Showing posts with label Biotechnology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biotechnology. Show all posts

Friday, October 23, 2009

Identifying Safe Stem Cells To Repair Spinal Cords

In my earlier blog, I did mention the euphoria surrounding the stem cell and how many companies tried to fool people by claiming that, they can cure anything and everything with the help of stem cell. But this is something really interesting......

Read .....Identifying Safe Stem Cells To Repair Spinal Cords

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A special protien in the stomach against Helicobacter pylori ....

In my earlier blogs, I did mention with the help of Broccoli and Glutamine how one can avoid the stomach ulcer caused by H. pylori infection (which in turn lead to gastric adenocarcinoma and MALT lymphoma). But this is something interesting a special protein in the lining of the stomach has been shown to be an important part of the body’s defence against the stomach ulcer bacterium Helicobacter pylori in a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. The discovery may explain why the bacterium makes some people more ill than others.

The research team has shown that a protein called MUC1 found in the lining of the stomach is important for the body’s defence against the bacterium. Greatly magnified, MUC1 looks like a tree growing out of low bushes on the surface of the stomach. As MUC1 is taller than the other structures on the cell surface, Helicobacter pylori readily becomes attached to the protein and then rarely gets to infect the cell. As per the claim by the researchers MUC1 acts as a decoy which prevents the bacterium from coming into close contact with the cell surface. Genetic variations between people mean that MUC1 molecules vary in length, and this may be part of the reason why Helicobacter pylori makes some people more ill than others. Congrats for this improtant achievement..

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Tuberculosis Survival Mechanism Identified ?

Inhibitors Of Important Tuberculosis Survival Mechanism Identified

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Minocycline for stroke patients?

Minocycline hydrochloride, also known as minocycline (right structure), is a broad spectrum tetracycline antibiotic, and has a broader spectrum than the other members of the group. It is a bactriostatic antibiotic. As a result of its long half-life it generally has serum levels 2-4 times that of most other tetracyclines (150 mg giving 16 times the activity levels compared to 250 mg of tetracycline at 24–48 hours). It is primarily used to treat acne and other skin infections. Apart from the antibacterial activity, 'minocycline' is recognized as a DMARD (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug) by the American College of Rheumatology, which recommends its use as a treatment for mild rheumatoid arthritis.

A recent study by the Dr. Cesar V. Borlongan (University of South Florida, USA) has lead to some interesting result, i.e., minocycline can be used to treat the stroke patients !. As per the claim by the researchers this drug might be a better option, when compared with the thrombolytic agent tPA (the only effective drug for acute ischemic stroke) and more over only 2 % of ischemic stroke patients benefit from this treatment due to its limited therapeutic window.

During a stroke, a clot prevents blood flow to parts of the brain, which can have wide ranging short-term and long-term implications. This study recorded the effect of intravenous minocycline in both isolated neurons and animal models after a stroke had been experimentally induced. At low doses it was found to have a neuroprotective effect on neurons by reducing apoptosis of neuronal cells and ameliorating behavioral deficits caused by stroke. The safety and therapeutic efficacy of low dose minocycline and its robust neuroprotective effects during acute ischemic stroke make it an appealing drug candidate for stroke therapy claims the researchers. Congrats for this interesting finding...

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Combination of Depagliflozin & Metaformin for type 2 diabatic ?

We knew that these two Depagliflozin (left) & Metaformin (right) compounds were being studied independently for type 2 diabetic condition. Dapagliflozin, an investigational compound, is a potential first-in-class SGLT2 inhibitor currently in Phase 3 trials under joint development as a once-daily oral therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. SGLT2 inhibitors facilitate the elimination of glucose by the kidney, thereby returning serum glucose levels towards normal.

A recent study (24-week phase 3 clinical study by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and AstraZeneca) demonstrated that the investigational drug dapagliflozin, added to metformin, demonstrated significant mean reductions in the primary endpoint, glycosylated hemoglobin level (HbA1c) and in the secondary endpoint, fasting plasma glucose (FPG) in patients with type 2 diabetes inadequately controlled with metformin alone, as compared to placebo plus metformin. Dapagliflozin is a novel, selective, sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor.

The study also showed that individuals receiving dapagliflozin had statistically greater mean reductions in body weight compared to individuals taking placebo. Results from the 24-week study were presented at the 45th European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting. This is the first public presentation of dapagliflozin Phase 3 data.

More interestingly, data on weight loss and blood pressure may be important adjuvants to glycemic control and is of great importance and hope in the days to come the SGLT2 inhibitors ( improved glycemic control) will play an important role in the type 2 diabetes. Given the continued rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes, there is an urgent need to have drugs of this kind..

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Herbicide as a catalyst to generate electricity from carbohydrates ?

In the recent times we have seen many research groups working on biofuels or alternative energy sources. This article is really interesting, here in the researchers (Brigham Young University) claim that with a help of a herbicide (they have'nt mentioned the name, but say a common herbicide which is cheap also) have developed a fuel cell – basically a battery with a gas tank – that harvests electricity from glucose and carbohydrates.

Deriving electrical energy from glucose and other carbohydrates under mild conditions is an important research objective because these biomolecules are abundant, renewable, have high energy density, and are convenient as fuels. The researchers Gerald Watt, claim that viologen catalysts meet these demanding criteria by catalytically oxidizing glucose and other carbohydrates in a mildly alkaline solution, making possible a direct carbohydrate fuel cell. Formate and carbonate are major products of carbohydrate oxidation, demonstrating that extensive carbon–carbon bond breaking has occurred. A rudimentary fuel cell utilizing viologen catalysts and glucose or dihydroxyacetone as fuels demonstrated electrical power production at up to 20 mA/cm2 superficial current density. Improved catalyst function and cell design should significantly advance the efficiency and viability of direct carbohydrate fuel cell technology as a means of generating electrical energy from renewable biomass.

The effectiveness of this cheap and abundant herbicide is a boon to carbohydrate-based fuel cells. By contrast, hydrogen-based fuel cells like those developed by General Motors, require costly platinum as a catalyst. Congrats for this innovative idea....

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New markers for early detection Of type 1 diabetes !

As per the claim by the lead researchers Prof. Dr. Anette Ziegler and Dr. Peter Achenbach, genetic factors play a significant role in the development of type 1 diabetes. The scientists were able to show that specific variants of the zinc transporter gene SLC30A8 influence the risk for diabetes. The body needs this gene in order to produce ZnT8. This protein influences the zinc transport into the beta cells and plays a crucial role in their maturation and thus also in insulin secretion.

Beta cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas secrete the vitally important insulin. Already prior to the onset of type 1 diabetes the body’s own immune system destroys the beta cells. If this destruction exceeds a certain threshold, the disease becomes manifest: The insulin deficiency leads to various metabolic disturbances, including elevated blood glucose levels. Autoantibodies to ZnT8 in combination with a specific variant of the zinc transporter gene were associated with an elevated diabetes risk. The researchers claims that "Autoantibodies to ZnT8 are an additional important marker for the progression of diabetes – especially in children who are already developing islet autoantibodies. Hence larger the number of different kinds of autoantibodies, the higher the risk for diabetes, and the younger the child with autoantibodies, the earlier disease onset will be. Its a good achievement. Congrats....

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Nasal Spray That Improves Memory !

The first evidence that the immunoregulatory signal interleukin-6 plays a beneficial role in sleep-dependent formation of long-term memory in humans.

The cytokine IL-6 has been considered to exert neuromodulating influences on the brain, with promoting influences on sleep. Sleep enhances the consolidation of memories, and, in particular, late nocturnal sleep also represents a period of enhanced IL-6 signaling, due to a distinctly enhanced availability of soluble IL-6 receptors during this period, enabling trans-signaling of IL-6 to neurons.

Thus, a contribution of IL-6 to sleep-dependent memory consolidation like the influence of interleukin-6 is hypothesized.

To make this discovery, Marshall and colleagues had 17 healthy young men spend two nights in the laboratory. On each night after reading either an emotional or neutral short story, they sprayed a fluid into their nostrils which contained either interleukin-6 or a placebo fluid. The subsequent sleep and brain electric activity was monitored throughout the night. The next morning subjects wrote down as many words as they could remember from each of the two stories. Those who received the dose of IL-6 could remember more words.

Gene Behind Malaria-resistant Mosquitoes Identified

The mosquitoes can also be our allies in the fight against this common foe malaria. This article is interesting because of its basis i.e., malaria parasites must spend part of their lives inside mosquitoes and another part inside humans, so by learning how mosquitoes resist malaria, we may find new tools for controlling its transmission to humans in endemic areas.....

Gene Behind Malaria-resistant Mosquitoes Identified

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Pralatrexate gets FDA approval....

We did know that Pralatrexate, also known as 10-propargyl- 10-deazaaminopterin, common name PDX, is a drug candidate being studied for the treatment of cancer. PDX is a Folate Anolog Inhibitor of dihydrofolate reductase. As of August 2008, it is undergoing Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of Hodgkin & Nonhodgkin lymphoma (including T -cell lymphoma), non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and bladder cancer.

Now FDA has approved this drug. So at last, patients with relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) will breathe a sigh of relief. FOLOTYN (Pralatrexate) is the first and only drug approved by the FDA for this indication and represents a new treatment option for patients with relapsed or refractory PTCL. This indication is based on overall response rate. Clinical benefit such as improvement in progression free survival or overall survival has not been demonstrated. Allos expects to make FOLOTYN available to patients in the U.S. in October.

More info...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alternates to pheromones ?

I studied about the pheromones when I was doing my post graduation and the professor, who taught us has worked with Dr. H.C. Brown (Nobel Laureate, for his contribution to the field of Organo Boranes) made us understand what are pheromones, how they are prepared and how actually they attract the insects. I think the field has been widely accepted. As for as my knowledge goes the preparation of pheromones is a costly affair (via , organo boranes). Recently I found this interesting article, where in the researchers claim that with the help of alternate chemicals (other than pheromones) one can send insects off the scent of crops.

Dr. Antony Hooper of Rothamsted Research, an institute of BBSRC said, one way in which insects find each other and their hosts is by smell, or more accurately: the detection of chemical signals – pheromones, for example. Insects smell chemicals with their antennae; the chemical actually gets into the antennae of the insect and then attaches to a protein called an odorant-binding protein, or OBP. This then leads to the insect changing its behavior in some way in response to the smell, for example, flying towards a plant or congregating with other insects (that is what we were taught..) But the more interesting part of the research is .....studying an OBP found in the silkworm moth Bombyx mori, Dr Hooper and his team were able to look at how the OBP and a relevant pheromone interact. They also tested the interaction between OBP and other molecules (that are similar to, but not the same as, the pheromone). They actually found that there are other compounds that bind to the OBP much more strongly than the pheromone.

The researchers could potentially apply these compounds, in some way to block the insects’ ability to detect chemical signals – the smell would be overwhelmed by the one they introduced. and by doing so the researchers expect the insects to be less likely to orientate themselves towards the crop plants, or find mates in this case, and therefore could reduce the damage. Though still lot of work has to be done, its a good beginning.

Hope this new and innovative way to prevent and control pests and diseases will be a success in the days to come. I wish every success in their endeavor...

Congrats Dr. Antony Hooper and co-workers..

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stelara approved by the FDA for treating psoriasis

We know that Stelara (Ustekinumab), is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to the shared p40 protein subunit of human IL-12 and IL-23 with high affinity and specificity, thereby preventing interaction with their surface IL-12Rβ1 receptor. Hope this approval provides an alternative treatment for people with plaque psoriasis, which can cause significant physical discomfort from pain and itching and result in poor self-image for people who are self-conscious about their appearance...

Stelara approved by the FDA for treating psoriasis

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rethinking of Alzheimer's Disease ?

So for the explanation for the Alzheimer's disease is "amyloid hypothesis", i.e., the disease results from of an accumulation of the peptide amyloid beta, the toxic protein fragments that deposit in the brain and become the sticky plaques that have defined Alzheimer's, this hypothesis has been accepted for 100 years. Something new explanation has been provided by George Bartzokis of UCLA professor of psychiatry and he says that a better working hypothesis is the "myelin model". He explains the model in the following lines :

Like insulation around wires, myelin is a fatty sheath that coats our nerve axons, allowing for efficient conduction of nerve impulses. It is key to the fast processing speeds that underlie our higher cognitive functions and encoding of memories. But the lifelong, extensive myelination of the human brain also makes it uniquely vulnerable to damage. The myelin model's central premise is that it is the normal, routine maintenance and repair of myelin throughout life that ultimately initiates the mechanisms that produce degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. That is, the amyloid-beta peptide and the tau peptide, which is also implicated in Alzheimer's, as well as the signature clinical signs of the disease, such as memory loss and, ultimately, dementia, are all byproducts of the myelin breakdown and repair processes. The pervasive myelination of our brain is the single most unique aspect in which the human brain differs from other species.

Myelin is produced by oligodendrocytes, specialized glial cells that themselves become more vulnerable with age. Myelination of the brain follows an inverted U-shaped trajectory, growing strongly until our 50s, when it very slowly begins to unravel as we age. The myelin that is deposited in adulthood ensheaths increasing numbers of axons with smaller axon diameters and so spreads itself thinner and thinner. As a result, it becomes more susceptible to the ravages of age in the form of environmental and genetic insults and slowly begins to break down faster than it can be repaired.

The exclusive targeting of the amyloid-beta peptide for many years is understandable because the same genes and enzymes involved in controlling myelination and myelin repair are, ironically, also involved in the production of amyloid-beta proteins. Bartzokis' point is that the amyloid beta may actually develop as a result of the natural process of the repair and maintenance of myelin. So the breakdown that leads to Alzheimer's and other age-related brain diseases, such as Parkinson's, may begin much earlier, before the formation of the protein deposits that are used to define these diseases," Bartzokis said. Hope this explanation will lead to new innovative ideas for drug discoverers like rather than targeting amyloid-beta peptide !. Hoping for the better results....

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Gene Therapy Trial To Treat Alzheimer's Disease !

The first study of its kind for the treatment of patients : the phase II study examines the safety and possible benefits of CERE-110. CERE-110 contains a gene and is injected during surgery into a part of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease.

The gene will instruct brain cells to produce more of a protein, called Nerve Growth Factor or NGF, which helps nerve cells survive and function properly. The transfer of this gene into the brain is a medical technique called gene therapy. Though the goal is to to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease, its a good move because still there are drugs to be innovated for the complete cure. Congrats Dr. Chris Kalhorn.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monolaurin as a microbial agent ?

We know that Coconut oil contains about 40 to 55 percent lauric acid. Lauric acid is the main saturated fatty acid found in coconut fat and in palm kernel oil. Lauric acid is also known as n-dodecanoic acid, which is a saturated medium chain C12-fatty acid, hence the Greek name “dodeca”, meaning twelve. A certain biochemical derivative of lauric acid, monolaurin (see right structure), has proven to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoal, both in vitro and in vivo experiments — and monolaurin can destroy lipid-coated viruses, including influenza. Lauric acid, however does not have these properties as strongly as monolaurin. When ingesting coconut oil, only a small percentage—an estimated 3%--of the lauric acid will be transformed by the body into the active monolauric acid. This has been shown to elevate the body’s overall immunity to some degree.

Though there were many companies selling this as a dietery suppliment, now monolaurin has been recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is known for its antimicrobial properties. If used in combination with other antimicrobial agents, monolaurin can present an effective barrier to microorganisms.

Thanx to the researchers from Zhejiang University in China, who studied the use of monolaurin as a nontraditional preservative in food products by combining it with commonly used antimicrobials in various concentrations and testing it on bacterial strains including Esherichia coli and on food components such as soy protein and water-soluble starch.

The findings are really interesting :

1. Monolaurin combined with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA),a binding agent, was effective against Esherichia coliand Bacillus subtilis but not Staphylococcus aureus.

2. When combined with the antimicrobial nisin, monolaurin was synergistically effective against all three bacteria.

3. Antibacterial effectiveness was reduced by fat or starch but was not affected by protein.

Congrats for this achievement...

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Current Hepatitis C Treatments................

Current Hepatitis C Treatments Work Equally Well, Researchers Report

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Antituberculosis Compounds ?

We all know how TB has become a pandemic and several attempts to eradicate the disease have been tried and scientists are still finding new ways. However the most disadvantage part for the scientists lies in the fact that "the disease-causing bacteria have a sophisticated mechanism for surviving dormant in infected cells". i.e., TB bacteria have a sophisticated way to remove the damaged proteins — a protein-cleaving complex known as a proteasome — identified in earlier research by the Nathan lab. By breaking down damaged proteins, the proteasome allows the bacteria to remain dormant, and possibly go on to cause active TB. And hence finding drugs to disable the proteasome would be a new way to fight TB.

In developing proteasome-inhibitor drugs, scientists face several hurdles. A significant one is the fact that human cells also possess proteasomes, which are essential to their survival. To be effective, the drugs would have to specifically target the TB proteasome without adversely affecting the human protein-cleanup complex.

This study represents a shift in strategy for designing antibiotics that treat TB, says Dr. Lin (Assistant Research professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College). All the groups who tried focused on developing drugs that attacked the bacterium in its active phase, but this group has found a compound that may help to destroy it in its dormant stage.

The Weill Cornell team screened 20,000 compounds for TB proteasome inhibition activity. They identified and synthesized a group of inhibitors, which they then tested for their ability to inhibit the proteasome inside the mycobacteria. They also tested the compounds' effect on monkey epithelial cells and human immune system cells in culture. After reading this article, I could recollect the High Throughput Screening of my compounds (Southern Research Institute, Birmingham).  The newly synthesized compounds are specific, less toxic, more active and more over the inhibition of the TB proteasome is irreversible and about 1,000-fold more effective than the minor inhibition observed against human proteasomes.

The structural studies revealed that the inhibitor molecules block the proteasome's ability to degrade proteins in more than one way: by producing a direct chemical change to the proteasome active site, and by altering the conformation of the "pocket" into which protein fragments bind before being degraded. Congrats for this efforts and all the best for their future endeavor.... More....

New Marker For Alzheimer's Discovered

New Marker For Alzheimer's Discovered

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Genetic Hint For Ridding The Body Of Hepatitis C

Genetic Hint For Ridding The Body Of Hepatitis C

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New Rabies Vaccine May Require Only A Single Shot... Not 6 !

People were really scared about the number of injections (it used to varies from 12 to 6) rather than the real pain of the dog's bite. Now thanks to Dr. McGettigan according to the researchers, a replication-deficient rabies virus vaccine that lacks a key gene called the matrix (M) gene induced a rapid and efficient anti-rabies immune response in mice and non-human primates.

The M gene is one of the central genes of the rabies virus, and its absence inhibits the virus from completing its life cycle. The virus in the vaccine infects cells and induces an immune response, but the virus is deficient in spreading. The immune response induced with this process is so substantial that only one inoculation may be sufficient enough both pre-exposure and post-exposure settings. The details will be published in the forth coming journal of infectious disease (J Infect Dis.).

Congrats, Dr.McGettigan and co-workers.