Scientists Discover a Powerful Natural Immune-Regulating Molecule

cells behind a microscope lens

Immunofluorescence of a lymph node shows lymphatic endothelial cells contain the enzyme (labeled in green) that generates 3HKA. Image courtesy of Dr. Laura Santambrogio.

A powerful immune-suppressing molecule produced by the body may hold the key to better treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as for some cancers, according to a study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and the University of Perugia.

In the study, published July 21 in Nature Communications, the researchers described the properties of the newly discovered molecule, called 3-HKA. They showed that in immune cells called dendritic cells 3-HKA is produced from the amino acid tryptophan and can protect against inflammation in animal models of the skin disorder psoriasis and a degenerative kidney condition called nephrotoxic nephritis.

“Right now, there is an acute need for new ways to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and we are very excited by the possibilities opened up by the discovery of this potent molecule,” said study co-senior author Dr. Laura Santambrogio, who is professor of radiation oncology and of physiology and biophysics and associate director for precision immunology at the Caryl and Israel Englander Institute for Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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AngelMed announces first commercial implantation of real-time heart attack warning system

Angel Medical Systems, Inc., (dba AngelMed) a proactive diagnostics company focused on the advancement of long-term management of high-risk coronary disease, announced today the first commercial implantation and U.S. launch of its flagship product, The Guardian™ device.

The procedure marks The Guardian’s first use following its recent FDA approval. Indicated for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) events, including silent heart attacks, The Guardian System is the first implantable cardiac detection monitor and patient-warning system. 

The outpatient procedure was successfully performed by cardiac electrophysiologist and cardiologist Dr. Andrew J. Kaplan of Cardiovascular Associates of Mesa in Mesa, Arizona.

Dr. Kaplan is a pioneer of new cardiac technologies and has played a significant role in The Guardian’s commercialization. He is a clinical trial investigator and serves on AngelMed’s medical advisory board. 

“The first commercial implant of The Guardian marks a pivotal advancement in cardiac care. The device detects impending ACS events, including silent heart attacks, and leads to earlier patient treatment,” said Dr. Andrew Kaplan. “Given the device’s clinical success, the cardiovascular community can feel confident in this new, first-in-kind technology. The Guardian fills a true unmet need in high-risk ACS patients.” 

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Regeneron’s latest genetics discovery hooks AstraZeneca — now all-in on developing small molecules for obesity

By John Carroll
Editor & Founder
Just weeks after its widely lauded genetics research arm tagged a promising new target for obesity, Regeneron has signed up an industry heavyweight to collaborate with on developing new drugs that can potentially act as a game-changer in what has proven to be a tough field for developers.

The Regeneron Genetics Center published a paper in Science at the beginning of this month highlighting how their work sequencing the genomes of 650,000 people highlighted how people with at least 1 inactive copy of the GPR75 gene weighed on average 12 pounds less than the rest of the population with a 54% reduction in risk of obesity.

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Israeli Company’s ‘Spiderman’ Technology Spins New Artificial Skin for Patients

by Yafit Ovadia

Ctech – Company: Nanomedic

Product: Spincare System

Raised: Undisclosed

Founded: 2018

Founders: Spinoff company of Nicast with no specific founders

Treating burns, wounds, and scars presents both psychological and physical hindrances. This treatment also becomes complex, costly, and can deprive a patient of the use of that limb or area. Yet one biotech company, Nanomedic Technologies, has engineered an artificial skin that is 3D-printed, is affixed directly onto a patient’s skin, and after 24-48 hours allows patients to use that area as they normally would, explained Gary Sagiv, VP of Marketing & Sales at Nanomedic.

“We have leveraged our electrospinning technology to develop a commercialized franchise handheld device for wound care that prints a nanofiber matrix directly onto a patient’s wound, via 3D printing, and treats three specific areas, primarily burns, trauma, and wound care,” Sagiv said, adding: “People quip our technology is reminiscent of Spiderman.”

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Healing wounds and regrowing bones: Duke faculty develop futuristic biomaterial implants

By Ayra Charania

Imagine a metal, scaffold-shaped implant that could support the regrowth of a shattered bone. All that would be needed would be an initial CT scan, a virtual construction of the implant and a metal printer to produce the final product. Devastating outcomes like amputation or loss of the ability to walk could be prevented. 

While this type of innovation may seem outside the realm of modern technology, several Duke professors have made such futuristic biomaterial implants a reality, including Ken Gall, professor in the department of mechanical engineering and materials science; Shyni Varghese, professor of orthopaedic surgery and Matthew Becker, Hugo L. Blomquist distinguished professor of chemistry.

Gall’s research focuses on the use of 3D printed metals and polymers, including the aforementioned metal scaffold, using synthetic hydrogels for cartilage replacement and other related explorations. He also has initiated a new project investigating the types of structures that can be printed and is looking into utilizing machine learning or other algorithms to predict how these structures will behave.

While Gall’s research spans a large breadth of biomaterials, the common link among these implants is their ability to perform some structural function, he said. 

“We try to figure out how [to] make these materials integrate with the body so they survive there,” Gall said. “Our approach has always been [to] put something in that is actually better than what you started with.”

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Latest ‘organ-on-a-chip’ is a new way to study cancer-related muscle wasting

Studying drug effects on human muscles just got easier thanks to a new “muscle-on-a-chip,” developed by a team of researchers from Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Inha University in Incheon, Korea.

Muscle tissue is essential to almost all of the body’s organs, however, diseases such as cancer and diabetes can cause muscle tissue degradation or “wasting,” severely decreasing organ function and quality of life. Traditional drug testing for treatment and prevention of muscle wasting is limited through animal studies, which do not capture the complexity of the human physiology, and human clinical trials, which are too time consuming to help current patients.

An “organ-on-a-chip” approach can solve these problems. By growing real human cells within microfabricated devices, an organ-on-a-chip provides a way for scientists to study replicas of human organs outside of the body.

Using their new muscle-on-a-chip, the researchers can safely run muscle injury experiments on human tissue, test targeted cancer drugs and supplements, and determine the best preventative treatment for muscle wasting.

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Genetically Engineered Pigs Might Be the Answer for One of the World’s Costliest Diseases

In the U.S. and Europe alone, the disease causes $2.5bn in lost revenue annually.

By  Chris Young  

Researchers at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute are genetically engineering pigs to be more resistant to one of the deadliest animal diseases out there, a report by the BBC explains.

The disease in question, called Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), was first recognized in the US in 1987. Symptoms include reproductive failure, pneumonia, and increased susceptibility to secondary bacterial infection, and it can cause pregnant sows to lose their litter.

The disease is responsible for approximately $560 million in lost revenue for farmers in the US each year, according to OiE. According to a press release from the University of Edinburgh, combined with losses in Europe, that number rises to $2.5bn in lost revenue annually. 

The same statement also says that vaccines have so far proven to be largely ineffective against the disease, which is endemic in most pig-producing countries.

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Scientists devise a battery-free pacemaker that can be absorbed by the body

By Kevin Lin 

Scientists have designed a temporary, battery-free pacemaker that can be broken down by the patient’s body when its work is done, the latest advance in the emerging field of bioelectronics.

In a paper published this week in Nature Biotechnology, researchers report that the device reliably kept the heart’s pace in check in tests on mice, rats, and other animals, as well as in human heart tissue in a dish. And while the research is still in the early stages, the scientists say the pacemaker was able to overcome key limitations of existing devices.

“There are about 1 million people a year who receive pacemaker implantations worldwide. It’s a huge, huge medical field, but mostly pacemakers are permanent,” said Igor Efimov, a biomedical engineer and professor at George Washington University and co-author of the new paper.

Unlike traditional pacemakers, which are left inside a patient for the rest of their life or until the battery dies, a traditional temporary pacemaker is implanted and later removed. The devices are typically for children with congenital heart defects or adults who have had a coronary artery bypass graft, who may need a temporary pacemaker to correct a slowed heart rhythm for only a few days or weeks.

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He Inherited A Devastating Disease. A CRISPR Gene-Editing Breakthrough Stopped It

Patrick Doherty volunteered for a new medical intervention of gene-editor infusions for the treatment of genetically-based diseases.Patrick Doherty

Patrick Doherty had always been very active. He trekked the Himalayas and hiked trails in Spain.

But about a year and a half ago, he noticed pins and needles in his fingers and toes. His feet got cold. And then he started getting out of breath any time he walked his dog up the hills of County Donegal in Ireland where he lives.

“I noticed on some of the larger hill climbs I was getting a bit breathless,” says Doherty, 65. “So I realized something was wrong.”

Doherty found out he had a rare, but devastating inherited disease — known as transthyretin amyloidosis — that had killed his father. A misshapen protein was building up in his body, destroying important tissues, such as nerves in his hands and feet and his heart.

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New Technique Allows Researchers to Custom 3D Print Bacteria-Resistant Medical Devices

By Vanesa Listek

A team of engineers and health experts led by mechanics professor Ricky Wildman from the University of Nottingham, UK, found a new way to design and manufacture custom medical devices to boost performance and bacterial resistance. Using a combination of multi-material inkjet 3D printing and genetic algorithms, the researchers designed tailored composite artificial body parts and other medical devices with built-in functionality that offer better shape and durability while cutting the risk of bacterial infection at the same time. The study opens the possibility of a new manufacturing concept to produce devices with spatially distributed, customizable material functionalities in a cost-effective manner.

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No lab required: New technology can diagnose infections in minutes

McMaster University researcher Richa Pandey displays new technology that can analyze a medical sample and return an accurate, definitive result in minutes. Credit: McMaster University

The idea of visiting the doctor’s office with symptoms of an illness and leaving with a scientifically confirmed diagnosis is much closer to reality because of new technology developed by researchers at McMaster University.

Engineering, biochemistry and medical researchers from across campus have combined their skills to create a hand-held rapid test for bacterial infections that can produce accurate, reliable results in less than an hour, eliminating the need to send samples to a lab.

Their proof-of-concept research, published today in the journal Nature Chemistry, specifically describes the test’s effectiveness in diagnosing urinary tract infections from real clinical samples. The researchers are adapting the test to detect other forms of bacteria and for the rapid diagnosis of viruses, including COVID-19. They also plan to test its viability for detecting markers of cancer.

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A Bioprinted Pancreas Could Spell the End for Diabetes

The newly printed pancreas secretes a spectrum of critical hormones like insulin.

By  Loukia Papadopoulos

We have all heard of diabetes and its debilitating effects on those afflicted with it. Scientists have been looking for a cure for this disease for years and they may have now stumbled on one in the form of a bioprinted pancreas.

How does it work? And who is leading this medical breakthrough? Readily3D, a spin-off of EPFL, has engineered a new method to print biological tissues using a biological gel that contains the patient’s stem cells. 

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