All posts by ysyeseul

Treatment for white-nose syndrome

Have you ever heard about white-nose syndrome? White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus dstructans, or P. destructans, which resulted a significant decrease in the Bat population in North America. However, recently, a team of scientists from the U.S Forest Service, U.S. Department of New Hampshire found out that UV light could be a treatment for the white-nose syndrome.

P. destructans can only transmit white-nose syndrome to bats during hibernation because its growth temperature range is highly limited to 39-68 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem is that it is not easy to treat bats during hibernation.

During the research, the researchers supposed that P. destructans is a true fungal pathogen that evolved alongside bat species in Europe and Asia for a long time, allowing Eurasian bats to have immunity against P. destructans. When comparing P. destructans to six related fungi, the research team found that P. destructans cannot repair DNA damage caused by UV light and observed that less than 1 percent of P. destructans survived when they were exposed to moderate UV-C light. Using comparative genomics and previous data from the study, the researchers concluded that the P. destructans does not have the repair enzymes for UV light, and UV light can be a possible treatment for the white-nose syndrome. The director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory Tony Ferguson says that this research does not only affects bats, but also have a huge influence to people since bats are helpful in developing the health of forests and production of food.

Most organisms that live in dark have the ability to repair DNA damage; However, P. destructans does not. “It is an unusual case,” Jon Palmer, the lead author of the study, says, “we are very hopeful that the fungus’ extreme vulnerability to UV light can be exploited to manage the disease and save bats.” The only process left for the researcher is to develop the UV light treatment that can be applied practically to the bats.

https://phys.org/news/2018-01-lethal-fungus-white-nose-syndrome-achilles.html

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-white-nose-syndrome-millions-contagious.html

Advertisements

Which is smarter?

People are wondering which is smarter, cat or dog. They can get a clear answer from neuroscientists. Intelligence is concerned with the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is a group of neurons where each of its section has different ability. The cerebral cortex is in charge of memory, concentration, and thought. Famous neuro-scientist Herculano-Houzel wanted to find the relationship between the number of neurons in the brain and size of the brain in his research.  According to the research, “dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million.” The researchers concluded that the number of neurons in a dog’s brain is larger than that of a cat’s brain and it is not required for smarter animals to have bigger brains than less intelligent animals do. Herculano-Houzel and her companions studied the brain of eight carnivore species-ferret, mongoose, raccoon, cat, dog, hyena, lion, and brown bear. They thought the carnivores would have more neurons in their brain than herbivores’ brains do because  hunting is a challenging job. However, the result was different from their hypothesis.  The researchers concluded that the number of neurons in an animal brain is independent from the size of the brain. For instance, a bear has 10 times larger brain than that of a cat, but the bear has almost the same number of neurons.

The hunting is a challenging and demanding work, so it requires a lot of energy. The brain also demands a great deal of energy as its number of neurons increases. If the carnivores have a great number of neurons, it would consume too much energy, making them harder to survive. That is why the carnivore has a smaller number of the neurons; however, it is not always applicable to all cases: that for raccoons. Although the raccoon has a small brain, it has as many nerve cells as we find in a primate’s brain. According to the neuroscientist, “not every species is made in the same way. Yes, there are recognizable patterns, but there are multiple ways that nature has found of putting brains together-and we’re trying to figure out what difference that makes.”

 

http://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=938652&cid=51006&categoryId=51006

 

https://phys.org/news/2017-11-dogs-brainier-cats.html

 

http://www.twis.org/2017/12/15/2242/

Syrian boy who had epidermolysis bullosa is transplanted transgenic cell

Epidermolysis bullosa is a genetic disease that causes blisters and chronic wounds.  Epidermolysis bullosa occurs when the epidermal layer of the skin cannot attach fitly to the underlying dermis by the mutated connective protein. Epidermolysis bullosa is known as an incurable disease. Treatment only cares for blisters and prevent a new one. However, there is a good news. A few days ago, a team announced that a seven-year-old Syrian boy who transplanted transgenic replacement because of epidermolysis bullosa showed some progress.  In 2015, regenerative medicine specialist Michele De Luca met doctors in Germany whose Syrian patient was suffering by epidermolysis bullosa. Laminin b3, a protein that regulates the attaching epidermal cells, was not encoded properly in the patient’s gene. Although Syrian boy met a doctor in Germany, his condition became more severe. He even lost approximately 80 percent of his epidermis. De Luca had experience in transgenic cell therapy. His patients were lack of small patches of the epidermis. On the other hand, the boy needed approximately 80 percent of replacement. However, his condition was the worst and his parents decided to treat their son using transgenic cell therapy. From his biopsy, keratinocyte, a bountiful cell type in the epidermis, was extracted and transducted so that the gene in the boy’s cell encodes the laminin b3. After the cells grow enough to cover his epidermis, they were grafted in two operations.  After the operations, his new skin attached properly to the underlying dermis and had appropriate levels of laminin b3. Now, his skin does not show any defects. According to Michele De Luca, “he’s back to school, he’s exercising, he’s started to play soccer… it’s quite amazing.”

Other scientists showed a positive response.  

“It establishes a landmark in the field of stem cell therapy,” Elaine Fuchs, a skin scientist at the Rockefeller University.

“The work provides in-depth, novel information on skin stem cells and demonstrated the great potential of these cells for treating a devastating disorder,” says Allessandro Aiuti, a professor at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute

 

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epidermolysis-bullosa/symptoms-causes/syc-20361062

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/50911/title/Child-Receives-Transgenic-Skin-Over-Most-of-His-Body/

https://www.lonza.com/products-services/bio-research/primary-cells/human-cells-and-media/keratinocytes-and-media.aspx

 

Have you ever seen a slumberous jellyfish?

Have you ever heard a story that an invertebrate without a brain sleeps? I know it is unbelievable for you. However, it was reported September 21, 2017, in the journal Current Biology that sleeping of invertebrates without a brain might be possible. Paul Stenberg and other researchers involved in Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator observed the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea. They are known to live in very clear tropical water. They have unusual characteristics. They rest upside-down on the bottom of the water and they are silver dollar–sized, but they pulse like other types of jellyfish. The researchers videotaped the jellies with their iPhone, and they finally figured out a clue for sleeping. Their pulsing activities at night was considerably lower compared to daytime. When the researchers dropped the food, their pulsing came back to normal pulsing as if the smell of coffee wake up at morning. They also found another clue of sleep by dropping the floor out from the slumberous jellies. They put Cassiopea inside a PVC pipe with a mesh bottom. Lowering the pipe, they made Cassiopea float in open water. As a result, Cassiopea showed slow responses to stimulations. The results bring us to many questions; Do you need neurons to sleep? ; Do you need more than one cell to sleep?

References:

http://www.twis.org/2017/09/28/2206/

https://phys.org/news/2017-09-jellyfish.html

 

Finding Possible Treatment for the Breast Cancer

According to a research, about one in eight women suffer from the breast cancer in their lifetime.  Furthermore, the death rate of the breast cancer is higher than any other types of cancer. The breast cancer is regarded as a conundrum. However, a team of researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland has found a way to invent a treatment for the breast cancer. They developed the new way to destroy cancer cell that they were not able to kill before.

Currently, antibodies such as pertuzumab and trastuzumab are used for the treatment of breast cancer. They detect and target HER2 which plays a vital role in the breast cancer. However, the antibodies only deactivate cancer cells, so cancer cells can be reactivated at any time.

The researchers wanted to find the reason why the antibodies cannot totally destroy the breast cancer cells. They figured out that HER2 uses multiple signaling pathways to develop and reproduce cancer cells, but commonly used antibodies are formed to only block one signaling pathway, which enables cancer cells to recrudesce.

The researchers also found out a solution to overcome the lack of antibodies. They made a protein compound which is able to combine itself with two HER2 receptors and change the structure of receptors. It prevents the growth signals from the RAS, a central hub in the cell, and reactivates the signals released by the HER2 receptor. Furthermore, the antibodies might have negative effects, attacking the healthy body cells, but this protein compound only targets the cancer cells.

It is expected that the way treating breast cancer will be more opened in the future through this research

 

 

<references>

http://www.medicaldaily.com/good-breast-cancer-genes-2-genes-linked-better-survival-rate-395235

http://www.medicaldaily.com/invasive-breast-cancer-new-treatment-388652

http://www.roche.com/research_and_development/what_we_are_working_on/oncology/about-her2-positive-breast-cancer.htm

What is CRISPR Cas9?

Have you ever heard about hemophilia? It is a rare genetic disease that disables people from clotting blood. There is not yet therapy for hemophilia. However, a new technology to change the genes related to hemophilia was developed recently. The key point in this new technology is CRISPR-Cas9. It is genetic engineering tool which enables people to cut specific region of DNA and to insert another homologous DNA. Cas9 and guide RNA (gRNA) are important molecules in CRISPR-Cas9.

Cas9, a restriction enzyme, was first discovered in the 1980s. When a virus infects a bacteria, the bacteria cut the intruder’s DNA by using Cas9.

gRNA is made from a small piece of pre-designed RNA sequence. gRNA helps the Cas9 enzyme to cut particular regions of DNA.

CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats. Also, Cas means “CRISPR associated.” Even though this method does not destroy surrounding genes, it is possible to change a particular DNA sequence. Treatments for hemophilia using CRISPR-Cas9 are being studied now in the USA. Researchers say, “If a ‘normal blood clotting factor’ gene is inserted into a hemophilia patient, his or her blood will be clotted.”

In addition to hemophilia, CRISPR therapy related to HIV is also being studied. HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that infects the body immune cells and corrupts the immune system.  One typical thing of HIV is that it can go into the immune cell using the specific receptor proteins that are on the surface of the immune cells. Using CRISPR method, scientists found out that getting rid of these proteins makes HIV unable to infect another cell. Then, without the proteins that enables them to infect other cells, HIVs cannot replicate themselves and therefore collapse.

Also, CRISPR is applied to not only curing genetic diseases but also developing plants and animals. By using CRISPR, researchers made MSTN, which limits the growth of pigs, not perform its role. As a result, researchers were able to get a “super pig,” that has more muscles than normal pigs.

The usage of CRISPR can make valuable crops. In 2016, Dr. Yang and his companions made new mushrooms that doesn’t turn into brown by eliminating the enzymes that cause browning in mushrooms. Korean researchers also developed various crops, such as lettuce that has resistance in harmful insects and bean that decreases the level of cholesterol.

Although CRISPR Cas9 is touted through many positive results, it is a controversial topic. For example, CRISPR Cas9 can be used in manipulating embryonic genes, which causes the whole fetus to change. Some countries prohibit this for ethical reasons. In contrast, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority authorized to alter human embryos in the UK in 2016. Even though there are lots of positive effect modifying genes, we must know that there are some ethical issues that we must concern.

References

http://www.alphr.com/bioscience/1001654/darpa-offers-50-million-to-make-crispr-gene-editing-safer
http://news.mk.co.kr/newsRead.php?year=2017&no=461478

http://science.ytn.co.kr/program/program_view.php?s_mcd=0082&s_hcd=0010&key=201706011107334239

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pp17E4E-O8

http://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-crispr-cas9

DEVELOPING TREATMENT FOR CANCER

Do you know what is the most probable cause of death in Korea? It is cancer. However, many types of carcinostatic agents have developed over the years. There are three kinds of the carcinostatic drugs: chemical drug, target drug, immune drug. The problem of the chemical drug is that it attacks not only cancer cells but also normal cells. It causes many side effects such as hair loss or anemia. The target drug was studied to overcome this problem. It attacks only cancer cells. The target drug can discern what is the cancer cell or the normal cell by recognizing specific genes or proteins. For instance, a gene called BRCA that causes the breast cancer can be the target. However, sometimes these specific substances live in the normal cells. It results in the side effects. To be specific, there is Herceptin which attacks HER2. The problem is that HER2 is found not only in the cancer cell but also in the normal cell. For this reason, the side effect associated with a heart can occur. Furthermore, the cancer cell can come up with a new way to survive, when the target drug is prescribed. The immune drug is differentiated from the chemical agent and the target drug in the light of the fact that it does not attack the cancer cells directly. It attacks the cancer cells by using immune cells. It is hard for the immune cells to discern the cancer cells are enemies or not because the cancer cells apply immune escape strategy. However, the immune drug attacks immune escape substances. Therefore, immune cells can recognize that the cancer cells are enemies. Immune cells begin to attack the cancer cells. It can prevent the growth of the cancer cells. The advantage of the immune drug is that there are almost no side effects. Recently, the immune drug shows good results at the treating of lung cancer.

The problem of the chemical drug is that it attacks not only cancer cells but also normal cells. It causes many side effects such as hair loss or anemia. The target drug was studied to overcome this problem. It attacks only cancer cells. The target drug can discern what is the cancer cell or the normal cell by recognizing specific genes or proteins. For instance, a gene called BRCA that causes the breast cancer can be the target. However, sometimes these specific substances live in the normal cells. It results in the side effects. To be specific, there is Herceptin which attacks HER2. The problem is that HER2 is found not only in the cancer cell but also in the normal cell. For this reason, the side effect associated with a heart can occur. Furthermore, the cancer cell can come up with a new way to survive, when the target drug is prescribed. The immune drug is differentiated from the chemical agent and the target drug in the light of the fact that it does not attack the cancer cells directly. It attacks the cancer cells by using immune cells. It is hard for the immune cells to discern the cancer cells are enemies or not because the cancer cells apply immune escape strategy. However, the immune drug attacks immune escape substances. Therefore, immune cells can recognize that the cancer cells are enemies. Immune cells begin to attack the cancer cells. It can prevent the growth of the cancer cells. The advantage of the immune drug is that there are almost no side effects. Recently, the immune drug shows good results at the treating of lung cancer.

The immune drug is differentiated from the chemical agent and the target drug in the light of the fact that it does not attack the cancer cells directly. It attacks the cancer cells by using immune cells. It is hard for the immune cells to discern the cancer cells are enemies or not because the cancer cells apply immune escape strategy. However, the immune drug attacks immune escape substances. Therefore, immune cells can recognize that the cancer cells are enemies. Immune cells begin to attack the cancer cells. It can prevent the growth of the cancer cells. The advantage of the immune drug is that there are almost no side effects. Recently, the immune drug shows good results at the treating of lung cancer.

 

Reference : http://science.ytn.co.kr/program/program_view.php?s_mcd=0082&key=201707061056052577