Written by: James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News website
The pancreas can be triggered to regenerate itself through a type of fasting diet, say US researchers. Restoring the function of the organ – which helps control blood sugar levels – reversed symptoms of diabetes in animal experiments.The study, published in the journal Cell, says the diet reboots the body.
Experts said the findings were “potentially very exciting” as they could become a new treatment for the disease. People are advised not to try this without medical advice.
In the experiments, mice were put on a modified form of the “fasting-mimicking diet”. Read more.
Cells behave differently when removed from their environments, just as cells that develop in cultures do not behave like cells in living creatures. To study the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in a more natural environment, scientists from the lab of professor Bart De Strooper (VIB-KU Leuven, Dementia Research Institute-UK) in collaboration with scientists from ULB (profs Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Jean-Pierre Brion) successfully circumscribed this challenge by transplanting human neural cells into mouse brains containing amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of their research showed that, unlike mouse neurons, human neurons that developed in this environment were extremely susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. Their high-impact results are published in leading academic journal Neuron.
The study of the development of Alzheimer’s disease on a molecular level presents unique challenges, as neurons behave differently in vivo vs. in vitro. Using mice as models presents useful insights, but mouse models never fully develop the disease, despite the fact that their brains and neurons share many similarities with those of humans. Read more.
Written by: Kaleigh Rogers
The mosquito is regularly crowned the most deadly animal on Earth, and with good reason. Infectious diseases spread by these insects—including malaria, dengue, and Zika—mean mosquitoes are responsible for 725,000 human deaths every year.
Rather than looking for a vaccine for each of these different diseases, what if we made a vaccine against mosquitoes themselves?
That’s exactly what scientists have done, and they’re about to test it on humans for the first time. The vaccine, called AGS-v, was developed by researchers in London and is about to be tested through a small trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Read more.
Written by: Peter Dockrill
A compound found in the venom of sea snails has been discovered to block pain, and does so by targeting a different molecular pathway to that used by opioid painkillers.
With estimates that more than 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, a new treatment formulated from the venom compound could provide an alternative to overused opioid medications – a crisis that’s been described as the worst drug epidemic in American history. Read more.
A new gene mutation discovered in dogs by an international research team including a University of Guelph professor may help better diagnose and treat one of the most common kinds of epilepsy in people.
Screening for similar gene changes in human patients may give clinicians a new tool for treatment, including potential new drugs, said Fiona James, a clinical studies professor in the Ontario Veterinary College.
Prof. Fiona James studies how to treat epilepsy in dogs
The discovery is reported in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a team of researchers in Canada, Germany and Finland. Read more.
Written by:Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times
Can a mouse meditate? A new study suggests the answer is … kind of.
Researchers from the University of Oregon in Eugene have replicated some of the same brain patterns exhibited by human meditators in the brains of mice – no tiny meditation cushions or squeaky “oms” required.
Still, experiments show that the “meditating mice” were more relaxed and less stressed than those with no rodent meditation training.
The authors say the work, published Monday in PNAS, provides a proof of concept that will allow them to learn more about how meditation affects the brain. Read more.
Article Written by: Chris Barncard
Listeria, a common food-borne bacterium, may pose a greater risk of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy than appreciated, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine studying how pathogens affect fetal development and change the outcome of pregnancy.
“For many years, listeria has been associated with adverse outcomes in pregnancy, but particularly at the end of pregnancy,” says Ted Golos, a UW–Madison reproductive physiologist and professor of comparative biosciences and obstetrics and gynecology. “What wasn’t known with much clarity before this study is that it appears it’s a severe risk factor in early pregnancy.” Read more.
Written By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News website
Deaf mice have been able to hear a tiny whisper after being given a “landmark” gene therapy by US scientists.
They say restoring near-normal hearing in the animals paves the way for similar treatments for people “in the near future”. Read more.
New research from Lund University in Sweden has shown that intestinal bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the researchers behind the study, the results open up the door to new opportunities for preventing and treating the disease.
Because our gut bacteria have a major impact on how we feel through the interaction between the immune system, the intestinal mucosa and our diet, the composition of the gut microbiota is of great interest to research on diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Exactly how our gut microbiota composition is composed depends on which bacteria we receive at birth, our genes and our diet.
By studying both healthy and diseased mice, the researchers found that mice suffering from Alzheimer’s have a different composition of gut bacteria compared to mice that are healthy. The researchers also studied Alzheimer’s disease in mice that completely lacked bacteria to further test the relationship between intestinal bacteria and the disease. Mice without bacteria had a significantly smaller amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaques are the lumps that form at the nerve fibres in cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Read more.
Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a brain hormone that appears to trigger fat burning in the gut. Their findings in animal models could have implications for future pharmaceutical development.
“This was basic science that unlocked an interesting mystery,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Supriya Srinivasan, senior author of the new study, published in the journal Nature Communications.
Previous studies had shown that the neurotransmitter serotonin can drive fat loss. Yet no one was sure exactly how. To answer that question, Srinivasan and her colleagues experimented with roundworms called C. elegans, which are often used as model organisms in biology. These worms have simpler metabolic systems than humans, but their brains produce many of the same signaling molecules, leading many researchers to believe that findings in C. elegans may be relevant for humans. Read more.