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Thursday, 5 March 2009

The immortality is just around the corner

Today:

  1. Study uses bone marrow stem cells to regenerate
  2. Breakthrough in treating premature babies
  3. Nanotubes Sniff Out Cancer Agents in Living Cells
  4. Researchers seek to create 'fountain of youth'
Again, the best is in the end. Enjoy the last article! All of them actually, because they are quite exciting.
And as weird as I can get, I dedicate this last article to my grandma, because she died on 5th march, a year ago. Babo, I love you, you were great!

Study uses bone marrow stem cells to regenerate skin

January 14th, 2009

A new study suggests that adult bone marrow stem cells can be used in the construction of artificial skin. The findings mark an advancement in wound healing and may be used to pioneer a method of organ reconstruction. .

To investigate the practicability of repairing burn wounds with tissue-engineered skin combined with bone marrow stem cells, the study established a burn wound model in the skin of pigs, which is known to be anatomically and physiologically similar to human skin.

Engineering technology and biomedical theory methods were used to make artificial skin with natural materials and bone marrow derived stem cells. Once the artificial skin was attached to the patient and the dermal layer had begun to regenerate, stem cells were differentiated into skin cells. The cells are self-renewing and raise the quality of healing in wound healing therapy. When grafted to the burn wounds, the engineered skin containing stem cells showed better healing, less wound contraction and better development of blood vessels. source

My comment: As someone who suffered 2% 1st and 2nd degree burns , I can tell you that this is a major trauma. I cannot and really don't want to imagine what happens if you get more skin burnt or deeper burns. This is simply horrible. That's why I find this new way of generating skin wonderful and I hope we see this soon on the market and in our hospitals.

Breakthrough in treating premature babies

January 14th, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Adelaide researchers have made a world breakthrough in treating premature babies at risk of developmental disorders.


A six-year study led by Dr Maria Makrides from the Women's and Children's Health Research Institute and Professor Bob Gibson from the University of Adelaide has demonstrated that high doses of omega-3 fatty acid administered to pre-term infants via their mother's breast milk or infant formula can help their mental development.

Researchers found that a major lipid in the brain - the omega-3 fatty acid known as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - is not developed sufficiently in babies born before 33 weeks' gestation, leading to possible impaired mental development.

To counter this, increased doses of DHA (1000mg per day) were administered to lactating mothers with pre-term infants, in the form of tuna oil capsules. If required, infants were given supplementary formula with matching DHA levels.

Of 657 premature babies tested in a trial involving five Australian hospitals, about 50% fewer infants on high-DHA diets had significantly delayed mental development compared with low DHA diets.

Premature girls in particular who were exposed to DHA-rich diets showed much better mental development than girls fed the low DHA diet.

Professor Gibson said his team was at a loss to explain why premature male babies - who are more susceptible to cognitive problems - did not respond to the same extent, with no obvious differences in mental development between the control group and those administered high doses of DHA.

Infants weighing less than 1250gm (about a third of a full-term baby's weight) who were fed a high-DHA diet also scored better on the mental development scale, with a 40% reduction in the incidence of mild mental delay.source

My comment: That's a great news. Especially when we know that with IVF many women give prematured births. And even without it, some choose to have it earlier. The question however remains- how the young mother who know about this research could tell the hospital staff they want their babies supplied with Omega-3? Because I can tell you how the nurses would react. And I wonder whether this new information could ultimately lead to shorter terms. Because 9 months are quite much and the last 2 looks horrible to me. If you can make them 7 and have a healthy baby, that would be awesome. The bad side however is that you won't have a direct access to your baby for whole 2 months.

Nanotubes Sniff Out Cancer Agents in Living Cells

(PhysOrg.com) -- A multidisciplinary team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed carbon nanotubes that can be used as sensors for cancer drugs and other DNA-damaging agents inside living cells. The sensors, made of carbon nanotubes wrapped in DNA, can detect chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin as well as environmental toxins and free radicals that damage DNA.

Such sensors could be used to monitor chemotherapy patients to ensure that drugs are effectively battling tumors. The sensor can detect DNA-alkylating agents, a class that includes cisplatin, and oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals.

Using the sensors, researchers can monitor living cells over an extended period of time. The sensor can pinpoint the exact location of molecules inside cells, and for one agent, hydrogen peroxide, it can detect a single molecule.

The new technology takes advantage of the fact that carbon nanotubes fluoresce in near-infrared light, whereas human tissue does not, which makes it easier to see the nanotubes light up. In addition, each nanotube’s fluorescence depends strongly on events taking place on the surface of the nanotube, such as when molecules bind to the nanotube surface.

Each nanotube is coated with DNA, which binds to DNA-damaging agents present in the cell. That interaction between DNA and the DNA disruptor changes the intensity and/or wavelength of the fluorescent light emitted by the nanotube. The agents produce different signatures that can be used to identify them. Moreover, the investigators developed signal processing methods that separate the signatures of multiple different molecules binding to the nanotubes. source

My comment: That's very very cool! If they also make the nanotubes safe for humans and retrievable after use, it would be simply perfect.

Researchers seek to create 'fountain of youth'

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Biodesign Institute, along with partner, the Methuselah Foundation, is working to vanquish age-related disease by making old cells feel younger.

John Schloendorn, a Molecular and Cellular Biology Ph.D. student who works in the lab of Dr. Bruce Rittmann, director of the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology says: “What’s different about the Methuselah Foundation is that their approach is to directly repair the damage that the passage of time does to our bodies and eventually causes disease.”

Their collaboration addresses age-related problems by understanding the root causes of disease. A number of diseases that appear with age are primarily caused by a lifetime of accumulated debris inside of cells.

One theory of ageing is that, as the molecular junk collects in our bodies through the years, it causes the onset of disease.

Our bodies are not naturally equipped to degrade these harmful metabolic left-overs; however, Schloendorn noticed that there is not an overabundance of these molecules in the environment. Therefore, there must be a source of natural enzymes that are capable of breaking down the cellular debris.

The idea of toxin degradation in the body dovetails with an environmental innovation by team leader Rittmann, who used microbes to break down toxins in polluted water.

The application of these principles to human health is called medical bioremediation. In the early stages of environmental bioremediation, the research team had to find microbes that contained enzymes capable of breaking down the pollutants found in the contaminated water. This is the same tactic being used to reverse the accumulation of the biomolecules in the body.

Results published in the journal Biodegradation by Rittmann’s team announced the discovery of five microbes from soil and sludge samples capable of decomposing a molecule called 7-ketocholesterol. This cholesterol variant is widely accepted as a cellular toxin and thought to be a primary culprit in the development of atherosclerosis and its accumulation lead to hardening of the arteries and heart attacks.

The researchers are now exploring the use of microbial machinery to biodegrade 7-ketocholesterol to attempt to reverse the cause of arterial distress. The targeted decomposition of 7-ketocholesterol in humans may also open doors for the therapeutic treatment of other age-related disease. Reversal of the damage done to cells by destroying the harmful biomolecules will rejuvenate cells and make them physiologically younger. On a broad scale, this technique may eliminate death by ‘old age,’ allowing people to be younger at the cellular level, and extending not only human life, but also healthy human life. source

My comment: That is the ultimate goal of science. Can you even imagine that one day, you would buy a pill and after say a month of use, you would feel again in your 20s. Sure, that won't affect the biological clock and your hormones won't pour in your veins again, but you'll feel the purity of the young body, the freedom of all the junk we gathered. I so hope they will succeed and survive to sell their discovery. That could truly change human race, so I sincerely wish them luck!

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