July 28, 2017

High-Tech New Medical Treatments Offer Hope

By Chelsea Follett
Breakthrough Against Deadliest Skin Cancer  

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It makes up only 1 per of skin cancer cases, but is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths, with an estimated 9,730 deaths in the United States in 2017 (so far). Current treatments are often either not tolerated well by the human body or prone to drug resistance. But there is good news. A group of researchers developed a new compound that may be able to treat melanoma without harming nearby healthy cells. They used a molecule fragment, which can be found in vegetables. While not therapeutically effective on its own, when combined with a substance called “napthalamide moiety of mitonafide” the molecule fragment is able to destroy cancer. When tested mice, the newly designed compound reduced tumors by 69 percent and killed most cancer cells without creating toxic effects on the healthy cells in the body.   

Slowing Down Aging with Stem Cells  

Researchers have noted that the speed at which one’s body ages may be determined by stem cells in the brain. By introducing new stem cells, the aging process can perhaps be slowed. Dr. Cai and his team from Albert Einstein College of Medicine were able to identify the cells causing the process of aging and observed the decline of brain stem cells in the hypothalamus. This cellular decline starts much earlier than the appearance of outward signs of aging. Mice from the treatment group, which saw their relevant stem cells disrupted, experienced a faster aging process than their counterparts in the control group. Then the fresh stem cells were introduced to the hypothalami of both groups. And the result was positive for all mice. For all of them, the aging process slowed down. This study may lead to further research on a way of slowing or even stopping aging in humans.   

New Compound Mimics Cells in Human Immune System  

A group of researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in London has discovered a new way of generating human antibodies. B cells, which produce antibiotics in human bodies, can recognize an antigen and quickly multiply to develop a vast amount of antibodies to fight an infection. In this new research, scientists were able to replicate this process in a laboratory. Through this procedure, the scientists were able to produce specific antibodies in just a few days. The process also no longer requires the donor of the cell to be exposed to an infection or vaccination. This new breakthrough may mean that we will one day be able to quickly develop treatments conferring immunity against various deadly diseases or infections, including cancer and HIV.