Rare Wild Ancestors of Feral Pigeons Found Living on British and Irish Islands

Rock Dove
Researchers led by members of Oxford University’s Department of Biology have found rare colonies of the wild ancestors of common domestic and feral pigeons. Already extinct in England and Wales, the wild Rock Dove (Columba livia) has been found on secluded Scottish and Irish islands, providing insights into how the domestic pigeon came to be. “Feral” pigeons originate from escaped domestic birds and can be seen in towns and cities all over the world. These domestic pigeons are descended from wild Rock Doves, which nest in sea caves and mountainous areas. Despite the success of feral pigeons, the Rock Dove has been declining throughout its global range – which once encompassed vast areas of Africa, Asia and Europe. University of Oxford DPhil student and lead author Will Smith said: “Studying the decline of the Rock Dove has been challenging for researchers because of such extensive interbreeding and replacement with feral pigeons.”

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National Dairy Month Profile: Dr. Janos Zempleni on Milk Exosome Research

In celebration of National Dairy Month, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is highlighting NIFA-funded researcher Dr. Janos Zempleni (photo). Dr. Zempleni serves as the Director of the Nebraska Center for the Prevention of Obesity Disease through Dietary Molecules at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A brief interview by NIFA’s Rachel Dotson follows.

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Codiak Initiates Patient Dosing in Phase 1 Clinical Trial of exoASO™-STAT6 in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma, and Liver Metastases from Primary Gastric Cancer and Colorectal Cancer

On June 29, 2022, Codiak BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDAK), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of exosome-based therapeutics as a new class of medicines, announced the initiation of patient dosing in its Phase 1 clinical trial of exoASO-STAT6, an engineered exosome precision medicine candidate designed to selectively deliver antisense oligonucleotides to disrupt STAT6 signaling in tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) and induce an anti-tumor immune response. exoASO-STAT6 is Codiak’s third clinical program and the first to evaluate a systemically administered exosome-based drug candidate.

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Codiak BioSciences Provides Platform-Validating Clinical Update and Data from Phase 1 Trials of exoSTING™ and exoIL-12™

  • Codiak’s engineered exosome candidates demonstrate potential for best-in-class profile, with tumor retention and delivery to the cells of interest allowing for increased therapeutic window.
  • exoSTING and exoIL-12 demonstrated favorable safety and tolerability profile at repeat doses tested and antitumor activity was observed in both injected and uninjected/distal lesions.
  • Codiak has identified recommended Phase 2 dose for each program and plans to initiate Phase 2 studies for both candidates in the first quarter of 2023.
  • Codiak hosts conference call and webcast .

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Microbial Link Between Western-Style Diet and Incidence of Colorectal Cancer Uncovered

New research builds the case that a Western-style diet — rich in red and processed meat, sugar, and refined grains/carbohydrates — is tied to higher risk of colorectal cancer through the intestinal microbiota. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with collaborators, looked at data from more than 134,000 participants in two U.S.-wide prospective cohort studies. The team analyzed dietary patterns as well as DNA from Escherichia coli strains found in more than 1,000 colorectal tumors. The team looked for bacterial strains carrying a distinct genetic island known as polyketide synthase (pks). Pks encodes an enzyme that has been shown to cause mutations in human cells. Overall, the team found that Western diet was associated with colorectal tumors containing high amounts of pks+ E. coli but not with tumors containing little to no amount of pks+ E. coli.

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Gene Variants May Affect Length of Survival in Parkinson’s Patients, New Study Shows

How long someone lives with Parkinson’s disease may depend on specific gene mutations, according to new research presented on June 26, 2022, at the 8th European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Congress. Scientists from four institutes in Paris, including the prestigious Paris Brain Institute at the Sorbonne Université, studied the records of 2,037 Parkinson’s disease patients from their first hospital visit and believe the genetic variants may shed light on how quickly or slowly Parkinson’s disease progresses in cases where a single gene is involved.

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Octopus Brain and Human Brain Share Same “Jumping Genes;” New Study Identifies Important Molecular Analogy That Could Explain Remarkable Intelligence of These Invertebrates

The octopus is an exceptional organism with an extremely complex brain and cognitive abilities that are unique among invertebrates–so much so that in some ways it has more in common with vertebrates than with invertebrates. The neural and cognitive complexity of these animals could originate from a molecular analogy with the human brain, as discovered by research described in a paper published on May 18, 2022 in BMC Biology, and coordinated by Dr. Remo Sanges from SISSA of Trieste and by Dr. Graziano Fiorito from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples. The research shows that the same “jumping genes” are active both in the human brain and in the brain of two species, Octopus vulgaris, the common octopus, and Octopus bimaculoides, the Californian octopus. This is a discovery that could aid understanding the secret of the intelligence of these fascinating organisms.

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Flu Vaccination Linked to 40% Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease In Large Study

A team of researchers including Paul E. Schulz, MD, found that flu vaccination was associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease over a four-year period. (Credit: UTHealth Houston).
People who received at least one influenza vaccine were 40% less likely than their non-vaccinated peers to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the course of four years, according to a new study from UTHealth Houston. Research led by first author Avram S. Bukhbinder, MD, a recent alumnus of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, and senior author Paul. E. Schulz, MD, the Rick McCord Professor in Neurology at McGovern Medical School, compared the risk of Alzheimer’s disease incidence between patients with and without prior flu vaccination in a large nationwide sample of U.S. adults aged 65 and older. An early online version of the paper detailing the findings is available in advance of its publication in the August 2, 2022 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The article is titled “Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease Following Influenza Vaccination: A Claims-Based Cohort Study Using Propensity Score Matching.”

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Hair-Raising Research: Salk Scientists Find Surprising Link Between Immune System and Hair Growth; Study Highlights How Current Treatments for Alopecia Work on a Cellular Level

Salk Institute
Salk scientists have uncovered an unexpected molecular target of a common treatment for alopecia, a condition in which a person’s immune system attacks his/her own hair follicles, causing hair loss. The findings, published in Nature Immunology on June 23, 2022, describe how immune cells called regulatory T cells interact with skin cells using a hormone as a messenger to generate new hair follicles and hair growth. “For the longest time, regulatory T cells have been studied for how they decrease excessive immune reactions in autoimmune diseases,” says corresponding author Ye Zheng, PhD, Associate Professor in Salk’s NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis. “Now, we’ve identified the upstream hormonal signal and downstream growth factor that actually promote hair growth and regeneration completely separate from suppressing immune response.” The Nature Immunology article is titled “Glucocorticoid Signaling and Regulatory T Cells Cooperate to Maintain the Hair-Follicle Stem-Cell Niche.”

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Giant Bacteria Found in Guadeloupe Mangroves Challenge Traditional Concepts

At first glance, the slightly murky waters in the tube look like a scoop of stormwater, complete with leaves, debris, and even lighter threads in the mix. But in the Petri dish, the thin vermicelli-like threads floating delicately above the leaf debris are revealed to be single bacterial cells, visible to the naked eye. The unusual size is notable because bacteria aren’t usually visible without the assistance of a microscope. “It’s 5,000 times bigger than most bacteria. To put it into context, it would be like a human encountering another human as tall as Mount Everest,” said Jean-Marie Volland, PhD, a scientist with joint appointments at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems (LRC) in Menlo Park, California. In the June 24, 2022 issue of Science, Dr. Volland and colleagues, including researchers at the JGI and Berkeley Lab, LRC, and at the Université des Antilles in Guadeloupe, described the morphological and genomic features of this giant filamentous bacterium, along with its life cycle. The article is titled “A Centimeter-Long Bacterium with DNA Contained in Metabolically Active Membrane-Bound Organelles.”

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