Archive for November 2011
Do we finally have a miracle weight loss drug? I mean, for real this time? The data seems to support such a claim, at least for overweight monkeys that simply can’t drop those extra pounds no matter what they try. After receiving the drug for just four weeks, the monkeys lost between 7 and 15 percent of the body weight, and averaged a more than 38 percent loss of total body fat.
The study, published November 9th in the journal Science Translational Medicine, was headed by husband-and-wife team Wadih Arap and Renata Pasqualini at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Their drug, called Adipotide, targets the blood vessels that feed fat cells, or adipocytes. Attacking those blood vessels chokes off the nutrient supply that the fat cells need to survive and they either die or become stressed to the point that they don’t function.
Of course, blood vessels are needed to keep all cells alive. But the major medical advancement that adipotide brings is its ability to kill blood vessels associated with fat cells while leaving other blood vessels alone. The strategy has been long sought after by cancer biologists trying to kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. Where others had failed, Arap and Pasqualini, cancer biologists themselves, succeeded by taking an approach that was novel in multiple ways.
Faster, longer, further… fatter? Knocking out a particular gene in muscle lets mice run twice as far as normal. Knocking out the same gene in fat cells allows the animals to put on weight without developing type-2 diabetes.The discoveries could lead to new treatments for diabetes or for invigorating muscles in elderly people and in those with wasting diseases, say Johan Auwerx of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland, and colleagues. Auwerx warns that cheats may exploit the potential for increase athletic performance, however.Auwerx and his colleagues used a targeted virus to knock out the gene that makes a protein called nuclear receptor corepressor 1 NCoR1 in the muscle of mice. Without NCoR1, mitochondria, which power cells, keep working at full speed. “Effectively, the mice go further, faster, on the same amount of gas,” says Auwerx.
Since 1928, the way breast cancer characteristics are evaluated and categorized has remained largely unchanged. It is done by hand, under a microscope. Pathologists examine the tumors visually and score them according to a scale first developed eight decades ago. These scores help doctors assess the type and severity of the cancer and, accordingly, to calculate the patient’s prognosis and course of treatment.
In a paper published Nov. 9 in Science Translational Medicine, computer scientists at the Stanford School of Engineering and pathologists at the Stanford School of Medicine report their collaboration to train computers to analyze breast cancer microscopic images. The computer analyses were more accurate than those conducted by humans.
The red wine ingredient resveratrol mimicked the metabolic effects of dieting and exercising in obese men, a small study found.
Although it didn’t lead to weight loss, a daily 150-milligram dose of resveratrol lowered blood pressure as well as blood glucose levels and liver fat in obese men after 30 days, Dutch researchers reported today in the journal Cell Metabolism.
“It seems to make you metabolically healthier without weight loss,” said study author Patrick Schrauwen of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. “I don’t think it’s a weight-loss drug.”