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Archive - Aug 15, 2014

Anti-EphA3 Antibody Has Anti-Tumor Effects Against Solid Tumors and Blood Cancers

An international team of scientists has shown that an antibody against the protein EphA3, found in the micro-environment of solid cancers, has anti-tumor effects. As EphA3 (see image) is present in normal organs only during embryonic development, but is expressed in blood cancers and in solid tumors, this antibody-based approach may be a suitable candidate treatment for solid tumors. The researchers from Monash University and Ludwig Cancer Research, in Australia, and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, in the US, have had their findings published in the August 15, 2014 issue of Cancer Research The team, led jointly by the late Professor Martin Lackmann, from the School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash; and Professor Andrew Scott, from Ludwig Cancer Research, has found that even if tumor cells do not have this molecule they can thrive by recruiting and taking advantage of supporting EphA3-containing cells in the tumor micro-environment. First author, Dr. Mary Vail, Monash Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology said: “The tumor cells send out signals to the surrounding area and say: ‘We need a blood supply and a foundation upon which to spread’. We have shown that EphA3-expressing stromal stem cells, which are produced by the bone marrow, form cells that support and create blood vessels in tumors,” Dr. Vail said. Professor Andrew Scott’s team at Ludwig introduced human prostate cancer cells into a mouse model to mimic disease progression in humans. EphA3 was found in stromal cells and blood vessels surrounding the tumor. The scientists also observed that treatment with an antibody against EphA3 (chIIIA4) significantly slowed tumor growth. The antibody damaged tumor blood vessels and disrupted the stromal micro-environment, and cancer cells died because their ‘life-support’ was compromised.

Review Bolsters Specific Theory of Echolocation in Bats, Suggests Improvements in Sonar and Radar Technologies

Amid a neuroscience debate about how people and animals focus on distinct objects within cluttered scenes, some of the newest and best evidence comes from the way bats “see” with their ears, according to a new paper in the August 15, 2014 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology. In fact, the perception process in question could be used to improve sonar and radar technology. Bats demonstrate remarkable skill in tracking targets such as bugs through the trees in the dark of night. Dr. James Simmons, professor of neuroscience at Brown University, the review paper’s author, has long sought to explain how they do that. It turns out that experiments in Dr. Simmons’ lab point to the “temporal binding hypothesis” as an explanation. The hypothesis proposes that people and animals focus on objects versus the background when a set of neurons in the brain attuned to features of an object all respond in synchrony, as if shouting in unison, “Yes, look at that!” When the neurons do not respond together to an object, the hypothesis predicts, an object is relegated to the perceptual background. Because bats have an especially acute need to track prey through crowded scenes, albeit with echolocation rather than vision, they have evolved to become an ideal testbed for the hypothesis. “Sometimes the most critical questions about systems in biology that relate to humans are best approached by using an animal species whose lifestyle requires that the system in question be exaggerated in some functional sense so its qualities are more obvious,” said Dr. Simmons, who plans to discuss the research at the 2014 Cold Spring Harbor Asia Conference the week of September 15, 2014 in Suzhou, China. Here’s how he’s determined over the years that temporal binding works in a bat.