New method may reduce heart transplant rejection | Beta cell patch regulates blood sugar levels for 10 to 20 hours in mice | New procedure uses stem cells to regenerate infants' eye lenses
March 16, 2016
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New method may reduce heart transplant rejection
Heart transplant recipients face a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs to protect the implanted organ from their immune system, but a new technique developed in animal studies may help reduce heart transplant rejection. The idea is to strip cells that could incite an immune response from donor hearts and then use induced pluripotent stem cells from organ recipients to grow new heart cells that, when combined with the donor heart infrastructure, create a functional heart. The approach has been tested in various animal organs, and in new work, researchers grew immature human cardiac muscle, and the tissue beat on its own when exposed to an electrical impulse. Gizmag (3/14), The Daily Beast (3/15)
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Research Breakthroughs
Beta cell patch regulates blood sugar levels for 10 to 20 hours in mice
Researchers have developed a smart cell patch, a quarter-sized skin patch bearing microneedles full of beta cells and chemicals that detect and amplify blood glucose levels. Researchers in North Carolina developed the patch, building on an earlier version that used insulin-loaded microneedles. In diabetic mice, the patches reduced blood sugar levels to normal and maintained them for 10 hours. A second patch extended the effect for another 10 hours without causing hypoglycemia. The findings were reported in Advanced Materials. United Press International (3/14), Gizmag (3/15)
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New procedure uses stem cells to regenerate infants' eye lenses
Scientists used patients' own stem cells to regenerate eye tissue in a new procedure that could help people with cataracts or other forms of blindness, according to a study published in Nature. The procedure was perfected in monkeys and rabbits before it was used on 12 children under 2 with congenital cataracts. Study leader Dr. Kang Zhang said the results suggest that "we can harness our own stem cells to regenerate a tissue or organ." (3/14)
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Adjuvant shows promise for fighting antibiotic resistance
MRSA in cellular debris.
MRSA in cellular debris. (CDC)
Co-administration with small molecule adjuvants known as tarocins can restore vulnerability to beta-lactam antibiotics among resistant bacteria, researchers report in Science. The team used a compound called tarocin A and a beta-lactam antibiotic to successfully clear infection in mice with treatment-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Neither drug resolved infection on its own. The Scientist online (3/9)
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Preclinical study uses stem cells against glioblastoma
Induced neural stem cells can be programmed to deliver tumor-killing proteins in the brain, according to a University of North Carolina study involving mouse models of glioblastoma. The research team will next work with human cells and explore what drugs the cells can be programmed to deliver. The Johns Hopkins News-Letter (Baltimore) (3/10), WRAL-TV (Raleigh, N.C.) (3/10)
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Compound could be antidote to snake venom, animal study shows
(David McNew/Getty Images)
Varespladib, a compound initially developed to treat sepsis, may also be an antidote to snake venom, regardless of which species delivers it. Physician Matt Lewin, director of the Center for Exploration and Travel Health at the California Academy of Sciences, found that varespladib blocks sPLA2, an inflammation-associated phospholipase A2 enzyme in snake venom that causes tissue destruction. In animal studies, rodents treated with varespladib one or five minutes after venom inoculation survived at least 24 hours, while those that didn't receive the drug died within eight hours. STAT (3/11)
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How sleep apnea could promote tumor growth
Sleep apnea is associated with intermittent hypoxia, and research in mice suggests that such oxygen deficiency may induce vascularization of tumors, giving cancers easy access to nutrients to fuel growth. The findings were presented at a meeting of the European Association of Urology. The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model) (3/12)
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Animal Health
Mosquitoes host myriad pathogens, and their range is growing
Zika virus is only one of many mosquito-borne diseases that can endanger human and often animal health. Mosquitoes are spreading malaria, dengue and chikungunya viruses and St. Louis encephalitis, among other diseases, into new territories, partially enabled by the used tire trade and human mobility, experts say. Proposed responses include genetic modification, targeted bacteria and radiation, but experts warn that mosquitoes are ecologically important and any eradication efforts must be carefully targeted. Reuters (3/13)
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