Category Archives: Research

AGING: HOW BIOMARKERS HELP DIAGNOSE DEMENTIA

Biomarkers are measurable indicators of what’s happening in your body. They can be found in blood, other body fluids, organs, and tissues, and can be used to track healthy processes, disease progression, or even responses to a medication. Biomarkers are an important part of dementia research.

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Covid-19: China Approves The First Inhaled Vaccine

The vaccine, called Convidecia Air, changes the liquid form of the vaccine into an aerosol using a nebuilzer. The vaccine can then be inhaled through the mouth using the nebulizer machine. The needle-free vaccine “can effectively induce comprehensive immune protection in response to SARS-CoV-2 after just one breath,” Cansino said in a statement.

In July, Chinese scientists published a pre-print study showing that people who received one booster dose of Cansino’s inhaled vaccine after two doses of the inactivated jab from Chinese maker Sinovac developed more antibodies than people who received three Sinovac shots. Four weeks after receiving the inhaled booster, 92.5% of people had developed neutralizing antibodies for Omicron.

Those who got three doses on Sinovac’s jab did not demonstrate any neutralizing antibodies for Omicron, either four weeks or six months after getting a booster.

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COMMENTS:

Spray vaccines will be our best chance to stop Covid.

However, there are two big problems that have to be solved.

The first problem is keeping up with the blitzkrieg mutation capacity that Covid has. Our best chance to do that is with the mRNA technology, which permits vaccine generation with minimal delay. However, mRNA vaccines are too fragile to be suitable for a nasal or oral spray. The particles would be destroyed before they could activate the mucosal immune system.

But it is still possible, using laboratory technology to convert this mRNA into peptides and proteins suitable for use as a spray. Using AI to generate three dimensional shapes, surely a  stable molecule of suitable configuration and stability could be eventually generated.

The second appears to have been partially solved by the Chinese, according to the Fortune  article, namely getting an injectable vaccine into a suitable form and dose to survive the bodies mucosal clearance mechanisms and enzymes, designed to keep foreign sprays and mists out of the body, in enough concentration to stimulate the mucosal immune system.

Our bodies have developed a parallel Defense system using a unique immunoglobulin, IGA, and  special support cells. When stimulated, immunity bristles as a first line of defense to deny incoming viruses entrance to the body. This is what is needed to prevent infection from occurring in the first place, so extremely important for a highly infectious and potentially lethal virus such as Covid.

The Chinese, with their autocratic system,  have a better chance of making everybody take this vaccine, even though it requires a cumbersome liquid nebulizer to generate the mist.

Better would be a handheld inhaler, and, hopefully, this is what some dozen pharmaceutical corporations, working on a nasal or inhaled vaccine , are aiming for.

—Dr. C.

Stroke: Long Periods Of Sitting Increases Risks

The study involved 7,607 adults who wore a hip-mounted accelerometer (a device that records how fast you move) for a week. Their average age was 63. During a follow-up period averaging 7.4 years, 246 of the participants experienced a stroke.

People who sat for 13 or more hours per day during the initial week of motion tracking were 44% more likely to have a stroke compared with those who’d spent less than 11 hours per day sitting still. In addition, longer bouts of sitting (more than 17 minutes at a time) were linked to a higher risk than shorter bouts (less than eight minutes).

Studies: What Makes For Successful Recoveries

Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense, occurring as droves of immune cells rush to the site of injury or acute illness to make repairs and stem further damage.

When successful, inflammation helps the body survive and heal after trauma. However, when recovery following an inflammatory response goes awry, it signals that damage is still occurring — and the inflammation itself can cause further injury, leading to more-severe illness or even death.

But what differentiates a good inflammatory recovery from a bad one?

A new study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, published Aug. 22 in Nature Communications, yields critical clues.

The scientists identified universal features of the inflammatory responses of patients who successfully recovered after surgery or acute illnesses such as COVID-19, heart attack, and sepsis. These features, they discovered, include precise paths that white blood cell and platelet counts follow as they return to normal.

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Research: The Search For A Universal Vaccine (2022)

Vaccines are one of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history. They eradicated a disease, smallpox, that killed 300 million people in the 20th Century. They save countless lives every year, protecting against diseases caused by viruses like polio, measles and yellow fever. But some viruses are particularly difficult to target with vaccines.

We need a flu shot every year because the virus mutates so much previous vaccines may no longer be effective. Scientists are closer than ever before to developing what are known as universal vaccines. These vaccines would protect against many variants of a given virus, and potentially against entire virus families. Viruses are constantly mutating, but only some of those mutations are important.

For example, a change in the shape or chemical properties of the spike protein a virus uses to infect a cell could make the virus more transmissible. It could also mean antibodies developed from previous infection or vaccination wouldn’t be able protect against the current virus. But, there are some sites on viruses that don’t mutate as much, or at all. These sites are often vital to the virus’ survival. Scientists are using powerful technologies to identify antibodies that target these sites.

They’re called broadly neutralizing antibodies and are capable of protecting against multiple viral variants. Now, researchers are working to design shots that get our bodies to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies. Meaning someday soon, vaccines for HIV, flu and coronavirus might be enough to effectively ward off these viruses for the better part of a lifetime.

Old Age: ‘Hyperexcitable Neurons’ Interrupt Sleep

For many older adults, a good night’s rest is elusive. The implications of chronically poor sleep can be far-reaching and include a decline in cognitive functioning and detrimental effects on health and general well-being. Fortunately, relief may be in sight.

A new study led by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, a brain region, play a pivotal role in sleep loss in old mice. More specifically, the arousal-promoting hypocretin neurons become hyperexcitable, driving sleep interruptions.

Read the full story: https://stan.md/3JQ7z77

Luis de Lecea, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medicine. He is the study’s senior author and hopes the finding could pave the way to new drug treatments for age-related sleep problems in humans.

Shi-Bin Li, PhD, is an instructor in the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department at Stanford Medicine. He is also a basic life research scientist in the de Lecea lab, and is the lead author of the study. Lisa Kim is Senior Manager of Media Relations for Stanford Medicine and Stanford Health Care. Lisa has a deep background in journalism, as she is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has covered stories on both the national and local levels.

Cancer Treatments: CAR-T Cell “Smart” Therapy

In war, we are familiar with “smart bombs” that home in on a laser-marked target, or a heat source. The same thing is happening in our battle with cancer. Everybody has had friends or relatives given chemotherapy, which affects all cells, but  cancer cells, since they are dividing more rapidly, suffer the most. However, the entire body is affected with weight loss, hair loss, anemia, leukopenia and other severe symptoms.

The two developments I would like to address here, are smart chemotherapy using ADCs, and smart immunotherapy using CAR-T cells.

In smart chemotherapy, a poisonous package is linked to an antibody which homes in on cancer cells having a specific membrane marker on their surface. For instance, many cancers, not just those of the breast, express HER-2 receptors. Antibodies specific for this receptor are attached to such drugs as doxorubicin, in a therapy called ADC. The coupled pair then home in on the cancer cell and kill it, sparing  the rest of the body most of the exposure to this toxic chemical. This is really a form of immunotherapy, since it uses antibodies.

Smart cell therapy with CAR-T cells, uses T lymphocytes which normally have surface ligands that attach to various cells marked for killing. These T-cells have their targets genetically modified, with antibody receptors, to be specific for such things as CD 19 and BCMA on the surface of cancer cells. When infused, the T-cells latch on to the specified cancer cells and punch holes in them. The treatment can have some side effects, but they are usually much less severe than  regular chemotherapy.

CAR-T cell therapy has been very successful for blood cancers like leukemia, Lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. It can produce flu-like symptoms from the recruitment of lymphokines, and occasionally neurologic symptoms. It is currently successful in about a third of the cases, used as a second line therapy, and is very expensive.

It used to be that a cancer was classified according to its anatomic location, e.g. breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer. With increased knowledge, it is now becoming more important to know the surface markers of the cancer than the organ of origin.

—Dr. C.

JAMA Oncology Article

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Sports Medicine: Tennis Wrist Injury Research

Whether it’s the serve, forehand, backhand or volley, tennis puts a lot of stress on your wrist. Many of those injuries are caused by chronic overuse. How you grip the racket and hit the ball plays a major role, too, which is why Mayo researchers recently studied tennis players’ strokes in a motion analysis lab.

Technology: The Lancet Digital Health – July 2022

Covid-19: Can A Vaccine Be Developed That Lasts?

“Roughly two and a half years into the pandemic, White House officials and health experts have reached a pivotal conclusion about Covid-19 vaccines: The current approach of offering booster shots every few months isn’t sustainable.

Though most vaccines take years to develop, the Covid shots now in use were created in record time—in a matter of months. For health authorities and a public desperate for tools to deal with the pandemic, their speedy arrival provided a huge lift, preventing hospitalizations and deaths while helping people to escape lockdowns and return to work, school and many other aspects of pre-Covid life.”