Written by: Tom Avril – Staff Writer
In a major step aimed at improving the survival odds for extremely premature infants, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researchers have created an artificial womb — a fluid-filled “BioBag” that kept fetal lambs alive and healthy outside their mothers until they could survive on their own.
The animals received oxygen through their umbilical cords and continued to develop much as if they had remained in the uterus, leading the team to express hope that the procedure could be tried on the youngest human preemies within three to five years.
The authors of the research stressed that they were not trying to enable the delivery of babies earlier than the current limit of viability, generally 22 to 23 weeks of pregnancy. Read more.
By Fiona Macdonald
A new study has found evidence that the common and debilitating reproductive condition, polycystic ovary syndrome, could start in the brain, not the ovaries, as researchers have long assumed.
If verified, the research could change the way we think about the painful and severely misunderstood condition, which affects at least one in 10 women worldwide. Read More.
By Mitch Leslie
Even if you aren’t elderly, your body is home to agents of senility—frail and damaged cells that age us and promote disease. Now, researchers have developed a molecule that selectively destroys these so-called senescent cells. The compound makes old mice act and appear more youthful, providing hope that it may do the same for us.
“It’s definitely a landmark advance in the field,” says cell and molecular biologist Francis Rodier of the University of Montreal in Canada who wasn’t connected to the study. “This is the first time that somebody has shown that you can get rid of senescent cells without having any obvious side effects.” Read more.
By Stanford University Medical Center
Five types of pediatric brain cancer were safely and effectively treated in mice by an antibody that causes immune cells to engulf and eat tumors without hurting healthy brain cells, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The immune therapy studied consists of antibodies against a cellular “don’t eat me” signal called CD47. Developed at Stanford, the anti-CD47 antibodies are already being tested in early clinical trials in adults who have tumors outside the central nervous system. But they have never been tried against pediatric brain tumors until now.
The new study pitted anti-CD47 antibodies against human cancer cells that had been grown in a dish and implanted in mice. The tests targeted five aggressive pediatric brain tumors: Group 3 medulloblastoma, atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, primitive neuroectodermal tumor, pediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Read more.
Written By Nadia Sussman
FORTALEZA, Brazil — In this historic city by the sea in northeast Brazil, burn patients look as if they’ve emerged from the waves. They are covered in fish skin — specifically strips of sterilized tilapia.
Doctors here are testing the skin of the popular fish as a bandage for second- and third-degree burns. The innovation arose from an unmet need. Animal skin has long been used in the treatment of burns in developed countries. But Brazil lacks the human skin, pig skin, and artificial alternatives that are widely available in the US.
The three functional skin banks in Brazil can meet only 1 percent of the national demand, said Dr. Edmar Maciel, a plastic surgeon and burn specialist leading the clinical trials with tilapia skin. Read more.
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.