Has the Summit Supercomputer cracked COVID’s code?

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A supercomputer-powered genetic study of COVID-19 patients has spawned a possible breakthrough into how the novel coronavirus causes disease—and points toward new potential therapies to treat its worst symptoms.

The genetic data mining research uncovered a common pattern of gene activity in the lungs of symptomatic COVID-19 patients, which when compared to gene activity in healthy control populations revealed a mechanism that appears to be a key weapon in the coronavirus’s arsenal.

The good news is there are already drugs—a few of which are already FDA-approved—aimed at some of these very same pathologies.

“We think we have a core mechanism that explains a lot of the symptoms where the virus ends up residing,” said Daniel Jacobson, chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge National Labs in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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Old human cells rejuvenated with stem cell technology, research finds

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Old human cells return to a more youthful and vigorous state after being induced to briefly express a panel of proteins involved in embryonic development, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers also found that elderly mice regained youthful strength after their existing muscle stem cells were subjected to the rejuvenating protein treatment and transplanted back into their bodies.

The proteins, known as Yamanaka factors, are commonly used to transform an adult cell into what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells can become nearly any type of cell in the body, regardless of the cell from which they originated. They’ve become important in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

The study found that inducing old human cells in a lab dish to briefly express these proteins rewinds many of the molecular hallmarks of aging and renders the treated cells nearly indistinguishable from their younger counterparts.

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World-first gene therapy reverses Alzheimer’s memory loss in mice

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Research into Alzheimer’s-related memory loss has uncovered an exciting new breakthrough in the form of a world-first gene therapy

Scientists in Australia have made an exciting breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research, demonstrating what they describe as the first gene-therapy-based approach for treating advanced forms of the disease. Through experiments in mice, the team was able to show how activating a key enzyme in the brain can prevent the kind of memory loss associated with advanced forms of Alzheimer’s, and even reverse it.

The research was carried out at Macquarie University, where dementia researchers and brothers Lars and Arne Ittner were investigating the role of a key enzyme in the brain called p38gamma. Through previous research, the brothers had shown that by activating this enzyme in mice with advanced dementia, they could modify a protein that prevents the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

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Scientists discover protective Alzheimer’s gene and develop rapid drug-testing platform

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PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease.

A gene has been discovered that can naturally suppress the signs of Alzheimer’s Disease in human brain cells, in research led by Queen Mary University of London. The scientists have also developed a new rapid drug-screening system for treatments that could potentially delay or prevent the disease.

The main challenge in testing Alzheimer’s drugs in clinical trials is that participants need to have symptoms. But once people have symptoms, it is usually too late for treatments to have a significant effect, as many brain cells have already died.

The only current way to test potential preventative treatments is by identifying participants who are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and seeing if treatments prevent the onset of their disease. This includes people with Down’s syndrome (DS) who have around a 70 per cent chance of developing Alzheimer’s during their lifetime. This is because the extra chromosome 21 they carry includes the gene for amyloid precursor protein which causes early Alzheimer’s when overdosed or mutated.

In the study, published in the Nature group journal Molecular Psychiatry, the researchers collected hair cells from people with DS and reprogrammed them to become stem cells, which were then directed to turn into brain cells in a dish.

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Research scientists develop groundbreaking artificial cartilage

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The new material is strong enough to work in knees

 Need some cartilage? There’s a technology for that.

Knee surgery is a frequently-performed procedure across the country. Why? Well, the knees are at work for most of your waking hours, and the same activity that keeps you physically fit can also lead to wear and tear on them. If you’ve ever needed to have work done on the joint itself, you may be aware of the difficulties of coming up with a lasting replacement: until recently, there wasn’t a replacement durable enough for the cartilage in a human knee.

That might no longer be the case, however. At Science Alert, David Nield has the news that a group of researchers, some affiliated with Duke University, have made a breakthrough in replacing cartilage. They’ve come up with a hydrogel that compares favorably to the material currently used for knee replacement surgery:

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New cancer vaccine ready for human trials

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Scientists are ready to trial a new cancer vaccine in humans following the successful outcome of their preclinical studies.

The new vaccine was developed by a Mater Research team based at The Translational Research Institute in collaboration with The University of Queensland.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Kristen Radford says the vaccine has the potential to treat a variety of blood cancers and malignancies and is a major breakthrough for cancer vaccinations.

“We are hoping this vaccine could be used to treat blood cancers, such as myeloid leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and paediatric leukaemias, plus solid malignancies including breast, lung, renal, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers, and glioblastoma,” she said.

“Our new vaccine is comprised of human antibodies fused with tumour-specific protein, and we are investigating its capacity to target human cells while activating the memory of the tumour cells.”

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“No one needs to die from Covid any more.”

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Houston medical team credits 96% Covid cure rate to novel “MATH+” protocol: IV steroids, blood thinner, IV vitamins, maybe some Pepcid.

The most widely accepted (and plausible) explanation for the apparent disconnect between coronavirus cases and coronavirus deaths over past weeks, in Texas, Arizona, Florida, California, is a temporal lag; that is, deaths typically show up a month or so after hospital admission is required. A few weeks from now the numbers will catch up with each other, the experts say.

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Super-sticky surgical tape patches up organs and peels off harmlessly

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An MIT team has created surgical tape that can hold strong but also be removed when needed

As helpful as Band-Aids are, ripping them off your skin is never fun – but just imagine having one on your heart or lung. Researchers at MIT have now managed to create surgical tape that can stick to wet surfaces like organs, and more importantly, be removed safely when it’s no longer needed.

Last year, the team developed an impressive new alternative to sutures. Their double-sided tape could be used to patch up incisions or wounds in organs, working within a matter of seconds. It could also be used to attach implantable medical devices to tissues.

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Diluting blood plasma rejuvenates tissue, reverses aging in mice

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Older mice grew significantly more new muscle fibers, shown as pink “donut” shapes, after undergoing a procedure that effectively diluted the proteins in their blood plasma (bottom) than they did before they underwent the procedure

 In 2005, University of California, Berkeley, researchers made the surprising discovery that making conjoined twins out of young and old mice — such that they share blood and organs — can rejuvenate tissues and reverse the signs of aging in the old mice. The finding sparked a flurry of research into whether a youngster’s blood might contain special proteins or molecules that could serve as a “fountain of youth” for mice and humans alike.

But a new study by the same team shows that similar age-reversing effects can be achieved by simply diluting the blood plasma of old mice — no young blood needed.

In the study, the team found that replacing half of the blood plasma of old mice with a mixture of saline and albumin — where the albumin simply replaces protein that was lost when the original blood plasma was removed — has the same or stronger rejuvenation effects on the brain, liver and muscle than pairing with young mice or young blood exchange. Performing the same procedure on young mice had no detrimental effects on their health.

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Study demonstrates feasibility of hologram technology in liver tumor ablation

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Data from one of the first clinical uses of augmented reality guidance with electromagnetically tracked tools shows that the technology may help doctors quickly, safely, and accurately deliver targeted liver cancer treatments, according to a research abstract presented during a virtual session of the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting on June 14. The technology provides a three-dimensional holographic view inside a patient’s body, allowing interventional radiologists to accurately burn away tumors while navigating to avoid organs and other critical structures.

“Converting traditional two-dimensional imaging into three-dimensional holograms which we can then utilize for guidance using augmented reality helps us to better view a patient’s internal structures as we navigate our way to the point of treatment,” said Gaurav Gadodia, MD, lead author of the study and radiology resident at Cleveland Clinic. “While conventional imaging like ultrasound and CT is safe, effective, and remains the gold-standard of care, augmented reality potentially improves the visualization of the tumor and surrounding structures, increasing the speed of localization and improving the treating-physician’s confidence.”

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Mini human livers grown from stem cells successfully implanted into rats

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Miniature human livers can be grown from stem cells and implanted into rats – and hopefully, one day humans

 Imagine needing a liver transplant, and instead of waiting for a donor, a new one could be grown from your own skin cells. Scientists have now taken quite a big step towards that future, by successfully transplanting miniature human livers grown from induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) into rats.

Organ transplants save lives, but there are hurdles to overcome. For one, there’s a constant shortage of donors and, even when one is found, the patient’s immune system often rejects the new tissue.

Growing a replacement organ from a patient’s own cells could solve both problems. It can be done on demand when a patient needs one, and the organ won’t be rejected because the immune system recognizes the cells as “self.”

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Reprogrammed skin cells inserted in brain help Parkinson’s patient regain function – study

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REUTERS – Skin cells reprogrammed to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and inserted deep into the brain of a 69-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease have allowed him to tie his shoes again and resume swimming and biking, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

The experimental treatment, initiated two years ago and financed partly by the patient, used the man’s own skin cells to create dopamine-releasing nerve cells. Using his own cells dramatically lowers the risk of rejection by the immune system.

Parkinson’s, a progressive disease that affects millions of people worldwide, produces tremors, stiffness, and problems walking and speaking as the dopamine-producing cells in the brain degenerate.

Researchers say the transformed skin cells, transplanted into both hemispheres of the brain in surgical procedures six months apart, continued to produce the dopamine needed to ease the Parkinson’s symptoms.

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