August 20, 2017

New Medical Research and Tech: Vaccine breakthroughs, Watson, probiotics, type 1 diabetes and balding

New treatment cures, vaccinates mice against cancer

Researchers at Duke University have successfully cured and vaccinated mice against cancer in a recent small study using nanotechnology and immunotherapy. The study combined a Food and Drug Administration-approved cancer immunotherapy treatment with a new tumor-killing nanotechnology to improve the effectiveness of both therapies. Researchers developed the photothermal immunotherapy using lasers and gold nanostars to heat and destroy tumors in combination with an immunotherapy drug.

Plants 'hijacked' to make polio vaccine

Plants have been "hijacked" to make polio vaccine in a breakthrough with the potential to transform vaccine manufacture, say scientists. The team at the John Innes Centre, in Norfolk,U.K., says the process is cheap, easy and quick.  As well as helping eliminate polio, the scientists believe their approach could help the world react to unexpected threats such as Zika virus or Ebola.

Experts said the achievement was both impressive and important. The vaccine is an "authentic mimic" of poliovirus called a virus-like particle. Outwardly it looks almost identical to poliovirus but - like the difference between a mannequin and person - it is empty on the inside. It has all the features needed to train the immune system, but none of the weapons to cause an infection.

IBM Watson Makes a Treatment Plan for Brain-Cancer Patient in 10 Minutes; Doctors Take 160 Hours

In treating brain cancer, time is of the essence....IBM Watson’s key feature is its natural-language-processing abilities. This means Watson for Genomics can go through the 23 million journal articles currently in the medical literature, government listings of clinical trials, and other existing data sources without requiring someone to reformat the information and make it digestible. Other Watson initiatives have also given the system access to patients’ electronic health records, but those records weren’t included in this study.

At Last, a Big, Successful Trial of Probiotics

A large Indian study of 4,500 newborn babies found that the right microbes can prevent a life-threatening condition called sepsis.  Sepsis is one of the biggest killers of newborn babies, ending around 600,000 lives every year when they’ve barely begun. ...in Panigrahi’s trial, just 5.4 percent of the infants who took the synbiotic developed sepsis in their first two months of life, compared to 9 percent of those who received a placebo. That’s a reduction of 40 percent....The effect was twice as large as what the team expected, especially since the infants took daily doses of the synbiotic for just one week. And given the clear evidence of benefits, independent experts who were monitoring the study decided to stop the trial early: It would have been unethical to continue depriving half the newborns of the treatment...

The treatment also reduced the risk of infections by both the major groups of bacteria: the Gram-positives, by 82 percent; and the Gram-negatives, which are harder to treat with antibiotics, by 75 percent. It even reduced the risk of pneumonia and other infections of the airways by 34 percent. That was “completely unexpected,” says Panigrahi, and it’s the result he’s especially excited about. It suggests that the synbiotic isn’t just acting within the gut, but also giving the infants’ immune systems a body-wide boost.

Immune systems of type 1 diabetics can be ‘retrained’ to stop destroying insulin, scientists show

Researchers at King’s College London and Cardiff University showed that injecting patients with tiny protein fragments prevented immune cells from targeting vital insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops when a patient's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. Without treatment the number of beta cells will slowly decrease and the body will no longer be able to maintain normal blood sugar (blood glucose) levels, leading to patients needing daily injections. But a trial involving 27 people showed it was possible to halt the loss of  beta cells with fortnightly or monthly injections for six months. There were also no toxic side-effects.

A cure for balding could be on the horizon after scientists have found a new way to make hair grow.

Increasing lactate production genetically accelerates the stem cells in dormant hair follicles to get them growing again, a study on mice showed. Researchers believe the discovery may lead to new drugs to help people who suffer from alopecia, the medical term for hair loss. Receding hairlines and thinning crowns can be caused by aging, genetics, hormone imbalance, stress, illness and medications.

'Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells,' said William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers - whose work was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology - stress that these medications were used in preclinical tests only.  They have not been tested on humans or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective.
Posted by Jill Fallon at August 20, 2017 4:55 PM | Permalink