Monthly Archives: January 2012

Anti-inflammatory effects of Carbon Monoxide

We all know that Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon or a carbonaceous material, but it is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects. To shed some more light on the anti-inflammatory effect of CO, a study was conducted by Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh. The researchers claim to have solved the mystery behind this. The study which appears in the April issue of The FASEB Journal, shows that the anti-inflammatory effects of carbon monoxide is due to its reaction with the cell’s mitochondria. FASEB said in its release: The researchers say the mitochondria react to low levels of carbon monoxide by releasing chemical signals that reduce or shut down the body’s inflammatory response — raising the possibility for the development of new anti-inflammatory therapies. The report further states that inhaled medical grade carbon monoxide has been successfully tested on animals in a number of applications, including organ transplantation, vascular injury, inflammatory bowel disease and organ injury resulting from severe blood loss. Source.

Now the heart can be bioengineered piece by piece!

Technology and medical science have converged to give birth to ‘prototypes’ of all cardiovascular structures! Thanks to the researchers at the University of Michigan. They have helped engineer the prototypes of heart muscle, tri-leaflet valves, blood vessels, cell-based cardiac pumps and tissue engineered ventricles. According to them, today, it’s possible to engineer the heart piece by piece! But, they also noted, hurdles still remain before the products of this tissue engineering are ready to be implanted in patients as replacements for diseased or malformed structures. Ravi Birla, director of the University of Michigan, Artificial Heart Laboratory, and Louise Hecker, a graduate student in the University of Michigan, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology have analyzed the technologies used to engineer the heart. They’ve not just analyzed what was happening at the University of Michigan, but in other labs worldwide as well. Regenerative Medicine has just published their article under the title — Engineering the heart piece by piece: state of the art in cardiac tissue engineering.

New kind of wild orange with the sweetest strains of the native fruit being bred

A good news for orange lovers. The Australian market is soon to get a new kind of wild orange in its shelves. It will be made by developing tissue cultures. Though, the development and the research on it is in its primary stages, scientists at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens have started working hard on it. The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens are located in the Upper Spencer Gulf of South Australia. The scientists developing the new kind of orange are optimistic that the new version of the region’s native orange will be sweeter, rather the sweetest, compared to both the Capparis Mitchelli (the native orange) and the common oranges found anywhere. So, keep your fingers crossed to taste the sweetest strain of the native orange.

Organ transplants can look easy with tissue engineering

There can be some respite for people suffering from organ failures as tissue engineering can come to their rescue. It can make organ transplant look so easy as people with damaged organs can purchase them over the counter in a similar manner as buying medicines. One’s own organ could be re grown for replacement. Though this may look unbelievable but it is achievable. Drs Cornelia Kasper and Frank Stahl of Hannover University stated: The idea of organs one day being freely available ‘off the shelf’ is still an aspiration today. The need is great, however, and patients are of course very eager to have personalized treatment from organ designers using tissue engineering. Building block principle can be applied to the tissue culture or organ type and the differentiation could be used through appropriation growth. Probably in the future we might see a one size fits all approach and lives of millions of patients looking for organ replacement might be saved quite easily. Via allafrica

Scientists working on a pill to increase human lifespan

Scientists are working on a pill which could lead to healthier lives and if they succeed it would be possible to increase the lifespan of an average human being by thirty years with the aid of the pill. It is being said that thyroxine hormone can boost metabolism and at the same time lead to a longer lifespan. Tests are being conducted on mice and if the right dose is determined then the life span of human beings would increase by thirty years. The scientists have not been able to figure out the right dose till yet because if thyroxine in high doses is administered it could lead to life threatening health problems. Aberdeen university scientists conducted study on mice and they found out that mice which had a high metabolic rate lived for a longer period of time. It’s just that the right level of thyroxine has not been determined but when the right level is decided it would help human beings lead to a healthy and long life. Via paktribune

Access to safety results of GM crop field trial tests in India denied to Greenpeace

Even the Right to information act or RTI could not help Greenpeace in India. RTI activists tried using this right for getting information on the safety tests of GM crops but their request was rejected on the plea that disclosure of the information could harm the competitive position of the company developing these crops. Information was sought on the field trial locations and allergenicity and toxicity data related to the rice, brinjal and other crops being tested. Though information on location was revealed but access to other set of information was denied. Greenpeace and other farmer organizations are not satisfied with the manner in which the trials are being conducted and they fear that gross violations have been conducted while conducting the tests. On the other hand GEAC states that field trials were being conducted keeping in view all the biosafety and regulatory norms in mind but it seems that there is something fishy since the government is hiding certain results on pretext of safety. The government should come up with a clear picture or it might become difficult to make the people accept GM crops. Via hindu

Light triggers virulence in abortion-causing bacteria!

The world of microbes and animals still continue to not just entertain, but surprise us as well. The undulant fever or Malta fever-causing bacteria — Brucella — which is a bother especially for the developing countries, are found to possess an interesting feature – It can sense light! To add to it, the brucellosis-causing bacteria use this ‘light-sensed information’ to regulate its own virulence! To their surprise, a group of US and Argentinian researchers found that the bacteria is 10 times more virulent in the light, compared to what it is in the dark Since the bacteria was first spotted by British medical officers in Malta during the Crimean War in the 1850s, it is more than a century of research into brucella that causes high incidences of abortions, or calve weak offspring, arthritic joints, and retention of after-birth – called retained placenta — in livestock and fevers in humans. But, its fluctuating virulence-mystery is detected for the first time, i.e. its light-sensing capability. The light receptors of the bacteria have a molecular region — LOV — that was eventually discovered 10 years ago, but in plants, enabling them to grow toward light sensing day length. Although, the necessity of the bacteria to possess the same sensing ability is still not being discovered, this characteristic clearly shows that it allows brucella to know if it is outside its host – like, when a cow’s infected foetus has been aborted. When, it’s in the open lying in the field along with the aborted foetus, it increases its virulence form the light, getting ready to infect yet another fresh host. Image

Rabies vaccine could be effective against HIV virus

Rabies vaccine which is used for treatment of dog bite could be effective against HIV virus too. Jefferson Medical College researchers are using a weakened rabies virus for vaccination against AIDS. The starting tests have revealed that this vaccine could inhibit the development of HIV. The study which was conducted for two years after vaccination showed that it offered protection against the disease even after being attacked with a dangerous animal human virus. Researchers used the rabies virus vaccine on the assumption that it would result in a stronger response from the immune system of animals. Dr. Schnell Schnell, Professor, Jefferson University stated: We still need a vaccine that protects from HIV infection, but protecting against developing disease can be a very important step. The scientists stated that this technique was quite a possibility but a big question which still needs to be answered is whether the vaccine would work in case of humans too? Lets hope for the best. Via biologynews

Biological therapy is the latest answer to cancer

The other day when I came across the term Biological therapy, it made me wonder what it is. It is a form of therapy that uses body’s ‘own immune system’ to fight a disease. In other words, natural body substances are used to fight diseases.In this case, we will be looking at how the immune system fights cancer. Cancer can occur anywhere in the body when extra cells develop i.e. they grow where they shouldn’t. Cancer spreads quickly because, once the extra cells develop, they can spread quickly. In order to prevent these cells from growing, certain therapies like chemotherapy are used. It is a form of biological therapy. Biological therapy uses biological response modifiers (BRM’s), which concentrates on specific drugs. Antibodies and cytokines are examples of BRM’s. Here’s a few examples of biological therapies: *Interferons or IFN’s are drugs that imitate the cytokines. This kind of therapy can also transform cancerous cell to normal growth cells. The IFN alpha was one of the first immunotherapy that treated cancer. *Interleukins stimulate or rather instigate White blood cells to fight cancer. These elements help the body attack cancerous cells. So, these are the good guys. IL2 is used for kidney cancer. *Monclonal antibodies helps the body distinguish between cancerous cells and normal blood cells. These are manufactured in the medical labs from a single cell of a human antibody. Wow! I think that is unique. *Cancer vaccines: Vaccines do fall under the biological therapy as well. Vaccines are normally allowed to prevent the disease. But, in case of cancer vaccines, they can only be administered after a person is detected with cancer. Epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) drugs help prevent the growth of harmful cancer cells. There are also a few other types of biological treatments. These bio therapy drugs are administered to the human body in various ways. The medications can be taken alone or in combination with other treatments. Whatever it is and however they may work, they have one common goal: to reduce, prevent and eliminate cancer. Image Credits: Wetpaint

‘Popi Milk’ to prevent stomach ulcers

Agri-Biotech, a Biotechnology company in Western Australia claims that its project called “Popi Milk” can prevent stomach ulcers. The company focuses on Research and Development in the fields of biotechnology, animal husbandry and immunology. It has been researching on making dairy animals produce milk with innate antibodies. As a part of this project, the company wants to immunize cows in South-west Australia with a slow antigen releasing biodegradable implant that can produce antibodies for Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers. Guan Tay, executive director, Agri-Biotech said: Insulin can be put into biodegradable pellets, so we’ve used the same technology, rather than release a drug or insulin we are releasing an antigen, it allows our technology to be transferred into the paddock and farmers can immunize cattle and induce the production of antibodies. According to him, an Asian company will help them to also cover developing countries in Asia. He says several south-west dairy farmers have expressed interest and that even the other diary animals could be included for immunization. Via: Images: