Archive for the ‘health’ category: Page 11

Feb 27, 2023

The Achilles heel of the influenza virus: Ubiquitin protein may be an approach for future medicines

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Influenza viruses are becoming increasingly resilient to medicines. For this reason, new active ingredients are needed. Important findings in this regard have been provided by researchers at the University of Münster: for the virus to proliferate, the polymerase of the influenza A virus has to be modified many times through enzymes in the host cells.

The team of researchers was able to produce a comprehensive map of the types of modification. Medicines directed against the enzymes would be resilient to rapid mutations in the virus, thus offering great potential for the future. The study results have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Every year, the influenza season presents a challenge to hospitals. Despite having been vaccinated, and patients with run a heightened risk of falling prey to a severe bout of influenza. What is especially insidious about is their ability to mutate rapidly, which makes them increasingly resilient to medicines. For this reason, there is an urgent need for new active ingredients in order to be able to continue providing effective treatment for the illness in future.

Feb 27, 2023

How the influenza virus achieves efficient viral RNA replication

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, health

New insights on how subunits of the influenza virus polymerase co-evolve to ensure efficient viral RNA replication are provided by a study published October 3 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Nadia Naffakh of the Institut Pasteur, and colleagues. As the authors note, the findings could lead to novel strategies for antiviral drug development.

Because of their yearly recurrence and the occasional emergence of pandemics, influenza viruses represent a worldwide major public health threat. Enhancing fundamental knowledge about the influenza RNA–, which is an enzyme that consists of three subunits (i.e., a heterotrimer) and ensures transcription and of the viral genome, is essential to reach the goal of better prevention and treatment of disease.

In the new study, Naffakh and colleagues gained new insights into viral polymerase function. They showed that the polymerase subunits co-evolve to ensure not only optimal inter-subunit cooperation within the heterotrimer, but also proper levels dimerization—the process by which pairs of heterotrimers attach together—which appears to be essential for efficient viral RNA replication. The findings point to polymerase dimerization as a feature that can restrict genetic reassortment, a major evolutionary mechanism in which swap gene segments, and could become an attractive target for antiviral drug development.

Feb 27, 2023

VKORC1 single nucleotide polymorphisms in rodents in Spain

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, biotech/medical, food, genetics, health

Rodents are considered one of the animal pests with the greatest impact on agricultural production and public health, especially the brown or Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), the black or roof rat (Rattus rattus) and the house mouse (Mus musculus). Its control is an increasing problem worldwide. The intensification of agricultural production methods as well as the increase in merchandise transport to sustain growing populations is leading to an increase in waste production causing the growth of these rodent populations. The estimated losses in crop production caused by rodents range from between 5% and 90% (Stenseth et al., 2003) and this can cause problems in food security during harvesting (Belmain et al., 2015). Other negative impacts result from some rodent species living very close to human environments that can have a direct influence not only on human health through potential transmission of gastroenteric diseases and zoonosis to householders but also on domestic livestock. Therefore, rodent pest control is crucial and nowadays, the only effective control method available is the use of anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs).

ARs are so named because they interfere with the blood coagulation processes. The processes of activating various coagulation factors depends on the amount of vitamin K in its reduced form that exists in the organism. ARs inhibit the enzyme vitamin K 2,3-epoxide reductase (VKORC1) that is responsible for reducing vitamin K and maintaining the balance between its oxidized and reduced forms. The inhibition of VKORC1 prevents the activation of the coagulation factors resulting in animal death by internal bleeding. However, the intensive use of ARs can cause rodents to lose their susceptibility and become resistant to them. Genetic resistances to ARs are mainly associated with mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene that codes for VKORC1 (vkorc1), causing amino acid substitutions in the VKORC1 protein ( Pelz et al., 2005 ). There are studies on this topic in several countries of central and northern Europe detecting rodent populations resistant to AR. Currently, there are at least 13 mutations mainly located in the exon 3 of the vkorc1 gene described in various countries of the European Union that confer resistance to specific ARs ( Berny et al., 2014 ; Goulois et al., 2017 ). In Eastern and Southern European countries, the information on the incidence of resistances to rodenticides is scarce, and it is becoming increasingly important to generate information on this subject ( Berny et al., 2014). In Spain, a mice population at the coastal countryside showing an adaptive introgression between house mouse and Algerian mouse that confers anticoagulant resistance has been described ( Song et al., 2011 ). While recently, four VKORC1 mutations in black rat were found in Toledo, Segovia and Zaragoza ( Goulois et al., 2016 ; Damin-Pernik et al., 2022 ). Any increase in resistant in rodent populations would lead to pest control issues that may causing serious agricultural, farming and public health problems.

Scientific advances have revolutionized the study of anticoagulant resistances in terms of understanding their genetic basis, physiological mechanisms and geographical distribution. The techniques based on the extraction and partial sequencing of genomic DNA allow a fast and precise monitoring of possible genetic resistances. Most of these tests involve laboratory studies using live rodents or blood samples taken from animals in the field. However, the improvement of DNA extraction techniques now allows the analysis of faecal samples (stool), increasing the number of samples that can be taken without the need for sampling by trapping or the management of dead animals (Meerburg et al., 2014). The importance of initial detection of genetic resistances due to mutations is crucial. The hypothesis of work, presenting it as a null hypothesis, is that there will be no rodent mutations in the vkorc1 gene in Spain.

Feb 27, 2023

Researcher develops new methods to measure ‘forever chemicals’ in both the atmosphere and in aerosol particles

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, engineering, health

From regulators to researchers and most industries in between, all eyes are on PFAS, per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of highly fluorinated human-made compounds that have been used for decades in everything from nonstick cookware and personal care products to fire-fighting foams and school uniforms. Their commonality and extreme resistance to environmental degradation has made them ubiquitous in ground water, soil, and worst of all humans. Linked to a slew of health risks including liver toxicity, bladder cancer, and decreased immune response to vaccinations, exposure to PFAS is concerning. So, how can we eliminate these “forever chemicals?”

Historically, PFAS substances have only been characterized in water and soil, but the emission of these compounds during chemical manufacturing, use, and disposal results in their emission into the air. Ryan Sullivan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, has been developing new methods to measure PFAS in both the atmosphere and in aerosol particles to answer outstanding questions regarding PFAS atmospheric components that lead to human exposure. His group is also developing new approaches to destroy forever molecules that are not removed by conventional water treatment plants.

The research is published in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

Feb 27, 2023

New cell therapy for chronic heart failure actually works, here is how

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

The new development is promising a potential treatment option for patients with chronic heart failure.

There are over six million patients in the U.S. who suffer from chronic heart failure, and now there is a cell therapy that might help all these patients.

They have proposed a treatment called MPC (mesenchymal precursor cell) therapy.

Continue reading “New cell therapy for chronic heart failure actually works, here is how” »

Feb 26, 2023

‘The Last of Us’ is fiction but fungal infections really are a global health concern

Posted by in category: health

Experts warn that while the fungal parasite featured in HBO’s popular show “The Last of Us” may only be fictional, the threat from real-life fungal pathogens is on the rise around the world.

Feb 26, 2023

Gut Bugs: The Microbes Responsible for Controlling Your Body’s Temperature

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Normal body temperature can vary from individual to individual. However, despite this variation, the average basal body temperature of humans has mysteriously dropped since the 1860s. A recent study points to the gut microbiome as a possible contributor to regulating body temperature, both in healthy individuals and during life-threatening infections.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Robert Dickson, M.D., at the University of Michigan Medical School, utilized health records from patients admitted to the hospital with sepsis and conducted experiments on mice to investigate the relationship between the gut bacteria composition, temperature changes, and health outcomes.

Sepsis, the body’s response to a life-threatening infection, can cause drastic changes in body temperature, the trajectory of which is linked to mortality. Previous work has demonstrated that hospitalized patients with sepsis vary widely in their temperature responses, and this variation predicts their survival.

Feb 26, 2023

New MS treatment targets the gut microbiome

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

A new study suggests that we may be able to prevent chronic inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in a totally new way, by manipulating their gut microbiomes — the unique collection of microbes that live in our digestive tracts and play an important role in our health.

“We are approaching the search for multiple sclerosis therapeutics from a new direction,” said lead researcher Andrea Merchak from the University of Virginia (UVA).

Chronic inflammation: The immune system fights infections and heals injuries by sending inflammatory cells to the site of the problem. This process, inflammation, can cause pain, swelling, or other side effects, but ultimately, it’s for the greater good.

Feb 25, 2023

FDA authorizes first at-home test that can detect both flu and Covid-19

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

If you’ve got a fever and a cough, you don’t necessarily have to go to the doctor anymore to find out if it’s the flu or Covid-19.

On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized what it says is the first at-home test that can tell users if they have the flu and/or Covid-19.

The test, made by California biotech company Lucira Health, uses a single self-collected nasal swab and can provide results in about half an hour. The test can be bought without a prescription. It’s authorized for anyone 14 and older for self-collection, or an adult can give it to a child 2 or older.

Feb 25, 2023

Cancer evolution is mathematical

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, evolution, genetics, health, mathematics

Cancer is not a uniform disease. Rather, cancer is a disease of phenotypic plasticity, meaning tumor cells can change from one form or function to another. This includes reverting to less mature states and losing their normal function, which can result in treatment resistance, or changing their cell type altogether, which facilitates metastasis.

In addition to direct changes in your DNA in cancer, a key driver of cancer progression is where and when your DNA is activated. If your DNA contains the “words” that spell out individual genes, then epigenetics is the “grammar” of your genome, telling those genes whether they should be turned on or off in a given tissue. Even though all tissues in the body have almost exactly the same DNA sequence, they can all carry out different functions because of chemical and structural modifications that change which genes are activated and how. This “epigenome” can be influenced by environmental exposures such as diet, adding a dimension to how researchers understand drivers of health beyond the DNA code inherited from your parents.

I’m a cancer researcher, and my laboratory at Johns Hopkins University studies how the differences among normal tissues are controlled by an epigenetic code, and how this code is disrupted in cancer. In our recently published review, colleague Andre Levchenko at Yale University and I describe a new approach to understanding cancer plasticity by combining epigenetics with mathematics. Specifically, we propose how the concept of stochasticity can shed light on why cancers metastasize and become resistant to treatments.

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