On November 30, 2023, a new research paper was published as the cover story of Aging [listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as “Aging (Albany NY)” and “Aging-US” by Web of Science] Volume 15, Issue 22, entitled, “Chronological Aging Impacts Abundance, Function, and MicroRNA Content of Extracellular Vesicles Produced by Human Epidermal Keratinocytes.” “In this article, we describe for the first time the impact of chronological aging on EV production by human keratinocytes,” the authors said.
Researchers, led by University of Melbourne’s Professor Laura Mackay, a Laboratory Head and Immunology Theme Leader at the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), discovered distinct mechanisms controlling different types of immune cells, and found that, by precisely targeting these mechanisms, they could selectively eliminate “problematic cells” and reshape the skin’s immune landscape. Our skin is packed with specialized immune cells that protect against infections and cancer, and promote healing. These cells, called tissue-resident memory T cells or TRM cells, stay in place to fight infections and cancerous cells in the skin. However, when not controlled properly, some of these skin TRM cells can contribute to autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis and vitiligo.
On November 30, 2023, BriaCell Therapeutics Corp. (Nasdaq: BCTX, BCTXW) (TSX: BCT) (“BriaCell”) a clinical-stage biotechnology company that develops novel immunotherapies to transform cancer care, was thrilled to announce a new “remarkable responder” in Phase 2 study of the Bria-IMT™ combination regimen. BriaCell’s clinical team reported a patient with extensive metastatic breast cancer who had failed all available therapies. The patient had cancer behind the eye, causing proptosis (eye-bulging) and significant pain that were both resolved with BriaCell’s treatment. Additional survival updates and clinical data sets on the entire Phase 2 study cohort will be presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 6th and 7th, 2023.
Synthetic melanin speeds healing of skin wounds by scavenging harmful reactive oxygen molecules and reducing inflammation
by Science Writer Kim Woolcock
In severe skin injuries, healing can be slowed by overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), highly reactive molecules that damage tissue, leading to inflammation. Although artificial antioxidant wound-healing compounds have been tested, biocompatibility and delivery pose issues. Now, researchers are testing the power of synthetic melanin to heal skin injuries. Melanin is commonly known as the pigment found in hair, skin, and eyes, but it is also a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, providing natural defense in the skin. Researchers hypothesized that synthetic melanin might offer an excellent natural option to promote wound healing. In an open-access paper published November 2, 2023 in npj Regenerative Medicine, Biyashev et al. report that skin injuries heal significantly more quickly if treated with synthetic melanin. The paper is titled “Topical Application of Synthetic Melanin Promotes Tissue Repair Melanocytes.”
Fish hatched during WWI in Iowa and sent to Arizona by railcar are still alive—and they may have a lot to teach us about longevity
by Science Writer Kim Woolcock
Only ~35 animal species are known to have lifespans longer than 100 years, and most of them are unrelated. Only the genus Sebastes, ocean rockfishes, contains more than three long-lived species. Now a citizen–science collaboration has identified three species of buffalofishes, all in the genus Ictiobus, thatlive to be over 100 years old. The open-access paper “Centenarian Lifespans of Three Freshwater Fish Species in Arizona Reveal the Exceptional Longevity of the Buffalofishes (Ictiobus)” by Lackmann et al. was published in Scientific Reports on October 20, 2023.
On November 22, 2023, CellCentric, a UK-based biotechnology company, announced publication of a cornerstone paper in Cancer Cell. The work builds on pre-clinical and clinical collaborations, notably with Professor Tim Somervaille of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. The new paper, titled, “Therapeutic Targeting of EP300/CBP by Bromodomain Inhibition in Hematologic Malignancies,” reports on the therapeutic mechanism of inobrodib and relevant clinical results.The open-access November 22 paper demonstrates inobrodib’s action as a potent and selective inhibitor of the bromodomains of p300 and CBP, and shows how it has a profound impact on the regulatory elements which control expression of key cancer driver genes.
New sensor inspired by the UV-sensitive eyes of the Asian swallowtail butterfly can differentiate between tumor and healthy cells with 99% confidence
by Science Writer Kim Woolcock
Ultraviolet (UV) light has shorter wavelengths (<400 nm) than visible light (~400–700 nm) and is difficult to detect—it is not visible to the human eye and current UV sensor technology is limited. Butterfly eyes, though, can not only see UV, but can distinguish between different wavelengths on the UV spectrum (UVA, UVB, and UVC), thanks to their two complementary UV detection mechanisms. Researchers have built a highly sensitive UV sensor array that mimics butterfly eyes. The sensor has many potential applications, including a medical one: detecting tumor cells. Under UV light, cancer cells fluoresce more intensely than healthy cells, and the sensor can distinguish between them with 99% confidence. The sensor could thus allow label-free, real-time differentiation, helping surgeons to get clear margins when removing tumors. The open-access article titled “Bioinspired, Vertically Stacked, and Perovskite Nanocrystal–Enhanced CMOS Imaging Sensors For Resolving UV Spectral Signatures” by Cheng Chen et al. appeared in Science Advances on November 3, 2023.
Venoms have developed in many animal groups independently of each other. One group that has many venomous species is Hymenoptera, an insect order that also includes aculeates (stinging insects) such as bees, wasps and ants. Hymenoptera is very species-rich, with over 6,000 species of bees alone. And yet, despite the great ecological and economic importance of hymenopterans, very little is known about the evolutionary development of their venoms. By means of comparative genomics, researchers led by Dr. Björn von Reumont, who is currently a visiting scientist in the Applied Bioinformatics Working Group at the Institute for Cell Biology & Neuroscience of Goethe University Frankfurt, have now examined systematically, and for the first time, how the most important components of the venom of bees and other hymenopteran taxa developed in the course of evolution. The toxins are complex mixtures composed of small proteins (peptides) and a few large proteins and enzymes. Stinging insects actively inject this poisonous cocktail into their prey or attackers with the help of a special sting apparatus.