently leaves the patient paralyzed. A major reason is that the body cannot regenerate the lost neural connections. In a report in Cerebral Cortex, Kyoto University researchers report that treatment with an antibody for repulsive guidance molecule-a (RGMa) leads to recovered motor function in rhesus monkeys that had experienced SCI, suggesting that a similar antibody treatment could benefit humans.

Chronic heart failure: patients show individual therapy response to ACE inhibitor treatment

Vienna: A cross-sectional study conducted at MedUni Vienna including patients with chronic systolic heart failure has demonstrated great variations in patients' individual therapy response to ACE inhibitors, the first-line therapy for heart failure. It seems possible that the clinical picture is composed of various subgroups characterized by the over-activation of different endogenous systems. The results provide an explanatory approach to the question, why not all patients benefit equally from ACE inhibitors. The study supports ongoing efforts to develop a targeted, individualised therapy for heart failure patients (precision medicine). Vienna will be the venue for two cardiology congresses taking place at the end of May 2018, that cardiologists from throughout the world will attend.

Bariatric surgery saves money and prolongs lives

Vienna: There are more than 670 million people worldwide who are obese – with serious consequences for themselves and an enormous cost to the healthcare system. A recent MedUni Vienna study, conducted jointly with the Institute of Pharmaceutical Economic Research (Evelyn Walter) and the Austrian Society of Bariatric Surgery and led by Gerhard Prager (Department of Surgery), shows that bariatric surgery, such as a gastric bypass, for example, not only saves a lot of money but also improves quality-of-life and extends life expectancy. On 26 May 2018, there will be an action day for obesity patients and interested parties in MedUni Vienna's Lecture Center in Vienna General Hospital.

Study provides rationale for use of a multi-target anticancer drug in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma

Vienna: A multi-target small molecule anticancer drug shows promising effectiveness in stopping the growth of human malignant pleural mesothelioma, a fatal thoracic tumor, in preclinical models, according to a new study published jointly by researchers in Austria, Germany and Hungary. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive tumor that occurs in the lining that covers the lungs. It typically results from exposure to asbestos. Standard anti-mesothelioma treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, irradiation or multimodal therapy, which is the combination of these approaches. Because these conventional therapies have reached their efficacy plateau, new targeted approaches are needed to improve survival. However, despite proven efficacy of molecularly targeted drugs across a wide spectrum of other cancer types, most mesothelioma patients could not yet benefit from this novel treatment paradigm. The new research suggests that by preventing the growth of new mesothelioma blood vessels and thus starving tumors of nutrients and oxygen, the novel targeted medication called nintedanib is a promising candidate for helping patients with mesothelioma.

Hereditary bowel cancer: mesalazine attenuates tumour formation by 50%

Vienna: Around 5,000 Austrians a year develop a colorectal carcinoma, that is to say cancer of the colon or rectum. Around 5% of these are genetically predisposed and develop Lynch syndrome, the commonest genetic form of bowel cancer, equating to approx. 250 cases a year. An international team of researchers, including scientists from MedUni Vienna's Department of Surgery and Department of Medicine III, have now discovered that Lynch syndrome patients who are given the anti-inflammatory drug mesalazine develop tumours less frequently and the number of tumours that develop (neoplasia) is significantly reduced.

Noise brings the heart out of the rhythm

Mainz: As the level of noise increases, the incidence of atrial fibrillation increases dramatically. Scientists from the Department of Cardiology at the Mainz University Medical Center were able to prove this with data from the Gutenberg Health Study. They found that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in subjects with extreme noise annoyance reactions increases to 23 percent, compared to just 15 percent without this environmental impact. Looking at the proportion of sources of extreme noise pollution, aircraft noise came first with 84 percent during the day and 69 percent during sleep. These results from the Gutenberg Health Study were published today in the current issue of the renowned "International Journal of Cardiology".

Fighting life-threatening bacteria without antibiotics

Bonn: Researchers at the University of Bonn and the Technical University of Munich discover the cause of infections in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. Patients suffering from liver cirrhosis often die of life-threatening bacterial infections. In these patients the immune cells are unable to eliminate the bacterial infections. Scientist at the University of Bonn and TU Munich have now discovered that type I IFN released by immune cells due to increased migration of gut bacteria into the cirrhotic liver incapacitate the immune system. Based on their findings, such life-threatening infections can be contained by strengthening the immune response alone – without antibiotics. The results have now appeared in the journal "Gut".

Natural killer cells have a memory

Bonn: Researchers at the Universities of Bonn and Munich decode an autoimmune mechanism. Researchers at the University of Bonn and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich have decoded a new mechanism of how the immune system can specifically attack pigmented cells of the skin. It was previously believed that so-called natural killer cells did not have an immunological memory for the body's own tissues. However, the scientists have now been able to show that these special immune cells can indeed “remember” pigmented cells when they come into more frequent contact with a specific contact allergen. These results may provide new insights into the development of the skin-depigmenting disease vitiligo but may also offer new options for the treatment of malignant melanoma. These results have now been published in the renowned scientific journal “Immunity”.

Targeting cancer cells with sugars

Nanocarriers binding the mannose receptor. Picture: C Hohmann/NIMMunich: Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of death, also because the efficiency of chemotherapeutics is inadequate due to poor delivery to the tumor. Prof. Olivia Merkel and her team develop targeted nanocarrier systems to increase the delivery rates of therapeutic formulations and their specific uptake into the target cells. In the treatment of cancer, there are still several limitations. Especially the delivery of sufficient amounts of active chemotherapeutic drug is difficult.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New hope for stroke patients using human amniotic cells

Stroke Foundation: Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability. Stroke is treatable, however treatments are time critical and currently only a limited number of Australians have access. Some of the most recent advancements in ischemic stroke treatment – strokes caused by a clot – can only be delivered within the first few hours of a stroke. The seven-year research project led by La Trobe’s Professor Chris Sobey and with researchers from Monash University and Monash Health found that when human amnion epithelial cells – the cells lining the human amniotic sac during pregnancy and discarded after birth – were injected after stroke, impact was less severe and recovery was significantly improved.

Oxidative stress makes difference between metabolically abnormal and healthy obesities

Osaka: Scientists at Osaka University clarified that deletion of adipose oxidative stress (Fat ROS) decreased lipid accumulation in the liver, clinically improving insulin resistance and inducing metabolically healthy obesity. In fact, Fat ROS suppressed lipid accumulation and increased ectopic lipid accumulation in the liver, worsening insulin resistance. Their research results were published in Diabetes on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

High efficiency synthesis of insulin by self-assembly based organic chemistry

Osaka: Researchers at Tokai University, Osaka University, Tohoku University and Fukuoka University report in the journal Communications Chemistry on the synthesis of insulin based on the self-assembly of polypeptide chains at about 40% efficiency. This new approach is expected to enable flexibility in synthesizing order made insulin compounds that cannot be produced using conventional biological approaches based on genetic engineering. Insulin is a hormone that acts to lower the rise in blood glucose level after meals and is used as a therapeutic agent for diabetes. Since insulin has a characteristic molecular structure in which two peptide chains (A and B chains) are connected by two disulfide bridges (SS bonds), chemical synthesis has been considered as being difficult achieve. Currently, insulin is manufactured by a genetic engineering process.

Carrying backpacks doesn’t cause back pain in children and teenagers

The Conversation: Children and adolescents who carry backpacks aren’t at higher risk of developing back pain, according to a study published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM). Researchers found no evidence to suggest a link between carrying a heavy backpack and back pain in these age groups. This calls into question popular opinion, as well as guidelines published by numerous organisations recommending limits on backpack weights for children. Globally, there’s been little agreement on what a limit should be. Guidelines vary, with the limit being anywhere between 5% and 20% of body weight.

The guidelines on low back pain are clear: drugs and surgery should be the last resort

The Conversation: Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is becoming more common as our population ages. Most people who have an episode of low back pain recover within six weeks, but two-thirds still have pain after three months. By 12 months, pain may linger but is usually less intense. Still, recurrence is common and in a small number of people it may become persistent and disabling. Chronic back pain affects well-being, daily functioning and social life.

How to choose the right contraceptive pill for you

The Conversation: The combined oral contraceptive pill is the most popular contraception in Australia. It’s less invasive than implants or devices that need to be fitted in the arm or uterus, making it an attractive option for many women. There are more than 30 types of oral contraceptive pills. Different types and brands of contraceptive pill contain different types and doses of synthetic oestrogen and progesterone. But brand names such as Microgynon, Levlen, Yaz, Brenda and Norimin give little indication of the ingredients, dose or who should use them.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Chronobiology: Getting the timing right

Munich: Sleep patterns are determined by one‘s chronotype, says Till Roenneberg, and everyone should be allowed to follow its dictates. Here he discusses ways to achieve this goal and outlines the benefits it would bring. It’s three o‘clock in the afternoon and Till Roenneberg has just given a lecture. It’s a good time to talk to a chronobiologist about the biological clock – the mechanism that synchronizes the metabolic operations in our bodies with the light-dark cycle and the changing seasons. It turns out that individuals vary in the diurnal timing of their metabolic processes, and can be classified on this basis into a number of ‘chronotypes’. When allowed to follow our natural rhythms, some of us are early birds, some are night owls, and the rest fall somewhere in between. Roenneberg himself is more of a night owl, so he doesn’t like giving interviews early in the day. But now he has taken the time to explain the wider significance of chronobiology, which came to prominence when three pioneers in the field won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine. The medical implications of the circadian clock are the central theme of the upcoming conference on “The Role of Circadian Biology in Preventing and Treating Pathology”, which Roenneberg helped to organize.

Double hit on melanoma unlocks barrier to immunotherapy

Lausanne: Researchers at EPFL and UNIL have discovered a dangerous liaison between immune cells that limits the efficacy of immunotherapy in melanoma. But they also found a way to disrupt it. The study is published in Science Translational Medicine. Immunotherapies are treatments that stimulate a patient’s immune cells to attack the tumor. They can be very effective in melanoma – a common and aggressive form of skin tumor – but still fail in the majority of the patients. To address this, researchers are trying to identify the factors that enable successful immunotherapy, as well as those that may limit it. The ultimate goal is to open new avenues for immunotherapies that are more broadly effective in melanoma, and potentially other cancer types.

Blood test indicates risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

DKFZ: A newly developed blood test may indicate Alzheimer's disease on average eight years before the clinical diagnosis. This was demonstrated by scientists from the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB), the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Saarland Cancer Registry with a large population-based cohort study from the Saarland. There is as yet no cure for Alzheimer's disease. It is often argued that progress in drug research has been hampered by the fact that the disease can only be diagnosed when it is too late for an effective intervention. Alzheimer's disease is thought to begin long before patients show typical symptoms like memory loss. Scientists have now developed a blood test for Alzheimer's disease and found that it can detect early indicators of the disease long before the first symptoms appear in patients. The blood test would thus offer an opportunity to identify those at risk and may thereby open the door to new avenues in drug discovery.

Certain populations should avoid the consumption of food supplements containing melatonin

ANSES: Under the national nutrivigilance scheme, reports of adverse effects likely to be associated with the consumption of food supplements containing melatonin have been brought to the attention of ANSES. A retrospective analysis of these reports, combined with the considerable level of consumption of this type of supplement, led ANSES to conduct an assessment of the potential health risks. In the Opinion it is publishing today, the Agency highlights the existence of populations and situations at risk, for which the consumption of melatonin in the form of a food supplement should be avoided or medical advice should be sought. This mainly concerns pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and adolescents, people suffering from inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, people with epilepsy, asthma, or suffering from mood, behaviour or personality disorders, and anyone being treated with medication. People carrying out any activity requiring sustained vigilance where drowsiness could pose a safety problem should also avoid its consumption.