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Archive - Jul 2017

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July 20th

Unexpected Source of Tuna's Precise Control of Movement: Hydraulic Control of Fins by Lymph System

The precise control that tuna have of their fins for tight turns and movement while swimming is aided by hydraulic activity of the lymphatic system, a new study reveals. Furthermore, the authors found that this specialization of the lymphatic system is associated with other fishes in the family Scombridae, suggesting that it may have evolved in response to the demand for the sophisticated maneuvering control in these high-performance species. The new report was published in the July 21, 2017 issue of Science and is titled “Hydraulic Control of Tuna Fins: A role for the lymphatic system in vertebrate locomotion.” While dissecting tuna fins, Vadim Pavlov, PhD, of the Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California, and colleagues found a chamber-like compartment, or large vascular sinus (VS), located at the base of both the second dorsal and anal fins. When the scientists pumped fluid into the chamber, this provided finely controlled adjustment of the fin. Close video monitoring of tuna as they swam revealed that the degree of fin erection increases when tuna are engaging in behaviors that require frequent changes in movement direction, such as searching and feeding, compared to when the fish are simply cruising. Next, the researchers injected special fluid into the VS of tuna to trace fluid dynamics throughout the system. The injection was present only in a sub-section of vessels with vein-like morphology, a characteristic of the lymphatic system, which helps distribute immune cells. Analyzing fluid naturally found in the VS of tuna revealed a high portion of lymphatic cells relative to that found in blood, further suggesting that the VS is a part of the lymphatic system.

Methicillin-Resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) Emerged Years Before Methicillin Was Introduced into Clinical Practice

Science Advances article]Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published online on July 20,2017 in the open-access journal Genome Biology. It was the widespread use of earlier antibiotics such as penicillin rather than of methicillin itself that caused MRSA to emerge, researchers at the University of St. Andrews, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, suggest. The article is titled “Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Emerged Long Before the Introduction of Methicillin into Clinical Practice.” The researchers found that S. aureus acquired the gene that confers methicillin resistance - mecA - as early as the mid-1940s - fourteen years before the first use of methicillin. Professor Matthew Holden, molecular microbiologist at the University of St. Andrews, the corresponding author said: "Our study provides important lessons for future efforts to combat antibiotic resistance. It shows that new drugs which are introduced to circumvent known resistance mechanisms, as methicillin was in 1959, can be rendered ineffective by unrecognized, pre-existing adaptations in the bacterial population. These adaptations happen because - in response to exposure to earlier antibiotics - resistant bacterial strains are selected instead of non-resistant ones as bacteria evolve." The mecA gene confers resistance by producing a protein called PBP2a, which decreases the binding efficiency of antibiotics used against S. aureus to the bacterial cell wall. The introduction of penicillin in the 1940s led to the selection of S. aureus strains that carried the methicillin resistance gene. Dr.

July 20th

AAAAI Lifetime Achievement Award Will Go to Yale Physician/Scientist, Immunology Giant, & Exosome Pioneer: Philip Askenase

BioQuick News has recently learned that Philiip Askenase, MD, will be honored with a life-time achievement award--Distinguished Scientist Awardee of the AAAAI for 2018—by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. This award is presented annually to recognize scientific contributions of a single individual to the field of Allergy and Immunology that have advanced allergy and immunology research, and for leadership contributions to the specialty. Generally, only one such award is given each year. Dr. Askenase, Professor of Medicine (Immunology) at the Yale School of Medicine is the first from Yale ever selected for this prestigious award. The award will be given before a large audience in Orlando, Florida at the Annual AAAAI meeting in early March 2018. The AAAAI has a total of about 7,000 members from all over the world. Dr. Askenase will present a lecture at the time of the award presentation and the provisional title for his address is “The Role of Exosome Delivery of miRNAs in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.” Working with the well-known models of cutaneous immune hypersensitivity and immunity, Dr. Askenase discovered the series of steps from challenge with antigen, in a sensitized host, to the entry of T cells into the site of challenge. This work uncovered previously unrecognized roles of: B-1a B cells, NKT cells, IL-4, complement, serotonin, and mast cells. These findings are relevant to the diagnosis and therapy of allergic and autoimmune diseases, as well as cancers and transplantation. Current work in the Askenase lab centers on the very exciting newly discovered exosomes that are nanoparticles released by all cells sending RNA functional messages to each other.

Study Demonstrates Use of ACE Technology for Direct Isolation of Exosomes

On July 12, 2017, Biological Dynamics announced the publication of data in ACS Nano demonstrating that the company's proprietary lab-on-a-chip ExoVerita™ system can simplify and streamline the process for isolation and recovery of exosomes. The company is using this technology to develop a portfolio of minimally-invasive diagnostic tests to provide faster answers to critical clinical questions in high-burden diseases, such as cancer, traumatic brain injury, and infectious diseases. The ACS Nano article, published online on July 3, 2017, is titled “Rapid Isolation and Detection of Exosomes and Associated Biomarkers from Plasma.” Exosomes are cell-derived, extracellular vesicles that enable communication between cells. They are secreted from most cell types and released in bodily fluids such as urine, blood plasma, and saliva. Due to their stability and ability to transport information about their origin and the state of their parental cells, exosomes are believed to have great potential to power the next generation of liquid biopsies and cancer biomarkers. "Current exosome isolation methods are generally expensive, complex, and cumbersome, which could limit large-scale diagnostic applications," said Michael Heller, PhD, principal investigator on the paper and scientific advisory board member of Biological Dynamics. "This study describes a relatively simple, rapid, and non-destructive method for the isolation of exosomes, that preserves their valuable biomarker information for direct analysis.

July 19th

Rare Human Disease (Williams-Beuren Syndrome) May Help Explain Why Dogs Are So Friendly; Study Suggests Dogs Evolved from Wolves Due to Gene-Based Affinity to Associate with Humans

Dogs' ability to communicate and interact with humans is one the most astonishing differences between them and their wild cousins, wolves. A new study published online on July 19, 2017 in the journal Science Advances identifies genetic changes that are linked to dogs' human-directed social behaviors and suggests there is a common underlying genetic basis for hyper-social behavior in both dogs and humans. The open-access article is titled “Structural Variants in Genes Associated with Human Williams-Beuren Syndrome Underlie Stereotypical Hyper-Sociability in Domestic Dogs." In the study, an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including ones from Princeton University, sequenced a region of chromosome 6 in dogs and found multiple sections of canine DNA that were associated with differences in social behavior. In many cases, unique genetic insertions called transposons on the Williams-Beuren syndrome critical region (WBSCR) were strongly associated with the tendency to seek out humans for physical contact, assistance and information. In contrast, in humans, it is the deletion of genes from the counterpart of this region on the human genome, rather than insertions, that causes Williams-Beuren syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by hyper-social traits such as exceptional gregariousness. "It was the remarkable similarity between the behavioral presentation of Williams-Beuren syndrome and the friendliness of domesticated dogs that suggested to us that there may be similarities in the genetic architecture of the two phenotypes," said Bridgett vonHoldt, PhD, an Assistant Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton and the study's lead co-author. Dr. vonHoldt had identified the canine analog of the WBSCR in her publication in Nature in 2010.

Aethlon Medical Announces Receipt of U.S. Patent Protecting Methods of Capturing MHC-Antigen-Associated Exosomes

On July 19, 2017, Aethlon Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEMD), a therapeutic technology company focused on unmet needs in global health and biodefense, announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted U.S. Patent Number 9,707,333 (the '333 Patent), entitled "EXTRACORPOREAL REMOVAL OF MICROVESICULAR PARTICLES." The '333 Patent covers methods of capturing exosomes that include an MHC-I or MHC-II antigen, whereby a patient suspected of receiving a benefit from exosome capture and removal is selected, and the whole blood, plasma, or serum from the patient is contacted with a substrate that includes antibodies specific for an MHC-I or MHC-II antigen. The '333 Patent also covers methods of capturing and removing MHC-I or MHC-II antigen-associated exosomes from whole blood, plasma, or serum of a patient, and returning the whole blood, plasma, or serum to the patient with substantially fewer MHC-I or MHC-II antigen-associated exosomes. MHC-I and MHC-II antigen-associated exosomes contribute to the progression of numerous disease conditions, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. The '333 Patent is a continuation of U.S. Patent Number 9,364,601, which covers methods of lectin-based capture of exosomes from a patient, and U.S. Patent Number 8,288,172, which protects the use of the Aethlon Hemopurifier® in a method to remove immunosuppressive exosomes from blood. Together, these patents solidify Aethlon's position as a leader in pioneering diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in the field of exosome biology.

Genome Sequence and Analysis of Rare South Koran Bat

A recent study, affiliated with the Korean Genomics Industrialization and Commercialization Center (KOGIC) at South Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), has presented the first whole genome sequence and analyses of Myotis rufoniger, one of the most well-known and iconic protected wild animals in South Korea, known as the golden bat. This breakthrough comes from a research effort, conducted by Professor Jong Bhak of Life Science at UNIST and Professor Doug-Young Ryu of Veterinary Medicine at Seoul National University in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration. Recent studies have indicated that bats live longer than any other mammals of their sizes on earth. Myotis rufoniger is a species of vesper bat in the family Vespertilionidae. It is a rare bat species that faces imminent threat of disappearance from the face of Earth. Being designated as Korean natural monument No. 452, only 450 to 500 of these bats survive in the wild in South Korea, presently. The reseach team expects that their new study will provide a genetic foundation for the restoration and conservation of the critically endangered M. rufoniger. In the study, published online on July 5, 2017 in PLOS ONE, the research team, led by Professor Bhak's research group, provides a whole genome analysis of M. rufoniger by producing massively parallel short DNA sequences with its genomic features and unique amino acid sequences, accompanied by its demographic history and genetic diversity. The open-access article is titled “"Myotis rufoniger Genome Sequence and Analyses: M. Rufoniger's Genomic Feature and the Decreasing Effective Population Size of Myotis Bats." The genomic DNA from the wild carcass of M.

July 17th

Study Identifies Microglia As Source of Cell-Specific ANK1 Gene Expression Changes in Alzheimer's Disease

Researchers led by Arizona State University (ASU) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have identified altered expression of a gene called ANK1, which only recently has been associated with memory-robbing Alzheimer's disease, in specific cells in the brain. Using an extremely precise method of isolating cells called "laser capture microdissection," researchers looked at three specific cell types -- microglia, astrocytes, and neurons -- in the brain tissue of individuals with a pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and compared them to brain samples from healthy individuals and those with Parkinson's disease. Following sequencing of each of these cell types, the ASU-TGen led team found that altered ANK1 expression originates in microglia, a type of immune cell found in the brain and central nervous system, according to the study published online on July 12, 2017 in PLOS ONE. The open-access article is titled “ANK1 Is Up-Regulated in Laser Captured Microglia in Alzheimer’s Brain; The Importance of Addressing Cellular Heterogeneity.” "Although previous genetic and epigenetic-wide association studies had shown a significant association between ANK1 and AD, they were unable to identify the class of cells that may be responsible for such association because of the use of brain homogenates. Here, we provide evidence that microglia are the source of the previously observed differential expression patterns in the ANK1 gene in Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Diego Mastroeni, an Assistant Research Professor at Biodesign's ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center, and the study's lead author.

July 15th

Scientists Develop Wholly Synthetic Alternative to Matrigel for Vascular Toxicity Screening and Stem Cell Expansion

Since highly versatile human stem cells were discovered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison nearly 20 years ago, their path to the market and clinic has been slowed by a range of complications. Both embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells are valued for their ability to form any cell in the body. On July 11, 2017, a UW-Madison team reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering that it has surmounted a major hurdle on the path toward wider use of stem cells. The article is titled “Versatile Synthetic Alternatives to Matrigel for Vascular Toxicity Screening and Stem Cell Expansion.” Using an automated screening test that they devised, William Murphy, PhD, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and colleagues Eric Nguyen, PhD, and William Daly, PhD, have invented an all-chemical replacement for the confusing, even dangerous materials, now used to grow these delicate cells. "We set out to create a simple, completely synthetic material that would support stem cells without the issues of unintended effects and lack of reproducibility," Dr. Murphy says. Stem cells respond to chemical signals that trigger their development into specialized cells in the brain, muscles and blood vessels. In the lab, researchers use a "substrate" material that anchors the cells in place and allows the necessary signaling. Matrigel, currently the most popular of these substrates, is a complex stew derived from mouse tumors. "Matrigel can be a very powerful material, as it includes more than 1,500 different proteins," says Dr. Murphy, "and these can influence cell behavior in a huge variety of ways.

July 10th

Erratic Time Perception Seen in Schizophrenia, Meta Data Study Indicates

Persons suffering from schizophrenia have a different perception of time than healthy individuals. There is far more variation in the way that a time interval is perceived by people with schizophrenic disorders than by those who do not have the condition. Patients with schizophrenia are also less precise when it comes to judging the temporal order of events. These are the conclusions drawn from the results of a meta-analysis undertaken by psychologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany, for which they evaluated 68 international publications from the past 65 years and compared the data of 957 schizophrenia patients with that of 1,060 healthy control persons. The results were published online on March 29, 2017 in Clinical Psychology Review. The article is titled “Meta-Analysis of Time Perception and Temporal Processing in Schizophrenia: Differential Effects on Precision and Accuracy.” Although the clinical syndrome known as schizophrenia is already widely recognized, the connection between gthe cognitive and neurological impairments on the one hand and the patient's symptoms on the other remains unclear. One theory that is current among schizophrenia researchers is that errors in temporal information processing could underlie the disorder and give rise to the known symptoms, such as the hallucinations experienced by patients who might, for instance hear voices, and the disconnection between actions and thoughts. In their meta-analysis, psychologists Sven Thönes, at present a researcher at the Leibniz Research Center for Working Environment and Human Factors in Dortmund, and Dr.