Wednesday December 13, 2017
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Tiny DNA ‘machine’ could cut HIV diagnosis cost

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New York: Researchers have designed and synthesised a nanometer-scale DNA “machine” that can make the process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV much cheaper.

Their new approach promises to support the development of rapid, low-cost antibody detection at the point-of-care, thereby eliminating the treatment initiation delays.

“One of the advantages of our approach is that it is highly versatile,” said senior co-author of the study Francesco Ricci from University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

“This DNA nanomachine can be in fact custom-modified so that it can detect a huge range of antibodies, this makes our platform adaptable for many different diseases,” Ricci said.

The binding of the antibody to the DNA machine causes a structural change (or switch), which generates a light signal.

The sensor does not need to be chemically activated and is rapid – acting within five minutes – enabling the targeted antibodies to be easily detected, even in complex clinical samples such as blood serum.

“Our modular platform provides significant advantages over existing methods for the detection of antibodies,” professor Alexis Vallee-Belisle from University of Montreal in Canada noted.

“It is rapid, does not require reagent chemicals, and may prove to be useful in a range of different applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and bioimaging,” Vallee-Belisle said.

“Another nice feature of our this platform is its low-cost,” professor Kevin Plaxco of the University of California, Santa Barbara, US, pointed out.

“The materials needed for one assay cost about 15 cents, making our approach very competitive in comparison with other quantitative approaches,” Plaxco said.

The findings were detailed in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

 

(IANS)

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HIV Infected Smokers More likely to die of lung cancer than AIDS, Reveals Indian-origin Researcher

Smoking kills! A recent research reveals a vicious reality about the people infected with HIV, who loves to smoke, are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS.

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lung cancer
Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Pixabay

New York, September 20, 2017: People living with HIV who adhere to antiretroviral therapy, but smoke tobacco cigarettes are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has revealed.

The findings showed that overall people with HIV who take antiviral medicines, but who also smoke are six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, depending on the intensity of smoking and their sex.

“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

“Lung cancer is now one of the leading killers of people with HIV, but most of these deaths can be prevented,” added Rochelle Walensky, Professor at Harvard Medical School.

Among men who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 23 per cent of moderate smokers and 19 per cent of light smokers.

For women who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 21 per cent of moderate smokers and 17 per cent of light smokers.

“The data tell us that now is the time for action: smoking cessation programmes should be integrated into HIV care just like antiviral therapy,” Reddy said in the paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

However, among those who managed to quit smoking at age 40, only about six per cent die of lung cancer.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” suggested Travis Baggett, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School.

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Besides reducing the risk of lung cancer, quitting will also decrease their risk of other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and emphysema, the researchers said. (IANS)

 

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Just in! Like Computer Software, Scientists can now Programme Cells in your Body to Fight Diseases!

Scientists found that RNA which is produced abundantly by humans, plants and animals can be genetically engineered to allow scientists to programme cells with specific commands

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Programme cells
Scientists have found that cells can be programmed with pre-defined RNA commands, in the manner of a computer's microprocessor VOA

London, September 19, 2017 : A new technique can help programme cells like a computer to fight cancer, influenza, and other serious conditions, suggests new research.

A common molecule — ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is produced abundantly by humans, plants and animals — can be genetically engineered to allow scientists to programme cells, said the study published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research.

RNAs carry information between protein and DNA in cells, and the research proved that these molecules can be produced and organised into tailor-made sequences of commands — similar to codes for computer software — which feed specific instructions into cells, programming them to do what we want.

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Cells have the capacity to process and respond to instructions and codes inputted into their main system, said lead researcher Alfonso Jaramillo, Professor at University of Warwick in Britain.

Similar to software running on a computer, or apps on a mobile device, many different RNA sequences could be created to empower cells with a ‘Virtual Machine’, able to interpret a universal RNA language, and to perform specific actions to address different diseases or problems, the study said.

This will allow a novel type of personalised and efficient healthcare, allowing us to ‘download’ a sequence of actions into cells, instructing them to execute complex decisions encoded in the RNA.

The researchers made their invention by first modelling all possible RNA sequence interactions on a computer, and then constructing the DNA encoding the optimal RNA designs, to be validated on bacteria cells in the laboratory.

After inducing the bacterial cells to produce the genetically engineered RNA sequences, the researchers observed that they had altered the gene expression of the cells according to the RNA programme — demonstrating that cells can be programmed with pre-defined RNA commands, in the manner of a computer’s microprocessor.

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“The capabilities of RNA molecules to interact in a predictable manner, and with alternative conformations, has allowed us to engineer networks of molecular switches that could be made to process arbitrary orders encoded in RNA,” Jaramillo said.

As well as fighting disease and injury in humans, scientists could harness this technique to control plant cells and reverse environmental and agricultural issues, making plants more resilient to disease and pests.

“Throughout last year, my group has been developing methodologies to enable RNA sensing the environment, perform arithmetic computations and control gene expression without relying on proteins, which makes the system universal across all living kingdoms,” Jaramillo said.

“The cells could read the RNA ‘software’ to perform the encoded tasks, which could make the cells detect abnormal states, infections, or trigger developmental programmes,” he added.  (IANS)

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‘It is Definitely a Woman’ ; DNA tests Reveal First Strong Evidence of a Female Viking Warrior

The researchers say it's the first confirmed remains of a high-ranking female Viking warrior

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Programme cells
Scientists have found that cells can be programmed with pre-defined RNA commands, in the manner of a computer's microprocessor VOA

Berlin, September 12, 2017 : Scientists say DNA tests on a skeleton found in a lavish Viking warrior’s grave in Sweden show the remains are those of a woman in her 30s.

While bone experts had long suspected the remains belong to a woman, the idea had previously been dismissed despite other accounts supporting the existence of female Viking warriors.

Swedish researchers used new methods to analyze genetic material from the 1,000-year-old bones at a Viking-era site known as Birka, near Stockholm.

Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University said Monday the tests show “it is definitely a woman.”

Hedenstierna-Jonson said the grave is particularly well-furnished, with a sword, shields, various other weapons and horses.

Writing in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the researchers say it’s the first confirmed remains of a high-ranking female Viking warrior.