#8 — How to wipe out a cell's memory?

Scientists have devised a groundbreaking method to enhance the reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – versatile cells that can mimic embryonic stem cells and potentially revolutionise regenerative medicine.

#8 — How to wipe out a cell's memory?
Stem cells have the unique capacity to divide (differentiate) into specialised cells such as red blood cells.

Scientists have devised a groundbreaking method to enhance the reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – versatile cells that can mimic embryonic stem cells and potentially revolutionise regenerative medicine. Traditional reprogramming techniques have left some genetic traces from the original tissue, limiting the effectiveness of iPSCs. Now, an international team of researchers introduces "transient-naive-treatment" (TNT) reprogramming, which effectively erases epigenetic memory while preserving critical genetic information. This innovation paves the way for more accurate and functional iPSCs, holding significant promise for personalised therapies and medical research advancements.

Read more at The University of Western Australia, Research Briefings and Nature.

Gene for longevity identified 🧬

Renowned for their remarkable longevity, naked mole rats possess a gene that could revolutionise mammalian aging. Researchers have now identified a gene variant, a version of hyaluranon synthase 2, that significantly contributes to the naked mole rats' prolonged life. This gene enhances the production of high-molecular-mass hyaluronic acid (HMM-HA), a compound linked to reducing cancer risk in these creatures. Experiments involving genetically modified mice carrying this gene demonstrated an average 4.4% increase in lifespan, improved cancer resistance, reduced inflammation, and healthier aging. While further exploration is needed, these findings illuminate a potential avenue for extending human lifespans and bolstering healthspan.

Read more at the University of Rochester and Nature.

Potential breakthrough for arthritis treatment


Scientists achieved a significant medical milestone by using stem cell therapy to successfully treat arthritis in a gorilla. Liesel, an elderly gorilla at Budapest Zoo, had been experiencing difficulty walking due to suspected arthritis. Led by Chief Vet Endre Sós and Professor Mark Wilkinson, an Orthopaedic Surgeon from the University of Sheffield, the team employed mesenchymal stem cells to address issues in Liesel's hip and knee joints. This pioneering procedure represents the first time stem cell therapy has been applied to a primate, marking a potential breakthrough for treating arthritis in animals and humans alike.

Read more at The University of Sheffield.

Engineered bacteria show promise in targeting and eliminating cancer cells

The field of targeted cancer treatment is poised for a significant advancement as researchers explore the potential of specially engineered bacteria to efficiently eliminate malignant cells. Leveraging the unique properties of certain purple photosynthetic bacteria (PPSB), a study has successfully harnessed chemically modified PPSB to detect and eradicate stubborn cancerous cells in a mouse model. These modified bacteria demonstrate impressive near-infrared fluorescence, photothermal conversion, and low cytotoxicity, making them an ideal candidate for precision cancer therapy. By ingeniously coupling the bacteria with anti-PD-L1 antibodies, the researchers achieved dramatic anticancer effects, illuminating a promising path towards improved cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Chandrayaan-3 rover confirms sulfur and other elements near Moon's south pole

Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander.
Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander as seen by the Pragyan rover on the moon's surface. Photo credit: ISRO.

India's moon rover, Chandrayaan-3, has confirmed the presence of sulfur and identified various other elements near the lunar south pole, including aluminium, iron, calcium, and more. This comes after the rover's historic moon landing last week. Its laser-induced spectroscope also detected oxygen and silicon on the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-3's mission includes searching for frozen water that could aid future astronaut missions, studying the moon's atmosphere and seismic activity, and navigating challenging terrain with caution. The success of this mission highlights India's growing prominence in space technology and aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of the nation as a global leader.

Read more on Mint.

CyDENT - a new genome editing system

Researchers have introduced a novel CRISPR-free base editing system named CyDENT. This new approach enables accurate genetic modifications in the nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplast genomes of both plant and human cells. By combining a pair of TALEs (Transcription-activator-like effector) with DNA cutting enzymes - a FokI nickase, a single-strand specific cytidine deaminase, an exonuclease, and a uracil glycosylase inhibitor peptide, CyDENT offers an RNA-free complex for precise single-strand DNA editing, eliminating the need for dsDNA deaminases. This new tool extends the repertoire of genome editing technologies and holds potential for advancements in genetic research, disease treatment, and agriculture.

Read more at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Nature Biotechnology.

New inhalable COVID-19 neutraliser works in mice

Derived from a protein in Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, a microorganism thriving in hot springs, nanofitins have shown remarkable potential against SARS-CoV-2. These engineered molecules can be inhaled and effectively neutralise the virus by binding to its spike proteins, as observed in mice experiments. Unlike traditional methods that target a single virus region, nanofitins block multiple viral areas simultaneously, even adapting to mutations. This innovation overcomes challenges faced by previous treatments, offering a noninvasive, quick-acting alternative with potential for broader applications in respiratory diseases. If approved for human use, nanofitins could revolutionize COVID-19 treatment, providing efficacy, accessibility, and ease of administration.

Read more at Molecular Therapy.

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