Crippling a protein that allows cancer cells to grow when oxygen is scarce causes tumors to regress, according to a study published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. An enzyme called PKM2 (M2 isoform of pyruvate kinase) is ramped up in cancer cells, allowing them to generate energy in the harsh, low-oxygen environment found within tumors. Michael Goldberg and Phillip Sharp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now find that inhibiting PKM2 kills cancer cells by starving them of energy but leaves normal cells unscathed. Crippling PKM2 caused established tumors in mice to melt away. If these results hold true in humans, this strategy could prove effective against a wide spectrum of cancers with minimal side effects.
After 100 days in hospital and undergoing a complicated 6-organ transplant, 9-year-old Alannah Shevenell, from Maine, leaves Boston Children's Hospital today and goes home. Alannah has been treated for a rare form of cancer; an inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor continued to grow after all possible treatments failed, and was compromising her internal organs. A team of surgeons, led by Dr. Heung Bae Kim, the hospital's Pediatric Transplant Center director, performed the transplant procedure of Alannah's liver, spleen, pancreas, stomach, small intestine and esophagus. The little girl's grandmother said her little girl received "a new set of parts". Dr. Kim said his patient needed a "multivisceral transplant" and the removal of the tumor. During the 14-hour procedure, the surgical team removed the donor organs, which all came from one human being.
National Institutes of Health researchers and their colleagues have identified how resveratrol, a naturally occurring chemical found in red wine and other plant products, may confer its health benefits. The authors present evidence that resveratrol does not directly activate sirtuin 1, a protein associated with aging. Rather, the authors found that resveratrol inhibits certain types of proteins known as phosphodiesterases (PDEs), enzymes that help regulate cell energy. These findings may help settle the debate regarding resveratrol's biochemistry and pave the way for resveratrol-based medicines. The chemical has received significant interest from pharmaceutical companies for its potential to combat diabetes, inflammation, and cancer. The study appears in Cell. "Resveratrol has potential as a therapy for diverse diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease, " said lead study author Jay H.
A medical physical examination of a patient is first and foremost performed through touch, yet doctors can only learn a limited amount of information from what they feel. Temple University researchers have now developed a prototype device that will not only emulate human tactile sensation, but also quantify it. Chang-Hee Won, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Temple, who developed the tactile imaging sensor explained: "The human hands have this amazing ability to touch something and tell if it's soft or hard, if it's wet, or even its temperature. We're trying to emulate this tactile sensation with a device that will actually quantify this by giving us the mechanical properties of what we are feeling." The tactile imaging sensor could assist doctors during patients' physical examinations when feeling for lesions, lumps or tumors by identifying the size and shape of the lesion or tumor, as well as its elasticity and mobility.
A defective operating system is never a good thing. Like computers, our cells depend on operating systems to drive normal functions. Gene expression programs comprise the software code our cells rely on, with each cell type controlled by its own program. Corrupted programs can trigger disease. Cellular operating systems can be corrupted by viruses, mutations, or malfunctions that occur as cells change from one type to another. Unlike computers that can use one operating system for their entire existence, differentiating cells need to switch operating systems as they mature - from stem cell to, for example, nerve or muscle cell. In simple terms, differentiation requires two key steps: the genes active in the initial operating system must be deactivated; and the genes of the new cellular operating system must be turned on.