Too often the surgical removal of cancer or its elimination through chemo or radiotherapy isn’t the end of the story, but where do the relapses come from? Part of the explanation may lay in what are known as cancer stem cells, which could be thought of as little seedlings that hide away in the body’s tissues until they feel the time is right to return to action. A newly discovered molecule has raised hopes of cutting these crafty critters off at the source, with early experiments demonstrating how it can latch onto cancer stem cells and starve them of what they need to survive.
Alzheimer’s is a disease with a number of potential causes and therefore a number of potential targets for prevention. One of those centers on a protein call tau, which can gather in long tangles that kill off neurons in the brain. Scientists have developed what they describe as a vaccine to keep the brain clear of these dangerous clumps, and found that treating mice in this way helped stave off the kind of memory decline associated with the disease.
The venom of deadly animals mightn’t seem like a great place to look for life-saving medicines, but scientists are continually sifting through these toxins to discover compounds with huge potential. Now researchers at Stanford studying scorpion venom have identified a pair of compounds that were shown to kill off both staph and tuberculosis bacteria. And better yet, they were able to create synthetic versions in the lab.
Two fascinating new studies are shedding light on the association between the gut, the brain, and autism. The new research reveals how gastrointestinal problems can be triggered by the same gene mutations associated with autism, and a striking mouse study has demonstrated how a fecal transplant from humans with autism can promote autism-like behaviors in the animals.
Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi are increasingly becoming resistant to our best drugs, which is hurtling us towards a terrifying future where once-easily-treated infections become potentially life-threatening again. In a new approach to this problem, researchers from the University at Buffalo and Temple University have tested an alternative to antibiotics that uses existing drugs to starve a fungal infection of vital nutrients.
Bacteria are quickly evolving resistances to antibiotics, to the extent that our best drugs might not work in the terrifyingly-near future. Scientists are hard at work developing new antibiotics, or finding ways to make existing ones more effective. Now, researchers from Thomas Jefferson University have found a new way to weaken bacterial defenses, slowing down the development of antibiotic resistance.
In multiple sclerosis, the body’s immune system attacks and damages myelin, which is the insulating layer on nerves in the spinal cord, brain and optic nerve. This causes the nerves to short-circuit and cease functioning properly. In “a potential game-changer,” scientists have now demonstrated that a synthetic molecule can restore compromised myelin.