In this issue, researchers at the University of Leicester have made a groundbreaking discovery in understanding how cholesterol is absorbed into our cells, potentially leading to new therapies to reduce cholesterol absorption and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, scientists at KAIST have developed a soft intravenous needle that improves patient comfort and safety, while researchers have explored 14 potential dead ends humanity could face and ways to avoid them. Lastly, a recent clinical trial has shown that semaglutide, a drug typically used to treat type 2 diabetes, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in overweight or obese adults with established cardiovascular disease and no diabetes. Read the full issue for more exciting content.
Researchers at the University of Leicester have made a breakthrough in understanding how cholesterol from our diet is absorbed into our cells. They have identified two proteins that play a key role in transporting cholesterol from the cells lining our intestine to the internal compartment where it is modified. This discovery could lead to new therapies that target these proteins to reduce cholesterol absorption and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. The research was funded by the Leducq Foundation and involved collaboration with scientists from the USA, China, and Australia.
Body Temperature Induced Irreversible Needle Softening
Scientists at KAIST have developed a new type of intravenous (IV) needle that becomes soft upon insertion, reducing the risk of damage to blood vessels and tissues. The needle remains soft even at room temperature, preventing accidents and unethical needle reuse. It can also be embedded with a thin-film temperature sensor to monitor core body temperature or detect fluid leakage during IV medication. This innovative needle has the potential to improve patient comfort and safety in healthcare settings, and could be used in a range of clinical applications.
Read more at The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the research paper at Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Avoiding Dire Futures
Scientists have explored the concept of "evolutionary traps" in relation to human societies for the first time. They have identified 14 potential dead ends that humanity could get stuck in, including climate change, pollution, and artificial intelligence. The study suggests that humans have been too successful and, in some ways, too intelligent for their own good. However, the researchers believe that by actively transforming society, we can break out of these dead ends and design a better future. They encourage individuals to engage with nature, learn about the consequences of their actions, and protect our planet.
Read more at Stockholm Resilience Centre and the research paper at Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
Semaglutide Cuts Adults' Cardiovascular Events by 20%
A recent clinical trial has shown that a drug called semaglutide can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in overweight or obese adults with established cardiovascular disease and no diabetes. Semaglutide is typically used to treat type 2 diabetes but has also been approved for weight management in adults with obesity and at least one other health issue. In the trial, patients who received semaglutide lost an average of 9.4% of their body weight and experienced improvements in other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This is the first time that a pharmacological intervention for weight management has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. The trial involved over 17,000 patients from 41 countries and found that semaglutide reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular causes, nonfatal heart attack, or nonfatal stroke by 20% compared to placebo. The drug was generally well-tolerated, although some patients experienced gastrointestinal side effects. Semaglutide's effects on primary prevention of cardiovascular events in people without pre-existing cardiovascular disease were not studied.
Gel Therapy for Cancer
A team of researchers from Mass General Brigham, in collaboration with the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, has developed a gel delivery system to improve intratumoral therapy for solid cancers. This gel can be injected into tumors, solidifies upon delivery, and contains an imaging agent for visualization. It can also hold a high concentration of drugs for slow, controlled release. In mouse models of colon and breast cancer that are resistant to checkpoint inhibitor therapy, the gel-delivered imiquimod in combination with checkpoint inhibitor therapy induced tumor regression, increased survival, and trained the immune system to attack distant tumors. Although more testing is needed, this gel delivery system shows promise in treating challenging cancers.
The Vital Role of Fasting and Feeding in Healthy Aging
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne have discovered that fasting interventions, which involve alternating periods of fasting and refeeding, are not as effective in older animals as they are in younger ones. By studying killifish, which age rapidly, the researchers found that older fish enter a state of perpetual fasting even when they eat. However, they also found that activating a specific subunit of AMP kinase can restore the benefits of refeeding in older fish, leading to improved health and longevity. The researchers hope to further investigate this subunit in humans to potentially influence ageing positively.
Less Sodium = Lower BP
A new study conducted by Northwestern Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that nearly everyone can lower their blood pressure by reducing their sodium intake. This includes people who are already on blood pressure medications. The study showed that reducing salt intake by about 1 teaspoon a day resulted in a decline in systolic blood pressure comparable to the effects of a commonly used blood pressure medication. The study also revealed that 70-75% of people could see a reduction in their blood pressure by lowering their sodium intake, regardless of medication use. These findings highlight the importance of reducing sodium intake to control blood pressure and improve overall health.
Bacterial Enzymes Against Cancer 🤔
Scientists at The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology have made a surprising discovery in their collection of bacterial strains. They have identified two new enzymes, called "cofactorless oxygenases," which have unique properties that could be used in the fight against diseases like cancer. These enzymes can pull oxygen from the air and incorporate it into new compounds without needing any other substances to initiate the reaction. The discovery offers new ways to study and produce complex natural chemicals that could potentially become medicines.
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Sampath Amitash Gadi