None of us are getting any younger, but now a pill that reverses ageing could be on the shelves as soon as 2020 as researchers make a ‘revolutionary’ step forward in anti-ageing technology.
The revolutionary drug has caught the attention of NASA as they hope to defend Mars-bound astronauts against the effects of radiation.
After successfully being used on mice the researchers believe it could be tested on humans within six months.
ll cells in the human body have an innate capability to repair DNA damage, but this ability to do so declines as we age, meaning we become more susceptible to dangerous mutations that cause disease.
But the team at the University of New South Wales has identified a critical step in the molecular process and a key metabolite, NAD+, which has a central role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control repair to our DNA.
Treating mice with a NAD+ booster called NMN improved their cell’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age in just one week of treatment.
Lead scientist Professor David Sinclair said: “This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that’s perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well.
“The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment.”
NASA are interested in this development because of it’s potential in protecting astronauts against radiation. Even on short missions, astronauts experience accelerated ageing from cosmic radiation, suffering from muscle weakness, memory loss and other symptoms when they return.
On a trip to Mars, the situation would be far worse, as 5% of the astronauts’ cells would die and their chances of cancer would approach 100%.
Cosmic radiation is not only an issue for astronauts. We’re all exposed to it when we fly. It is estimated that a London-Singapore-Melbourne flight has roughly the radiation equivalent to a chest X-ray.
By: Huffpost Tech, UK
The technology, patented by CSIC, is also being applied in the early detection of some types of cancer
In addition, the total test time is 4 hours, 45 minutes, meaning clinical results could be obtained on the same day. The research is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.
The biosensor combines micromechanical silicon structures with gold nanoparticles, both functionalised with p24-specific antibodies. At the end of the immunoassay procedure, p24 is sandwiched between the gold nanoparticles and the micromechanical silicon structures. The gold nanoparticles have optical resonances known as plasmons. These are capable of scattering light very efficiently and have become one of the structures to attract most interest in the field of optics over the last decade. Micromechanical structures are excellent mechanical sensors capable of detecting interactions as small as intermolecular forces. The combination of these two structures produces both mechanical and optical signals which amplify one another, producing remarkable sensitivity, to detect the p24.
The technology, which has been patented by CSIC, is also being applied in the early detection of certain types of cancer.
“The chip itself, the physical part, is identical for HIV tests and for cancer biomarker tests. What changes is the chemical part- the solution we apply- so that it reacts accordingly to what we are looking for. That’s why our fundamental work is focused on developing applications for this new technology”, points out CSIC researcher Javier Tamayo, who works at the Institute of Microelectronics in Madrid.
“The biosensor uses structures which are manufactured using well-established microelectronics technology, thus making large scale, low cost production possible. This, combined with its simplicity, could make it a great choice for use in developing countries”, notes Tamayo.
How the biosensor works
The experiment begins by incubating one millilitre of human serum on the sensor for one hour at 37 °C to allow binding of any existing HIV-1 p24 antigens to the capture antibodies located on the sensor’s surface. Next, it is re-incubated at 37 °C, though in this case with gold nanoparticles, for 15 minutes so the captured p24 proteins can be marked.
Finally, the resulting material is rinsed to remove any unbound particles. “The test takes a total of 4 hours 45 minutes, which is really rapid. In fact, to confirm the diagnosis you could even repeat the test and the clinical results could be back on the same day as the medical examination. The results are statistically significant and could be adapted to medical requirements”, explains the CSIC researcher.
HIV detection systems
Acute human immunodeficiency virus infection is defined as the time from virus acquisition to seroconversion, i.e. the onset of detectable antibodies to HIV in the blood.Today there are two ways to detect HIV in the blood. Firstly, infection can be diagnosed by detecting viral RNA in the blood using nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), and secondly by detecting p24 protein with fourth generation immunoassays.
The first method, based on detecting viral RNA in the blood, has a detection limit of 20 to 35 copies of RNA per millilitre, i.e. a concentration typically occurring two weeks after HIV acquisition. In the second method, during the fourth generation immunoassays, a detection threshold of p24 in 10 picograms per millilitre is reached. This occurs approximately three to four weeks after infection.
“This new technology is capable of detecting p24 at concentrations up to 100,000 times lower than the previous generation of approved immunoassays methods and 100 times lower than methods for detecting viral RNA in blood. This reduces the undetectable phase after infection to just one week”, says CSIC researcher Priscila Kosaka from Madrid’s Institute of Microelectronics.
Detecting HIV in blood
The period between infection and seroconversion is approximately four weeks. The early detection of HIV is crucial to improving a person’s health. Progressive changes occur after HIV acquisition, such as irreversible depletion of gut CD4 lymphocytes, replication in the central nervous system, and the establishment of latent HIV reservoirs.
“The potential for HIV infectivity in the first stage of infection is much higher than in the later stages. Therefore, initiating antiretroviral therapy prior to seroconversion improves immune control and has been associated with benefits in CD4 cell count, a reduction in systemic inflammation, the preservation of cognitive function, and a reduction of the latent reservoir. Logically, its detection is critical to the prevention of HIV transmission”, explains Kosaka.
Patented by CSIC, this technology has been licensed to the Mecwins company (a CSIC spin-off) created in 2008 by Javier Tamayo and Montserrat Calleja, and current owner of three patents which represent the fruit of the CSIC researchers’ labour. This recent research has received funding from the Spanish Cancer Association.
Priscila M. Kosaka, Valerio Pini, Montserrat Calleja and Javier Tamayo. Ultrasensitive detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen by a hybrid nanomechanical-optoplasmonic platform with potential for detecting HIV-1 at first week after infection. PLOS ONE.
Kosaka, P. M.; Pini, V.; Ruz, J.; Da Silva, R.; González, M.; Ramos, D.; Calleja, M.; Tamayo, J., Detection of cancer biomarkers in serum using a hybrid mechanical and optoplasmonic nanosensor. Nature Nanotechnology 2014, 9 (12), 1047-1053.
Patente ES2553027 A1. Tamayo de Miguel, Francisco Javier; Monteiro Kosaka, Priscila; Pini, Valerio; Calleja, Montserrat ; Ruz Martínez, José Jaime ; Ramos Vega, Daniel ; González Sagardoy, María Ujué. System for biodetection applications.
By: EurekAlert!, USA
Source: www.eurekalert.orgRead More
Scientists have for the first time determined the molecular structure of a new antibiotic which could hold the key to tackling drug resistant bacteria.
The team at the University of Lincoln, UK, previously produced two synthetic derivatives of teixobactin – which has been hailed as a ‘game-changer’ in the fight against antimicrobial resistance – and the researchers have now become the first in the world to document the molecular make-up of the antibiotic.
This development is an important next step in understanding how different derivatives of teixobactin function, and which building blocks are needed for it to successfully destroy drug resistant bacteria.
Teixobactin, which kills pathogens without any detectable resistance, was first discovered in 2015 by scientists in the USA. It was isolated from microorganisms (which do not grow under laboratory conditions) found in soil – the natural source of nearly all antibiotics developed since the 1940s. Scientists around the world then began exploring ways of creating versions of the antibiotic via chemical synthesis, in order for it to be developed as a potential drug treatment.
At the University of Lincoln, Dr Ishwar Singh from the School of Pharmacy led a team which synthetically produced different derivatives of teixobactin. These derivatives were biologically tested by Dr Edward Taylor, from Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences. The researchers have now published new findings on the relationship between the antibiotic’s molecular structure and its biological activity.
The study is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Chemical Communications.
Dr Singh said: “The increasing level of antimicrobial resistance represents a major global health challenge. The discovery of the highly potent antibiotic teixobactin to cope with this growing problem has provided a much-needed impetus to antibiotic research around the world. Although teixobactin does not mitigate all problems related to antimicrobial resistance, it is a definite step in the right direction, and our research continues to work towards this vital end goal.”
The University of Lincoln team discovered that the molecular structure of teixobactin directly relates to its antimicrobial activity and its effectiveness at destroying pathogens. The researchers found that being relatively unstructured is essential to the biological activity of teixobactin, with more structured variants of the antibiotic proving to be inactive. They also identified a way of maintaining this ‘disorder’ when synthesising different derivatives.
“We successfully defined the molecular structure of seven teixobactin analogues”, Dr Singh explained. “This enabled us to understand the importance of the individual amino acids within the antibiotic, and to understand the contribution they each make to the molecular structures of teixobactin. We found that one particular amino acid (D?Gln4) is essential and another (D?Ile5) is important for maintaining the disordered structure of teixobactin, which is imperative for its biological activity.”
Dr Taylor said: “By exploring the structures of different versions of teixobactin we are, for the first time, able to begin to understand how this molecule works. This knowledge will enable us to produce different forms of teixobactin more easily and on a larger scale with potentially better pharmaceutical properties.”
This work represents a significant step towards the development of teixobactin as a drug, as scientists will now have a much clearer understanding of which building blocks are central to ensuring it works effectively and which are not.
By: EurekAlert!, USA
Source: www.eurekalert.orgRead More
Deep learning-based system could be further developed for smartphones, increasing access to screening and aiding early detection of cancers
Computers can classify skin cancers as successfully as human experts, according to the latest research attempting to apply artificial intelligence to health.
The US-based researchers say the new system, which is based on image recognition, could be developed for smartphones, increasing access to screening and providing a low-cost way to check whether skin lesions are cause for concern.
“We hope that this is a first step towards early detection,” said Andre Esteva, an electrical engineering PhD student from Stanford University and co-author of the research.
According to the World Health Organisation, skin cancer accounts for one in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide, with global incidence on the rise.
In the UK alone, 131,772 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer were recorded in 2014. In the same year there were 15,419 new cases of the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma, making it the fifth most common cancer, according to Cancer Research UK.
As the disease is often initially spotted by a visual examination, Esteva teamed up with colleagues in fields ranging from dermatology to artificial intelligence to create a computer system that would aid screening.
Their approach, described in the journal Nature, is based on deep learning – a class of algorithms used for artificial intelligence. When fed with a large set of ready-sorted data these algorithms pick out and “learn” patterns and relationships. Once trained, the algorithms can then be used to categorise new, unsorted data.
To create the system, the team harnessed a deep learning algorithm built by Google that had already been presented with 1.28 million images of objects such as cats, dogs and cups. Esteva and colleagues then fed the system more than 127,000 clinical images of skin lesions, each already labelled, encompassing many different skin diseases.
Once trained, the team then tested the system’s ability to classify skin cancer by presenting it with just under 2,000 previously unseen images of skin lesions, whose nature had previously been determined by biopsy, and further compared the results for nearly 400 of the images against the judgement of at least 21 dermatologists.
The results reveal that the system is on a par with – if not better than – the experts in telling apart carcinomas from common benign skin growths and melanomas from moles.
For melanomas, the average dermatologist classified around 95% of malignant lesions and 76% of harmless moles correctly. By comparison, the algorithm is capable of correctly classifying 96% of malignant lesions, and correspondingly 90% of benign lesions.
“The aim is absolutely not to replace doctors nor to replace diagnosis,” said Esteva. “What we are replicating [is] sort of the first two initial screenings that a dermatologist might perform.”
While Esteva and colleagues admit the system needs further testing in clinical settings they believe the approach has great promise, suggesting it could be applied to a host of other medical fields.
Boguslaw Obara, a computer scientist at Durham University and expert in image processing, said that the size and complexity of the dataset used to train the system was impressive. The work, he adds, shows we are likely to see algorithms cropping up more and more in everyday life.
Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation also welcomed the research. “This is an exciting new technology that has the potential to increase access to dermatology at a time where there is a national shortage in this speciality and the rates of skin cancer continue to rise,” she said.
But, Mahto warned, the system will need to be carefully assessed for its benefits before it can be rolled out. The approach is also unlikely to replace the role of dermatologists, she adds, pointing out that during a full-body examination experts often discover skin cancer at different sites to those that initially concerned the patient. “There is therefore a possibility that if you rely on people to self-report what they are worried about, other skin cancers – particularly in hard to see sites, e.g. the back – may be missed,” she said.
By: The Guardian, UK
Source: www.theguardian.comRead More