September 1, 2017

Roundup of Medical Research and Technology: Restoring nerve cells in Parkinson's, nanomachines, reversing memory loss, AAV2 and Blat

Scientists devise 'promising' new stem cell treatment that has the 'potential to cure Parkinson's disease' and stop tremors

In trials on laboratory monkeys, researchers were able to restore nerve cells. In humans, Parkinson's causes a loss of neurons, which affects movement. Experts hailed the findings of the Japanese study to be 'extremely promising'  It is believed that the team of scientists are just a short step away from testing the stem cell treatment in clinical trials.  Lead author Professor Jun Takahashi said that they are hoping to start looking for suitable patients within the next 15 months.

Dr Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s UK-funded researcher at the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine, saying, 'This is extremely promising research demonstrating that a safe and highly effective cell therapy for Parkinson’s can be produced in the lab...Such a therapy has the potential to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s in patients by restoring their dopamine-producing neurons."

Nanomachines which drill into cancer cells killing them in just 60 seconds, developed by scientists

The tiny spinning molecules are driven by light, and spin so quickly that they can burrow their way through cell linings when activated. In one test conducted at Durham University the nanomachines took between one and three minutes to break through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cell, killing it instantly.

A daily jab of a bone hormone could reverse age-related memory loss, study finds

Scientists restored a hormone produced by bone cells back to youthful levels. This reversed memory loss in mice, which are biologically similar to humans.  Researchers say injecting osteocalcin has no toxic side effects as it's natural. This finding paves the way for a novel approach to treating age-related cognitive decline in a safe way, say the scientists.

Professor Gerard Karsenty from Columbia University Medical Center in New York said: "In previous studies, we found that osteocalcin plays multiple roles in the body, including a role in memory. We also observed that the hormone declines precipitously in humans during early adulthood. 'That raised an important question: Could memory loss be reversed by restoring this hormone back to youthful levels? The answer, at least in mice, is yes."

Scientists may have stumbled across a cure for cancer

Craig M. Meyers, a distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology at Penn State, has made a career out of studying the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). In 2008, he was conducting an experiment to see the effect another virus, called adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), would have on HPV. The team introduced AAV2 into the cell lines of a cancerous HPV specimen and left them to incubate for a week.

BYU Magazine reports, the results of this test left the team convinced they had made a mistake. All the cancerous cells had died.  The success of AAV2 against cancerous HPV cells led the team to begin testing on other forms of cancer. They found that AAV2 worked on breast cancer, prostate cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and mesothelioma.

It has been a long road since 2008, but Meyers still has further to go. The research still has more trials to run before the FDA will allow it to go to human testing. It is possible we might see this new treatment in hospitals within the next 5 years.

Cholesterol Crystals Are A Sign Heart Attack Is Imminent according to new study

After examining materials that were blocking the coronary arteries of a number of patients, a team of scientists and medical experts at Michigan State University confirmed that it was cholesterol - in the form of crystals. They found that this particular type of hardened cholesterol was found in over 89 per cent of emergency room cases.

Dr George Abela, professor of medicine at Michigan State University, said “In previous studies, we showed that when cholesterol goes from a liquid to a solid, or crystal state, it expands in volume like ice and water. This expansion inside the wall of the artery can tear it and block blood flow causing a heart attack or stroke.”

Meet Blat: The Barcelona dog that can detect lung cancer from sniffing a person’s breath


Blat, a labrador retreiver mixed with an American Staffordshire pit bull, had a success rate of 95 percent in detecting cases of lung cancer and was even able to do so in very early stages – identifying cancer when the tumor was a mere four millimeters in diameter.  His owner and trainer, Ingrid Ramón, runs Barcelona-based Argus Detection Dogs, which trains dogs to specifically identify types of illness.

”Blat's 'spectacular' results indicate that there are molecules that are specific to lung cancers and that some of these molecules are detectable in the exhaled air," explained Laureano Molins, a thoracic surgeon at Hospital Clinic and co-author of trial.  "At the moment the olfactory skills of a dog are superior to any technology we have today," said Molins. "Our goal now is to identify the molecules (detected by Blat) and develop a diagnostic test that acts as an electronic nose."
Posted by Jill Fallon at September 1, 2017 10:33 AM | Permalink