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Archive - Aug 6, 2015

Double-Stranded RNA Activates Toll-Like Receptor 3 (TLR3) to Promote Regeneration of Skin and Hair Follicles During Wound Healing; Drugs to Turn On TLR3 Might Further Promote Tissue Regeneration in Patients Scarred from Injury, Hopkins Study Suggests

Johns Hopkins researchers have identified a novel cell signaling pathway in mice, through which mammals, presumably including humans, can regenerate hair follicles and skin while healing from wounds. The discovery, summarized in a featured, open-access article published online on August 6, 2015 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, could, the scientists say, eventually help spur the growth of new hair, skin, or other organ tissue in scarred victims of burns and other injuries. The article is titled “dsRNA Released by Tissue Damage Activates TLR3 to Drive Skin Regeneration.” The study "uncovers a novel role for a protein [TLR3] that works as a master regulator of regeneration in the skin," says senior study author Luis A. Garza, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Medications that turn on this protein have the powerful potential to decrease scarring as healing of wounds takes place, thereby promoting skin and hair follicle regeneration." Dr. Garza says his team's work is based on the knowledge that damaged skin releases double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) -- genetic information normally carried by some viruses -- that is sensed by a protein called toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) (image illustrates structure of TLR3 protein). TLR3, which in other contexts plays a fundamental role in recognizing some disease-causing organisms and activating the immune system, also, in response to wounding activates the genes IL6 and STAT3 to promote hair follicle regeneration.

Exosome Diagnostics Demonstrates Technical Ability, Using Combined Exosomal RNA and Cell-Free DNA Capture from Plasma, to Detect EGFR-Activating Mutations and T790M Resistance Mutation in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

On August 5, 2015, Exosome Diagnostics, Inc., a developer of what it terms “revolutionary, biofluid-based molecular diagnostics,” announced data demonstrating the ability of its proprietary exosomal RNA (exoRNA) plus cell-free DNA (cfDNA) platform to detect, with high sensitivity, EGFR-activating mutations and the EGFR T790M resistance mutation in the blood plasma of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The data were first presented on July 31, 2015 at a poster session ( titled, “Detection of EGFR-Activating and T790M Resistance Mutation in Plasma of NSCLC Patients Using Combined Exosomal RNA and cfDNA capture,” presented during the 16th Annual International Lung Cancer Congress (, which took place July 30 – August 1, 2015 in Huntington Beach, California. “Unfortunately, non-small cell lung cancer is very smart; it develops new mutations over time to resist treatment, including the EGFR T790M mutation,” said Vince O’Neill, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Exosome Diagnostics. “Based on these new data we presented, we’re highly encouraged that our EGFR T790M test will give medical oncologists a critical new tool to non-invasively, and with high sensitivity, detect the development of this resistance mutation over time through a simple blood draw, helping inform the most appropriate, targeted, and timely treatment decisions for patients, as their disease progresses.” In the study, Exosome Diagnostics applied its exoRNA plus cfDNA platform to isolate exoRNA and cfDNA from 21 blood plasma samples from NSCLC patients collected at the time of clinical resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy.

Why the Long Face? Horses Share Similar Facial Expressions with Humans and Chimps; Use of New Facial Action Coding System Adds to Evidence That Social Factors Have Significantly Influenced Evolution of Facial Expression

Horses share some surprisingly similar facial expressions with humans and chimps, according to new research from the Mammalian Communication and Cognition University group in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex in the UK, and colleagues. Mammal communication researchers have shown that, as do humans, horses use muscles underlying various facial features - including their nostrils, lips, and eyes - to alter their facial expressions in a variety of social situations. The findings, published online in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on August 5, 2015, suggest evolutionary parallels in different species in how the face is used for communication. The article is titled “'EquiFACS: The equine Facial Actin Coding System.” [Note that links to multiple popular press articles on this new work are provided at the end of this BioQuick article, as are links to the press release and to the full research article in PLOS ONE.] The study builds on previous research, which had shown that that cues from the face are important for horses to communicate, by developing the first objective coding system to identify different individual facial expressions on the basis of underlying muscle movement. The Equine Facial Action Coding System (EquiFACS), as devised by the Sussex team in collaboration with researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the UK and at Duquesne University in the United States, identified 17 "action units" (discrete facial movements) in horses. This compares with 27 in humans, 13 in chimps, and 16 in dogs. The study's co-lead author, doctoral researcher Jennifer Wathan, said: "Horses are predominantly visual animals, with eyesight that's better than [that of] domestic cats and dogs, yet their use of facial expressions has been largely overlooked.