Monthly Archives: January 2012

New flu vaccine developed using yellow-striped caterpillars

Traditional flu vaccines are developed using eggs of hen and this is a time consuming process but now researchers are using genetic engineering to produce flu vaccine. Instead of eggs yellow striped caterpillars have been used for producing the vaccine. With this technique flu vaccines can be produced a month earlier and that too easily in response to a possible pandemic flu virus outbreak. This vaccine can offer protection against three strains of flu. Test results showed that two third of the adults injected with the vaccine showed a stronger immunity after the vaccination and none of them was found to be suffering from flu. The only side effect of the vaccine is that it might cause headaches or some minor pain. The trials are being conducted by Protein Sciences Corporation. Let’s hope the trials are successful and we get another source for flu vaccine. Via allheadlinenews

Malaria can be eradicated with the genetic mechanism of flour beetle

Researchers are working to imitate the genetic mechanism of the common flour beetle in malaria resistant mosquitoes which might help in fighting the incapacitating parasitic disease which kills people between 700,000 and 2.7 million yearly. Biologist Bruce Hay along with his team developed a set of genes for the Drosophila fruit fly. A genetic complex is inherited by the female in the form of a toxin which along with Medea leads to embryonic arrest. The egg of the female gets flooded with a poisonous protein during the development stage which kills the embryo. This same technique can be used for mosquitoes so that they can resist picking up malaria which gets spread among the human population. The researchers stated that in case males with Medea elements are released into the mosquito population it will can result in malaria resistance within a year. This is being termed as a notable innovation where drosophila engineering can be applied for creating an impact on human diseases. Via sciam

Human Bone Marrow can be used for creating sperm cells

The creation of sperm cells may no longer remain a mystery as researchers for the first time have used human bone marrow for creation of early stage sperm cells. This development is expected to improve the understanding regarding how sperm cells are created. The study was conducted by a team of German scientists and for the study purpose the researchers used bone marrow of human beings and isolated it from the mesenchymal stem cells. These cells were cultured in the laboratory and were transformed into male reproductive cells which are also known as germ cells. The presence of partly developed sperm cells called spermatagonial stem cells were seen with the genetic markers. With these encouraging results the researchers now plan undertake further tests to find out whether these stem cells could turn into mature sperms and this might involve research of another three to five years. This development might aid in curing the infertility problem occurring in men. Via sciencedaily

Flu vaccine developed from caterpillar cells

Scientists have for the first time developed flu vaccine from the yellow striped caterpillars instead of the hen eggs. While the current method of using hen eggs is a lengthy procedure, the new method is quicker and easier. In the method currently used, live flu viruses injected into the eggs multiply, then the eggshells are broken, the viruses are inactivated and are treated to create flu vaccine. It takes about nine months to prepare the vaccine and also depends on the availability of the eggs which could be a hindrance when a large scale pandemic strikes. In the new method, scientists replace a gene from that virus with a flu virus gene, and then inject it into the caterpillars found abundantly in nature, where it makes more flu virus. This vaccine was tested on about 450 adults during the flu season and was found that two thirds of the participants who were given a high-dose injection had a strong immune response and did not develop flu that season. Further studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of the new vaccine, and if successful, large scale cases of flu could be treated effectively and cheaply especially in developing countries where thousands of people die ever year for not receiving timely treatment. Image Source

Viruses – Element of natural selection of cancerous cells

Viruses have been the major life threatening microorganisms since time immemorial. All viruses are infective unlike all bacteria that can also be beneficial. Viruses are known to cause various types of cancers also such as Hodgkin’s, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, cancers of the throat and liver. Viruses basically cause cancer by mutating a critical gene for replication in the host DNA leading to an uncontrolled cell division. A team of scientists led by Preet M. Choudhary, M.D., Ph.D., and professor of medicine at University of Pittsburgh have proposed that viruses in a way, act as elements of natural selection. The theory of natural selection put-forth by Charles Darwin can simply be stated as, fixation of a desirable mutation of a gene. Similarly, viruses have been found to kill normal cells that favour the replication of viruses, leaving behind the defective cells. Repetition of this process over and over causes cancer. ‘We believe, a separate mechanism may be at play in which a cellular insult, such as infection with the virus, selects a few pre-existing mutated clones of cells promotes their further growth and multiplication, eventually leading to the emergence of fully cancerous cells, consequently, similar to the role played by natural selection during evolution, excessive cell death, rather than its absence may be the defining force that drives the initial emergence of cancer,’ said Dr. Choudhary. Since, notably the cancerous condition arises from the ‘ashes’ of dead cells, Dr.Choudhary calls it ‘Phoenix Paradigm’. A study was conducted wherein, cells were infected with Kaposi’s sarcoma associated Herpes Simplex Virus (KSHV) also called Human Herpes Simplex Virus-8 (HHV-8) and examined the K13 cell-signaling pathway. They observed that cells with low K13 levels, favoured KSHV replication and subsequently died, but up regulating K13 gene expression in the existing cells and down regulating two key proteins involved in promoting cancer. Image via : CBCnews

Genetically engineered virus to kill cancer cells

US scientists claim to have genetically engineered a strain of virus capable of destroying cancerous cells. In a study published last Friday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists at Jennerex Biotherapeutics in San Francisco genetically engineered a strain of the virus used to vaccinate people against smallpox which when injected to cancer tumours in rabbits and mice where found capable of destroying the tumours. The poxvirus was engineered to attack certain cancer cells that have a protein, EGFR. The modified virus was then injected under the skin of animals with cancer tumours. The virus remained in the tumours for ten days showing that the host’s antiviral immune responses did not destroy it. Further, the normal body tissues were not infected by the virus. Repeat injection of the virus six weeks after the first injection reduced the size of the tumours in three of the four test subjects. The test result shows that the anti-tumour effect is feasible even in previously immunized body. Tests on human ovarian, muscle, pancreatic, breast and lung cancer cells showed that the virus killed the cancerous cells rapidly. The treatment, it is believed holds promise for human cancer. Source:CBC news Image:faqs

Four genes that drive the spread of breast cancer identified

Researchers in the United States have isolated a set of four genes closely linked to the growth of breast cancer cells and their spread to the lungs, according to a study released on Wednesday. The study, conducted in mice and reported in this week’s Nature, helps to explain how cancer metastasis can occur and highlights targets for therapeutic treatment. Metastasis is the leading cause of mortality in cancer patients – entails numerous biological functions that collectively enable cancerous cells from a primary site to disseminate and overtake distant organs. A number of genes are already known to contribute to the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs. Using genetic and pharmacological approaches, Dr Joan Massague, and colleagues showed how four genes facilitate the formation of new tumor blood vessels, the release of cancer cells into the bloodstream, and the penetration of tumor cells from the bloodstream into the lung. The gene set comprises EREG (an epidermal growth factor receptor ligand), the cyclooxygenase COX2, and MMP1 and MMP2 (matrix enzymes that are expressed in human breast cancer cells). The researchers conclude: The drug combinations that target one or more of the proteins encoded by these genes may prove useful for treating metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most common type of carcinoma, the formation of malignant tumors in cells found in the skin and in the lining of certain organs, including the lungs and the colon. Via : BBC

Srinakharinwirot University’s technology detects TB within 60 seconds

Soon it would be possible that doctors can detect tuberculosis within one minute with the help of bio-sensors. Scientists from Thailand based Srinakharinwirot University’s nanotechnology centre are close to develop a new technology, which will diagnose micobacterium tuberculosis within 60 seconds. Biosensor is a technology in which enzymes or antibodies are used to detect sugars and proteins in body fluids, contaminants in water and gases in air. Scientists are widely using biosensors for several medical targets, which are given below: 1) Glucose monitoring in diabetes patients 2) Detection of pesticides and river water contaminants 3) Remote sensing of airborne bacteria 4) Detection of pathogens 5) Routine measurement of folic acid 6) Biotin and Vitamin B12 Kosum Chansiri, associate professor, said, The new technique will be a breakthrough as present day testing methods like culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are time consuming and unable to determine accurately if the TB strain is resistant to any drug. While private hospitals in India use PCR, the country’s National TB Control Programme still believes in the sputum microscopy test that takes over two days. The Thai announcement comes after Rapid Biosensor Systems, a Cambridge-based developer, has recently developed a TB breathalyzer, a portable device, which can detect TB in less than 5 minutes. It is expected that soon the trial of the technology is about to start in the UK and India. Dennis Camilleri, the chief executive officer of RBS, said, the system does not require samples to be sent to a lab for analysis, it could potentially be used at airports and seaports to screen people as they enter a country and also enables the screening to be done “while you wait”. Image Credit: MPA & CNR Via: Times of India

Embryonic stem cells can repair eyes

A company have claimed that — they have been able to repair the eye site in genetically altered mice using embryonic stem cells to repair damage. Massachusetts based Advanced Cell Technology have stated that they have been able to create blood vessel precursor cells out of stem cells, and are plans to test them in humans. Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of research and scientific development at ACT, stated we figured out how to produce literally billions of so-called ‘hemangioblasts’ — the mythical cell in the embryo that gives rise to our entire blood and immune system as well as to the blood vessels in our body. We’ve also tested these cells in animals for the first time, and it turns out that they have incredible reparative potential. Their research may lead to the creation of treatments aimed at repairing the eyes of people with certain eye conditions that limit their site. The researchers said they injected hemangioblasts into animals with damaged blood vessels in retinas caused by diabetes or injuries. The cells appeared to have begun repairing the vessels within two days, the study said. The cells demonstrated a similar ability to regenerate blood vessels in rodents with injured hind legs, but seemed to have no effect on healthy vessels. The study is published online on Monday in Nature Methods, a journal of the London-based Nature group. Image Source

New, deadlier single cell-targeting cancer therapy developed

While cancer can be prevented by changing major preventable causes and elements of one’s lifestyles, be it tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity or poor nutrition, it also has got several curative procedures. But, most of the procedures are cumbersome and expensive. With the number of cancer cases rising across the world, scientists too are confidently all set to embrace newer curative avenues. In such a venture, Rice University scientists have developed a new, innovative and amazingly effective way of curing cancer. They have packaged some of nature’s most powerful radioactive particles inside DNA-sized tubes of pure carbon. This method and package can uncompromisingly target tiny tumors, not even sparing a lone leukemia cell! Once approved, this alpha-particle radiation therapy would be the first and the appropriate approved-method at the single-cell level, as approved therapies using beta particles are not well-suited for treating cancer at such single-cell levels. While, it needs thousands of beta particles to kill a lone cell, the new method can do the same job with a single alpha particle’s hit on a cell nucleus can destroy cancer cells effectively. A ‘nuclear nano-capsule’ is about 4,000 times more massive than the electrons emitted by the commonly used cancer therapy – the beta decay. So, once approved, the new cancer weapon can prove 4000 times more deadly for those cancer cells. Image