Archive for the ‘genetics’ category: Page 12

Aug 27, 2020

Transplanted brown-fat-like cells hold promise for obesity and diabetes

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Obesity is the main cause of type 2 diabetes and related chronic illnesses that together will kill more people around the globe this year than the COVID-19 coronavirus. Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center have delivered a proof of concept for a novel cell-based therapy against this dangerous condition.

The potential therapy for obesity would transplant HUMBLE (human brown-like) , human white fat cells that have been genetically modified to become similar to heat-generating , says Yu-Hua Tseng, Ph.D., a Senior Investigator in Joslin’s Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism.

Brown fat cells burn energy instead of storing energy as white fat cells do, says Tseng, senior author on a paper about the work in Science Translational Medicine. In the process, brown fat can lower excessive levels of glucose and lipids in the blood that are linked to metabolic diseases such as .

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Aug 27, 2020

Study leads to potential for new treatment approach to Alzheimer’s

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension, neuroscience

Research looking at a possible new therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s disease was recently published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation. The paper out of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) is titled “Therapeutic Trem2 activation ameliorates amyloid-beta deposition and improves cognition in the 5XFAD model of amyloid deposition”. The work looked at targeting inflammation by using an antibody. Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias have no disease-modifying treatments at this time and represent a looming public health crisis given the continually growing aging population.

The paper explains that current therapeutic approaches to the treatment of Alzheimer’s focus on the major pathological hallmarks of the disease which are and neurofibrillary tangles. They are the requirements for a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the authors say there has been an explosion of genetic data suggesting the risk for sporadic Alzheimer’s disease is driven by several other factors including neuroinflammation, membrane turnover and storage, and .

In this study the researchers focused on triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cell-2 (TREM2). “TREM2 was identified several years ago as a gene that, when there’s a mutation, significantly increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The field thinks that this mutation reduces the function of the receptor, so we hypothesized that targeting TREM2 to increase its function might be a valid treatment for Alzheimer’s,” explained Donna Wilcock, SBCoA associate director.

Aug 26, 2020

Body fat transformed by CRISPR gene editing helps mice keep weight off

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

White fat cells can be turned into energy-burning brown fat using CRISPR gene-editing technology. These engineered cells have helped mice avoid weight gain and diabetes when on a high-fat diet, and could eventually be used to treat obesity-related disorders, say the researchers behind the work.

Human adults have plenty of white fat, the cells filled with lipid that make up fatty deposits. But we have much smaller reserves of brown fat cells, which burn energy as well as storing it. People typically lose brown fat as they age or put on weight. While brown fat seems to be stimulated when we are exposed to cold temperatures, there are no established methods of building up brown fat in the body.

Aug 26, 2020

Progress towards a cure for herpes

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, USA, have used gene editing to remove latent herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), also known as oral herpes.

In mice, the technique showed a 92% decrease in the latent virus – enough to keep the infection from coming back, according to the scientists. The study used two sets of “genetic scissors” to damage the virus’s DNA, fine-tune a delivery vehicle to the infected cells, and target the nerve pathways connecting the neck with the face, reaching the tissue where the virus lies dormant. The findings are published in Nature Communications.

“This is the first time that scientists have been able to go in and actually eliminate most of the herpes in a body,” said senior author Dr. Keith Jerome, Professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Fred Hutch. “We are targeting the root cause of the infection: the infected cells where the virus lies dormant and are the seeds that give rise to repeat infections.”

Aug 26, 2020

Handheld device could detect CRISPR bioweapons before they spread

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, military

Bits of DNA known as gene drives that force themselves through a population could be use maliciously, but thankfully there is a way to detect them before they spread.

Aug 26, 2020

A ‘Kill Switch’ for Rogue Microbes

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Biologists often speak of switching genes on and off to give microbes new abilities–like producing biofuels or drugs, or gobbling up environmental toxins. For the most part, though, it’s nearly impossible to turn off a gene without deleting it (which means you can’t turn it on again). This limits biologists’ ability to control how much of a particular protein a microbe produces. It also restricts bioengineers’ ability to design new microbes.

Now researchers at Boston University, led by biomedical engineering professor James Collins, have developed a highly tunable genetic “switch” that offers a greater degree of control over microbes. It makes it possible to stop the production of a protein and restart it again. The switch, which could be used to control any gene, can also act as a “dimmer switch” to finely tune how much protein a microbe would produce over time.

The researchers made a highly effective microbe “kill switch” to demonstrate the precision of the approach. For years, researchers have been trying to develop these self-destruction mechanisms to allay concerns that genetically engineered microbes might prove impossible to eradicate once they’ve outlived their usefulness. But previous kill switches haven’t offered tight enough control to pass governmental regulatory muster because it was difficult to make it turn on in all the cells in a population at the same time.

Aug 25, 2020

Researchers develop new system to conduct accurate telomere profiling in less than 3 hours

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension

The plastic tips attached to the ends of shoelaces keep them from fraying. Telomeres are repetitive DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequences that serve a similar function at the end of chromosomes, protecting its accompanying genetic material against genome instability, preventing cancers and regulating the aging process.

Each time a in our body, the telomeres shorten, thus functioning like a molecular “clock” of the cell as the shortening increases progressively with aging. An accurate measure of the quantity and length of these telomeres, or “clocks,” can provide vital information if a cell is aging normally, or abnormally, as in the case of cancer.

To come up with an innovative way to diagnose telomere abnormalities, a research team led by Assistant Professor Cheow Lih Feng from the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech) has developed a novel method to measure the absolute telomere length of individual telomeres in less than three hours. This unique telomere profiling method can process up to 48 samples from low amounts (1 ng) of DNA.

Aug 24, 2020

Genetic Variants May Explain High Levels of Antibodies Against Epstein-Barr Virus in MS, Study Suggests

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Genetic variants may contribute to increased levels of antibodies against proteins of the Epstein-Barr virus — a known environmental risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) — in MS patients and their siblings, a study suggests.

The study, “EBNA-1 titer gradient in families with multiple sclerosis indicates a genetic contribution,” was published in the journal Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation.

Aug 23, 2020

Genetically modified mosquitoes OK’d for a first U.S. test flight

Posted by in category: genetics

After a decade of heated debate, free-flying swarms aimed at shrinking dengue-carrying mosquito populations gets a nod for 2021 in the Florida Keys.

Aug 20, 2020

Genetic background may affect adaptions to aging

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, genetics, life extension, neuroscience

How we adapt to aging late in life may be genetically influenced, according to a study led by a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside.

The research, published in Aging Cell, has implications for how relate to aging. Epigenesis is a process in which chemicals attached to DNA control its activity. Epigenetic changes, which can be passed on to offspring, may be critical to accelerated aging as well as declines in cognitive and physical functioning that often accompany aging. Epigenetic modifications resulting in altered may occur due to a number of biological processes, including one the researchers focused on: DNA methylation.

In DNA methylation, groups are added to the DNA molecule. DNA has four different types of nucleotides: A, T, G, and C. DNA methylation occurs at the C bases of eukaryotic DNA. Changes in DNA methylation correlate strongly with aging.

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