Graphenehttp://nextbigfuture.com/2011/08/graphene-neural-implants-being.htmlNeural implants have the potential to treat disorders and diseases that typically require long-term treatment, such as blindness, deafness, epilepsy, spinal cord injury, and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.graphene might be better suited to long-term treatment than platinum and iridium oxide, two of the most popular materials now used to make implantable electrodes. Making platinum and iridium oxide electrodes small enough to be implanted reduces the amount of charge they can carry and therefore limits their ability to stimulate neural connections. Additionally, Cheng said, signals from these electrodes to machines that record neural activity often contain a lot "noise" because of the impedance levels of the materials.Diagnosticshttp://nextbigfuture.com/2011/08/quick-cheap-diagnostic-test-for-hiv-and.htmlQuick test for HIV: This microfluidics chip can detect syphilis and HIV in just 15 minutes from one microliter of blood. A simple microfluidics chip could improve health care in poor countries by making rapid diagnostic testing a reality. Developed by SamualSia and collaborators at Columbia University, the system was designed to be used in resource-poor settings. Field tests in Rwanda showed that the chip works as well as traditional laboratory-based HIV diagnostics. Sia wants to deploy the test in prenatal clinics in Africa.To make microfluidics technology more practical to use in poor countries, Sia's team designed it to be inexpensive to make and easy to read, and then tailored manufacturing methods for those purposes. The chips are produced via a plastic injection molding process that has been optimized to create nanoscale features. The reagents for the detection reaction are stored in a tube, separated by bubbles of air, and brought into the chip with the simple pull of a syringe.The process requires no moving parts, electricity, or external instrumentation, and it requires a very small amount of blood—about one microliter. Unlike many microfluidics devices, the results can be read without microscopes or other expensive optical systems. A simple optical sensor on an instrument that's about the size and cost of a cell phone gives the test results. Reparing Blood VesselsMIT Technology Review - A synthetic material may help to repair tissue after a heart attack, and aid transplants. MIT Technology Review - A synthetic material may help to repair tissue after a heart attack, and aid transplants. Researchers at Northwestern University have created a nanomaterial that could help the body to grow new blood vessels.Samuel Stupp and his colleagues developed a liquid that, when injected into patients, forms a matrix of loosely tangled nanofibers. Each of these fibers is covered in microscopic protuberances that mimic vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF—a protein that occurs naturally in the body and causes chemical reactions that result in the growth of new blood vessels. By mimicking VEGF, the nanofiber has the same biological effect.Stupp says there could be more uses for nanofibers that mimic proteins from the body. For example, they could be used to stimulate the formation of connective tissues such as bone and cartilage, or to regenerate neurons in the brain.Rejuvenating mitochondriahttp://nextbigfuture.com/2011/08/mitochondria-rejuvenated-by-drug.htmlResearchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found a protein normally involved in blood pressure regulation in a surprising place: tucked within the little "power plants" of cells, the mitochondria. The quantity of this protein appears to decrease with age, but treating older mice with the blood pressure medication losartan can increase protein numbers to youthful levels, decreasing both blood pressure and cellular energy usage. The researchers say these findings, published online during the week of August 15, 2011, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may lead to new treatments for mitochondrial–specific, age-related diseases, such as diabetes, hearing loss, frailty and Parkinson's disease.
http://www.nature.com/srep/2011/110818/srep00070/full/srep00070.html#/affil-authhttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/science/19fat.html?_r=1The drug, SRT-1720, protects the mice from the usual diseases of obesity by reducing the amount of fat in the liver and increasing sensitivity to insulin. These and other positive health effects enable the obese mice to live 44 percent longer, on average, than obese mice that did not receive the drug, according to a team of researchers led by Rafael de Cabo, a gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging. Despite the positive new results with SRT-1720, Sirtris is not putting it into clinical trials because the company believes another of its resveratrol mimics, SRT-2104, is more promising. That drug “is more suitable for human consumption,” said Dr. Sinclair, a co-author of Dr. de Cabo’s report. Sirt1 is an NAD+-dependent deacetylase that extends lifespan in lower organisms and improves metabolism and delays the onset of age-related diseases in mammals. Here we show that SRT1720, a synthetic compound that was identified for its ability to activate Sirt1 in vitro, extends both mean and maximum lifespan of adult mice fed a high-fat diet.
Muscular DystrophyA molecular technique originally developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has taken one step closer to becoming a treatment for the devastating genetic disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy.Gene therapyhttp://nextbigfuture.com/2011/08/gene-therapy-progress-to-cures-for.htmlThe treatment uses a form of white blood cells called T cells harvested from each patient. A manmade virus-like vector is used to transfer special molecules to the T cells. One of the molecules, CD19, makes the T cells attack B lymphocytes -- the cells that become cancerous in CLL.The novel treatment uses strips of genetic code – called antisense oligonucleotides – to restore the function of a defective dystrophin gene. In a study published July 25, 2011 in the journal The Lancet, researchers from the U.K., U.S. and Australia demonstrated that a phase Ib/IIa trial of the approach restored production of the critical muscle protein missing in patients with the progressive neuromuscular condition. Wearable Electronicshttp://nextbigfuture.com/2011/08/wearable-electronics-demonstrate.htmlThe University of California, San Diego has demonstrated that a thin flexible, skin-like device, mounted with tiny electronic components, is capable of acquiring electrical signals from the brain and skeletal muscles and potentially transmitting the information wirelessly to an external computer. The development, published Aug. 12 in the journal Science, means that in the future, patients struggling with reduced motor or brain function, or research subjects, could be monitored in their natural environment outside the lab. For example, a person who struggles with epilepsy could wear the device to monitor for signs of oncoming seizures. It also opens up a slew of previously unimaginable possibilities in the field of brain-machine interfaces well beyond biomedical applications, said Professor Todd Coleman, who joined the Department of Bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering this summer. Until now, Coleman said, this brain-machine interface has been limited by the clunky, artificial coupling required by a vast array of electronic components and devices. “The brain-machine interface paradigm is very exciting and I think it need not be limited to thinking about prosthetics or people with some type of motor deficit,” said Coleman. “I think taking the lens of the human and computer interacting, and if you could evolve a very nice coupling that is remarkably natural and almost ubiquitous, I think there are applications that we haven’t even imagined. That is what really fascinates me – really the coupling between the biological system and the computer system.”
1. The plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease may arise in the liver, not the brain as commonly thought, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.Peripheral reduction of β-amyloid is sufficient to reduce brain β-amyloid: Implications for Alzheimer's disease2. Over half of all Alzheimer’s disease cases could potentially be prevented through lifestyle changes and treatment or prevention of chronic medical conditions, according to a study led by Deborah Barnes, PhD, a mental health researcher at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).In the United States, Barnes found that the biggest modifiable risk factors are physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education and diabetes.Together, these risk factors are associated with up to 51 percent of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide (17.2 million cases) and up to 54 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in the United States (2.9 million cases), according to Barnes.3. Discovery Magazine - the environmental toxin beta-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA may be an important factor for Alzheimer's and Parkisons. This compound is produced by cyanobacteria, the blue-green algae that live in soil, lakes, and oceans. Cyanobacteria are consumed by fish and other aquatic creatures. Recent studies have found BMAA in seafood, suggesting that certain diets and locations may put people at particular risk. More worrisome, blooms of cyanobacteria are becoming increasingly common, fueling fears that their toxic by-product may be quietly fomenting an upsurge in ALS—and possibly other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s as well. 21 research teams from 11 countries are now investigating the potential dangers of BMAA.The data suggest that ALS is 2.5 times more common than average within one-half mile of a lake or pond where cyanobacteria have bloomed. Stommel hypothesizes that people living around the lakes may have breathed in BMAA from the air, eaten fish contaminated with it, or accidentally swallowed it while swimming. He and Cox are conducting tests of brain bank tissue to see if the ALS patients in these regions do in fact have elevated levels of BMAA.The overall risk from BMAA is probably low. In fact, he eats shrimp and crab with relish. “ALS is very rare, and only a few people are genetically at risk,” he says. “Even if BMAA causes common disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, that still doesn’t mean we should shun seafood.” Commercial fishermen generally are not working in areas heavily contaminated with cyanobacteria, he notes, so the danger of exposure in the United States and Canada should be modest for those who eat typical store-bought or homegrown food and avoid drinking—as Cox puts it—“green, smelly” water.
a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab have developed technology that may someday cure the common cold, influenza and other ailments.http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0022572The researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.
Stem cells could be used for tissue engineering spare part for your heart by 2016Scientists have already made basic heart muscle from stem cells, but the Hong Kong-led team wants to refine it so it can replace any part damaged in heart attacks, and to recreate the natural pacemaker, where the heartbeat originates.“When you get a heart attack, there is a small time window for a cure when the damage is still small. You can cure with a patch, a small tissue, so you won’t progress to late stage heart failure,” said team leader Ronald Li, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Consortium.“We have the muscle strip now, but we want it to mimic what we see in the native heart better, (and) that requires engineering,” said Li in an interview.An organ or section of tissue grown from a person’s stem cells can, in general, be surgically implanted only in that same person.
Caption: This is a 3-D image of living neuron taken by DHM technology. Credit: Courtesy of Lyncée TecDigital Holographic Microscopy (DHM) can now be used to observe neuronal activity in real-time and in three dimensions—with up to 50 times greater resolution than ever before.The application, borrowed from materials science, has immense potential for testing out new drugs to fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It has already been commercialized by the EPFL start-up LynceeTec.“DHM is a fundamentally novel application for studying neurons with a slew of advantages over traditional microscopes,” explains Pierre Magistretti of EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute and a lead author of the paper. “It is non-invasive, allowing for extended observation of neural processes without the need for electrodes or dyes that damage cells.”Senior team member Pierre Marquet adds, “DHM gives precious information not only about the shape of neurons, but also about their dynamics and activity, and the technique creates 3D navigable images and increases the precision from 500 nanometers in traditional microscopes to a scale of 10 nanometers.”This should aid in understanding how the brain works.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuvWfva0bGw&feature=player_embedded#t=24shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuvWfva0bGw&feature=player_embedded#t=43sA good way to understand how DHM works is to imagine a large rock in an ocean of perfectly regular waves. As the waves deform around the rock and come around the other side, they carry information about the rock’s form. This information can be extracted by comparing it to waves that did not smash up against the rock, and an image of the rock can be reconstructed. DHM does this with a laser beam by pointing a single wavelength at an object, collecting the distorted wave on the other side, and comparing it to a reference beam. A computer then numerically reconstructs a 3D image of the object—in this case neurons—using an algorithm developed by the authors. In addition, the laser beam travels through the transparent cells and important information about their internal composition is obtained.Normally applied to detect minute defects in materials, Magistretti, along with DHM pioneer and EPFL professor in the Advanced Photonics Laboratory, Christian Depeursinge, decided to use DHM for neurobiological applications. In the study, their group provoked an electric charge in a culture of neurons using glutamate, the main neurotransmitter in the brain. This charge transfer carries water inside the neurons and changes their optical properties in a way that can be detected only by DHM. Thus, the technique accurately visualizes the electrical activities of hundreds of neurons simultaneously, in real-time, without damaging them with electrodes, which can only record activity from a few neurons at a time.A major advance for pharmaceutical researchWithout the need to introduce dyes or electrodes, DHM can be applied to High Content Screening—the screening of thousands of new pharmacological molecules. This advance has important ramifications for the discovery of new drugs that combat or prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, since new molecules can be tested more quickly and in greater numbers.“Due to the technique’s precision, speed, and lack of invasiveness, it is possible to track minute changes in neuron properties in relation to an applied test drug and allow for a better understanding of what is happening,” Magistretti says. “What normally would take 12 hours in the lab can now be done in 15 to 30 minutes, greatly decreasing the time it takes for researchers to know if a drug is effective or not.”
Medical & Longevity News
Items• Graphene Implants to treat nervous system and brain disease• Improved diagnostic tools• Regenerating blood vessels• Drug rejuvenates mitochondria• Observing neural activity in hi-res 3D• SRT-1720 protects mice against obesity and extends life by 44%
More Items• Clinical trials for mulculardistrophy yield significant positive results• Alzheimerspreventation• Gene theraphy progress towards cures for muscular dystrophy and leukemia• Wearable electronics and BCI• Drug that cures nearly any viral infection?
Alzheimer prevention• Plague starts in the liver rather than the brain• Lifestyle changes could prevent 50% of Alzheimer cases• An environmental toxin may be implicated in Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons
Your Stem Cells -> Heart Spare PartsHeart muscle from pluripotent stem cellsGrowing your own heart replacement partsCommercial products by 2016