News & Events

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Events

To ensure that our customers and all interested professionals have the ongoing opportunity to review our latest products and technology firsthand, we regularly attend industry-related trade shows. We invite you to meet with us, speak with our consultants and pick up some informative literature at an upcoming show. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Dec 13, 2018 - Dec 15, 2018

Las Vegas, NV

A4M World Congress

https://www.a4m.com/world-congress-2018/home.html

 
 

Health & Anti-Aging Update

Startling discoveries in the areas of genomics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology occur practically every day. The rewards of this research, some of it as spectacular as science fiction, are practically in our grasp. We can use these new technologies to live better than previously imaginable.

 
 
“With the fusion of nanotechnology, biology, medicine, IT and point-of-care diagnostics, some believe that we may have reached a critical inflection point in mankind’s battle with cancer.” Matt Trau is currently a Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Personalised Nanomedicine at the University of Queensland. His research is dedicated towards developing innovative nano-diagnostics to help transform the healthcare system towards early detection of disease, and dramatically extending high quality human life through a combination of innovative diagnostic technology and preventative measures.

“With the fusion of nanotechnology, biology, medicine, IT and point-of-care diagnostics, some believe that we may have reached a critical inflection point in mankind’s battle with cancer.” Matt Trau is currently a Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Personalised Nanomedicine at the University of Queensland. His research is dedicated towards developing innovative nano-diagnostics to help transform the healthcare system towards early detection of disease, and dramatically extending high quality human life through a combination of innovative diagnostic technology and preventative measures.

One test to diagnose them all: researchers exploit cancers’ unique DNA signature

From THECONVERSATION.ORG - DECEMBER 5, 2018

Researchers in Australia have developed a 10-minute test that can detect the presence of cancer cells anywhere in the human body, according to a newly published study.

The test was developed after researchers from the University of Queensland found that cancer forms a unique DNA structure when placed in water.

The test works by identifying the presence of that structure, a discovery which could help detect cancer in humans far earlier than current methods, according to the paper published in journal Nature Communications.

“Discovering that cancerous DNA molecules formed entirely different 3D nanostructures from normal circulating DNA was a breakthrough that has enabled an entirely new approach to detect cancer non-invasively in any tissue type including blood,” said Professor Matt Trau in a statement. “This led to the creation of inexpensive and portable detection devices that could eventually be used as a diagnostic tool, possibly with a mobile phone,” he added.

 
 
Discovery of UDP-Glycosyltransferases and BAHD-Acyltransferases in the Biosynthesis of the Anti-Diabetic Plant Metabolite Montbretin A

Discovery of UDP-Glycosyltransferases and BAHD-Acyltransferases in the Biosynthesis of the Anti-Diabetic Plant Metabolite Montbretin A

A pretty plant of summer produces a promising anti-diabetes compound

From PLANCELL.ORG - SEPTEMBER 16, 2018

Montbretin A (MbA), a natural compound with great potential for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, was discovered in the ornamental plant montbretia ten years ago, but it can't be produced on a large scale until its biosynthesis is understood. Scientists have now discovered genes and enzymes responsible for MbA biosynthesis and demonstrated the potential for metabolic engineering of wild tobacco to produce this promising drug candidate. (www.sciencedaily.com)

Roughly half of the western medicines used today were derived from naturally occurring plant metabolites. Plants produce over 200,000 of these specialized metabolites, but identifying medicinally useful ones is challenging, and obtaining sufficient quantities for human use poses an even greater challenge. Type-2 diabetes, a disease characterized by elevated blood glucose levels due to the body's inefficient use of insulin, affects over 320 million people worldwide. Drugs that are commonly used to treat type-2 diabetes reduce blood glucose levels by inhibiting the activities of two enzymes: HPA (pancreatic alpha-amylase), which cleaves complex starches into strings of sugar molecules called oligosaccharides and alpha-glucosidases, which convert oligosaccharides into glucose in the gut. Unfortunately, the inhibition of alpha-glucosidases causes some undigested oligosaccharides to move into the lower bowel, leading to flatulence and diarrhea.

Ten years ago, in an effort to produce a diabetes drug that specifically inhibits HPA activity without having nasty side effects, scientists screened 30,000 extracts derived from plants and other organisms and found a single compound that fit the bill: montbretin A (MbA) from the bulb-like underground corms of the ornamental plant montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora). Unfortunately, MbA can't be produced in large quantities without understanding the biochemical pathway and genes involved in its biosynthesis, a difficult task considering the diversity and complexity of plant metabolic pathways.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Glycomics Network analyzed this crucial pathway, as discussed in this month's issue of The Plant Cell. The scientists discovered the first three intermediate metabolites in the MbA biosynthesis pathway, including a product called mini-MbA, which also strongly inhibits HPA activity, as well as the four enzymes involved in mini-MbA production. Importantly, when they cloned the genes for these enzymes and used them to genetically transform wild tobacco, they successfully obtained mini-MbA. According to lead scientist Dr. Joerg Bohlmann of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, "This is a fascinating example of the largely undiscovered potential of plant specialized metabolism that may lead to new treatments for the improvement of human health."

 
 
An example graph of polypharmacy side effects derived from genomic and patient population data, protein–protein interactions, drug–protein targets, and drug–drug interactions encoded by 964 different polypharmacy side effects. The graph representation is used to develop Decagon. (credit: Marinka Zitnik et al./Bioinformatics)

An example graph of polypharmacy side effects derived from genomic and patient population data, protein–protein interactions, drug–protein targets, and drug–drug interactions encoded by 964 different polypharmacy side effects. The graph representation is used to develop Decagon. (credit: Marinka Zitnik et al./Bioinformatics)

How to predict the side effects of millions of drug combinations

From news.stanford.EdU - august 2o, 2018

Stanford Univ. computer scientists have figured it out, using artificial intelligence.

Millions of people take up to five or more medications a day, but doctors have no idea what side effects might arise from adding another drug.

Now, Stanford University computer scientists have developed a deep-learning system (a kind of AI modeled after the brain) called Decagon that could help doctors make better decisions about which drugs to prescribe. It could also help researchers find better combinations of drugs to treat complex diseases.

The problem is that with so many drugs currently on the U.S. pharmaceutical market, “it’s practically impossible to test a new drug in combination with all other drugs, because just for one drug, that would be five thousand new experiments,” said Marinka Zitnik, a postdoctoral fellow in computer science and lead author of a paper presented July 10 at the 2018 meeting of the International Society for Computational Biology.

With some new drug combinations (“polypharmacy”), she said, “truly we don’t know what will happen.”

How proteins interact and how different drugs affect these proteins

So Zitnik and associates created a network describing how the more than 19,000 proteins in our bodies interact with each other and how different drugs affect these proteins. Using more than 4 million known associations between drugs and side effects, the team then designed a method to identify patterns in how side effects arise, based on how drugs target different proteins, and also to infer patterns about drug-interaction side effects.

Based on that method, the system could predict the consequences of taking two drugs together.

To evaluate the The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Stanford Data Science Initiative, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. system, the group looked to see if its predictions came true. In many cases, they did. For example, there was no indication in the original data that the combination of atorvastatin (marketed under the trade name Lipitor among others), a cholesterol drug, and amlopidine (Norvasc), a blood-pressure medication, could lead to muscle inflammation. Yet Decagon predicted that it would, and it was right.

In the future, the team members hope to extend their results to include more multiple drug interactions. They also hope to create a more user-friendly tool to give doctors guidance on whether it’s a good idea to prescribe a particular drug to a particular patient, and to help researchers developing drug regimens for complex diseases, with fewer side effects.

Ref.: Bioinformatics (open access). Source: Stanford University.

 
 

World-first blood test to detect deadly melanoma in early stage patients

From www.ecu.edu.au - JULY 19, 2018

Edith Cowan University (ECU) researchers have developed the world’s first blood test capable of detecting melanoma in its early stages, a breakthrough that will save thousands of lives, as well as millions of dollars for the health system.

ECU's Melanoma Research Group

ECU's Melanoma Research Group

In a trial involving 105 people with melanoma and 104 healthy controls, the blood test was able to detect early stage melanoma in 79 per cent of cases.

Australia has the second highest rate of melanoma in the world, with 14,000 new diagnoses and almost 2000 deaths each year.

Lead researcher PhD candidate Pauline Zaenker said identifying melanoma early was the best way to preventing these deaths.

“Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five year survival rate between 90 and 99 per cent, whereas if it is not caught early and it spreads around the body, the five year survival rate drops to less than 50 per cent,” she said.

“This is what makes this blood test so exciting as a potential screening tool because it can pick up melanoma in its very early stages when it is still treatable.”

 
 
To figure out how to block a bacteria’s attempt to create multi-resistance to antibiotics, a researcher grabs a simulated ligand (binding molecule) — a type of penicillin called benzylpenicillin (red) — and interactively guides that molecule to dock within a larger enzyme molecule (blue-orange) called β-lactamase, which is produced by bacteria in an attempt to disable penicillin (making a patient resistant to a class of antibiotics called β-lactam). (credit: University of Bristol)

To figure out how to block a bacteria’s attempt to create multi-resistance to antibiotics, a researcher grabs a simulated ligand (binding molecule) — a type of penicillin called benzylpenicillin (red) — and interactively guides that molecule to dock within a larger enzyme molecule (blue-orange) called β-lactamase, which is produced by bacteria in an attempt to disable penicillin (making a patient resistant to a class of antibiotics called β-lactam). (credit: University of Bristol)

Surgical manipulation of real-time molecular simulations accelerates research tasks

From www.EUREKALERT.com - JULY 2, 2018

Scientists at the University of Bristol have developed new virtual reality (VR) cloud-based tools to help academics and industry progress new drugs, materials and boost the teaching of chemistry.

A joint team of computer science and chemistry researchers, in collaboration with developers at Bristol based start-up Interactive Scientific and Oracle Corporation, have used Oracle's public cloud infrastructure to combine real-time molecular simulations with the latest virtual reality technology.

University of Bristol Professor of Chemistry Adrian Mulholland said: "Chemists have always made models of molecules to understand their structure - from how atoms are bonded together to Watson and Crick's famous double helix model of DNA. At one point in their education, most people have held a molecular model, probably made from plastic or metal. Models like these are particularly important for things we can't see, such as the nanoscale world of molecules.

"Thanks to this research we can now apply virtual reality to study a variety of molecular problems which are inherently dynamic, including binding drugs to its target, protein folding and chemical reactions. As simulations become faster we can now do this in real time which will change how drugs are designed and how chemical structures are taught."

This work opens up exciting avenues for accelerating progress in molecular engineering and drug design by being able to collaboratively visualise and interact with the nanoscale. More broadly, the team's findings highlight the potential for VR in seeing and manipulating complex 3D structures, with applications across research, industry, and education.

 
 
Dr. Denise Faustman

Dr. Denise Faustman

MGH study finds generic drug can reverse type 1 diabetes long-term

From www.bostonherald.com - JUNE 22, 2018

Research at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital looks increasingly like a long-term cure for type 1 diabetes, with a newly released study showing patients have normal blood sugar levels eight years after a clinical trial.

In research published in journal npj Vaccines, patients who had been treated with the bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine — an inexpensive, generic vaccine used around the world to prevent tuberculosis — had normal blood sugar levels eight years after the trial ended.

While it took three years for patients to see results from the vaccine, two doses of the drug spaced four weeks apart were still having a lasting impact eight years later.

“It’s kind of big news,” said Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital immunobiology laboratory and principal investigator of the trial. “It’s the first trial showing (long-term reversal of diabetes), and more trials are on the way. But scientifically it’s pretty cool.

“The cost for insulin has skyrocketed over the past 15 years or so, even though it’s been around for 100 years,” said Dr. Anastassios Pittas, co-director of the Diabetes and Lipid Center at Tufts Medical Center, who was not involved with the study. Type 1 diabetes also comes with the risk of other autoimmune conditions, such as thyroid problems, multiple sclerosis and celiac disease. It’s a very complicated disease that affects every single second of your life. Finding another treatment has been the holy grail,” Pittas said.