Tag Archives: prevent

Drug could protect against deadly doses of radiation

iStock_000021920206SmallUnfortunately, the nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown us just how catastrophic radiation can be. But what if there was a way to intervene in the 24 hours after radiation exposure, limiting damage to the human body? Researchers are optimistic that they’ve discovered a promising treatment.

Normally, radiation exposure affects the integrity of the intestines, which can lead to radiation-induced gastrointestinal syndrome (RIGS). There is no cure for RIGS, but now, there might be a way to prevent it. But by administering a compound (DMOG) that blocks certain proteins, researchers found that in mice, tissues were modified in a way that allowed them to repair and regenerate.

A potential treatment for those exposed to radiation is really good news. The survival rate in mice was greatly increased after this therapy, and there’s a possibility that this could also have an impact on patients receiving radiation during cancer treatments. While it’s too early to tell whether or not cancer patients could benefit from this drug, the good news is that it’s already in clinical trials to treat a blood disorder, so safety assessments are already in the works. Read more about the research here:

http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/05/drug-could-protect-against-radiation-exposure

YOUR golden retriever could save lives!

golder retriever puppies with motherOK, I’m not assuming that your golden retriever is going to rescue mudslide victims, sniff out bombs or detect low blood sugar levels. But if you have a golden retriever, it’s entirely possible that your dog could help save lives by advancing scientific knowledge. Interested?

The Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is enrolling golden retrievers in an attempt to learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases in dogs. They’re hoping to enroll 3,000 dogs- could your dog be one of them? Click here to find out more about the study.

Golden retrievers are awesome. They’re one of the most popular breeds, but unfortunately, many die of cancer. Information gained from the dogs in this study will benefit all breeds and could possibly help humans, too. And it’s an easy enough job; during annual vet visits, it’s as simple as quick blood and urine samples sent off for analysis.

Do you own a golden? Do you have a friend with a golden retriever? Pass this along; let’s help them fill this study!

http://www.denverpost.com/rss/ci_25443269

Hearing loss linked to a clock!

iStock_000014889492SmallDon’t worry, your alarm clock probably isn’t causing hearing loss. Well, at least not during the day! Let me explain. You probably know that your sleep patterns, hormone levels, body temperature, and immune system are affected by circadian rhythms, which are controlled by biological clocks. Circadian rhythms have also been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolism, and depression- and new research shows a potential link to hearing loss.

Researchers at the Karolinsksa Institutet in Stockholm have discovered that there is a biological clock in the ear, controlled by genes that regulate circadian rhythms. Through research in mice, they found that higher noise levels during the night resulted in permanent hearing damage, but the same noise levels during the day didn’t affect their hearing.

There is a growth hormone (called BDNF) that protects auditory nerve cells. These levels fluctuate through the day, regulated by your ‘ear clock.’ BDNF levels were lower at night, so the mice were more prone to hearing damage. But by stimulating BDNF levels at night, researchers were able to protect hearing during noise exposure!

This is an important discovery. Many people work in professions that expose them to higher noise levels at night, and understanding the mechanisms behind protecting hearing could help researchers develop new treatments for hearing loss. Read more about it here:

http://news.cision.com/karolinska-institutet/r/new-discovery-paves-the-way-for-medicine-for-people-with-hearing-disabilities,c9540948

Heart attack prevention by wearing a SLEEVE on your HEART?

iStock_000026449104SmallIt’s the ultimate pacemaker- a sleeve, fitted over the heart, that acts as an artificial pericardium and keeps the heart beating at a consistent rate.

Researchers used a 3D printer to create an exact replica of a rabbit’s heart, then built an elastic silicon membrane around the model. This circuit-lined membrane is able to sense abnormalities in heart rhythm, and it can apply electrical stimuli to the heart in a way that could prevent the heart from stopping. Awesome.

It’s possible that this technology could be used on human hearts in about a decade. Unlike current pacemakers, which aren’t specifically made for a particular person, this would be a custom piece of equipment- unique to each patient! It also has the capability to cover the entire surface of the heart, making it more effective than 2D devices. It has the capability to sense pH, temperature, mechanical strain, and electrical, thermal and optical stimulation. Watch the device in action and read more about it here.

A new way to make babies… forget the birds and the bees!

iStock_000011577284SmallYou know about the birds and the bees… but this is a whole new conversation. New research gives a new meaning to the term “three-way”! The FDA is considering the approval of in-vitro fertilization techniques that could give a child not two- but three- parents.

For women with mitochondrial defects, this could allow them to have children while preventing disease. A woman with mitochondrial defects could have the nuclear DNA removed from one of her eggs, and put into a donor egg from a woman with normal mitochondrial DNA. Studies involving oocyte modification with animals and human embryos have shown that it’s possible, and as mitochondrial diseases occur in 1 in 5,000 births, this could be a big step forward.

There are other points of view, though- some argue that offspring would need to be carefully followed to determine potential health effects of this procedure, and others question whether or not it’s ethical.

It’s a lot to think about. What do you think? Would you support this, or argue against it? What information do you need to make a decision about it? Let me know what you think. Read more here and here.

Breast cancer and a “sticky” situation

iStock_000011352024SmallCancer cells, unfortunately, can be pretty efficient at spreading. This is partly due to their “sticky” characteristics, which makes them better at invading new areas in the body. But researchers in London have identified a gene that is responsible for making breast cancer cells sticky- and this could be a big deal!

By switching off different genes in breast tumors that were grown in mice, they were able to identify a particular gene, called ST6GaINAc2 (we’ll call it ST6 for short), that contributes to tumor formation. When it’s active, ST6 prevents cancer cells from binding to the proteins that are responsible for giving them their sticky characteristics. But when ST6 gene activity is low, the cells pick up these proteins, become sticky, and spread more efficiently.

Figuring out how breast cancer spreads is really important. If researchers can identify patients with low ST6 gene activity, they might be able to treat these patients with a drug that can replicate ST6′s ability to make tumor cells less sticky. And preventing cancer cells from ‘sticking’ is good for everyone!

Read about it here: http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/news/all-news/gene-prevents-breast-cancer-spread-stopping-cells-becoming-%E2%80%98sticky%E2%80%99

This isn’t the first time researchers have looked at sticky cells- check out this link to see how sticky particles have been used to kill cancer cells! http://fbresearch.org/sticky-balls-blazing-a-trail-in-cancer-therapy/

New leukemia treatment might be able to prevent relapses

iStock_000006901657XSmallResearchers at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) in Montreal have identified a key gene (called Brg1) that regulates leukemia stem cells. What’s more- they’ve figured out a way to disarm it!

This isn’t an easy thing to figure out. Sometimes, when cancer cells are targeted, normal cells are also damaged because the genes involved in regulating cancer cells may also be essential in normal cell function. They need to know exactly what the gene does in order to figure out what they can- and can’t- do with it.

But how do they figure this out? You certainly wouldn’t want to try to shut down a gene in a human patient without fully understanding what you’re doing. This is a great example of the importance of animal-based research. Cell cultures can definitely tell you a lot, but when you want to find out how a treatment is going to affect an entire living system, animals are truly life-savers.

And based on animal and cell studies, it looks like normal blood cells don’t need Brg1 to function! More work is needed before moving into clinical trials, but this could definitely be life-changing. The cancer stem cells that Brg1 regulates are more resistant to treatments, and the ability to turn them off could make treating leukemia easier and also help prevent relapses without damaging normal cells!

Read more about this exciting research:

http://www.iric.ca/en/2014/02/a-promising-new-approach-for-treating-leukemia/