what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Moreton Bay chestnut seeds to treat dengue

A study by researchers from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) has found that the seeds of the Moreton Bay Chestnut tree contain a medicine called Celgosivir, which is commonly considered safe for people suffering from dengue virus.

The team studied the participants for five days, during which time they received either the placebo or Celgosivir. They continued to be followed up on days 7, 10 and 15 at the outpatient clinics where clinical histories and blood were taken. A physical examination of the patient was also done during these sessions.
Principal investigator of the study, Dr Jenny Low, said that they found that the drug regimen was well-tolerated.

And because dengue virus is cleared from the blood within three to five days and fever subsides in the same period, a regimen with more frequent dosing would be tested in the next phase of the trial to see its therapeutic effect.

SingHealth and Duke-NUS have signed an exclusive licensing agreement with 60 Degrees Pharmaceuticals to evaluate the efficacy and safety of an alternate dosing regimen as well as combination drug treatments in dengue patients.
Simple see-through methods to diagnose diseases better

A new study has revealed simple methods to see through organs and the entire body to visualise long-range connections between cells as well as fine-grained cellular structures. Senior study author Viviana Gradinaru of the California Institute of Technology said that although the idea of tissue clearing had been around for a century, to their knowledge, this was the first study to perform whole-body clearing, as opposed to first extracting and then clearing organs outside the adult body.

Gradinaru said that their methodology had the potential to accelerate any scientific endeavor that would benefit from whole-organism mapping, including the study of how peripheral nerves and organs could profoundly affect cognition and mental processing, and vice versa.

In the study, the researchers set out to make clarity suitable for whole organs and bodies, in part by making the process faster. First, they identified the optimal hydrogel that allows detergents to quickly remove lipids from tissue using an approach named passive clarity technique (PACT).

Gradinaru added that their easy-to-use tissue clearing protocols, which employed readily available and cost-effective reagents and equipment, will make the subcellular interrogation of large tissue samples an accessible undertaking within the broader research and clinical communities.The researchers also developed a recipe for refractive index matching solution (RIMS), which enables the long-term storage of cleared tissue and imaging thick, cleared tissue using a conventional confocal microscope.

New technique to regenerate insulin in type-1 diabetics

Scientists at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) have revealed that they have found a promising way for type 1 diabetics to restore the body's ability to produce insulin. The researchers have found that a peptide called caerulein can convert existing cells in the pancreas into those cells destroyed in type 1 diabetes-insulin-producing beta cells.

Fred Levine, of the Sanford Children's Health Research Center at Sanford-Burnham, said that they were able to generate new beta cells, the cells that produce insulin, by introducing caerulein to the pancreas and have potentially freed patients from daily doses of insulin to manage their blood-sugar levels.

The study first examined how mice in which almost all beta cells were destroyed—similar to humans with type 1 diabetes—responded to injections of caerulein. In those mice, but not in normal mice, they found that caerulein caused existing alpha cells in the pancreas to differentiate into insulin-producing beta cells.
Alpha cells and beta cells are both endocrine cells meaning they synthesize and secret hormones—and they exist right next to one another in the pancreas in structures called islets. However, alpha cells do not normally become beta cells.