what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Potential treatments for bipolar disorder

New stem cell research published by scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School, and fueled by the Heinz C Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, open doors to potential new treatments for bipolar disorder.

The team used skin from people with bipolar disorder to derive the first-ever stem cell lines specific to the condition.

They reported how they transformed the stem cells into neurons, similar to those found in the brain – and compared them to cells derived from people without bipolar disorder.

The comparison revealed very specific differences in how these neurons behave and communicate with each other, and identified striking differences in how the neurons respond to lithium, the most common treatment for bipolar disorder.

The research team, from the Medical School’s Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Department of Psychiatry, and U-M’s Depression Centre, used a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs.

By taking small samples of skin cells and exposing them to carefully controlled conditions, the team coaxed them to turn into stem cells that held the potential to become any type of cell. With further coaxing, the cells became neurons.

Not only could stem cell research help find new treatments, it may also lead to a way to target treatment to each patient based on their specific profile – and avoid the trial-and-error approach that leaves many patients with uncontrolled symptoms.

Know your sugar levels 30 minutes in advance There is good news for people suffering from type 1 diabetes. The researchers have now developed a model that can predict blood glucose levels up to 30 minutes in advance, leaving patients with adequate time for preventive action.

“It predicts the blood glucose levels of individuals based on insulin dose and meal intake,” said Peter Molenaar from Pennsylvania State University.

With type 1 diabetes, the body can not produce insulin - a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Many such patients therefore use glucose monitors, which examine the fluid underneath the skin.

“But the glucose levels under the skin trail blood glucose levels from anywhere between 8 and 15 minutes,” said Molenaar. “This is especially problematic during sleep. Patients may become hypoglycemic well before the glucose monitor alarm tells them they are hypoglycemic, and that could lead to death,” he added.

The researchers created a time-varying model estimated by the extended Kalman filtering technique. This model accounts for time-varying changes in glucose kinetics due to insulin and meal intake. The team tested the accuracy of its model with 30 virtual patients and five living patients with type 1 diabetes.
Peach extract could restrict breast cancer metastasis

Researchers have shown that treatment with peach extract inhibit breast cancer metastasis in mice.

Texas A and M AgriLife Research scientists say that the mixture of phenolic compounds present in the peach extract are responsible for the inhibition of metastasis. Dr Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, a food scientist for AgriLife Research in College Station, said that cancer cells were implanted under the skin of mice with an aggressive type of breast cancer cells, the MDA-MB-435, and what we saw was an inhibition of a marker gene in the lungs after a few weeks indicating an inhibition of metastasis when the mice were consuming the peach extract.

He said that furthermore, after determining the dose necessary to see the effects in mice, it was calculated that for humans it would be equivalent to consuming two to three peaches per day. The underlying mechanism by which peach polyphenols inhibit metastasis would be by targeting and modulating the gene expression of metalloproteinases.