New technology enables fast protein synthesis

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MIT chemists have developed a protocol to rapidly produce protein chains up to 164 amino acids long. The flow-based technology could speed up drug development and allow scientists to design novel protein variants incorporating amino acids that don’t occur naturally in cells. The automatic tabletop machine, pictured here, is nicknamed the “Amidator” by the research team. Credit: MIT

Many proteins are useful as drugs for disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Synthesizing artificial versions of these proteins is a time-consuming process that requires genetically engineering microbes or other cells to produce the desired protein.

MIT chemists have devised a protocol to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to generate synthetic proteins. Their tabletop automated flow synthesis machine can string together hundreds of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, within hours. The researchers believe their new technology could speed up the manufacturing of on-demand therapies and the development of new drugs, and allow scientists to design artificial proteins by incorporating amino acids that don’t exist in cells.

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Cancer study stumbles onto potential way to regenerate heart cells

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New research could lead to a gene therapy treatment for heart disease

 Unfortunately for heart attack patients, heart cells don’t naturally replenish, so this vital organ stays permanently damaged. But now, Cambridge researchers have stumbled onto a gene that appears to trigger heart cell regeneration – and they did so by accident, while researching cancer treatments.

After a heart attack, the human heart will patch itself up with scar tissue. That helps keep the organ together, but this tissue doesn’t beat like healthy heart cells do. Over time, this leads to further attacks, heart failure and often death.

Scientists have been experimenting with ways to replenish heart cells, and promising leads so far include bioengineered scaffolds, placental stem cells, and boosting other cells around the heart.

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No, the coronavirus is not the leading cause of death in the US, CDC says

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US coronavirus deaths pass 14,000, but future projections are better than expected

(CNN)Even though the coronavirus pandemic continues to take lives across the United States, Covid-19 has not become the leading cause of death in the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed to CNN.

“There are no data to support that theory,” Jeff Lancashire, a spokesperson for the National Center for Health Statistics, said in an email on Friday.

False claims declaring that coronavirus has become the leading cause of death in the US have swirled as the US leads the world in coronavirus cases. Those claims are made by some experts comparing how many people die of coronavirus daily with the estimate of how many people may die daily on average of each leading cause of death, using CDC data.

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Potentially the biggest medical breakthrough since penicillin

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“Immunotherapy is the biggest breakthrough in medicine in our generation”: Associate Professor Alex Menzies from Melanoma Institute Australia.

If there is reason to have faith in the scientists, immunologists, virologists and oncologists racing to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, it is the stunning progress they are having in reducing deaths from what is called “Australia’s cancer”.

A decade ago, a diagnosis of advanced or stage four melanoma was effectively a death sentence within six to nine months.

But a leading medical oncologist, Associate Professor Alex Menzies from Melanoma Institute Australia, believes immunotherapy treatments – using the body’s immune system to attack the cancer cells – mean 50 per cent of these patients are surviving long enough to be considered cured.

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93% of cancer patients respond to souped-up-immune cells

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In a new study of CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, 93% of patients responded to the treatment.

 Two physicians had major roles in a cutting-edge clinical trial using the body’s own immune cells to fight late-stage cancer, one as a researcher and one as a patient.

Senior author Patrick Reagan, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology at University of Rochester Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute, helped run the national clinical investigation of CAR T-cell therapy.

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Universal cancer blood test detects and locates 50 types of tumors

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A new universal cancer blood test can spot over 50 types of tumors and identify where they are in the body

 Cancer is one of humanity’s leading killers, and the main reason for that is it’s often hard to detect until it’s too late. But that might be about to change. Researchers have developed a new type of AI-powered blood test that can accurately detect over 50 different types of cancer and even identify where it is in the body.

There are just so many types of cancer that it’s virtually impossible to keep an eye out for all of them through routine tests. Instead, the disease usually isn’t detected until doctors begin specifically looking for it, after a patient experiences symptoms. And in many cases, by then it can be too late.

Ideally, there would be a routine test patients can undergo that would flag any type of cancer that may be budding in the body, giving treatment the best shot of being successful. And that’s just what the new study is working towards.

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Crumpled graphene makes ultra-sensitive cancer DNA detector

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Graphene-based biosensors could usher in an era of liquid biopsy, detecting DNA cancer markers circulating in a patient’s blood or serum. But current designs need a lot of DNA. In a new study, crumpling graphene makes it more than ten thousand times more sensitive to DNA by creating electrical “hot spots,” researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found.

Crumpled graphene could be used in a wide array of biosensing applications for rapid diagnosis, the researchers said. They published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

“This sensor can detect ultra-low concentrations of molecules that are markers of disease, which is important for early diagnosis,” said study leader Rashid Bashir, a professor of bioengineering and the dean of the Grainger College of Engineering at Illinois. “It’s very sensitive, it’s low-cost, it’s easy to use, and it’s using graphene in a new way.”

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Scientists might have accidentally cured cancer

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Research Into Cancer Conducted At The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

New treatment for killing cancer cells may have accidentally been discovered by a group of British scientists, according to reports.

Cardiff University’s research team found a T-Cell that attaches itself onto human cancers, and kills them while ignoring healthy cells. Although in its early stages of development, the treatment successfully destroys bone, lung, breast, colon, prostate, and other cancers, The Telegraph reported. (RELATED: Alex Trebek Announces He Was Diagnosed With Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer)

Originally, researchers were only looking for immune cells that were capable of fighting bacteria, before they discovered the T-Cell virus. Their findings were made available on Monday.

“There’s a chance here to treat every patient,” Professor Andrew Sewell of Cardiff University told the BBC. “Previously nobody believed this could be possible. It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.”

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Scientists successfully turn breast cancer cells into fat to stop them from spreading

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Researchers have been able to coax human breast cancer cells to turn into fat cells in a new proof-of-concept study in mice.

To achieve this feat, the team exploited a weird pathway that metastasising cancer cells have; their results are just a first step, but it’s a truly promising approach.

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Israeli scientists find way to treat pancreatic cancer in 14 days

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Cancerous cells forming a lump in the pancreatic tissue

The tumor in one mouse that was injected with human cancer cells completely disappeared.

A new treatment developed by Tel Aviv University could induce the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells, eradicating the number of cancerous cells by up to 90% after two weeks of daily injections of a small molecule known as PJ34.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease do not even live five years after being diagnosed.

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Engineer finds way to pull diseases from blood using magnets

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“IN THEORY, YOU CAN GO AFTER ALMOST ANYTHING. POISONS, PATHOGENS, VIRUSES, BACTERIA…”

A British engineer has found a way to filter unwanted cells from blood using magnets — and his tool could be used in clinical trials as soon as next year.

Thanks to existing research, biochemical scientist George Frodsham knew it was possible to force magnetic nanoparticles to bind to specific cells in the body. But while other researchers did so primarily to make those cells show up in images, he wondered whether the same technique might allow doctors to remove unwanted cells from the blood.

“When someone has a tumour you cut it out,” he told The Telegraph. “Blood cancer is a tumour in the blood, so why not just take it out in the same way?”

To that end, he created MediSieve, a treatment technology that works similarly to dialysis, by removing a patient’s blood and infusing it with magnetic nanoparticles designed to bind to a specific disease. It then uses magnets to draw out and trap those cells before pumping the filtered blood back into the patient.

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Precious metal flecks could be catalyst for better cancer therapies

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Tiny extracts of a precious metal used widely in industry could play a vital role in new cancer therapies.

Researchers have found a way to dispatch minute fragments of palladium — a key component in motor manufacture, electronics and the oil industry — inside cancerous cells.

Scientists have long known that the metal, used in catalytic converters to detoxify exhaust, could be used to aid cancer treatment but, until now, have been unable to deliver it to affected areas.

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