Sunday December 17, 2017

Human Cells with ‘Built-in Genetic Circuit’ can impair ability of Cancer Cells to Survive and Grow, say Researchers

As tumours develop and grow, they rapidly outstrip the supply of oxygen delivered by existing blood vessels

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FILE - A biotechnician demonstrates the loading of a genome sequencing machine at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland. Relative to their ability to pay, cancer patients in China and India face much higher prices than wealthier U.S. patients. VOA

London, Nov 26, 2016: Researchers have engineered cells with a “built-in genetic circuit” that produces a molecule that impairs the ability of cancer cells to survive and grow in their low oxygen environment.

The genetic circuit produces the machinery necessary for the production of a compound that inhibits a protein which has a significant and critical role in the growth and survival of tumours.

This results in the cancer cells being unable to survive in the low oxygen, low nutrient tumour micro-environment.

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“In a wider sense, we have given these engineered cells the ability to fight back — to stop a key protein from functioning in cancer cells,” said lead researcher Ali Tavassoli, Professor at the University of Southampton in Britain.

“This opens up the possibility for the production and use of sentinel circuits, which produce other bioactive compounds in response to environmental or cellular changes, to target a range of diseases including cancer,” Tavassoli said.

As tumours develop and grow, they rapidly outstrip the supply of oxygen delivered by existing blood vessels. This results in cancer cells needing to adapt to a low oxygen environment.

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To enable them to survive, adapt and grow in the low oxygen or ‘hypoxic’ environment, tumours contain increased levels of a protein called Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1).

This protein senses reduced oxygen levels and triggers many changes in cellular function, including a changed metabolism and sending signals for the formation of new blood vessels.

It is thought that tumours primarily hijack the function of this protein (HIF-1) to survive and grow.

“In an effort to better understand the role of HIF-1 in cancer, and to demonstrate the potential for inhibiting this protein in cancer therapy, we engineered a human cell line with an additional genetic circuit that produces the HIF-1 inhibiting molecule when placed in a hypoxic environment,” Tavassoli explained.

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“We’ve been able to show that the engineered cells produce the HIF-1 inhibitor, and this molecule goes on to inhibit HIF-1 function in cells, limiting the ability of these cells to survive and grow in a nutrient-limited environment as expected,” Tavassoli noted.

The genetic circuit was incorporated onto the chromosome of a human cell line, which encodes the protein machinery required for the production of their cyclic peptide HIF-1 inhibitor.

The research, published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, demonstrates the possibility of adding new machinery to human cells to enable them to make therapeutic agents in response to disease signals. (IANS)

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Melatonin May Help Treat Blood Cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma, Claims a New Research

The researchers have noted that the anti-cancer actions of melatonin will be helpful in facilitating clinical applications and basic research

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Melatonin produced by a gland in the brain can help treat blood cancers
Melatonin may help treat blood cancers. Pixabay
  • Researchers have discovered that Melatonin may help treat blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma 
  • Melatonin’s involvement in regulation of circadian rhythms may help in coordination and synchronization of internal body functions 
  • Anti-cancer actions of melatonin are expected to be helpful in facilitating basic research 

Washington D.C. [USA], September 3, 2017: Researchers have discovered that blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma may be treated with a hormone produced by a small gland in the brain.

Melatonin, a hormone produced by a small gland in the brain may be able to treat blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, according to the researchers.

The findings suggest that melatonin performs a number of tasks such as boosting the immune response against cancer cells, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and even protecting the healthy cells from chemotherapy’s toxic effects.

Melatonin’s involvement in regulation of circadian rhythms may help in the coordination and synchronization of internal body functions. The timings of he melatonin treatment may be grave in regard to their anti-cancer effects.

Senior author Yang Yang hopes that this information would prove helpful in the design of studies concerned with the therapeutic efficiency of melatonin in blood cancers.

Also read: Arthritis drug could cure blood cancer: Researchers

The researchers have noted that the anti-cancer actions of melatonin will be helpful in facilitating clinical applications and basic research.

The study has appeared in British Journal of Pharmacology.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Indian Origin Researcher Part of team that Developed New Device which Can Heal Any Organ with a Single Touch

A new device called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT) has been developed by researchers that can non-invasively convert skin cells into elements of any organ with a single touch

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Any organ can be healed using a single touch by a new device
Any organ can be healed using a single touch by a new device. Pixabay
  • The device called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT) does not require any laboratory-based procedures and may be implemented at the point of care
  •  It instantly delivers new DNA or RNA into living skin cells to change their function
  • The team conducted experiments on mice and pigs, where they reprogrammed skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow

August 9, 2017: Researchers, led by one of the Indian-origin, have developed a new device that can non-invasively convert skin cells into elements of any organ with a single touch, a finding that may help repair injured tissues, blood vessels, and nerves.The device called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT) does not require any laboratory-based procedures and may be implemented at the point of care.

 It instantly delivers new DNA or RNA into living skin cells to change their function, with a small electrical charge that’s barely felt by the patient, thus aiding the speedy repair of injured tissue as well as restoring the function of ageing tissue, including organs.

“With this nano chip technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch. This process only takes less than a second and is non-invasive, and then you’re off. The chip does not stay with you, and the reprogramming of the cell starts,” said Chandan Sen, Director at The Ohio State University in the US.

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For the study, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team conducted experiments on mice and pigs, where they reprogrammed skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow. Within one week, active blood vessels appeared on the injured leg and by the second week, the leg was saved.

In lab tests, the technology was also shown to reprogram skin cells in the live body into nerve cells that were injected into brain-injured mice to help them recover from the stroke, the researchers said.

“This is difficult to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98 per cent of the time,” Sen said, adding the researchers plan to start clinical trials next year in humans. (IANS)

 

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)