Scientist have been researching new Medical Technology for “Gene Therapy” called CRISPR. The name CRISPR comes from repeat DNA sequences that were part of a complex system telling the scissors which part of the DNA to cut. This tool make precise changes to DNA in the cells of humans and other animals. A “guide RNA” tows the DNA-cutting enzyme Cas9 to specific genes, where it slices through the DNA. Those cuts are disabling genes or snipping out problem bits of DNA. We are now able to get rid of mutated genes and copy and paste new ones in, this can reduce the chance of mutations that cause Blindness, Stroke, Cancers, organ failures, that are genetically passed down from one generation to the next. The goal is for scientists to fix these problems before they even occur.
Searching for new vaccines for COVID-19, With global cases of COVID-19 surpassing 100,000, researchers are looking for ways to prevent new viral infections.The new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, has strong similarities to other viruses in the coronavirus family, particularly those that cause SARS and MERS. Understanding the target molecules that facilitate viral entry into cells is paramount to identifying how to stop this process from happening. Both papers report that SARS-CoV-2 makes use of the same mechanism for viral entry that the SARS virus (SARS-CoV) uses. More importantly, both research teams looked at ways of disrupting this process, using an enzyme inhibitor and antibodies against the SARS virus. This means that its genetic material is encoded in single-stranded RNA molecules surrounded by a cell membrane taken from the cell that it last infected. When enveloped viruses infect a cell, they do this using a two-stage process. The first step involves making a connection with a receptor on the surface of the target cell. The second is fusion with a cell membrane, either on the surface of the cell or at an internal location. In the case of coronaviruses, the first step requires that specific proteins in the viral envelope, called spike (S) proteins, undergo a biochemical modification. This step is called S protein priming. The enzymes responsible for S protein priming are potential therapeutic targets as inhibiting their mechanism may prevent a virus from being able to enter a cell.
A newly-discovered part of our immune system could be harnessed to treat all cancers, say scientists. Scientist discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests. Our immune system is our body’s natural defense against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells. What they found was a T-cell inside people’s blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated.T-cells have “receptors” on their surface that allow them to “see” at a chemical level. T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells. Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched. The idea is that a blood sample would be taken from a cancer patient. Their T-cells would be extracted and then genetically modified so they were reprogrammed to make the cancer-finding receptor.
How ‘good’ viruses may influence health – Scientists consider the virome to be “the largest, the most diverse, and the most dynamic part of [the] microbiome,” and the majority of the viruses are bacteriophages. Wherever there are bacteria, there are bacteriophages in abundance. Bacteriophages infect bacteria, commandeer their cell machinery, and use it to replicate their genetic material. It is now abundantly clear that bacteria influence health and disease, so it is no surprise that viruses that infect bacteria may have a significant influence, too. Phage therapy- scientists investigated whether bacteriophages could be used to treat bacterial infections. After all, these viruses are adept at destroying human pathogens. Scientists found that phage therapy was both effective and, importantly, free from side effects. When antibiotics were discovered, phage therapy faded into the background. Antibiotics could be manufactured with relative ease, Researchers have observed changes in bacteria in a surprisingly varied range of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and many more. As an example, there is the potential to use the virome as a diagnostic marker.
Researchers have presented an unusual artificial intelligence method for developing entirely new proteins that have never previously been seen in nature. The team has used machine learning to derive “musical scores” from the structures of proteins, that can be used to train deep learning neural networks to design completely novel proteins. Historically, scientists have developed new proteins by copying existing proteins or by altering the amino acids that a protein is composed of. However, this process is time-consuming and predicting the impact that altering amino acids has on protein structure is challenging. However, computational modeling techniques such as physiochemical simulations have been developed that can generate models of 3D protein structure based on the amino acid sequence. Scientists have used musical theory concepts to translate the chemical structure of proteins into sounds that can be used in machine learning to design completely new proteins. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence where computers are used to automatically analyze and learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions, without requiring preprogramming and with only minimal human input needed. Since each of the twenty amino acids that form a protein has its own distinct vibrational frequency, the whole protein chemical structure can be represented audibly using key aspects of musical theory such as melody and rhythm. Alternatively, “perhaps you find an enzyme in nature and want to improve how it catalyzes or come up with new variations of proteins altogether,” he suggests. By altering a condition such as temperature, for example, the algorithm can be prompted to create more mutations, which could then be quantified to assess which ones contribute to making up the most effective enzymes.
To date, examining patient tissue samples has meant cutting them into thin slices for histological analysis. This might now be set to change — thanks to a new staining method devised by an interdisciplinary team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This allows specialists to investigate three-dimensional tissue samples using the Nano-CT system also recently developed at TUM. Tissue sectioning is a routine procedure in hospitals, for instance to investigate tumors. As the name implies, it entails cutting samples of body tissue into thin slices, then staining them and examining them under a microscope. Medical professionals have long dreamt of the possibility of examining the entire, three-dimensional tissue sample and not just the individual slices. The most obvious way forward here lies in computed tomography (CT) scanning — also a standard method used in everyday clinical workflows. Today’s Micro- and Nano-CT systems are rarely suitable for use in frontline medicine. Some do not offer sufficiently high resolution, while others rely on radiation from large particle accelerators. Secondly, soft tissue is notoriously difficult to examine using CT equipment. Samples have to be stained to render them visible in the first place. Stains for CT scanning are sometimes highly toxic, and they are also extremely time-consuming to apply. Now, however, scientists at TUM’s Munich School of BioEngineering (MSB) have solved both problems. In November 2017, Prof. Franz Pfeiffer and his team unveiled a Nano-CT system that delivers resolutions of up to 100 nanometers and is suitable for use in typical laboratory settings. In the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the cross-disciplinary research team from physics, chemistry and medicine also presents a staining method for histological examination with Nano-CT.
Researchers who have discovered why the drug Remdesivir is effective in treating the coronaviruses that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) expect it might also be effective for treating patients infected with the new COVID-19 strain. Studied showed that Remdesivir essentially mimics one of the natural building blocks for RNA synthesis necessary for genome replication of the virus. Enzymes within the virus are synthesizing the viral RNA genome with these building blocks, but they mix up the bits they need with the drug. Once the drug is incorporated into the growing RNA chain, the virus can no longer replicate.
Accumulation of DNA breaks can cause aging, cancer, and Motor Neurone Disease (MND). But a novel toolkit discovered could help repair DNA breaks caused deliberately during chemotherapy treatment to kill cancerous cells. The research shows that a protein called TEX264, together with other enzymes, is able to recognize and ‘eat’ toxic proteins that can stick to DNA and cause it to become damaged. An accumulation of broken, damaged DNA can cause cellular aging, cancer and neurological diseases such as MND. Until now, ways of repairing this sort of DNA damage have been poorly understood, but scientists hope to exploit this novel repair toolkit of proteins to protect us from aging, cancer and neurological disease. The findings could also have implications for chemotherapy, which deliberately causes breaks in DNA when trying to kill cancerous cells. Scientists believe targeting the TEX264 protein may offer a new way to treat cancer. The Neuroscience Institute aims to translate scientific discoveries from the lab into pioneering treatments that will benefit patients living with neurodegenerative disorders.
Gene Sequencing Might Help Track Spread of Latest Coronavirus in China- Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is used to monitor how viruses spread and evolve in animals, but routine and large-scale monitoring with NGS can be expensive and labor-intensive, and can miss less abundant viral markers in samples. Those issues have led geneticists to develop less costly and more efficient gene sequencing strategies. In a new study, researchers outline a new enrichment strategy for monitoring coronaviruses, especially those that originate in bats. In this approach, the gene sequencing is “enriched” with what the researchers call probes. They’re tiny fragments of genetic material that find and bind to viral DNA, and they could provide a quick way to identify where viral genetic material might be hiding.In tests, the probes successfully identified coronaviruses, and this enrichment approach increased sensitivity and reduced sequencing costs. They said this approach could help them maintain a library of genetic material from emerging coronaviruses, and track the origin and evolution of coronaviruses that cause outbreaks.
The new study from NYU researchers provides an in-depth survey of the molecular players in endometrial cancer and suggests new treatment approaches. High and low power microscopic view of endometrium (uterus) to show endometrial cancer. Uterin cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women across the globe. The new insight will help doctors to better identify which patients may need aggressive treatment, and why conventional treatments may not be effective for some patients. Scientists measured the levels and modifications of molecular players, such as genes, microRNAs, circular RNAs, messenger RNAs, and proteins. The team also studied the chemical changes to proteins, known as post-translational modifications, which is essential to determine when and where proteins are inactive or active. They collected 12 million measurements of differences between healthy cells and cancerous cells. With the millions of measurements, the researchers developed a new method to determine tumors that are not aggressive now but will turn out to be as invasive as serous tumors, which are very potent and can kill patients. The findings of the study allowed the researchers to devise a new way to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from a treatment called immune checkpoint therapy. In the therapy, doctors use drugs like nivolumab and pembrolizumab to remove the barriers that most tumor cells use to escape the immune system. These immune checkpoint inhibitors fight cancer by blocking checkpoint proteins from binding with their partner proteins, preventing the turn off signal from being sent. Hence, the drugs allow the T cells of the immune system to kill cancer cells. It’s like boosting the power of the body’s immune system to fight cancer itself. Cance