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Spring-like fibres to mend broken hearts

Researchers have fabricated spring-like fibers to help repair damaged heart tissue.

Doctoral students Sharon Fleischer and Ron Feiner — under the supervision of Dr. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology — have fabricated fibers shaped like springs that allow engineered cardiac tissue to pump more like the real thing.

Dvir said that until now, when scientists have tried to engineer cardiac tissue, they’ve used straight fibers to support the contracting cells.

He said that but these fibers prevent the contraction of the engineered tissue and what they did was mimic the spring-like fibers that promote contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle.

Dvir asserted that they found that by growing tissues on these fibers, they got more functional tissues.

Alzheimer’s may be predicted  before symptoms develop

Many of the biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease that could potentially predict which patients will develop the disorder later in life have already been identified.

Now, studying spinal fluid samples and health data from 201 research participants at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown the markers are accurate predictors of Alzheimer’s years before symptoms develop.

The researchers evaluated markers such as the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain, newly visible thanks to an imaging agent developed in the last decade; levels of various proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid, such as the amyloid fragments that are the principal ingredient of brain plaques; and the ratios of one protein to another in the cerebrospinal fluid, such as different forms of the brain cell structural protein tau.

The markers were studied in volunteers whose ages ranged from 45 to 88. On average, the data available on study participants spanned four years, with the longest recorded over 7.5 years.

Why diesel exposure leads to increased asthma severity

A new study by an Indian origin scientist has revealed that exposure to diesel exhaust particles from traffic pollution leads to increased asthma severity in children due to increased blood levels of IL-17A, a protein associated with several chronic inflammatory diseases.

The study by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre was conducted in mice and in humans and it showed that neutralizing IL-17A prevented airway inflammation.

Neutralization of IL-17A “may be a useful potential therapeutic strategy to counteract the asthma-promoting effects of traffic-related air pollution, especially in highly exposed, severe allergic asthmatics,” Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, director of asthma research at Cincinnati Children’s and senior author of the study, said.

Hershey and her colleagues studied 235 children and teens with asthma. The researchers plotted each person’s primary address and estimated their diesel exposure attributable to traffic based on where they lived.

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