Written by Joe Wilensky
Praveen Sethupathy ’03, associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Nicolas Buchon, assistant professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, collaborate in the study of gut biology, gut microbes, and intestinal stem cells and their function and response to environment, diet and disease. Sethupathy studies microRNAs and the gut in mouse models and human organoids and Buchon studies host-microbe interactions and stem cell biology in the five-millimeter-long GI tract of the fruit fly (drosophila) or in disease vector mosquitoes. Read more.
Revolutionary work on the body’s immune system and a host of new drug trials mean that beating cancer may be achievable.
Last month, the Nobel prize in medicine was awarded for two breakthrough scientific discoveries heralded as having “revolutionised cancer treatment”, and “fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed”. One of them went to a charismatic, harmonica-playing Texan named Jim Allison for his breakthrough advances in cancer immunotherapy. His discovery had resulted in transformative outcomes for cancer patients and a radical new direction for cancer research. Read more.
Written by David Nield
Using a newly developed microscopic technique, scientists have been able to create a detailed, 4D image of early mouse embryo development, down to the single cells involved – a fascinating look into the very first stages of life for mammals.
The imaging process is technically known as adaptive light-sheet microscopy, and it pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in imaging. Read more.
ATLANTA—Cesarean-born mice show altered patterns of cell death across the brain, exhibiting greater nerve cell death than vaginally delivered mice in at least one brain area, a finding by Georgia State University researchers that suggests birth mode may have acute effects on human neurodevelopment that may lead to long-lasting changes in the brain and behavior.
The team of neuroscientists examined the effect of birth mode (vaginal delivery versus Cesarean section) on neuronal cell death, an important process that reshapes neural circuits early in development. This process, which takes place in mice during the first week after birth, also occurs in humans. Their study’s findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more.
By University of California, San Francisco
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered how a mutation in a gene regulator called the TERT promoter—the third most common mutation among all human cancers and the most common mutation in the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma—confers “immortality” on tumor cells, enabling the unchecked cell division that powers their aggressive growth.
The research, published September 10, 2018 in Cancer Cell, found that patient-derived glioblastoma cells with TERT promoter mutations depend on a particular form of a protein called GABP for their survival. GABP is critical to the workings of most cells, but the researchers discovered that the specific component of this protein that activates mutated TERT promoters, a subunit called GABP-ß1L, appears to be dispensable in normal cells: Eliminating this subunit using CRISPR-based gene editing dramatically slowed the growth of the human cancer cells in lab dishes and when they were transplanted into mice, but removing GABP-ß1L from healthy cells had no discernable effect. Read more.
By Frankie Schembri
The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation has awarded its three annual prizes, regarded as the United States’s most prestigious biomedical research awards, to four researchers in fields including genetics and anesthetic drug development. The Laskers often precede a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Since the awards were founded in 1945, 87 Lasker laureates have later gotten the call from Stockholm.
The basic research prize is shared by Michael Grunstein of the University of California, Los Angeles, and C. David Allis of The Rockefeller University in New York City, who investigated the histone, once considered to be inert packing material for DNA. It is now recognized as an essential component in gene regulation. Read more.
Chinese scientists have folded DNA molecules in an origami-like process to make a minuscule “Trojan horse” – 4,000 times thinner than a human hair – that can release “killers” to fight cancer tumors. Cancer cells need a lot of nutrition to multiply, but they don’t produce their own nutrients, according to lead researcher Nie Guangjun of China’s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST). All the blood, oxygen and energy are conveyed to the cancer cells through blood vessels, so many scientists are trying to block the blood vessels that are feeding the tumor. Read more.
Written by: Melody Schreiber
Researchers have discovered why some stomach bugs hit us so hard — and spread so fast.
New research published Wednesday in Cell Host & Microbe found that stomach infections, like norovirus and rotavirus, are more contagious and more potent when the virus particles cluster together. These findings may help treat — and even prevent — these viruses more effectively. Read more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report earlier this year on the increase of tick-, flea- and mosquito-borne illnesses in the United States, but don’t panic.
Kurt Vandegrift, assistant research professor of biology at Penn State, works on emerging infectious diseases, and his lab studies ticks. Vandegrift’s lab is part of a National Science Foundation grant studying virus community dynamics. His research group is working to develop solutions that could help stop outbreaks of infectious diseases, like the ones mentioned in the recent CDC report, before they start.
“Mice that live in our houses and garages are reservoirs of some pretty nasty pathogens, like hantavirus,” said Vandegrift. “The only way viruses like these get discovered is if they get into humans and start causing illness.” Read more.
Vaccines are understood to be one of the greatest breakthroughs in modern medicine. Here, Health Europa explores how vaccines have benefitted not only humans but also animals, and limited the transmission of zoonotic diseases.
Treatment using vaccines is understood to be one of the greatest breakthroughs in modern medicine; no single medical intervention method has contributed more to the reduction of fatality and the improvement of quality of life. As a result of vaccinations, smallpox has been eradicated, whilst cases of polio are near eradication. Read more.