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Canadian scientists find new way to convert blood cells into sensory neurons

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In a revolutionary new study, conducted by a team of stem cell scientists led by Mick Bhatia from the McMaster University, Canada, has discovered how to turn adult human blood cells into brain cells, opening the doors to better understanding of every disease in the body.

According to the research, the team can now directly convert adult human blood cells into both central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) neurons as well as neurons in the peripheral nervous system that are responsible for pain, temperature and itch perception. It directly means that, now, about one million sensory neurons can be produced from a blood sample.

This lead to the conclusion that now doctors can more easily study how a person’s nervous system cells react and respond to various stimuli.

On being asked about the advantages of the new study, Bhatia, Director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, explained, “Now we can take blood samples and make the main cell types of neurological systems – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system – in a dish that is specialized for each patient. Nobody has ever done this with adult blood. Ever.”

Bhatia and fellow scientists successfully tested their breakthrough process using both fresh as well as frozen human blood.

Bhatia said, “We can also make central nervous system cells, as the blood to neural conversion technology we developed creates neural stem cells during the process of conversion.”

As per the study, the revolutionary patented direct conversion technology has “broad and immediate applications.” It paves the way for the discovery of new pain drugs that don’t just numb the perception of pain, but actually treat it.

Scientists can actually take a patient’s blood sample, and with its help, they can produce one million sensory neurons that make up the peripheral nerves in short order with this new approach.

The study can help the researchers to think and learn about any disease and improving treatments such as: Why is it that certain people feel pain versus numbness? Is this something genetic? Can the neuropathy that diabetic patients experience be mimicked in a dish?

Bhatia, while explaining the results of the study, said that the research will help to understand the response of cells to different drugs and different stimulation responses, and will allow to provide individualized or personalized medical therapy for patients suffering with neuropathic pain.

Akbar Panju, medical director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, said, “This bench to bedside research is very exciting and will have a major impact on the management of neurological diseases, particularly neuropathic pain.”

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Gas-Capturing Capsules To Measure What Gases You Have In Your Stomach

Gas-capturing capsule that can measure what kind of gases you have in your stomach and alert you if there is any problem

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Gas, Capsule, Science, Medical
Gas-capturing capsule that can measure what kind of gases you have in your stomach and alert you if there is any problem. Pixabay

Rather than laughing about it or feeling embarrassed, this is the time to take flatulence seriously as researchers have developed a non-invasive, gas-capturing capsule that can measure what kind of gases you have in your stomach and alert you if there is any problem.

The capsule can detect gaseous biomarkers as it passes through the gut, all the while transmitting the captured data wirelessly to the Cloud for aggregation and analysis.

The purpose of the research is to lift the lid on the various gases of the gut and show how vital they are for human health, said the team from University of New South Wale in Australia (UNSW).

“Interestingly, the gases in most abundance throughout the digestive system — nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and even methane – are odourless,” said lead author and Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh.

The study, published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, examined all available literature on gastrointestinal gases, their interactions with the microbiome of the gut, their associated disorders and the way that they can be measured and analysed.

Gas, Capsule, Science, Medical
An illustration of stomach pain, that mostly persists because of gas, today. Wikimedia Commons

The researchers examined each of the main gases that are found in the gastrointestinal system.

With the exception of nitrogen, the gases found in the intestines have also been linked with various gut diseases including malabsorption of food, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and even colon cancer, especially when the gas profiles deviate from the norm.

The research team is commercialising a revolutionary tool to analyse the gastrointestinal gases in vivo (within the body) in the form of an ingestible capsule loaded with gas-sensing technology.

Traditionally, testing and measuring of the various gases has ranged from the non-invasive in vitro– in the laboratory — gut simulators and indirect breath testing through to colonic or small intestine tube-insertion, a much more invasive method used to capture stool or gas samples.

ALSO READ: Himachal Pradesh To Buy-Back Non-Recyclable Plastic Waste

The ingestible capsule can simultaneously detect oxygen and hydrogen concentrations as it moves through the gastrointestinal gut and wirelessly transmit the data to an external receiver.

“There is no other tool that can do what this capsule does,” said Kalantar-Zadeh.

“In our early trials, the capsule has accurately shown the onset of food-related fermentation in the gut, which would be immensely valuable for clinical studies of food digestion and normal gut function,” he added.

According to the researchers, a trial is currently underway by Atmo Biosciences to test the commercial version of the capsule, the results of which will be detailed in a future research paper. (IANS)