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Posts Tagged ‘Medicine & Health’

Medicine & Health

New blood test could detect genetic disorders during first trimester

Test could map the fetal genome and detect innumerable diseases caused by minuscule impairments, Tel Aviv University researchers say

Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a new blood test for genetic disorders that may allow parents to learn about the health of their baby as early as 11 weeks into pregnancy.

The simple blood test lets doctors diagnose genetic disorders in fetuses early in pregnancy by sequencing small amounts of DNA in the mother’s and the father’s blood. A computer algorithm harnessing the results of the sequencing would then produce a “map” of the fetal genome, predicting mutations with 99% or better accuracy depending on the mutation type.

Prof. Noam Shomron of TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine led the research, which was conducted by TAU graduate student Tom Rabinowitz with Avital Polsky, Artem Danilevsky, Guy Shapira and Chen Raff, all from Prof. Shomron’s lab. The study is a collaboration with Dr. David Golan of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Prof. Lina Basel-Salmon and Dr. Reut Tomashov-Matar of Rabin Medical Center. It was published on February 20 in the journal Genome Research.

A safe and simple procedure

“Noninvasive prenatal tests are already available for chromosome disorders such as Down syndrome,” Prof. Shomron says. “Our new procedure is based on fetal DNA fragments that circulate freely in maternal blood and bears only a minimal risk for the mother and fetus compared with such invasive techniques as the amniotic fluid test. We will now be able to identify numerous mutations and diseases in a safe and simple procedure available at the doctor’s office.

“The genetic mechanism behind Down syndrome affects a very large portion of the genome and therefore is easier to detect,” Prof. Shomron explains. “We performed upgraded noninvasive fetal genotyping, using a novel approach and an improved algorithm, to detect many other diseases that are caused by smaller parts of the genome. This is like looking at a map of the world and noticing not only that a continent is missing, but also that a single house is missing.

“The practical applications are endless: a single blood test that would detect a wide range of genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis and many others.”

An algorithm for DNA

Prof. Shomron and colleagues tested blood samples from three families at Rabin Medical Center in the 11th week of gestation. They extracted maternal and paternal DNA from their white blood cells and fetal DNA from a placental cell sample. They also extracted circulating cell-free fetal DNA from the maternal blood.

“We sequenced all these DNA samples and created a computer algorithm that utilizes the parental DNA as well as the cell-free fetal DNA to reconstruct the fetal genome and predict mutations,” says Prof. Shomron. “We compared our predictions to the true fetal DNA originating from the placenta. Our model is the first to predict small inherited insertions and deletions. The method described can serve as a general framework for noninvasive prenatal diagnoses.”

The researchers are working on further improving the accuracy of the method and extending it to detect even more types of mutations.

 

 

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Medicine & Health

Cannabis to treat cancer? Israeli scientist thinks so

(CJN article) from March 5, 2019

“Cannabis and some of its derivative compounds have been shown to relieve the symptoms of cancer and some side effects of cancer treatment, but an Israeli scientist is researching the plant’s potential as an actual therapy.

Dan Peer, chair of the Tel Aviv Cancer Biology Research Centre, is studying the use of cannabinoids, the chemical constituents of the plant, in treating some kinds of cancer, and has had encouraging results in mice.

Canada, with its pioneering expertise in the medical potential of cannabis, is an ideal partner for research and development in the field, he suggested.

Peer, who’s also the managing director of Tel Aviv University’s Centre for Translational Medicine and was recently appointed vice-dean of life sciences, discussed his work with the Canadian Friends of the Tel Aviv University (CFTAU) on Feb. 26 at the Kandy Gallery in Montreal.

“…

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Cannabis to treat cancer? Israeli scientist thinks so

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Medicine & Health

Adolescents with Celiac disease at higher risk of eating disorders

Teenage girls who are overweight and have Celiac Disease are at highest risk of developing eating disorders

Celiac disease is a chronic condition, characterized by inflammation and atrophy of the small intestine. It affects roughly 1 in 100 people, and a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet is the only remedy. A new Tel Aviv University study finds a link between the disaese and a higher incidence of disordered eating behavior during adolescence and young adulthood.

The researchers found that 19% of female teens and 7% of male teens with CD exhibited eating disorders, compared to 8% and 4% of adolescents who did not have CD. Disordered eating behaviors affect about 10% of adolescents and refer to a wide range of abnormal eating behaviors, including binge eating, dieting, skipping meals regularly, self-induced vomiting and obsessive calorie counting. These behaviors are most common among older, overweight female adolescents with CD.

The study was led by Dr. Itay Tokatly-Latzer of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics at Chaim Sheba Medical Center. It was overseen by Dr. Orit Pinhas-Hamiel and conducted by Dr. Daniel Stein, Dr. Batia Weiss and Prof. Liat Lerner-Geva, all of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. The results were published in Eating and Weight Disorders.

Early warning signs are crucial

“We discovered an increased occurrence of disordered eating behavior among adolescents with CD,” Dr. Tokatly-Latzer says. “Caregivers of Celiac patients should be aware of the possibility of them having eating disorders. Early recognition of this can prevent the deterioration of these states into full-blown disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

“These eating patterns can lead to a failure to meet nutritional and metabolic needs, which cause severe impairment to psychosocial functioning,” Dr. Tokatly-Latzer continues. “Primary care physicians and gastroenterologists who encounter adolescents with CD should increase their awareness to the possibility of this population having disordered eating behavior. Once the suspicion is raised, they can refer them for psychological and nutritional treatment.”

The researchers conducted a web-mediated survey on 136 adolescents aged 12-18 with CD. The survey assessed the participants’ rate of disordered eating behavior as well as their adherence to a gluten-free diet. The survey, conducted over the course of a year, included two self-rating questionnaires: the Eating Attitudes Test-26 and the gluten-free diet questionnaire. Only 32% of the participants reported a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet.

What medical teams should watch for

“Eating disorders have a perplexing etiology that includes biological, sociological, psychological and environmental elements,” Dr. Tokatly-Latzer explains. “Not only does the excessive preoccupation with food increase the likelihood of individuals with Celiac to develop eating disorders, but there is a major aspect that involves food limitation of any kind that probably triggers a predisposition for developing pathological eating tendencies.

“This study should raise awareness for medical teams to the importance of closely monitoring adolescents with CD for disordered eating behavior, especially when they are female, overweight or older. Since individuals with disordered eating behavior are at increased risk of developing a clinical form of an eating disorder, early identification and intervention may improve therapeutic outcomes.”

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Medicine & Health

Dr. Mordechai Gerlic’s Paper on the Cover of The FEBS Journal

IL-33 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that plays a role in a range of inflammatory diseases. 

To date, the mechanism underlying its release in cells is not fully understood.

A recent work led by MD/PhD student Inabr Shlomovitz and Dr. Motti Gerlic demonstrate that necroptosis, a form of cell death, triggers the release of IL-33 in its bioactive form. Inhibition of necroptosis in an Aspergillus allergic asthma model results in reduced inflammation, providing in vivo evidence that necroptosis contributes to IL-33-associated inflammatory disease.

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Medicine & Health

Breast Cancer Recruits Bone Marrow Cells to Increase Cancer Cell Proliferation

New TAU research points to a new way to increase chances of survival for breast cancer patients

In a new study Tel Aviv University researchers have discovered that breast cancer tumours boost their growth by recruiting stromal cells that originate in bone marrow. While the recruitment of bone marrow-derived fibroblasts lowers the odds of surviving breast cancer, the study suggests that targeting these cells with new therapies could be an effective way of treating the disease.

Research for the study was led by Prof. Neta Erez of the Department of Pathology at TAU’s School of Medicine and conducted by Prof. Erez’s former doctoral students Dr. Yael Raz and Dr. Noam Cohen. 

Discovering the bone marrow connection

The TAU researchers discovered that in mice with breast cancer, a significant number of cancer-associated fibroblasts derived from bone marrow cells called mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs).

“We transplanted bone marrow in a transgenic mouse model of breast cancer to discover the origin of a unique subpopulation of cancer-associated fibroblasts,” says Prof. Erez. “We found that the recruitment of bone marrow-derived fibroblasts is a crucial step in breast cancer progression.

“We discovered that breast tumors are actually able to recruit MSCs from the bone marrow and then cause them to develop into fibroblasts,” Prof. Erez continues. “These bone marrow-derived fibroblasts are different from other cancer-associated fibroblasts. For example, they lack a key cell-signaling protein called PDGFRα, a surface receptor. But bone marrow-derived fibroblasts are particularly effective at stimulating the formation of new blood vessels because they produce large amounts of a protein called ‘clusterin.'”

A new way to battle breast cancer

The researchers found that the tumors containing bone marrow-derived fibroblasts in mouse models were more vascularized and therefore grew faster than tumors that only contained breast tissue-derived fibroblasts.

Prof. Erez and colleagues also found that human breast cancers contain fibroblasts lacking PDGFRα. This suggests that human tumors also recruit bone marrow-derived cells. Moreover, tumors containing lower levels of PDGFRα tended to be deadlier.

“Our study shows that the recruitment of bone marrow-derived fibroblasts is important for promoting tumor growth, likely by enhancing blood vessel formation,” Prof. Erez concludes. “Understanding the function of these cancer-associated fibroblasts could form the basis of developing novel therapeutic manipulations that co-target bone marrow-derived fibroblasts as well as the cancer cells themselves.”

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