Monday, February 23, 2009

Phenylbutyrate for treating Alzheimer's Disease !...

We know that Phenylbutyrate is adrug, used to prescribe for patients suffering from alterations in the urea cycle. Now, Ana García-Osta and co-workers have come up with something interseting, sodium phenyl butyrate can be used to treat Alzheimer disease.

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with age and characterized by the progressive deterioration of cognitive and intellectual abilities. "Cognitive deficit is associated with a loss of neuron connections. For the memory to develop, it is necessary for a series of cellular and molecular mechanisms to be activated. The interruption of these processes affects the capacity to assimilate and store new memories. Since this a drug already established for its toxicity, if the results claimed by Dr. Ana are established and the mechanism of action are studied, hope this research will add one more drug as serendipity and also the much needed help for those sufferings...

Lovastatin for the treatment of degenerative disc disease ?

We know that Lovastatin is a member of the drug class of statins, used for lowering cholesterol (hypolipidemic agent) in those with hypercholesterolemia and so preventing cardiovascular disease. But recentlyDr. Yang and his research group has come up with new innovative idea that Lovastatin, helps the differentiation of disc cells in vitro.

Degenerative disc disease is one of the leading sources of back and neck pain. Disc degeneration is part of the normal aging of the spine. In this condition, the spinal discs (the pillow-like pads between the bones) lose their cushioning. When this happens, it can cause persistent pain in the lower back, legs, neck or arms. Treatments for pain can include medications and physical therapy. Sometimes surgery is needed if the pain is severe and keeps a person from participating in everyday activities.

In their quest to discover ways to stop or reverse degenerative disc disease, orthopaedic researchers have been removing disc tissue from patients who are having spine surgery and extracting cells from that tissue for cultivation in vitro (a controlled environment outside of a living organism). They then transfer the cells back into the patient. Shu-Hua Yang, MD, PhD, is part of a Taiwanese research team that has discovered that Lovastatin, a cholesterol-lowering medication, helps the differentiation of disc cells in vitro.

The results are of great interest : 1. the number of nucleus pulposus cells had increased; 2. Lovastatin increased the synthesis of collagen II, a protein that makes up moveable joints, and decreased the synthesis of collagen I, a protein that is related to fibrosis and 3. Lovastatin had no cytotoxicity (the quality of being toxic) on nucleus pulposus cells..

I think if proven, one more addition to the list of serendipity.......

Though further studeis are essential to establish their claim, its a good beginning..

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Omega-3 Fatty Acids for protecting the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it provoke...

(1)--alpha-linolenic acid (ALA),

(2)-eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

(3)-docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

According to a recent study by Dr. Joan Claria and co workers, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (1, 2 & 3) protect the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it provokes. This research should give doctors and nutritionists valuable information when recommending and formulating weight-loss diets and help explain why some obese patients are more likely to suffer some complications associated with obesity. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in canola oil and fish.

The researchers found that lipids called protectins and resolvins derived from omega-3 fatty acids can actually reduce the instance of liver complications, such as hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance, in obese people. The group claims that, two types of lipids in omega-3 fatty acids—protectins and resolvins—were the cause of the protective effect. These results are based on animal models of testing and hope this info will help dieticin to prepare list of diets to reduce the obesity, with reduced complications to the liver. More....

Two step chemical process for Biofuel.!..

In one of my earlier blog article, have written about how a modified e-coli is used to make biofuel, but this time by chemical reaction that too in only two steps!. Something interesting, the key to the new process is the first step, in which cellulose is converted into the "platform" chemical 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), from which a variety of valuable commodity chemicals can be made. The significance of this research is in the fact that most of the groups have tried to either fructose/glucose, but this group lead by Dr. Ronald Raines, have tried to it starting from cellulose itself. The researchers have developed a unique solvent system, that makes this conversion possible. The special mix of solvents and additives, for which a patent is pending, has an extraordinary capacity to dissolve cellulose, the long chains of energy-rich sugar molecules found in plant material. Because cellulose is one of the most abundant organic substances on the planet, it is widely seen as a promising alternative to fossil fuels.

This solvent system can dissolve cotton balls, which are pure cellulose," says Raines. "And it's a simple system—not corrosive, dangerous, expensive or stinky.

This approach simultaneously bypasses another vexing problem: lignin, the glue that holds plant cell walls together. Often described as intractable, lignin molecules act like a cage protecting the cellulose they surround. However, Raines and Binder used chemicals small enough to slip between the lignin molecules, where they work to dissolve the cellulose, cleave it into its component pieces and then convert those pieces into HMF. In step two, Raines and Binder subsequently converted HMF into the promising biofuel 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF). Though the over all yield is still to be improved, its a good beginning. Congrats Dr. Raines. More....

Vitamin B12 as an effective 'Canker Sore Therapy' ..

I used to wonder why, the medical practitioners recommend Vitamin B12 for canker sores, now thanks to the research group lead by Dr. Ilia Volkov, have confirmed the fact that a nightly dose of vitamin B12 is a simple, effective and low risk therapy to prevent Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS), better known as "canker sores." In India vitamin B12, is available as OTC.

The researchers tested the effect of vitamin B12 on 58 randomly selected RAS patients who received either a dose of 1,000 mcg of B12 by mouth at bedtime or a placebo, and were tested monthly for six months. Approximately three quarters (74 percent) of the patients of the treated group and only a third (32 percent) of the control group achieved remission at the end of the study.

The results are of important by the fact that the average outbreak duration and the average number of ulcers per month decreased in both groups during the first four months of the trial. However, the duration of outbreaks, the number of ulcers, and the level of pain were reduced significantly at five and six months of treatment with vitamin B12, regardless of initial vitamin B12 levels in the blood. During the last month of treatment a significant number of participants in the intervention group reached 'no aphthous ulcers status' (74.1% vs 32.0%; P < .01) and not only becoz., of the statistical significance and also this treatment is simple and inexpensive and has no known significant toxic effects. More....

New Electrode Material for (Lithium-Ion Batteries) Better Performance ......

Everything nanotech.....its really interesting, now its the turn of Lithium-Ion batteries. Rice University researchers lead by Pulickel Ajayan, have achieved this significant milestone. With increasing demand for battery technology high on the list of priorities in a world demanding electric cars and gadgets that last longer between charges, such innovations are key to the future. This research wherein 'nanotubes were grown to look – and act – like the coaxial conducting lines used in cables. The coax tubes consisted of a manganese oxide shell and a highly conductive nanotube core.

The researchers put in two materials – the nanotube, which is highly electrically conducting and can also absorb lithium, and the manganese oxide, which has very high capacity but poor electrical conductivity, but combined together one get something interesting. And there by one can enhance the number of charge/discharge cycles, with a larger capacity.

The most significance of this research, is the coaxial cable design of these materials that offers improved performance as electrodes for lithium batteries over the other combination. Though further study is essential to substantiate the claim. Its a good beginning..

Ref :

Oncostatin M- as antiviral (viral Hepatitis) and anti cancer agent ?

Oncostatin M, is a pleitropic cytokine that belongs to the Interleukin 6 group of cytokines. Of these cytokines it most closely resembles Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) in both structure and function. And this has been establisehd now Dr. Jesús Prieto. And not only Oncostatin M, has anticancer activity, it has got antiviral (Viral Hepatitis) activity also.

Explaination given by the researcher is interesting and has significant too.

When organisms suffer a viral infection, dendritic cells (natural proteins produced as a response of the immune system to foreign agents) release type I interferon. The researchers of the CIMA observed that dendritic cells also produced Oncostatin M. "What was remarkable was the evidence that Oncostatin improved the effect of interferon in inhibiting the replication of viruses as well as noticeably increasing the antiviral response of the immune system.

These findings suggest that the combination of both molecules may be useful for treating viral diseases that do not respond to isolated treatment with interferon, something which occurs in patients with viral B or C chronic hepatitis. "In addition, it is possible that this combination could be effective for designing strategies against different tumor processes in which conventional therapy is unsuccessful.

Source :

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An additional tool to improve Drug Design !...

Gone are those days, when we used to kill so many albino mice/rats or guinea pigs for testing compounds for their pharmacological properties. Thanks for the innovative ideas of molecular modeling and their by knowing the mechanism of actions. So now if we know the structures of enzymes or protiens, we can test the activities by photometric analysers. Even in this type of the discovery, the methods were trial and error methods only. Its really interesting, now like a tailor measures up a person for a suit, its possible to measure accurate dimensions of proteins called membrane receptors, which makes this research more significant and hope this will go a long way in the history of drug discovery and for rational drug design with broader life sciences applications.

The method, called Differential Aberration Correction (DAC) microscopy, measures distances at the molecular level in two and three dimensions using conventional fluorescence microscopy. The special feature of this method is that one can measure proteins in solution, which is how they exist in nature, instead of using coated or crystallised proteins as other techniques do.

Proteins sit on cell boundaries, acting as gate-keepers, and they represent a class of biomolecules targetted by over 50 per cent of pharmaceuticals and hope this discovery of understanding the complex structures of these molecules and how new drugs affect their structure will help drug companies design more effective pharmaceuticals.

DAC microscopy is an improvement on an older technology, called FRET, which can measure distances from 1-10 nanometres. DAC can measure 1-250 nanometres, giving a more complete picture of drug-membrane receptor interactions. It will complement other techniques like X-ray crystallography and there by further substantiating the concclusions. As per Dr Vallotton, the DAC software was tested using fluorescent polystyrene microspheres only 100 nm across – about one thousandth the width of a hair. Hats off, to the group for this achivement. More detials with video demo .....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vigabatrin to treat infantile spasm ?

We know that Vigabatrin, is an antiepiletic agent. Epilepsy can be repressed if the serum level of {gamma}-Aminobutyric Acid, (GABA) is increased. Vigabatrin is an irreversible inhibitor of GABA transminase (GABA-T), the enzyme responsible for the catabolism of GABA. The mechanism of the Vigabatrin, is attributed to an irreversible inhibition of GABA-T and consequently increased level of GABA.

Its use, has been limited in many countries because it has been shown to cause a permanent narrowing of visual fields in approximately 40 percent of adults who have been exposed at school age or later.

However a new study has showed this drug can be used to treat infantile spasm.

The findings show that the risk of permanent visual field defects caused by VGB may be lower for treatments in infants than in adults. The cumulative VGB doses and treatment durations in the study were, on average, lower than in previous studies, which correspond to the much younger age and weight of the tested patients. Hope these results may encourage doctors to use vigabatrin to treat infantile spasms as the risk for visual field damage may be relatively low in many children compared to the risks caused by continuous seizures. Congarts Dr. Eija Gaily and co workers.....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Genetic basis of psoriasis revealed.....

As we know psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune cells mistakenly attack the skin, is becoming more problematic with nearly 10 to 30 percent of patients (an estimated 7 million people suffer from psoriasis in US) with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. which occurs when inflammation attacks the joints, causing pain and disability. Thanks to Dr. Anne Bowcock, a professor of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louisand and his group have made significant gains in understanding the genetic basis of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that can be debilitating in some patients.

This basic understanding of psoriasis is of significance becoz of the fact that, now one will be
able target treatments to psoriasis patients based on the genetic alterations that have contributed to their disease. The two groups (Bowcock and her colleagues in Spain) found that the absence of two skin genes - LCE3B and LCE3C - increases the risk of psoriasis.

Both genes normally are activated after an injury to the skin. The researches suspect the absence of the genes could lead to an inappropriate immune response, which may cause the inflammation that is a hallmark of the disease. Until now, all of the genes linked to psoriasis have been involved in the immune system. But psoriasis is a disease of the immune system and the skin, and it makes sense that we would eventually find genes in the skin that are involved in the disease.

Though the new variants uncovered by the researchers each make only a small contribution to the overall genetic risk of the psoriasis, its a good beginning. This finding is important, because newly discovered variants have been associated with other inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Hope additional studies will help to tease apart the ways in which these diseases are connected at the level of DNA and this information will also aid in the search for more targeted drugs that can zero in on particular genetic defects that cause the diseases. More....

For Psoriasis picture, see the slide no., 4 of slide show of skin problems.

Nano-insulin pill ?

In my earlier blog, I wrote about the use of nanoparticles in the field of Pharmaceutical will happen in the near future. But I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. Thanks to Dr.Chandra Sharma (of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science & Technology, Kerala, India) for his success in achieving this fete so fast. Its something interesting, becoz, he has chosen the field of diabetic treatment. I think this research, will be a boon to the number of insulin dependent patients (40% of 135 million people) once established in human trials. Hope this research, will lead to other drugs with nanoparticle coating for more efficacy and reduced side effects.

The minute nanoparticles are smaller than 100 nanometres across and attract water on the inside and are water-repelling on the outside - when they reach the bloodstream they break down in response to the pH of blood and then release the insulin.

The animal experiments demonstrated that the nanoparticles enter the bloodstream and end up in organs such as the liver and kidney and in diabetic pigs showed the pill containing the nanoparticles led to control of blood glucose after eating. Though the results are encouraging in the animal models, have to be established in human beings and also most importantly the impact of nanoparticles in human beings has to be studied thoroughly, so that a concrete and conclusive evidence will happen in the coming days. I hope this will research will open flood gate for other drugs with nanoparticles coating. More....


Obesity may be contagious !

When I read this title, I was amazed and went into the details, which are really interesting. According to Professor Nikhil Dhurandhar (Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana), a common cold virus can interfere with our normal body processes and make us fat - he has reached this rather astonishing conclusion following ten years of research with both animals and humans into the virus, Adenovirus-36. His findings are of great improtance becoz of the fact that the airborne "adenovirus" germ may be contributing to the obesity epidemic - the highly infectious cold-like virus is known to cause coughs, sore throats, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis. These results are substantiated by the fact that 1000 patients, whose obesity appears to be linked to infection with the virus.

Blood samples taken from patients attending an obesity clinic were tested for antibodies to Adenovirus-36 and it was found that 20% of the patients had encountered the virus at some point and were significantly heavier than their antibody negative counterparts.

Other research showed that obese people were nearly three times more likely to have the virus than a non-obese person and even amongst the non-obese group, those with the virus were heavier than average. Dr. Dhurandhar explain his conclusion in the following lines : virus goes to the lungs and spreads to various organs such as the liver, kidney, brain and fat tissue and the Adenovirus-36 virus reaches the fat tissue it replicates making more copies of itself and in the process increases the number of fat cells and this may explain why people gain weight when infected with the virus. The virus lingers for up to three months, during which time it multiplies fat and is contagious to others and is possibly encountered in early chilhood. Though many Obesity experts, say the virus is not the reason why there is a major epidemic of obesity but may be instead a small contributing factor and all avenues must be explored but the basic message remains that people need to eat less and exercise more. Any way something interesting and if it happens to be proven one more SERENDIPITY to the existing truths.....

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