GoogleNews.com, May 27, 2009, by Kathleen Gallagher  —  A Madison, WI company aiming to put itself at the center of the evolving field of regenerative medicine said Wednesday that it has licensed a key patent portfolio involving the differentiation of stem cells into heart cells.

Cellular Dynamics International negotiated an exclusive license to the technology from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the company said in a news release.

Cellular Dynamics, known as CDI, was formed by stem cell pioneer James Thomson and three other University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers. The company raised $18 million from mostly Wisconsin-based investors late last year.

The license gives CDI the right to produce cardiac cells and strengthens its growing patent portfolio, making the company a preferred collaborator and provider to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

CDI initially is selling stem cell-derived heart cells to Roche and other pharmaceutical companies to help them test the toxicity of drugs. Eventually, it hopes to industrialize production of human cell types for research and create a bio bank in which people could store stem cells engineered from their DNA for use in personalized therapies or in testing reactions to drugs.

20090528-2

UrbanMecca.net, May 28, 2009  —  GEOFFREY BEENE GIVES BACK® and GQ Magazine have joined forces to bring celebrity rock stars like nine-time Grammy Award winner, Sheryl Crow, and some of the nation’s leading medical researchers in areas like cancer, HIV-AIDS, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, genetics and personalized medicine together to showcase the need for greater funding and to capture the imagination of the next generation of “Rock Stars of Science” in the making. The public service campaign, called Rock Stars of Science (ROCK S.O.S.), will be launched through a special 6-page sponsored photo spread in the June issue of GQ Magazine, available nationally on May 25.

ROCK S.O.S. aims to bridge a serious recognition gap that, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, makes Britney Spears more influential than Stephen Hawking among most Americans. In fact, an earlier survey commissioned by the national organization, Research!America, found that nearly three-fourths of those polled could not name a single living scientist.

“It’s not everyday that Platinum selling artists have a chance to jam with Nobel Prize winners and recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but maybe we should,” said Sheryl Crow. “What these scientists are doing to fight diseases like breast cancer is just as much driven by inspiration and a passion for humanity as the best song ever written. Without our realizing it, they are quietly making everyone’s life healthier and fuller, so we all owe them our deepest respect and support.”

Along with Sheryl Crow, ROCK S.O.S. features Grammy-nominated Josh Groban, hip hop artist and X-Men Origins: Wolverine co-star Will-i-am, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and multi-Platinum seller, Seal. Featured researchers include:

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, former Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Harold Varmus, MD, Nobel Prize winner for discovery of cancer genes, former director of the National Institutes of Health, and advisor to President Obama and Gates Foundation (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
Anthony S. Fauci, MD, global expert on HIV/AIDS and key advisor to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on infectious diseases and global health (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health)
David B. Agus, MD, leading researcher and entrepreneur in personalized medicine for major diseases like cancer (University of Southern California)
Rudy Tanzi, PhD, discoverer of major new genes related to Alzheimer’s (Harvard Medical School)
Eric J. Topol, MD, pioneer in genomics-based cardiology (Scripps Translational Science Institute)
Ron Petersen, MD, clinician, Alzheimer’s investigator; President Ronald Reagan’s personal physician (Mayo Clinic)
Steven T. DeKosky, MD, pioneer in early detection of Alzheimer’s (University of Virginia School of Medicine)
Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, researcher developing drugs for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s (Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center)
Dale Schenk, PhD, inventor of the vaccination approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s (Elan Pharmaceuticals)
Jeffrey Cummings, MD, modernizer of brain function measurements (Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA)
“Scientists like to tell ourselves that we are too busy to worry about image. But the reality is that our work only has a chance of making a difference if we build a much broader base of popular support for medical research than currently exists in this country. That has to include more public pressure for congressional funding of research and more commitment to developing scientific leadership for the next century,” explained Dr. Francis S. Collins, one of the featured Rock Stars of Science. “So if that means I have to break out my old guitar, get dressed up and play with some of my all time favorite musicians – well it’s a tough job but someone has to do it.”

In addition to the GQ Magazine photo feature, ROCK S.O.S. will be supported by a website www.rockstarsofscience.org, to be launched on June 1, 2009. The site will profile the scientists, their teams and research institutions. Readers will also have the opportunity to sign a declaration calling for more funding for science research, nominate their own Rock Stars of Science, and qualify for limited edition campaign giveaways. “ROCK S.O.S. helps to mobilize Americans in a number of ways to end this moment in history when our greatest minds and dedicated public servants are too often overlooked,” explained Meryl Comer, President of the GEOFFREY BEENE GIVES BACK® Alzheimer’s Initiative and campaign coordinator. “We are so close to simply too many dramatic breakthroughs against the diseases that threaten our future to lose ground now. Whatever it takes, we must send the S.O.S. – which doubles as ‘Support Our Science’.”

Eli Greenblat

May 27, 2009

Shares in Avita Medical rallied nearly 25 per cent this morning after the biotechnology company announced it had won $US1.45 million ($2 million) in funding from the United States Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) to accelerate approval of the company’s ReCell skin healing technology.
 
The intent from Avita and AFIRM, an arm of the US government, is to fast-track the skin healing technology for approval in the US so it can be used in commercial applications as well as by the armed forces to help care for soldiers hurt in the heat of battle.
 
Avita was awarded the grant following a highly competitive approval process that saw the Australian company compete against project submissions from over 25 other companies and universities.
 
Shares in Avita jumped nearly 25 per cent on the news to a high of 13.5 cents and were up 2.1, or 21.2 per cent, at 12 cents this afternoon.
 
The award of the AFIRM grant may also accelerate the US FDA approval process for ReCell – an important milestone in Avita’s commercialisation of the product, the company said.

ReCell is a spray-on treatment for burns victims that promises better healing and end results for patients than traditional skin graft procedures.

The technology was developed by Fiona Wood, a former Australian of the Year.
 
The AFIRM funding will provide capital for a 100-patient, multicentre trial of ReCell. Up to 10 US investigational sites will participate and the study site collection process will begin in the coming weeks.
 
Avita Medical chief executive William Dolphin said the grant from the US Armed Forces, which closely follows the funding of a medico-economic study by the French Ministry of Health, was another compelling endorsement of ReCell.
 
“The selection process was based on the identification of high impact, highly innovative technologies with the greatest likelihood of delivering clinical benefit. ReCell is a disruptive technology which we believe will redefine the clinical treatment of burns, scar remodeling and other skin defects and injuries.
 
“The underlying technology has enormous application in the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.”

egreenblat@theage.com.au

20090528-1

Brain-computer interfaces offer liberating possibilities like faster ‘thought typing.’

(Credit: Copyright Presenccia) 

ICT Results (2009, May 26). Virtual Smart Home Controlled By Your Thoughts. ScienceDaily  –   Light switches, TV remote controls and even house keys could become a thing of the past thanks to brain-computer interface (BCI) technology being developed in Europe that lets users perform everyday tasks with thoughts alone. 

The technology, which was demonstrated at CeBIT in Hannover in March, provides an innovative way of controlling the interconnected electronic devices that will populate the smart homes of the future, granting increased autonomy to people with physical disabilities as well as pleasing TV channel-surfing couch potatoes.

“The BCI lets people turn on lights, change channels on the TV or open doors just by thinking about it,” explains Christoph Guger, the CEO of Austrian medical engineering company g.tec that developed the application. 

g.tec teamed up with a group of international universities and research institutes as part of the EU-funded Presenccia project to incorporate its BCI technology into virtual environments. As part of the project a fully functioning smart home was created in virtual reality (VR). 

“It has a kitchen, bathroom, living room… everything a normal home would have. People are able to move through it just by thinking about where they wanted to go,” Guger says.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment is used to monitor electrical activity in a user’s brain via electrodes attached to their scalp. After a period of training, the system learns to identify the distinctive patterns of neuronal activity produced when they imagine walking forwards, flicking on a light switch or turning up the radio. 

Liberating possibilities for people with disabilities

Being able to move and control objects in virtual reality solely by the power of thought could offer new and liberating possibilities for people with physical disabilities. It could help amputees learn how to use a prosthetic limb, for example, or allow people confined to a wheelchair to experience walking in virtual reality, as one experiment conducted by the Presenccia researchers showed. 

“A virtual environment could be used to train a disabled person to control an electric wheelchair through a brain-computer interface,” explains Mel Slater, the coordinator of the Presenccia project. “It is much safer for them to learn in VR than in the real world, where mistakes could have physical consequences.” 

One application developed by g.tec lets people control a small robot with their thoughts, though the same system could easily be adapted to control a wheelchair instead. Four lights on a small box set to flicker at different frequencies provided the control mechanism using a method known as Steady State Visual Evoked Potentials (SSVEP). 

“The top light, for example, was set to flicker at 10 hertz so, when the user stared at it, the EEG equipment registered that particular frequency in the user’s brain and instructed the robot to move forward. Looking at another light flickering at a different frequency would tell the robot to go left and so on,” Guger explains. 

Thought-provoking typing

g.tec has adopted a different approach to allow people to type with their thoughts. Users sit in front of a grid of letters and numbers on a computer screen which flash in sequence and are told to stare at the character they want to type. The system registers their brain activity when the letter they are looking at is illuminated. 

“With experience people can learn to type quite fast. I can average about one letter every eight-tenths of a second, a rate similar to typing with one finger,” Guger says. 

Better hardware, software and a deeper understanding of EEG data has now made typing by thought power a practical application, particularly for paralysed people suffering from so-called locked-in syndrome who have few means of communication. 

“Just two years ago, it took up to a minute to type a single letter and a whole day to train someone to do it. Now most people can learn to use the system in five minutes,” Guger says. 

The accuracy of BCI technology has also greatly improved: g.tec was involved in a study that showed 82 percent of people could achieve 100 percent accuracy. “Five years ago there was only one person in the world known to be able to do that,” Guger notes. 

Where will such rapid progress lead?

The g.tec CEO initially expects BCI technology to continue to gain ground in medical applications for the disabled and for rehabilitation, helping people who have suffered a stroke, for example, to regain use of their limbs. However, he believes it could become common in everyday environments. Having been tested in virtual reality, g.tec’s smart home application will soon be deployed in a real smart home being built as part of the SM4all project, which has received funding under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme. 

g.tec, which was founded by Christoph Guger and Günter Edlinger in 1999 as a spin-off from the Graz University of Technology, sells its award-winning technology to companies, universities and research institutes in 55 countries. 

This is the second of a two-part special feature on virtual reality and the Presenccia project funded under the FET Pro-active scheme of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.

WEDNESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) — As the H1N1 swine flu virus continues to wax and wane in different parts of the country, U.S. health officials said they were working as fast as possible to learn as much as they can about the novel pathogen before the return of the flu season in the fall.

The reason for the urgency: Some past pandemics were preceded by “herald waves” of a flu strain that surfaced at the end of one flu season, only to return with far greater consequences the next flu season.

“We are mindful that pandemics of influenza have sometimes come in waves,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interim deputy director for science and public health program, said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “The very severe 1918 pandemic had a moderate herald wave in the spring and a much more severe second wave in the fall. So that very terrible experience of 1918 is in our minds.”

Some estimates have placed the worldwide death toll from the 1918 outbreak — often referred to as the “Spanish Flu” — as high as 40 million people.

“We are really on a fast track, over the next to eight to 10 weeks, to learn as much as we can as this virus heads to the Southern Hemisphere [where flu season is just beginning] and to strengthen our planning for the surge of illness that we expect to experience here in the fall,” Schuchat added.

Scientists will be looking to see if the H1N1 swine flu virus mutates or becomes resistant to antiviral medications, or is more easily spread among people, she said.

Schuchat said there’s no way to tell now if the H1N1 virus will be more virulent when — and if — it returns to the Northern Hemisphere with the approach of winter. “Whether it will dominate among the seasonal flu viruses or whether it will disappear is not predictable right now,” she said.

To date there have been 7,927 confirmed and probable cases of infection in the United States, the CDC reported Wednesday. Most of the cases have been mild and patients have recovered quickly.

The CDC was reporting 11 deaths linked to the swine flu, and all of the victims had underlying health problems before they were infected.

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that 48 countries have reported 13,398 cases of infection, including 95 deaths, most of them in Mexico, where the outbreak began.

The CDC said last week that progress was being made toward the development of an H1N1 swine flu vaccine, with two promising candidate viruses for use in such a shot. And U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday that the federal government was allocating $1 billion to the search for a swine flu vaccine.

In the United States, most cases of the swine flu continue to be no worse than seasonal flu. Testing has found that the swine flu virus remains susceptible to two common antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.

The CDC says some older people may have partial immunity to the H1N1 swine flu virus because of possible exposure to another H1N1 flu strain circulating prior to 1957. So far, 64 percent of cases of swine flu infection in the United States have been among people aged 5 to 24, while only 1 percent involves people over 65, officials said last week.

GoogleNews.com, May 27, 2009, by Mgoozner at GoozNews.com  —  In an online article in the New England Journal of Medicine [1], the new leaders at the Food and Drug Administration have laid out their public health orientation in broad strokes, promising a new era where the agency that oversees more than one-seventh of the U.S. economy puts science at the helm and gives safety equal standing with the new product approval process.

But they also pledged a new day for drug developers who worry the agency is failing to keep up with the frontiers of medicine. Indeed, nearly every constituency with a stake in FDA regulation will find something to like in the guideline offered yesterday by newly-installed Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.

Drug safety advocates will be heartened by their promise to use the tools created by the 2007 reform law that allow the agency to pay greater attention to the risks of newly approved drugs. At the same time the drug and biotechnology industries can point to their pledge to speed new life-saving drugs to market and develop the new science of personalized medicine.

A pragmatic centrism that has been characteristic of most Obama administration appointees lies at the core of their philosophy. Will the FDA hurdle for new drug and device applications become more or less stringent? Wrong question, the new leaders say. 

Some benefits are not worth the risk; some risks are worth taking. Key considerations are the severity of the illness at issue, the availability of alternative treatments or preventive interventions, and the current state of knowledge about individual responses.

Regulation of the pre-approval stage of drug development is in for an overhaul. Echoing the rhetoric of the Critical Path Initiative, which has come under fire from some consumer groups as a Trojan horse to undermine drug safety standards, the new leaders pledged to work more closely with scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as they explore potential breakthroughs. “As scientists identify fruitful pathways for research on treatments for debilitating diseases, FDA regulators should discuss with them the level of evidence necessary for the initiation of human trials and the eventual approval of treatments,” they wrote. And in what should be music to innovators’ ears, Hamburg and Sharfstein offered to collaborate with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “to explore ways of shortening the time from approval to reimbursement.”

Food safety has dominated the headlines in recent months, and food processors — many of which are crying out for more inspections and tighter regulations — are going to see major changes in the months ahead.

The recent salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated peanut butter represented far more than a sanitation problem at one troubled facility. It reflected a failure of the FDA and its regulatory partners to identify risk and to establish and enforce basic preventive controls. And it exposed the failure of scores of food manufacturers to adequately monitor the safety of ingredients purchased from this facility.

The agency is also likely to pay much more attention to nutrition issues under their leadership. Not only are they promising to crack down on false nutritional claims (such as the recent Cheerios claim that it lowers cholesterol), but they want to work with consumer groups and industry “to promote more healthful foods.” 

It’s never wise to read too much into broad statements made at the outset of an administration. This is as true for regulatory agencies as it is in politics. But if there is any group that should come away emboldened by this first broadside by the Hamburg and Sharfstein leadership team, it is the career scientists at the FDA.

“We recognize the importance of a management approach that respects the expertise and dedication of the FDA’s career scientists,” they wrote. “Establishing the FDA as a public health agency requires a culture that encourages scientific exchange and respects alternative viewpoints along the path of decision making.”

There will be no winners and losers in that approach. It pragmatically recognizes that when it comes to promoting and protecting public health, the facts on the ground matter most.

20090527-13

Pain is more than a symptom of osteoarthritis, it is an inherent and damaging part

 of the disease itself, according to a new study. (Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Meckelmann)

University of Rochester Medical Center,. Pain Is Not A Symptom Of Arthritis, Pain Causes Arthritis, Study Shows. ScienceDaily  –   Pain is more than a symptom of osteoarthritis, it is an inherent and damaging part of the disease itself, according to a study just published in journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. More specifically, the study revealed that pain signals originating in arthritic joints, and the biochemical processing of those signals as they reach the spinal cord, worsen and expand arthritis. 

In addition, researchers found that nerve pathways carrying pain signals transfer inflammation from arthritic joints to the spine and back again, causing disease at both ends. 

Technically, pain is a patient’s conscious realization of discomfort. Before that can happen, however, information must be carried along nerve cell pathways from say an injured knee to the pain processing centers in dorsal horns of the spinal cord, a process called nociception. The current study provides strong evidence that two-way, nociceptive “crosstalk” may first enable joint arthritis to transmit inflammation into the spinal cord and brain, and then to spread through the central nervous system (CNS) from one joint to another. 

Furthermore, if joint arthritis can cause neuro-inflammation, it could have a role in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and multiple sclerosis. Armed with the results, researchers have identified likely drug targets that could interfere with key inflammatory receptors on sensory nerve cells as a new way to treat osteoarthritis (OA), which destroys joint cartilage in 21 million Americans. The most common form of arthritis, OA eventually brings deformity and severe pain as patients loose the protective cushion between bones in weight-bearing joints like knees and hips. 

“Until relatively recently, osteoarthritis was believed to be due solely to wear and tear, and inevitable part of aging,” said Stephanos Kyrkanides, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor of Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Recent studies have revealed, however, that specific biochemical changes contribute to the disease, changes that might be reversed by precision-designed drugs. Our study provides the first solid proof that some of those changes are related to pain processing, and suggests the mechanisms behind the effect,” said Kyrkanides, whose work on genetics in dentistry led to broader applications. The common ground between arthritis and dentistry: the jaw joint is a common site of arthritic pain. 

Study Details

Past studies have shown that specific nerve pathways along which pain signals travel repeatedly become more sensitive to pain signals with each use. This may be a part of ancient survival skill (if that hurt once, don’t do it again). Secondly, pain has long been associated with inflammation (swelling and fever). 

In fact, past research has shown that the same chemicals that cause inflammation also cause the sensation of pain and hyper-sensitivity to pain if injected. Kyrkanides’ work centers around one such pro-inflammatory, signaling chemical called Interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β), which helps to ramp up the bodies attack on an infection. 

Specifically, Kyrkanides’ team genetically engineered a mouse where they could turn up on command the production of IL-1β in the jaw joint, a common site of arthritis. Experiments showed for the first time that turning up IL-1β in a peripheral joint caused higher levels of IL-1β to be produced in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord as well. 

Using a second, even more elaborately engineered mouse model, the team also demonstrated for the first time that creating higher levels of IL-1β in cells called astrocytes in the spinal cord caused more osteoarthritic symptoms in joints. Past studies had shown astrocytes, non-nerve cells (glia) in the central nervous system that provide support for the spinal cord and brain, also serve as the immune cells of CNS organs. Among other things, they release cytokines like IL-1β to fight disease when triggered. The same cytokines released from CNS glia may also be released from neurons in joints, possibly explaining how crosstalk carries pain, inflammation and hyper-sensitivity back and forth. 

In both mouse models, experimental techniques that shut down IL-1β signaling reversed the crosstalk effects. Specifically, researchers used a molecule, IL-1RA, known to inhibit the ability of IL-1β to link up with its receptors on nerve cells. Existing drugs (e.g. Kineret® (anakinra), made by Amgen and indicated for rheumatoid arthritis) act like IL-1RA to block the ability IL-1β to send a pain signal through its specific nerve cell receptor, and Kyrkanides’ group is exploring a new use for them as osteoarthritis treatment. 

The implications of this process go further, however, because the cells surrounding sensory nerve cell pathways too can be affected by crosstalk. If 10 astrocytes secrete IL-1β in response to a pain impulse, Kyrkanides said, perhaps 1,000 adjacent cells will be affected, greatly expanding the field of inflammation. Spinal cord astrocytes are surrounded by sensory nerve cells that connect to other areas of the periphery, further expanding the effect. According to Kyrkanides’ model, increased inflammation by in the central nervous system can then send signals back down the nerve pathways to the joints, causing the release of inflammatory factors there. 

Among the proposed, inflammatory factors is calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP). The team observed higher levels calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) production in primary sensory fibers in the same regions where IL-1β levels rose, and the release of IL-1β by sensory neurons may cause the release of CGRP in joints. Past studies in Kyrkanides reveal that CGRP can also cause cartilage-producing cells (chondrocytes) to mature too quickly and die, a hallmark of osteoarthritis.

Joining Kyrkanides in the publication from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry were co-authors M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., Ross Tallents, D.D.S., J. Edward Puzas, Ph.D. and Sabine M. Brouxhon, M.D. Paolo Fiorentino was a student contributor and Jennie Miller was involved as Kyrkanides’ technical associate. Maria Piancino, led a collaborative effort at the University of Torino, Italy. This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Important Conclusion

“Our study results confirm that joints can export inflammation in the form of higher IL-1β along sensory nerve pathways to the spinal cord, and that higher IL-1β inflammation in the spinal cord is sufficient in itself to create osteoarthritis in peripheral joints,” Kyrkanides said. “We believe this to be a vitally important process contributing to orthopaedic and neurological diseases in which inflammation is a factor.”

20090527-11

Duke University Medical Center, May 27, 2009  —  This photo shows the same airway after a severe chemical injury that wipes out the normally present cells and activates stem cell mediated repair (clonal patches). Credit: Cancer Research UK

Stem cells that respond after a severe injury in the lungs of mice may be a source of rapidly dividing cells that lead to lung cancer, according to a team of American and British researchers.

“There are chemically resistant, local-tissue stem cells in the lung that only activate after severe injury,” said Barry R. Stripp, Ph.D., professor of medicine and cell biology at Duke University Medical Center. “Cigarette smoke contains a host of toxic chemicals, and smoking is one factor that we anticipate would stimulate these stem cells. Our findings demonstrate that, with severe injury, the resulting repair response leads to large numbers of proliferating cells that are derived from these rare stem cells.”

Stripp said this finding could be related to the increased incidence of lung cancer in people with chronic disease states, in particular among cigarette smokers.

The findings were published in the advance online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of May 25.

“On the positive side, I think that it might be possible to improve lung function in the context of disease if we could understand which pathways regulate lung stem cell activation and then target these pharmacologically,” said lead author Adam Giangreco, Ph.D., from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute. “In terms of lung cancer susceptibility, however, our observation that stem cell activation leads to clonal expansion after injury could, in the context of additional mutations, promote the development of cancerous or precancerous lesions from activated stem cells.”

20090527-12

This section of a normal chimeric airway shows a patch distribution of mixed green fluorescent protein positive (green) and negative cells. Credit: Cancer Research UK

The scientists used a chimeric mouse model, part wild-type and part with green fluorescent protein-tagged cells (GFP), so that the behavior of different populations of duplicating lung cells could be evaluated with high-resolution imaging methods. By understanding the extent to which GFP-positive and GFP-negative cells were mixed, the investigators were able to show that the abundant population of progenitor cells that normally maintain the epithelial layer in the lung could be rapidly wiped out with a strong chemical, naphthalene. Then the rare proliferative cells became active and grew into large patches.

The researchers at Duke and Cancer Research UK used a unique whole-lung imaging method to examine and identify the location of stem cells in the lung tissue of mice, and determine the role they play in both healthy and damaged mouse lungs.

They found that, while the stem cells don’t appear to be involved in the normal maintenance of healthy or moderately injured lungs, they do play a vital role in repairing severely damaged lungs.

Even though this repair mechanism is important for restoring lung function, it can come at a price. An acquired mutation in that rare cell or its descendants leads to clonal patches of many identical cells. Secondary mutations in any one of these cells may provide the signals needed for unregulated cell growth and tumor progression.

“This work provides a plausible mechanism to account for this type of event that we previously didn’t have,” Stripp said.

20090527-10

Researchers are reporting progress toward a stronger material for

 dental cavities using ingredients from the human body. Arrow points

to a filling made of “composite.” (Credit: NIST)

American Chemical Society (2009, May 27). Stronger Material For Filling Dental Cavities Has Ingredients From Human Body. ScienceDaily  –  Scientists in Canada and China are reporting development of a new dental filling material that substitutes natural ingredients from the human body for controversial ingredients in existing “composite,” or plastic, fillings. The new material appears stronger and longer lasting as well, with the potential for reducing painful filling cracks and emergency visits to the dentist, the scientists say. 

Julian X.X. Zhu and colleagues point out that dentists increasingly are using white fillings made from plastic, rather than “silver” dental fillings. Those traditional fillings contain mercury, which has raised health concerns among some consumers and environmental issues in its production. However, many plastic fillings contain controversial ingredients (such as BisGMA) linked to premature cracking of fillings and slowly release bisphenol A, a substance considered as potentially toxic to humans and to the environment.

The scientists developed a dental composite that does not contain these ingredients. Instead, it uses “bile acids,” natural substances produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that help digest fats. The researchers showed in laboratory studies that the bile acid-derived resins form a hard, durable plastic that resists cracking better than existing composites.

Oral Biologists Use Chemistry To Formulate Cavity Fighting Mints

American Institute of Physics – Oral biologists formulated a mint that fights cavities with an ingredient called Cavistat. Cavistat contains two main components that protect the teeth. First, the amino acid arginine metabolizes certain bacteria, which neutralizes the acid generated by sugars. This raises the pH to help prevent damage to teeth. Cavistat also introduces other chemical compounds that protect against the dissolving of the minerals of the teeth. 

Sodas, candy and processed foods are packed with tooth-decaying, cavity-causing sugar. For the past 40 years, experts have seen a decrease in the amount of tooth decay in children; but according to Centers for Disease Control statistics, the trend is reversing. To tackle the problem, one dental scientist has found a way to use candy to help prevent cavities. 

Tooth decay in kids has increased 28 percent in the past eight years. Experts believe too many sugary, processed foods and not enough brushing are to blame. A key factor in fighting cavities is found in your mouth.

“Saliva is the great protector against cavities,” said Israel Kleinberg, D.D.S., Ph.D., an oral biologist at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y.

Dr. Kleinberg says 40 years of research and more than $1 billion has been spent trying to figure out what saliva has that fights tooth decay.

“I’m one of the pioneers in that as a whole new science,” Dr. Kleinberg said. “It’s where one mixes dentistry and biochemistry.”

Dr. Kleinberg discovered how saliva’s chemistry helps teeth neutralize the acidity created from eating food by balancing the pH levels in the mouth.

“[It’s] like if you’ve got a swimming pool,” Dr. Kleinberg said. “You have got to get the pH right. If you’ve got a neutral pH, you’ve got the ideal condition.”

He developed a candy to fight cavities. The candy is fluoride-free and protects teeth in two ways. First, it raises pH levels to neutralize more acid than saliva alone. Second, it protects the minerals in tooth enamel. Arginine, an amino acid, combines with calcium in Cavistat, the candy’s main ingredient, and sticks to teeth — leaving behind a layer of protection.

Kids who ate two mints twice a day for one year had 68 percent fewer cavities in their molars than children who didn’t chew the mints.

“The number of cavities, we think that ultimately is going to get to almost zero,” Dr. Kleinberg said.  That would bring a smile to just about everyone’s face.

All the ingredients in the mints are natural and considered foods, so the product doesn’t need FDA approval.

WHAT DOES IT DO? BasicMints contain Cavistat, a cavity-fighting agent that includes two major components. Cavistat disrupts oral chemistry and biology in two ways. First, it introduces an amino acid called arginine to the mouth. When bacteria in the mouth break the arginine down, it neutralizes the acid generated by sugars in food, which reduces the amount of acid in the mouth and helps prevent damage to teeth. Additionally the Cavistat adds other chemical compounds that protect the minerals that make up teeth from dissolving.

ANATOMY OF A TOOTH: We think of teeth as being the part visible above the gum, but this is only the tip, or crown, of a tooth. There is also a neck that lies at the gum line, and a root, located below the gum. The crown of each tooth has an enamel coating to protect the underlying dentine. Enamel is even harder than bone, thanks to rows of tightly packed calcium and phosphorus crystals. The underlying dentine is slightly softer, and contains tiny tubules that connect with the central nerve of the tooth within the pulp. The pulp forms the central chamber of the tooth, and is made of soft tissue containing blood vessels that carry nutrients to the tooth. It also contains nerves so teeth can sense hot and cold, as well as lymph vessels to carry white blood cells to fight bacteria.

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