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Scientists Develop Vaccine For Brain Cancer

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Scientists Develop Vaccine For Brain Cancer


Scientists are working on a new vaccine that could prevent and simultaneously kill brain cancer. 

The team is harnessing a novel means to turn cancer cells into anti-cancer agents that could eliminate tumors and train the immune system to prevent cancer recurrence. 

The effort is carried out in the lab of Khalid Shah, MS, Ph.D. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with the researchers keen on developing a cancer vaccine that yields long-term immunity against the condition. 

In their study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal Wednesday, the researchers noted why they are using living tumor cells instead of inactivated tumor cells. According to them, the latter has a limited ability to kill tumor cells before inducing an immune response. On the other hand, living tumor cells can track and target tumors. 

For the study, they engineered therapeutic tumor cells and used them to eliminate glioblastoma tumors in mice. Glioblastoma is a fast-growing type of tumor in the central nervous system, forming from the supportive tissue of the brain and spinal cord, according to the National Cancer Institute

The therapeutic tumor cells did not only eliminate the tumors, but they also translated into a survival benefit and long-term immunity in the humanized mice experiments. The team called what they developed a “promising cell-based immunotherapy for solid tumors.”

“Our team has pursued a simple idea: to take cancer cells and transform them into cancer killers and vaccines,” Shah, the corresponding author in the study, said in a news release

The vice chair of research in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Brigham continued, “Using gene engineering, we are repurposing cancer cells to develop a therapeutic that kills tumor cells and stimulates the immune system to both destroy primary tumors and prevent cancer.”

Shah noted that their goal was to develop a “cancer-killing vaccine” that would have a big impact on the medical community. However, further research is still needed to fully understand its applications. 

“Throughout all of the work that we do in the Center, even when it is highly technical, we never lose sight of the patient. Our goal is to take an innovative but translatable approach so that we can develop a therapeutic, cancer-killing vaccine that ultimately will have a lasting impact in medicine,” he said. 





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Scientists Suggest Simple Supplement To Combat Key Protein That Drives Aging

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Scientists Suggest Simple Supplement To Combat Key Protein That Drives Aging


People are always trying out different techniques and supplements to combat aging signs. A new study has now suggested that a simple supplement could potentially accelerate anti-aging in humans.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, found loss of a protein called Menin could be responsible for the aging process, and a dietary supplement of D-serine could reverse it in mice.

The study focused on hypothalamic Menin. The hypothalamus is part of the brain that acts as a mediator of physiological aging. It does so by increasing neuroinflammatory signaling over time. Further, inflammation encourages multiple age-related processes, both in the brain and the periphery.

“We speculate that the decline of Menin expression in the hypothalamus with age may be one of the driving factors of aging, and Menin may be the key protein connecting the genetic, inflammatory, and metabolic factors of aging. D-serine is a potentially promising therapeutic for cognitive decline,” Lige Leng of Xiamen University, Xiamen, China, and study author, said, SciTechDaily reported.

For the study, researchers created conditional knockout mice, which have reduced Menin activity. Reduction of Menin in younger mice increased hypothalamic neuroinflammation as well as aging-related phenotypes, such as reductions in bone mass and skin thickness, cognitive decline, and modestly reduced lifespan, the study found.

Moreover, loss of Menin was also found to induce a decline in levels of the amino acid D-serine. A neurotransmitter, D-serine is found in soybeans, eggs, fish, and nuts, and is also available as a dietary supplement. According to researchers, the downslide in the production of the amino acid was due to the loss of activity of an enzyme involved in its synthesis (which was in turn regulated by Menin).

In the experiment, the study authors delivered the gene for Menin into the hypothalamus of elderly (20-month-old) mice. It was found 30 days later that the mice showed improved skin thickness, bone mass, learning, cognition, and balance, which was in tandem with an increase in D-serine within the hippocampus–a region of the brain critical for learning and memory.

Similar benefits on cognition, not including the peripheral signs of aging, could be observed by undergoing three weeks of dietary supplementation with D-serine, as per the outlet.

“Ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) Menin signaling diminished in aged mice, which contributes to systemic aging phenotypes and cognitive deficits. The effects of Menin on aging are mediated by neuroinflammatory changes and metabolic pathway signaling, accompanied by serine deficiency in VMH, while restoration of Menin in VMH reversed aging-related phenotypes,” Leng explained.

While on the topic of anti-aging, a drug prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes is being used off-label as an anti-aging medication. Metformin belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides. However, there are no proven studies to support these claims.





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Healthy Pets And Hospitalized Humans May Transmit Drug-Resistant Microbes To Each Other, Study Shows

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LA Offers Free COVID-19 Testing For Pets Exposed To Virus


A new, revealing study has found healthy dogs and cats can transmit multidrug-resistant organisms to their hospitalized owners and vice versa.

The study is being presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Led by Dr. Carolin Hackmann from Charité University Hospital Berlin, Germany, the study enrolled more than 2,800 hospital patients and their pets to test their hypothesis.

“Our findings verify that the sharing of multidrug-resistant organisms between companion animals and their owners is possible,” said Dr. Hackmann, SciTechDaily reported. “However, we identified only a handful of cases suggesting that neither cat nor dog ownership is an important risk factor for multidrug-resistant organism colonization in hospital patients.”

Antimicrobial resistance refers to the increased resilience of infection-causing microbes to the drugs used to kill them. As per the outlet, antimicrobial-resistant infections were responsible for more than 1.3 million deaths, and were connected to 5 million deaths across the globe in 2019.

For the study, researchers focused on the most common superbugs found in hospital patients–methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, 3rd generation cephalosporin-resistant Enterobacterales and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales.

Called multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), these bacteria are resistant to treatment with more than one antibiotic.

In the study, nasal and rectal swabs were collected from around 3000 patients hospitalized in Charité University Hospital, Berlin, as well as from any dogs and cats that lived in their households.

The presence of the type of bacteria was identified by genetic sequencing.

Following analysis, it was found 30% of hospital patients tested positive for MDROs, and 70% tested negative. Furthermore, among those who tested MDRO-positive, the rate of dog ownership and cat ownership was 11% and 9% respectively. The figure was 13% in MDRO-negatives.

Moreover, all pet owners were requested to collect and send throat and stool swab samples of their pets. And 300 pet owners sent back samples from 400 pets. It was found 15% of dogs and 5% of cats tested positive for at least one MDRO.

“Although the level of sharing between hospital patients and their pets in our study is very low, carriers can shed bacteria into their environment for months, and they can be a source of infection for other more vulnerable people in the hospital such as those with a weak immune system and the very young or old,” Dr. Hackmann concluded, according to The Guardian.

In other news, an animal shelter in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, has temporarily shut down after dozens of dogs contracted canine influenza.

“A few of our dogs started to get diarrhea, but that’s pretty normal for dogs that are in a new stressful environment. When our longer-term dogs started to get diarrhea and started not wanting to eat, we realized they weren’t themselves, that’s when we knew something was wrong,” shelter volunteer Emma Ripka said.





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What is ‘Harvard Diet’? 6 Eating Practices For Optimal Health

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Can Healthy People Who Eat Right And Exercise Skip The COVID-19 Vaccine?


Not many people know about the Harvard diet, which has been created as an eating guide for optimal health.

Also called the healthy eating plate, the Harvard diet was conceptualized in 2011. For formulating the ultimate diet plan, experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health worked in collaboration with researchers from Harvard Health Publications.

“In terms of major chronic diseases like prevention of cardiovascular disease, different types of cancers [and] Type 2 diabetes, this way of eating is going to be helpful to prevent those diseases that are common in America, and the world,” said Lilian Cheung, lecturer of nutrition at Harvard’s school of public health, CNBC reported.

The Healthy Eating Plate can be used as a guide for “creating healthy, balanced meals—whether served at the table or packed in a lunch box” as per Harvard’s website.

Here are the six pointers to follow the Harvard diet

Vegetables and fruits–half of the plate

Fruits and vegetables should make up half of a person’s plate. Researchers suggest aiming “for color and variety” as well as eating vegetables more than fruits.

Also, be careful what constitutes a vegetable. For instance, “a potato is not a vegetable from a nutrition point of view,” Cheung explained. “Potatoes almost behave like a refined carbohydrate. It increases your blood sugar.”

The nutrition expert also recommended consuming whole fruits over juices.

Whole grains–a quarter of the plate

The diet plan encourages eating whole grains and not refined grains.

“Whole grains have much more vitamins and also phytochemicals and minerals, which is much healthier for us and won’t raise [our] blood sugar so fast,” Cheung said, according to the news outlet.

A few options to consider include oats, quinoa, barley, whole wheat, and brown rice.

Protein–a quarter of the plate

The healthy eating plate suggests the type of proteins to consume, and the ones to ignore.

Healthy proteins like fish, chicken, beans, nuts, and duck should make up a quarter of your plate. 

Avoid red meat and steer clear of processed meats like bacon and sausage, Cheung suggested.

Plant oils–in moderation

The Harvard diet asks to avoid trans fats such as partially hydrogenated oils like margarine and certain vegetable oils. Healthier options include oils made from olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, and peanut (if not allergic).

Drink water, tea, or coffee

“We were really deliberate in terms of the drinks,” says Cheung. 

“We didn’t think that it was the most prudent way to go about it, especially because there are some populations in the U.S. that are lactose intolerant,” said Cheung of the notion that people should drink three cups of milk each day.

“Even with just the amount of calories from drinking [milk] that way, it would be more preferable to be drinking water, tea, or coffee,” Cheung further said.

The diet recommends drinking water, tea, and coffee alternatively with one’s meals, while also keeping sugar in the beverages little to none.

Stay active

The eating plan is incomplete without physical activity. “We need to be engaging [for] half an hour a day, or at least five times a week, in vigorous activity,” Cheung noted.

“We’re all aging, and we should form good habits while we are young,” Cheung continued, “so they become part of our habit and our routine.”





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