Feces transplantation in the intestine is an effective cure – and far superior to today’s standard treatment – for a life-threatening infection that affects between 2,500 and 3,000 people in Denmark every year. That is the conclusion of a new study conducted by researchers from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital which has just been published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. In the study, the researchers examined the ground-breaking fecal transplantation treatment for patients infected with Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile), which typically affects elderly or vulnerable patients. The article is titled “Faecal Microbiota Transplantation for First or Second Clostridioides difficile infection (EarlyFMT): a Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” The results of the study are extremely encouraging, says Simon Mark Dahl Baunwall (photo), a PhD student at the Department of Clinical Medicine and a doctor at Aarhus University Hospital. “Our new study shows that we can effectively cure the infection through the early use of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) after completing the standard treatment, to prevent relapses,” he says.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel have deciphered, for the first time, a mechanism that enables skin cancer to metastasize to the brain and they managed to delay the spread of the disease by 60% to 80% using existing treatments. The encouraging study was led by Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro (at right in photo)and Ph.D. student Sabina Pozzi (at left in photo) of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. The results were published on August 18, 2022 in the Journal ofClinical Investigation (CLI) Insight. The open-access article is titled “MCP-1/CCR2 Axis Inhibition Sensitizes the Brain Microenvironment Against Melanoma Brain Metastasis Progression.”
Paracelsus Medical University (PMU) is proud to announce, on September 19, 2022, the beginning of a research collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. This collaboration aims to investigate the natural regenerative potential of stromal cell-derived extracellular vesicle (EVs) in disorders with high medical need that affect musculoskeletal tissues and the central nervous system. Planned preclinical studies will utilize the unique EV preparations that are manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) at PMU’s Spinal Cord Injury and Tissue Regeneration Center Salzburg (SCI-TReCS). The collaboration is enabled by Boehringer Ingelheim through its Research Beyond Borders program and is part of the company’s long-term commitment to explore emerging and innovative technologies.
Currently, spinal cord injury does not have any effective treatments; physical rehabilitation can help patients regain some mobility, but for severe cases, the outcomes are extremely limited by the failure of spinal neurons to regenerate naturally after injury. However, in a study publishing September 20, 2022 in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, researchers led by Simone Di Giovanni, PhD, at Imperial College London in the UK show that weekly treatments with an epigenetic activator can aid the regrowth of sensory and motor neurons in the spinal cord when given to mice 12 weeks after severe injury. The article is titled “CBP/p300 Activation Promotes Axon Growth, Sprouting, and Synaptic Plasticity In Chronic Experimental Spinal Cord Injury with Severe Disability.”
Researchers led by Matthew Fuxjager, PhD, at Brown University, U.S., and Eric Schuppe, PhD, at Wake Forest University, U.S. have found regions in the woodpecker forebrain that show characteristics that, until now, have only been associated with vocal learning in animals and language in humans. Publishing in the open access journal PLOS Biology on September 20,2022, the study shows that instead of being related to vocalization, activity in these brain regions is related to the characteristic tree drumming that gives woodpeckers their name. The open-access article is titled “Forebrain Nuclei Linked to Woodpecker Territorial Drum Displays Mirror Those That Enable Vocal Learning In Songbirds.”
The exact mechanisms animals use to sense the direction of Earth’s magnetic field have long remained a mystery. One leading theory suggests that this ability is tied to bundles of microscopic hair cells in the inner ears. Through new research published on August 26, 2022 in the European Physical Journal Special Topics (EPJ ST), Kirill Kavokin, PhD, at St. Petersburg State University, Russia, uses statistical analysis to show that just around 100 of these hair cells could act as effective biological compass needles, allowing animals to accurately sense the magnetic field surrounding them. The EPJ ST article is titled “Compass in the Ear: Can Animals Sense Magnetic Fields with Hair Cells?”
Scientists at UCLA have used a molecule found in green tea to identify additional molecules that could break up protein tangles in the brain thought to cause Alzheimer’s and similar diseases. The green tea molecule, EGCG, is known to break up tau fibers — long, multilayered filaments that form tangles that attack neurons, causing them to die. In a paper published on September 16, 2022 in Nature Communications, UCLA biochemists describe how EGCG snaps tau fibers layer by layer. They also show how they discovered other molecules likely to work the same way that would make better potential candidates for drugs than EGCG, which can’t easily penetrate the brain. The finding opens up new possibilities for fighting Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and related diseases by developing drugs that target the structure of tau fibers and other amyloid fibrils. The open-access article is titled “Structure-Based Discovery of Small Molecules That Disaggregate Alzheimer’s Disease Tissue Derived Tau Fibrils in Vitro.”
On September 16, 2022, The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) Board of Directors announced the 2023 Mary Jane O’Neill Fellowship in International Eye Banking is awarded to Elisabeth Cittadino, Ophthalmologist and Technical Director of Hospital Oftalomológico Santa Lucía Eyebank in Buenos Aires, Argentina since 2003. According to Dr. Cittadino, her eye bank was gifted a microkeratome, however it cannot be used to process tissue for DSAEK surgeries due to a lack of training. Her primary goal as the 2023 Mary Jane O’Neill Fellow is to obtain this training so that the Santa Lucía Eyebank can provide pre-cut tissue to surgeons wanting to perform this innovative cornea transplant procedure for patients in need.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have established themselves in the human genome in the course of evolution and play a major role in normal gene regulation. Excessive ERV activity, however, can lead to diseases such as autoimmunity and cancer. And so, cells have developed mechanisms for recognizing and silencing endogenous retroviruses. The silencing is accomplished by packaging the corresponding DNA sections into a less accessible structure. This process is facilitated by modifications to the histone proteins that package the DNA (H3K9me3) and a modification to the DNA itself (DNA methylation). It has not been clear before now, however, which of these modifications are really important for ERV silencing.