Biosingularity

Archive for June 2007

Scientists have created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful chemotherapeutic drug inside tumor cells – increasing the drug’s cancer-killing activity and reducing its toxic side effects.

Previous studies in cell cultures have suggested that attaching anticancer drugs to nanoparticles for targeted delivery to tumor cells could increase the therapeutic response. Now, U-M scientists have shown that this nanotechnology-based treatment is effective in living animals.

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One of the medical marvels of stem cells is that they continue to divide and renew themselves when other cells would quit. But what is it that gives stem cells this kind of immortality. Researchers now report in the June 16, 2005 issue of the journal Nature that microRNAs — tiny snippets of genetic material that have now been linked to growth regulation in normal cells as well as cancer growth in abnormal cells — appear to shut off the “stop signals” or brakes that would normally tell cells to stop dividing.

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In the latest version of the hide-and-seek game between pathogens and the hosts they infect, researchers have found that a virus appears to cloak itself with a recently discovered gene silencing device to evade detection and destruction by immune cells.

The report by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers in an article published in the June 2, 2005, issue of Nature may be the first to show how a virus uses the gene silencing machinery for its own infectious purposes.

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Stem cells with the capacity to form any type of tissue can be created from adult cells without destroying embryos, according to new research that suggests a way of sidestepping ethical controversy over the field.

Three separate teams of scientists have used genetic trickery to wind back the biological clock of mature skin cells from mice, to give them the unlimited potential of stem cells that are normally found only in embryos.

Though it remains uncertain whether the same technique would work in humans, the successes raise the prospect that powerful master cells for use in medicine and research could one day be created from adult bodies, removing any need to use embryos.

Read the article at Times Online site

A major advance in understanding the genetics behind several of the world’s most common diseases has been reported.The landmark Wellcome Trust study analysed DNA from the blood of 17,000 people to find genetic differences. They found new genetic variants for depression, Crohn’s disease, coronary heart disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 and 2 diabetes.

The remarkable findings, published in Nature, have been hailed as a new chapter in medical science.

Read rest of the article at BBC Newssite

The ability to regenerate nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way. In two presentations at the NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference, researchers describe the use of nanotechnology to enhance the regeneration of nerve cells. In the first method, developed at the University of Miami, researchers show how magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) may be used to create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons of the central nervous system neurons. The second method from the University of California, Berkeley uses aligned nanofibers containing one or more growth factors to provide a bioactive matrix where nerve cells can regrow.
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Researchers have identified a new population of stem cells that act to repair muscle after damage.

Until now, researchers had assumed that all of these cells, which are called satellite cells, had similar properties. They all seemed to follow the same developmental path to becoming mature muscle. The new discoveries show that the developmental fate of a given satellite cell depends on its physical orientation immediately after cell division.
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