Activation of Telomerase Will Not Cure Aging

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Douglas P. Kiel, MD, MPH Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Director Musculoskeletal Research Center Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife Associate Member Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Dr. Kiel

Douglas P. Kiel, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Director Musculoskeletal Research Center
Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife
Associate Member Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Why we age? and how we age?, are perennial questions that are of interest to all. The research described in this publication brings together two major and different concepts of aging – epigenetic aging, which is manifested by modifications on DNA and telomere-related aging, which is manifested by shortening of chromosome ends (telomeres).  In our search for genes that could potentially affect epigenetic aging, we detected  a variant of the TERT gene (whose encoded protein, telomerase maintains telomere length) to be associated with accelerated epigenetic aging. TERT is a subunit of the enzyme telomerase which is a widely known enzyme for the following reasons:

1)    Telomerase has been touted as an anti-aging enzyme. It has been called a modern fountain of youth. However, some scientists have pointed out that it is unlikely to become a source of anti-aging therapies (see the review article by de Magalhães JP1, Toussaint in Rejuvenation Research (2004) .https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15312299)   Our new results gained by the epigenetic clock also indicate that telomerase will not halt organismal aging.

2)    The book “The Telomere Effect” by Nobel prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel was on the New York Times best seller list and received substantial news coverage:https://www.cbsnews.com/news/telomere-effect-book-living-younger-healthier-longer/

Our data provides a much needed  understanding of the molecular drivers of the epigenetic clock and reveal a unexpected and paradoxical connection between two seemingly distinct aging clocks: the telomere clock and the epigenetic clock.

Our main finding was that variants in the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene (TERT) were associated with increased “intrinsic epigenetic aging.” 

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New Technique Allows Mining of Specific Antibodies From B Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sarav Rajan, PhD Scientist Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering MedImmune

Dr. Rajan

Dr. Sarav Rajan, PhD Scientist
Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering
MedImmune

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: During an infection, B cells (a type of white blood cell) create antibodies against antigens present on a pathogen. These cells can be extremely rare, and finding them among the millions of other cells is extremely challenging.

Existing methods to examine B cells require a trade-off: either capture the full sequence repertoire by next-generation sequencing but functionally screen just a subset, or culture a subset of B cells and fully screen them. Instead, our method captures the complete repertoire within a typical blood draw and screens all its members to identify the rare antigen-positive antibodies. Using a new microfluidic approach, we recovered the antibody genes from one million B cells encapsulated in picoliter-scale droplets, breaking through a widely-published view that amplifying from single cells in such small volumes is inefficient. The resulting library seamlessly integrates into our high-throughput screening infrastructure to enable rapid isolation of desired antibodies. Using this method, we were able to isolate a panel of rare cross-reactive antibodies targeting influenza.

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Potential Universal Influenza Vaccine Uses Nanoparticle Technology

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Lei Deng PhD

Postdoctoral researcher
Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Influenza A viruses evade human herd immunity by genetic hypervariation. Annual influenza epidemics are estimated to cause about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths. Vaccination is still the most effective way to prevent diseases, but current influenza vaccines provide limited protections against mismatched circulating virus strains. This drives scientists to develop universal influenza vaccines that can induce broad immune responses against all influenza A virus infections.

We used biochemistry and nanotechnology to generate a double-layered protein nanoparticle universal influenza vaccine. The layered nanoparticle contains genetically modified influenza virus components without irrelevant carry/structural proteins and chemicals and confers strong and long-lasting immunity in laboratory mice against H1N1, H3N2, H5N1 and H7N9 infections. We also explain the protection mechanism of antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and antibody dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis (ADCP) play the main role in the immune protection.  Continue reading

Subtle Motor Biomarker May Be Essential Feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Indiana University graduate student Di Wu poses for a portrait in Swain Hall on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017.

Di Wu credit: James Brosher

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Di Wu, Msc
PhD candidate at Indiana University
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Physics
Indiana University Bloomington
Linked-in: www.linkedin.com/in/di-wu-3a197373 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Current clinical diagnosis and evaluations of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). has remained subjective in nature. There is a need to have objective assessments for the disorder. We discovered in this study an important motion feature that was unknown before. This feature provides a clear screening of ASD. It gave a remarkable quantitative connection between the way children with ASD move and their psychiatric scores, like the IQ score and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale. This connection we captured suggests that the motor feature may be an essential core feature characterizing ASD deficits, as well as neurodevelopment in general.

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Melanoma: New Combination Therapy Targets Resistant Tumors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel S. Peeper, PhD Professor of Functional Oncogenomics (VUmc) Member of Oncode Institute Head, Division of Molecular Oncology & Immunology Chair, Scientific Faculty Council Chair, Translational Research Board The Netherlands Cancer Institute Amsterdam The Netherlands

Dr. Peeper

Daniel S. Peeper, PhD
Professor of Functional Oncogenomics (VUmc)
Member of Oncode Institute
Head, Division of Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Chair, Scientific Faculty Council
Chair, Translational Research Board
The Netherlands Cancer Institute
Amsterdam The Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: BRAF mutant melanomas are now commonly treated with either immunotherapy or with the combination of BRAFi + MEKi. Recent clinical trials showed that combination checkpoint blockade gives 58% 3 year survival for advanced melanoma. For BRAF+MEKi these numbers are somewhat less impressive. Our study relates to the latter setting.

Clearly, most patients treated with this combination do not experience a durable clinical benefit. We showed previously that resistance to these inhibitors is commonly associated with a striking increase in the number of AXL+ cells; this is the rationale for the current study.  Continue reading

Sugar Compound In Food Products May Have Encouraged Growth of Dangerous C. diff Bacteria

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Robert Britton PhD Therapeutic Microbiology Laboratory Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research Baylor College of Medicine

Prof. Britton

Professor Robert Britton PhD
Therapeutic Microbiology Laboratory
Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology
Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research
Baylor College of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com Interview: How would you summarise your findings?

Response: As a brief summary of our work, certain strains of Clostridium difficile have emerged in the past 20 years that have resulted in epidemics worldwide, leading to C. difficile becoming one of the most common causes of hospital acquired infections.  Two ribotypes of C. difficile, RT027 and RT078, emerged as key epidemic ribotypes associated with increased disease prevalence and increased mortality in patients.  We found that both of these ribotypes have acquired the ability to consume the disaccharide trehalose by two completely independent mechanisms.  We further show that trehalose enhances disease severity of C. difficile infection in a manner that requires C. difficile to metabolize trehalose in mice.  We also show that trehalose is present in the distal intestine of mice and humans in concentrations that the RT027 ribotype can metabolize.  Because RT027 and RT078 strains were present in clinics at least 10-20 years prior to their becoming epidemic isolates, we looked where people would acquire trehalose in the diet.

In 2000 the FDA approved trehalose for human consumption (EFSA did so in 2001) and based on the GRAS report from the FDA the amount of trehalose predicted to be consumed once released on the market would vastly increase what people get naturally from the diet.  Our data support that these two ribotypes increased in prevalence due to a change in the human diet.

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Early Studies Suggest Blood Pressure Medication Hydralazine May Slow Aging and Neurodegeneration

CrawlingCelegans Wikipedia

Crawling C. elegans
Wikipedia image

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Hamid Mirzaei, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
University of Texas Southwestern
Department of Biochemistry
Dallas, TX 75390

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Aging is a complex process at the cellular level with distinct organismal phenotypes. Despite millennia-old obsession with aging and relentless pursuits for ways to stop and reverse it, such elixir has not been found due to the complexity of the involved mechanisms and our limited understanding of the processes that lead to aging. Although progress has been made in recent years in slowing down the aging process in model organisms and human cells.

In this study, we report that and FDA approved antihypertensive drug, hydralazine, decelerates aging in C. elegans by mechanisms that seem to resemble dietary restriction. We show that hydralazine increases the median lifespan of the C. elegans by 25% which is comparable to or better than other known antiaging compounds.

We demonstrate that not only hydralazine-treated worms live longer, they appear to be healthier in general. Because aging is directly linked to neurodegenerative diseases, we tested our drug on both in vitro and in vivo models of neurodegenerative diseases using chemical and biological stressors (rotenone and tau fibrils) and show that hydralazine has neuroprotective properties as well.

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Mechanism Identified Linking ASD and Intellectual Disability, Opening Door To Development of Treatment Options

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D Associate Professor Department of Developmental Neuroscience  Munroe-Meyer Institute University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 68198-5960

Dr-Woo-Yang Kim

Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D
Associate Professor
Department of Developmental Neuroscience
Munroe-Meyer Institute
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-5960

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  Autism impairs the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with others. About 75 percent of individuals with autism also have intellectual disability, which is characterized by significant limitations in cognitive functions and adaptive behaviors. While autism and intellectual disability are currently defined using behavioral criteria, little is known about the neuropathogenesis of these conditions.

Recent genetic studies have reported that haploinsufficiency of ARID1B causes autism and intellectual disability. However, the neurobiological function of ARID1B during brain development is unknown.

Our study investigated the neurobiological role of the gene in brain development. Using genetically-modified mice, we found that Arid1b haploinsufficiency leads to an excitation-inhibition imbalance by reducing the number of GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex. Furthermore, we showed that treatment with a GABAA-receptor positive allosteric modulator rescues ASD-like behavior and cognitive dysfunction in Arid1b-haploinsufficient mice, suggesting an association between lower numbers of GABAergic interneurons and behavioral outcomes.

Our findings suggest a pathogenic mechanism for Autism Spectrum Disorder and intellectual disability.

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Single Injection of Klotho Gene Protected Animals From Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Miguel Chillon PhD Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Universitat Autonoma Barcelona Spain

Dr. Chillon

Dr Miguel Chillon PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Universitat Autonoma Barcelona
Spain

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Klotho is a protein with an anti-aging and neuroprotective role. Recent studies show it prevents the development of cognitive problems associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Klotho works mainly by inhibiting the insulin / IGF-1 signaling pathway and decreasing the damage caused by oxidative stress in the brain. One of the latest results revealed that the concentration of Klotho in cerebrospinal fluid is significantly lower in Alzheimer’s patients than in human controls of the same age; and it is lower in the elderly with respect to young adults.

Our study used a gene therapy strategy to introduce the Klotho gene into the Central Nervous System of adult animals. With just a single injection of the Klotho gene, young adult animals were protected over time from the cognitive decline associated with aging in old animals. These exciting results pave the way to further advances in research and the development of a neuroprotective therapy based on Klotho.

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Multispecies Study Identifies Critical Genes in OCD Neurobiology

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hyun Ji Noh PhD Postdoc in the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Dr. Hyun Ji Noh

Hyun Ji Noh PhD
Computational Scientist, Medical and Population Genetics
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating neuropsychiatric disorder, characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. OCD is estimated to affect roughly 80 million people worldwide, but its neurobiology remains poorly understood. To understand the disorder’s underpinnings, we searched for genetic mutations that are associated with OCD.

For this, we first identified 608 genes that were most likely to be important  in OCD – some that have previously been identified in OCD-like behaviors in dogs and mice, and others in human autism, which also involves repetitive behaviors. We compared these genes in 592 people with OCD and 560 people without OCD, and found that 4 of these genes were significantly different between people with and without OCD: NRXN1, HTR2A, CTTNBP2 and REEP3. All of these four genes have important functions in the brain. Specifically, we found that the variants in NRXN1 are likely to change its ability to bind other synaptic proteins. Synaptic proteins link neurons together, and are critical for transmitting signals through the brain. We also found that the variants in CTTNBP2 and REEP3 don’t actually change the proteins made by these genes, but instead probably affect gene regulation (for example, how much of the protein is made). These ‘regulatory’ variants disrupt the binding of transcription factors (proteins that regulate expression of genes in the body) near the gene.

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