It's Tuesday, which means MD Biosciences is providing coverage of the latest fascinating and innovative discoveries happening all over the world across a wide variety of disciplinary areas. This week's blog is compiling posts from science journals including ScienceDaily, Phys News, Nature, Nature Genetics, Gen News, Matter and Current Biology. Skim the titles below to catch up on what is happening and follow the links to read more about something that catches your eye!
Underlying mechanisms behind MS progression are not clearly and widely understood. At the University of California-San Fransisco, Dr. Rowitch and his team of scientists are delving into gene expression, at the single cell level, of key cell types present in MS. Using spatial transcriptomics to validate the MS-specific gene expression and gene expression data, their results are profound. Their works shows that it is possible to apply single cell transcriptomic approaches to the brain in a complicated neuroinflammatory disease, while being able to confirm gene expression in situ. This technical advancement will push towards deeper insights into MS and possible treatment options. Published in Nature and reported by Gen News.
Over the next few decades, demands for artificial heart valves are predicted to rise because of aging population, a poor American diet and sedentary lifestyles. By 2050, it is estimated that over 850,000 people will need an artificial valve. Researchers at ETH Zurich and the company SAT in South Africa have been busy seeking alternative replacement options using silicone and 3D printers -- with success. This model has many advantages over the commonly used pig or cow valves including customizable shape/size for patients using computer tomography or MRI, longer service life, compatibility with the human body and less structural rigidness, to name a few. Extensive clinical trial work will need to be done before this model can be applied for clinical use in humans. Published in Matter and reported by Phys News.
A report out of Phys News: a team from the University of Manchester successfully engineered a common gut bacterium to produce a new series of antibiotics, known as class II polyketides, using robotics. Class II polyketides also are naturally produced by soil bacteria and have antimicrobial properties. Such components are essential to fighting infectious diseases, rendering this a discovery of interest for the pharmaceutical industry. The team combined bacterial production technology with plant and fungi enzymes to produce novel chemical compounds, never seen in nature before, in hopes of developing successful antibiotics for infectious disease treatment options.
Dr. Curtis and her team at Stanford University School of Medicine used genomic analyses of primary colorectal tumors and metastatic tumors from the same patients, in addition to computer simulations, to conclude that colorectal cancer can very easily spread soon after the original tumor develops -- which could be years before an actual diagnosis is made. Up until recently, it was commonplace for most cancer researchers to assume that the metastasis of tumors typically happen later in disease progression. Further, tumors grow and cancer cells experience more mutations, some cells migrate to another location of the body, and grow into tumors at a new site in the body. But Dr. Curtis' work challenges this commonly accepted flow of events. Her work starts a conversation about very early detection of metastatic colorectal cancer and can aid doctors in identifying patients that may be candidates for more aggressive systemic treatments even after tumor removal via surgery. Findings published in Nature Genetics, reported by National Cancer Institute.
Brains of rats activates the same cells when they observe others' pain as when they themselves experience pain. With no activation of mirror neurons, rats no longer experience the pain of others. For the first time, scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience successful tested the theory of empathy in rats. Rats received an unpleasant stimulus (a mild shock) and researchers recorded what happened within the brain and the rats' behavior. Rats' natural reaction to unpleasant stimuli is to freeze; they exhibited this same behavior when they watched another rat experience unpleasant stimuli. Enter mirror neurons! Rats feel us, too. Published in Current Biology. A study like this could be further enhanced by using MD Biosciences' behavioral analysis and recording capabilities...to learn more, follow the button below.
Hope you enjoyed this week's top finds! Check back next week for more and always feel free to reach out with study inquiries.