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Sunday 21st April 2019

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ScienceDaily - Health

Discovery may help explain why women get autoimmune diseases far more often than men

New evidence points to a key role for a molecular switch called VGLL3 in autoimmune diseases, and the major gap in incidence between women and men. Building on past research showing that women have more VGLL3 in their skin cells than men, a team studied it further in mice. They show that having too much VGLL3 in skin cells pushes the immune system into overdrive, leading to an autoimmune response and symptoms similar to lupus.

New method to detect off-target effects of CRISPR

Since the CRISPR genome editing technology was invented in 2012, it has shown great promise to treat a number of intractable diseases. However, scientists have struggled to identify potential off-target effects in therapeutically relevant cell types, which remains the main barrier to moving therapies to the clinic. Now, a group of scientists have developed a reliable method to do just that.

Marijuana users weigh less, defying the munchies

New evidence suggests that those who smoke cannabis, or marijuana, weigh less compared to adults who don't. The findings are contrary to the belief that marijuana users who have a serious case of the munchies will ultimately gain more weight.

On-chip drug screening for identifying antibiotic interactions in eight hours

A research team developed a microfluidic-based drug screening chip that identifies synergistic interactions between two antibiotics in eight hours. This chip can be a cell-based drug screening platform for exploring critical pharmacological patterns of antibiotic interactions, along with potential applications in screening other cell-type agents and guidance for clinical therapies.

Important insight on the brain-body connection

A study reveals that neurons in the motor cortex exhibit an unexpected division of labor, a finding that could help scientists understand how the brain controls the body and provide insight on certain neurological disorders.

Investigators incorporate randomized trial within dialysis care delivery

The Time to Reduce Mortality in ESRD (TiME) trial was a large pragmatic trial demonstration project designed to determine the benefits of hemodialysis sessions that are longer than many patients currently receive. The trial was conducted through a partnership between academic investigators and 2 large dialysis provider organizations using a highly centralized implementation approach. Although the trial accomplished most of its demonstration project objectives, uptake of the intervention was insufficient to determine whether longer sessions improve outcomes.

BRB-seq: The quick and cheaper future of RNA sequencing

Bioengineers have developed a new method for Bulk RNA Sequencing that combines the multiplexing-driven cost-effectiveness of a single-cell RNA-seq workflow with the performance of a bulk RNA-seq procedure.

Behavioral disorders in kids with autism linked to reduced brain connectivity

More than a quarter of children with autism spectrum disorder are also diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders. Now researchers have identified a possible biological cause: a key mechanism that regulates emotion functions differently in the brains of the children who exhibit disruptive behavior.

How the hepatitis B virus establishes persistent infection

New research sheds light on how a hepatitis B viral protein stimulates the expansion of immune cells that impair antiviral responses. The findings potentially explain how the hepatitis B virus (HBV) establishes and maintains chronic infection, and could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Does time of day affect the body's response to exercise?

New research confirms that the circadian clock is an important factor in how the body responds to physical exertion. Based on this work alone, it's too early to say when the best time is for you to go for a jog. But at least in the lab, exercise in the evening seems to be more productive, although human lifestyles are much more complicated.

Genetic variants that protect against obesity could aid new weight loss medicines

Around four million people in the UK carry genetic variants that protect them from obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, suggests new research. The team say the discovery could lead to the development of new drugs that help people lose weight.

Certain strains of bacteria associated with diabetic wounds that do not heal

Whether a wound -- such as a diabetic foot ulcer -- heals or progresses to a worse outcome, including infection or even amputation, may depend on the microbiome within that wound.

Study shows promise in repairing damaged myelin

A new study shows that a synthetic molecule stimulates repair of the protective sheath that covers nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The study demonstrates in mice that a synthetic molecule called sobetirome efficiently repairs damaged myelin without side effects.

New immune pathway involved in resistance to parasite worms found in undercooked pork

Scientists have discovered that immune responses originally found to prevent fungal infections are also important in eliminating Trichinella spiralis, a round worm and the causative agent of Trichinosis. People acquire trichinellosis by consuming raw or undercooked meat infected with the Trichinella parasite, particularly wild game meat or pork.

Growing a cerebral tract in a microscale brain model

An international research team modeled the growth of cerebral tracts. Using neurons derived from stem cells, they grew cortical-like spheroids. In a microdevice, the spheroids extended bundles of axons toward each other, forming a physical and electrical connection. Fascicles grew less efficiently when one spheroid was absent, and when a gene relevant to cerebral tract formation was knocked-down. The study further illuminates brain growth and developmental disorders.

Infection biology: Gut microbe helps thwart Salmonella

Researchers have identified a bacterial species in the gut microbiome of the mouse which protects against infection by human-pathogenic Salmonella.

Scientists advance creation of 'artificial lymph node' to fight cancer, other diseases

In a proof-of-principle study in mice, scientists report the creation of a specialized gel that acts like a lymph node to successfully activate and multiply cancer-fighting immune system T-cells. The work puts scientists a step closer, they say, to injecting such artificial lymph nodes into people and sparking T-cells to fight disease.

RNA sequencing used to discover novel genes and pathways in celiac disease

Researchers have discovered novel genes and pathways related to early stages in the development of celiac disease and the ongoing inflammation and comorbidities associated with the condition.

Making digital tissue imaging better

A low-tech problem troubles the high-tech world of digital pathology imaging: There are no reliable standards for the quality of digitized tissue slides comprising the source material for computers reading and analyzing vast numbers of images. Poor-quality slides get mixed in with accurate slides, potentially confusing a computer program trying to learn what a cancerous cell looks like. Researchers are trying to fix this, sharing an open-source quality control standard.

General anesthesia hijacks sleep circuitry to knock you out

Researchers have found that general anesthesia induces unconsciousness by hijacking the neural circuitry that makes us fall sleep. They traced this neural circuitry back to a cluster of cells at the base of the brain responsible for churning out hormones to regulate bodily functions, mood, and sleep. The finding could lead to better drugs capable of putting people to sleep with fewer side effects.

Diabetes drug may reverse heart failure

Researchers have demonstrated that the recently developed antidiabetic drug empagliflozin can treat and reverse the progression of heart failure in non-diabetic animal models. Their study also shows that this drug can make the heart produce more energy and function more efficiently.

Decline in measles vaccination is causing a preventable global resurgence of the disease

In 2000, measles was declared to be eliminated in the United States. Today, the US and many other countries are experiencing outbreaks of measles because of declines in measles vaccine coverage. Without renewed focus on vaccination efforts, the disease may rebound in full force, according to infectious diseases experts.

Taming the genome's 'jumping' sequences

Scientists have discovered how a family of proteins that regulates the activity of transposable elements in the genome allows them to make inheritable changes to the growing fetus.

Cell-killing proteins suppress listeria without killing cells

New research shows that key proteins known for their ability to prevent viral infections by inducing cell death can also block certain bacterial infections without triggering the death of the host cells.

Breakthrough for children with serious epileptic seizures

Emergency medicine doctors now have a better way to treat severe epileptic seizures in children, thanks to a new study. Prolonged epileptic seizures are the most common neurological emergency in children seen by hospitals. The seizures are potentially fatal: up to five percent of affected children die, and a third suffer long-term complications from brain damage. Crucially, the longer the seizure, the greater the chance of long-term complications.

More severe salmonella outbreaks ahead

Researchers have developed a model that can predict salmonella outbreaks several months in advance, and its results come as a warning ahead of the Easter long weekend.

In rare cases, immune system fails despite HIV suppression

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is usually effective at suppressing HIV, allowing the immune system to recover by preventing the virus from destroying CD4+ T cells. Scientists have now identified a rare, paradoxical response to ART called extreme immune decline, or EXID. Five individuals evaluated at the NIAID experienced a significant decline in CD4+ T cell levels despite suppression of HIV below detectable levels for more than three years, according to a new report.

After heart attack: Late dinner and no breakfast a killer combination

People who skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime have worse outcomes after a heart attack.

Preschoolers with chronic constipation tend to be picky eaters

In the first study of its kind in the US, researchers found that normally developing preschool children with chronic constipation have underlying sensory issues that contribute to their difficulties with toileting behaviors. These children are often picky eaters who might be overly sensitive to food textures, tastes, or odors. They also might have an exaggerated response to noises, bright lights, or other sensory stimuli.

Experimental antiplatelet compound for acute stroke shows promise

An experimental compound inhibited clot formation without increased bleeding, a common side effect of current anticlotting therapies, in a phase I study. First-in-human study shows the anticlotting drug was well-tolerated without serious safety concerns in healthy volunteers. Next-phases will gauge effectiveness and safety in patients with acute ischemic strokes.

Risk factors identified for patients undergoing knee replacements

In the largest study of its kind, researchers have identified the most important risk factors for developing severe infection after knee replacement. Patients who are under 60 years of age, males, those with chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, liver disease, and a higher body mass index are at increased risk of having the joint replacement redone (known as revision) due to infection.

Achieving sugar reduction targets could cut child obesity and healthcare costs

Reducing the sugar content of certain foods by 2020, in line with UK government policy targets, could cut child obesity and related illness, and save the NHS in England £286 million over 10 years, suggests a new study.

Novel antibody may suppress HIV for up to four months

Regular infusions of an antibody that blocks the HIV binding site on human immune cells may have suppressed levels of HIV for up to four months in people undergoing a short-term pause in their antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens. Results of the Phase 2, open-label study indicate the antibody, known as UB-421, was safe and did not induce the production of antibody-resistant HIV.

Pediatric endocrinologist gives iconic 'Mona Lisa' a second medical opinion

A doctor refutes the most recent hypothesis that 'Lisa' had hypothyroidism and psychomotor retardation.

Bacterial therapy in a dish

Biomedical engineers have developed a system that can study 10s to 100s of programmed bacteria within mini-tissues in a dish, condensing study time from months to days. The speed and high throughput of their technology allows for stable growth of bacteria within tumor spheroids and can also be used for other bacteria species and cell types. The team says this study is the first to rapidly screen and characterize bacteria therapies in vitro.

Researchers use gene editing with CRISPR to treat lethal lung diseases before birth

Using CRISPR gene editing, researchers have thwarted a lethal lung disease in an animal model in which a harmful mutation causes death within hours after birth. This proof-of-concept study showed that in utero editing could be a promising new approach for treating lung diseases before birth.

Gene therapy restores immunity in infants with rare immunodeficiency disease

A small clinical trial has shown that gene therapy can safely correct the immune systems of infants newly diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening inherited disorder in which infection-fighting immune cells don't develop or function normally. Eight infants with the disorder, called X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-SCID), received experimental gene therapy. They experienced substantial improvements in immune system function and normal growth up to two years after treatment.

Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath

Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.

Three-dimensional imaging identifies nutrient exchange in the human placenta

New three-dimensional imaging of the human placenta has been developed to help understand the reasons for fetal growth restriction.

New software aims to reduce variability in ELISA biomarker tests

A new computational approach has been developed to reduce variability in common research biomarker tests, a promising step in improving the ability of biomedical researchers and basic scientists to reproduce data and facilitate more consistent results across laboratories and long-term projects.

Critical errors in inhaler technique common in children with asthma

In the first study to evaluate inhaler technique in children hospitalized for asthma -- the group at highest risk for complications and death from asthma -- researchers found that nearly half of participants demonstrated improper inhaler use, which means they routinely were not taking in the full dose of medication. Adolescents most commonly displayed critical errors in inhaler technique.

Scientists restore some functions in a pig's brain hours after death

Circulation and cellular activity were restored in a pig's brain four hours after its death, a finding that challenges long-held assumptions about the timing and irreversible nature of the cessation of some brain functions after death.

CRISPR base editors can induce wide-ranging off-target RNA edits

Researchers report that several of the recently developed CRISPR base editors, which create targeted changes in a single DNA base, can induce widespread off-target effects in RNA, extending beyond the targeted DNA.

Diet high in leucine may fuel breast cancer's drug resistance

Researchers have discovered an unexpected relationship between levels of the amino acid leucine (found in beef, chicken, pork and fish and other foods) and the development of tamoxifen resistance in estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. These findings reveal a potential new strategy for overcoming resistance to endocrine drugs in ER positive breast cancer patients.

New study targets Achilles' heel of pancreatic cancer, with promising results

Advanced pancreatic cancer is often symptomless, leading to late diagnosis only after metastases have spread throughout the body. Now, researchers have uncovered the role of a signaling protein, called LIF, that may be the Achilles' heel of pancreatic cancer.

Researchers pinpoint tumor-related protein, slow progression of cancers

A new study has identified a potential strategy for treating multiple forms of cancerous tumors: targeting a protein that maliciously rewires immune cells and impedes cancer therapies. The researchers showed that inhibiting the protein with an existing compound helped slow or even reject tumors stemming from four cancers.

Fragments of cellular machinery reveal unexpected variability among cancers

New research shows the mitochondrial genome may play a significant role in these fragment interactions with cancer.

Factors behind embryonic stem cell state

An international collaboration has found for the first time that two new epigenetic regulators, TAF5L and TAF6L, maintain self-renewal of embryonic stem cells. The scientists also found that these proteins activate c-Myc (a well-known cancer gene), and its regulatory network. This is the first time scientists have been able to show what these regulators do and how they control gene expression.

Scientists advance a way to track changes in a person's cardiovascular system

Every heart beat sends blood flowing throughout the human body. While an electrocardiogram uses a contact approach to measure the electrical activity of the heart, a ballistocardiogram is a non-contact way of measuring the mechanical effect of the blood flow through the cardiovascular system.

Taking care of people with TBI: New tool could speed caregiver research

A traumatic brain injury happens in an instant: a battlefield blast, a car crash, a bad fall. But the effects can last a lifetime -- and can leave the survivor dependent on daily care from their loved ones for decades. Now, a new tool seeks to give a voice to those caregivers, who spend countless hours tending to the daily needs of family members whose moods, thinking and abilities seemed to change overnight.

Vitamin D study sheds light on immune system effects

Scientists have uncovered fresh insights into how vitamin D affects the immune system and might influence susceptibility to diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

New deep-learning approach predicts protein structure from amino acid sequence

A scientist has used a form of artificial intelligence known as deep learning to predict the 3D structure of effectively any protein based on its amino acid sequence. This new approach for computationally determining protein structure achieves accuracy comparable to current state-of-the-art methods but at speeds upward of a million times faster.

How Enterococcus faecalis bacteria causes antibiotic resistant infection

A new study describes how bacteria adapted to the modern hospital environment and repeatedly cause antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections. This study examined one of the first sustained hospital outbreaks of a multidrug-resistant bacterium, Enterococcus faecalis, which occurred from the early through the mid-1980s, causing over 60 outbreak strains.

Australian heavy drinking trends: Heavy drinkers consuming more than half of all alcohol

Researchers have found the heaviest drinking 10 percent of Australians drink over half the alcohol consumed in Australia, downing an average of six standard drinks per day.

Oral immunotherapy safe for preschool-aged children with peanut allergies, study suggests

New data suggests that oral immunotherapy offered as routine treatment in a hospital or clinic is safe for preschool-aged children with peanut allergies.

Technology automatically senses how Parkinson's patients respond to medication

Adjusting the frequency and dosage of Parkinson's patients' medication is complex. In their 'ON' state they respond positively to medication and in their 'OFF' state symptoms return. Addressing these fluctuations requires a clinical exam, history-taking or a patient's self-report, which are not always practical or reliable. A new technology that combines an algorithm with a senor-based system using wearable motion sensors, automatically, continuously and reliably detects a patient's medication ON and OFF states without patient or physician engagement.

A light-activated remote control for cells

What if doctors had a remote control that they could use to steer a patient's own cells to a wound to speed up the healing process? Although such a device is still far from reality, researchers have taken an important first step: They used near-infrared light and an injected DNA nanodevice to guide stem cells to an injury, which helped muscle tissue regrow in mice.

Cannabidiol could help deliver medications to the brain

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, is being touted as beneficial for many health conditions, ranging from anxiety to epilepsy. Although much more research is needed to verify these claims, scientists have now shown that CBD could have a different use as a 'Trojan horse': helping slip medications across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and into mouse brains.

Biosensor 'bandage' collects and analyzes sweat

Like other biofluids, sweat contains a wealth of information about what's going on inside the body. However, collecting the fluid for analysis, usually by dripping or absorbing it from the skin's surface, can be time-consuming and messy. Now, researchers have developed a bandage-like biosensor that both collects and -- in conjunction with a smart phone -- analyzes sweat. The device could someday help diagnose diseases.

New PFASs discovered in Cape Fear River, North Carolina, though levels are declining

In 2015, a fluorosurfactant known by the trade name 'GenX' made headlines when researchers discovered it and related compounds in the Cape Fear River of North Carolina, a source of drinking water for many residents of the area. Now, researchers report that they have detected the same per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the river, as well as some new ones, but their overall levels are decreasing.

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