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‘Fat clue’ to TB discovered
In a major breakthrough that may pave the way for innovative strategies for treating tuberculosis, scientists in the US claim to have found a ‘fat clue’ to the progression of the disease.
The factors instrumental in triggering latent tuberculosis (TB) infection to progress into active disease have long remained elusive to researchers. Now, David Russell and his group at Cornell University in New York, USA, have demonstrated that TB-causing bacteria are able to hijack fat metabolism in the host to drive the progression of the disease.
The research shows that Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is able to stimulate macrophages — the immune cells the bacterium infects — to accumulate fat droplets, turning them into ‘foamy’ cells. This cellular transformation can trigger a reawakening of the TB infection from its latent state.
Following initial infection by Mtb, the infected immune cells in the body can clump together in the lungs in a cellular mass that is surrounded by a fibrous cuff. This structure, called a tubercle, physically protects the bacteria from being destroyed by the immune system.
Leptin therapy shows promise for diabetes

UT Southwestern Medical Centre researchers have found that using leptin alone in place of standard insulin therapy could abate symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.

Using mouse models, the researchers found that leptin administered instead of insulin showed better management of blood-sugar variability and lipogenesis, the conversion of simple sugars into fatty acids.

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells and involved in the regulation of body weight. Dr Roger Unger led the study.

Insulin treatment has been the gold standard for Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) in humans since its discovery in 1922. Dr Unger’s laboratory found that insulin’s benefit resulted from its suppression of glucagon, a hormone produced by the pancreas that raises blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.

“Insulin cells are destroyed in people with Type 1 diabetes, however, and matching the high insulin levels needed to reach glucagon cells with insulin injections is possible only with amounts that are excessive for other tissues,” said Unger.

‘Single shot’ breast cancer treatment soon

A single half-hour ‘shot’ treatment for breast cancer can now do away with a six-week course of tumour-destroying therapy, according to British doctors.
The radiotherapy treatment, which is for use in patients with early breast cancer after they have undergone surgery on the tumour, is showing positive results in early trials in patients.

The novel therapy is designed to kill remaining cancerous cells with a concentrated beam of radiation.

Currently, women with breast cancer undergo a five to six-week course of radiotherapy treatment after surgery, involving about 20 hospital visits.

The surgery is designed to conserve as much of the breast as possible, rather than a mastectomy where the whole breast is removed.

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