Upsetting the balance between protein synthesis, misfolding, and degradation drives cancer and neurodegeneration. Recent cancer treatments take advantage of this knowledge with a class of drugs that block protein degradation, known as proteasome inhibitors. Widespread resistance to these drugs limits their success, but Whitehead researchers have discovered a potential Achilles heel in resistance. With such understandings researchers may be able to target malignancy broadly, and more effectively. —> Read More
Toxic, but life-saving?
It seems like an oxymoron, but scientists say the venom of Polybia paulista, a wasp native to Brazil, fits that description.
According to a study published in the Biophysical Journal this week, the wasp’s venom contains a toxin, named MP1, that selectively destroys tumor cells without harming normal ones. The BBC called the venom a potentially powerful “weapon against cancer.”
In lab tests, MP1 was found to inhibit the growth of prostate and bladder cancer cells as well as leukemia cells that had been shown to be resistant to a variety of other drugs.
The toxin interacts with fatty molecules known as lipids that are found on the outside of cancer cell membranes, researchers said. It then disrupts the structure of the protective membranes, creating “gaping holes” that allow molecules critical to the survival of the cancer cell to leak out.
Study co-author Dr. João Neto of Brazil’s São Paulo State University said these “large” holes take “only seconds” to form.
Since healthy cells don’t have these lipids on the outside (they are located on the cell’s inner membrane), it seems they are not susceptible to the wasp toxin the way cancer cells are.
“Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs,” Paul Beales, one of the study’s authors, stated in a news release. “This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time.”
Though the use of the wasp’s venom as a treatment option is an exciting possibility, it still remains theoretical.
Beales, of the University of Leeds in the U.K., and his team said more research needs to be done —> Read More
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a three-man international crew, including Denmark’s first astronaut, roared off on Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, beginning a two-day journey to the International Space Station (ISS).
As governments and industries expand their use of high-decibel seismic surveys to explore the ocean bottom for resources, experts from eight universities or organizations say new global standards and mitigation strategies are needed to minimize the amount of sound the surveys produce and reduce risks posed to vulnerable marine life, especially in formerly unexploited areas such as the Arctic Ocean and US Atlantic coast now targeted for exploration. —> Read More
Social interaction could be the mechanism that allows animals living in groups to synchronize their activities, whether it’s huddling for warmth or offering protection from predators. —> Read More
A 39-year-old man who had had been completely paralyzed for four years was able to voluntarily control his leg muscles and take thousands of steps in a robotic device during five days of training with the aid of the robotic device combined with a novel noninvasive spinal stimulation pattern that does not require surgery, a team of scientists reports. —> Read More
An experiment conducted over six days at a large public garden in Singapore demonstrated self-driving golf carts that ferried 500 tourists around winding paths trafficked by pedestrians, bicyclists, and the occasional monitor lizard. —> Read More
Researchers say the new species, Isthminia panamensis, highlights the early evolution of river dolphins, marking a transition between saltwater and freshwater living. —> Read More
A paralysis breakthrough: Former athlete with spinal injury voluntarily moves his legs for the first time to control an exoskeleton
Mark Pollock, a 39-year-old blind athlete from Dublin, was paralysed four years ago. He recently underwent an electrical stimulation procedure at UCLA which helped him gain some movement. —> Read More
The researchers studied fossils of the group called
ankylosaurs including early, primitive species with no tail club and later ones with a fully developed one. —> Read More