News Flash! What’s happening in the Medical World?

Reported by Dr. Sai Lavanya Patnala & Madhav Bansal

  1. Structure of protein methyltransferase from the monkeypox virus deciphered

The replication of potentially harmful adenoviruses can be significantly reduced in human cells in cell culture by using the so-called CRISPR-Cas9 system (“gene scissors”). This method, which is used worldwide in science and research, thus also offers potential for future innovative therapies for the treatment of viral diseases. 

  1. Researchers develop a backpack-based myeloid cell therapy for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients

A research team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has developed a cell therapy as a strong alternative to existing small molecule and protein therapies that leverages myeloid cells, the very type of immune cells that cause the MS-triggering nerve inflammation in patients.

  1. Gene therapy approach can decrease intraocular pressure in pre-clinical models of glaucoma

A single injection of a viral vector – essentially a virus the scientists have hijacked with the purpose of using it to deliver specific instructions to cells in the body – can increase the flow of aqueous fluid from the front of the eye and thereby decrease pressure in the eye.Dr Jeffrey O’Callaghan, Postdoctoral research fellow at Trinity and first author of the study says “Our novel approach to treating glaucoma using gene therapy is the culmination of over seven years of research. We are now hopeful that this therapy will pave the way to the development of treatments for other forms of blinding eye diseases.”

  1. First-ever largest atlas of post-zygotic genome mutations in healthy human tissue created 

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have created the largest atlas of post-zygotic genome mutations in healthy human tissue ever assembled – a scientific advancement that could unlock new avenues for diagnosing and treating genetic disease. It is the largest ever in terms of the combined number of tissues and number of donors sampled.

  1. New chest e-tattoo could provide a major boost in the fight against heart disease

A team led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin has developed an ultrathin, lightweight electronic tattoo, or e-tattoo, that attaches to the chest for continuous, mobile heart monitoring outside of a clinical setting. It includes two sensors that together provide a clear picture of heart health, giving clinicians a better chance to catch red flags for heart disease early.

  1. Semaglutide being used off-label as a long term weight-loss medication

Semaglutide is a peptide sold by Novo Nordisk under the brand names Ozempic, Rybelsus, and Wegovy for long-term treatment of type 2 diabetes or obesity. Ozempic and Wegovy requires a weekly pen injection, combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity produced an average weight loss of about 15% at 68 weeks among clinical trial participants without type 2 diabetes. A clinical trial published in JAMA and a follow-up study of a related trial found that semaglutide is only effective for weight loss for as long as it’s used.

  1. Potential Antithrombotic factor identified in a study conducted on hibernating bears

Cardiologists with the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project hypothesized that some unknown factor might shield hibernating bears from developing blood clots, and that identifying it might help protect people who are temporarily immobilized. The activity of heat shock protein 47, or HSP47, a receptor expressed on the surface of platelets was on average 55 times lower in platelets from hibernating bears than active bears. These initial results were replicated in humans and it was found that HSP47 was downregulated in plasma from people with long-term paralysis compared with the control group.

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea Linked to Early Cognitive Decline

In a pilot study conducted in King’s College London among 27 middle-aged men with newly diagnosed mild to severe OSA and without any comorbidities, using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), findings suggested that those with severe OSA experienced worse executive functioning as well as social and emotional recognition versus healthy controls.

9. CPAP Not Only Solution for Sleep Apnea 

Dr. Kimberly Hardin, a professor of clinical internal medicine at UC Davis highlighted nasal and oral mandibular advancement devices and oral appliance therapy as alternatives to CPAP, at the American College of Physicians (ACP-IM) Internal Medicine Meeting 2023, in San Diego, California. Surgical options include nasal surgery and maxillomandibular advancement surgery, also known as double-jaw surgery. Such procedures should be considered only for patients who are unwilling or unable to use CPAP or other nonsurgical treatments.

10. 3D Repairs for Damaged Skin

A study conducted at Columbia University used 3D printers to create hollow scaffolds in  the desired shapes to grow skin cells. After a month, the grafts had a uniform covering of outer skin cells which were stronger than standard flat grafts. These “wearable” skin grafts are designed to fit on the body like clothing. Dr. Hasan Erbil Abaci who led the study said,” They would dramatically minimize the need for stitches, reduce the length of surgeries, and improve the look of repaired skin.”

11. Possible use of Psilocybin in body dysmorphic disorder 

Results of a study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City results suggest that psilocybin appears to be relatively safe and potentially helpful for people with BDD, and that it has a broader scope than just depression.  Psilocybin alters bodily self-awareness, which “might shake up people’s beliefs about their abnormal body perceptions,” said study investigator Dr. Franklin Schneier.

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