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Archive - Jun 10, 2019

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Exosomes from Stem Cells Show Promise Against Multiple Sclerosis in Animal Study; First Human Trials Being Planned for Type 1 Diabetes, Then, If Successful, for Other Autoimmune Diseases, Including MS

A nanotechnology treatment derived from bone marrow stem cells has reversed multiple sclerosis symptoms in mice and could eventually be used to help humans, according to a new study led by University of California, Irvine (UCI) researchers. "Until now, stem cell therapies for autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases have produced mixed results in clinical trials, partly because we don't know how the treatments work," said corresponding author Weian Zhao (photo), PhD, an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering who is affiliated with the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. "This study helps unravel that mystery and paves the way for testing with human patients." In past experiments, intravenously injected stem cells - taken from bone marrow and activated with interferon gamma, an immune system protein - often became trapped in filter organs before reaching their target. For this study, published online on May 22, 2019 in ACS Nano, researchers avoided that problem by extracting nano-sized particles called exosomes from the stem cells and injecting them into rodents with MS. The ACS Nano article is titled “Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes As Nanotherapeutics for Autoimmune and Neurodegenerative Disorders.” Loaded with anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective RNA and protein molecules, the exosomes were able to slip through the blood-spinal cord barrier. In addition to rejuvenating lost motor skills and decreasing nerve damage caused by MS, the exosome contents normalized the subjects' immune systems, something conventional drugs can't do, said study co-lead author Reza Mohammadi, a UCI doctoral candidate in materials science & engineering.

Scorpion Venom Toxins Found to Have Components with Anti-Bacterial Activity; Stanford Scientists Synthesize These Components in the Lab; May Point Way to New Weapons Against Increasingly Drug-Resistant Bacteria

A scorpion native to Eastern Mexico may have more than just toxin in its sting. Researchers at Stanford University and in Mexico have found that the venom also contains two color-changing compounds that could help fight bacterial infections. The team not only isolated the compounds in the scorpion's venom, but also synthesized them in the lab and verified that the lab-made versions killed staphylococcus and drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria in tissue samples and in mice. The findings, published online on June 10, 2019 in PNAS, highlight the potential pharmacological treasures awaiting discovery in the toxins of scorpions, snakes, snails, and other poisonous creatures. The PNAS article is titled “1,4-Benzoquinone Antimicrobial Agents Against Staphylococcus Aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis Derived from Scorpion Venom.” "By volume, scorpion venom is one of the most precious materials in the world. It would costs $39 million to produce a gallon of it," said study senior author Richard Zare (https://web.stanford.edu/group/Zarelab/about.html), PhD, who led the Stanford group. "If you depended only on scorpions to produce it, nobody could afford it, so it's important to identify what the critical ingredients are and be able to synthesize them." Dr. Zare worked with his colleagues in Mexico, including Lourival Possani, PhD, a Professor of Molecular Medicine at the National University of Mexico, whose students caught specimens of the scorpion Diplocentrus melici for study. "The collection of this species of scorpion is difficult because during the winter and dry seasons, the scorpion is buried," Dr. Possani said. "We can only find it in the rainy season." For the past 45 years, Dr. Possani has focused on identifying compounds with pharmacological potential in scorpion venom.

Rhes Protein Initiates Construction of Nanotubes That Enable Travel of Huntington’s Disease Protein from Cell to Cell

A toxic protein (huntingtin) linked to Huntington’s disease can move from neuron to neuron through a nanotube tunnel whose construction is initiated by a protein called Rhes, say scientists at Scripps Research-Florida. The finding, by Scripps Research neuroscientist Srinivasa Subramaniam, PhD, improves understanding of how and why this disease attacks and destroys certain brain cells. The research was published online on May 10, 2019 in Journal of Cell Biology. The article is titled “Rhes Travels from Cell to Cell and Transports Huntington Disease Protein Via TNT-Like Cellular Protrusions.” “We are excited about this result because it may explain why the patient gets the disease in this area of the brain called the striatum,” says Dr. Subramaniam, an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Scripps Research-Florida. People with Huntington’s disease inherit a mutant gene that codes for an aberrant protein that is somehow complicit in destroying brain cells. Scientists discovered this protein in 1993, but are still piecing together its role in this degenerative disease. Scans show Huntington’s disease brains are shrunken and degraded. As the neurons deteriorate, people lose motor control, they can have emotional problems, and their thinking and memory suffer. Symptoms usually begin around age 30 to 40 and last 15 to 20 years until death. A rarer and more aggressive form of the disease affects children, cutting their childhood and their lives short. About 3 to 7 people out of 100,000 have the disease and it has mostly affected those with European ancestry. However, Dr. Subramaniam believes the disease is underreported in other areas, such as India. “There is a lot of stigma associated with the disease,” says Subramaniam.

Additional Findings Suggest Diet Changes Could Lead to Better Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes

Could changing what we eat lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes? Studies presented at Nutrition 2019 will examine how consuming certain foods, vitamins and even the order in which we eat can affect blood sugar levels and risk of developing 2 diabetes. Nutrition 2019 is being held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center. In a study of 2,717 young adults in the US with long-term follow-up, people who increased the amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and vegetable oils in their diet over 20 years had a 60 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those with a small decrease in plant foods. The findings suggest that long-term shifts toward a more plant-centered diet could help prevent diabetes. Yuni Choi, PhD candidate, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, will present this research on Tuesday, June 11, from 11 - 11:15 a.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Ballroom IV. The presentation is titled “Life Course Change Towards a Plant-Centered Diet and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study” (https://www.eventscribe.com/2019/ASN/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&Presentat...). Findings from a second study examining three large cohorts of US health professionals suggest that people with higher intakes of vitamins B2 and B6 from food or supplements have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. The study, which included more than 200,000 people, also revealed that consuming higher levels of vitamin B12 from foods was associated with a higher type 2 diabetes risk, which may be due to consumption of animal products. Kim V. E. Braun, PhD, Erasmus University Medical Center, presented this research on Sunday, June 9, from 3:15 - 3:30 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center.