What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Human fat could help treat brain cancer

Researchers have claimed that they have used stem cells derived from human body fat to treat brain cancer in mice.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University said that their biological treatment procedure using mesenchymal stem cells, which were harvested from human fat tissue, was able to successfully treat mice with the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor, significantly extending their lives.

According to the study, the technique could work in people after surgical removal of brain cancers called glioblastomas to find and destroy any remaining cancer cells in difficult-to-reach areas of the brain.

The researchers have revealed that the mice treated this way had less tumor growth and spread, and their cancers were overall less aggressive and had fewer migratory cancer cells compared to mice that didn’t get the treatment.

Lead researcher Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa said that these modified mesenchymal stem cells are like a Trojan horse, in that they successfully make it to the tumor without being detected and then release their therapeutic contents to attack the cancer cells.
The study was published in Clinical Cancer Research.

How bacteria exploit proteins to cause lethal infections

A new study has revealed how bacteria exploit human proteins during lethal infections.
The research by scientists at the University of York has found how Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause life-threatening human infections, attach to two proteins fibronectin and fibrinogen found in human blood.

The scientists have solved the three dimensional structure of the bacterial protein FnBPA in complex with a small part of the human protein fibrinogen and the findings showed that the fibrinogen binding site on FnBPA is close to, but not overlapping with, the binding site for fibronectin.

Professor Jennifer Potts said that bacteria have evolved various mechanisms to exploit human proteins to cause infection and understanding it might not only lead to the development of new therapeutics but can also provide important information regarding the normal role of these human proteins in the body.

The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Avoid alcohol if you want to conceive

A new research has suggested that women should avoid drinking alcohol before they try to get pregnant otherwise the baby may end up with intestinal birth defect.

Lead investigator Jean Goodman, division director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Loyola University Health System, said that a woman can conceive at any point in her cycle, so women should avoid alcohol well in advance of becoming pregnant. Goodman advised women to take folic acid supplements starting three months prior to conception and this was an ideal time to refrain from alcohol as they are in the mindset of preparing their body for pregnancy.

Alcohol is associated with an increased risk for mental delays, cardiac anomalies and facial clefting in babies. But, the latest study showed that alcohol is linked to gastroschisis, a birth defect of the baby’s abdominal wall. Researchers surveyed 36 women who gave birth to babies with gastroschisis and 76 women who did not have infants with this defect. They found an association between gastroschisis and alcohol use one month prior to conception and during the first trimester before women knew they were pregnant.

They also revealed that gastroschisis occurs in women of all ages, races and financial means.

Researchers found no link between gastroschisis and poor maternal nutrition or vasoactive stimulants such as tobacco or illicit drugs. Gastroschisis is typically identified during an ultrasound. These pregnancies are monitored closely to ensure the unborn baby remains healthy. Plans are made for a careful delivery and surgery for the infant at the time of birth. While the prognosis is good for these babies following surgery, the rising prevalence of gastroschisis is a global concern.