Sunday November 17, 2019

Researchers Find a Way to Engineer Beta Insulin- Producing Cells for Diabetes

The researchers found that transplanting the engineered pancreatic beta cells under the skin of diabetic mice led to improved tolerance and regulation of glucose

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Insulin
The cells do the work of Insulin production naturally and the regulatory circuits within them work the same. Pixabay

Researchers have found a way to engineer pancreatic beta cells that can enhance production of Insulin in response to glucose levels when these cells are “switched on” by light.

The study, published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, shows that glucose levels can be controlled in a mouse model of diabetes without pharmacological intervention.

The researchers found that transplanting the engineered pancreatic beta cells under the skin of diabetic mice led to improved tolerance and regulation of glucose, reduced hyperglycemia, and higher levels of plasma insulin when subjected to illumination with blue light.

“It’s a backwards analogy, but we are actually using light to turn on and off a biological switch,” said Emmanuel Tzanakakis, Professor at Tufts University in the US and corresponding author of the study.

“In this way, we can help in a diabetic context to better control and maintain appropriate levels of glucose without pharmacological intervention. The cells do the work of insulin production naturally and the regulatory circuits within them work the same.”

Insulin
Researchers have found a way to engineer pancreatic beta cells that can enhance production of Insulin in response to glucose levels when these cells are “switched on” by light. Pixabay

The blue light simply flips the switch from normal to boost mode. Such approaches utilising light-activitable proteins for modulating the function of cells are being explored in many biological systems and have fuelled efforts toward the development of a new genre of treatments.

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“There are several advantages to using light to control treatment,” said Fan Zhang, graduate student in Tzanakakis’ lab at Tufts and first author of the study. (IANS)

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Scientists Link ‘Brain Fog’ to Body Illness

The study focused specifically on an area of the brain that is responsible for visual attention

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Illness
This research finding is major step forward in understanding the links between physical, cognitive, and mental health and tells us that even the mildest of Illness may reduce alertness. Pixabay

Scientists have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness or mental fatigue that often accompanies Illness.

A team at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health investigated the link between the mental fog and inflammation — the body’s response to illness.

In a study published in Neuroimage, the team in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam showed that inflammation appears to have a particular negative impact on the brain’s readiness to reach and maintain an alert state.

Scientists have long suspected a link between inflammation and cognition, but it is very difficult to be clear about the cause and effect.

“For example, people living with a medical condition or being very overweight might complain of cognitive impairment, but it’s hard to tell if that’s due to the inflammation associated with these conditions or if there are other reasons,” said senior study author Dr Ali Mazaheri from University of Birmingham.

The study focused specifically on an area of the brain that is responsible for visual attention.

A group of 20 young male volunteers took part and received a salmonella typhoid vaccine that causes temporary inflammation but has few other side effects.

Brain activity was measured while they performed the attention tests.

On a different day, either before or after, they received an injection with water (a placebo) and did the same attention tests.

Illness
Scientists have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness or mental fatigue that often accompanies Illness. Pixabay

On each test day, they were unaware of which injection they had received.

The results showed that inflammation specifically affected brain activity related to staying alert, while the other attention processes appeared unaffected by inflammation.

“This research finding is major step forward in understanding the links between physical, cognitive, and mental health and tells us that even the mildest of illnesses may reduce alertness,” noted Professor Jane Raymond.

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The next step for the team will be to test the effects of inflammation on other areas of brain function such as memory. (IANS)