Archive for the ‘EXPERIMENTS’ Category

British researchers get the go ahead to genetically modify human embryos

Monday, July 11th, 2016


Scientists investigating miscarriage will not be able to implant embryos or study them for more than two weeks, says HFEA

Dr Kathy Niakan wants to look at the first few days of fertilisation-image

Dr Kathy Niakan wants to look at the first few days of fertilisation.

Photograph: Francis Crick Institute

Britain’s first genetically modified human embryos could be created within months, after scientists were granted permission by the fertility regulator to carry out the procedure.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulator approved a licence application by Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, to perform so-called genome editing – also called gene editing – on human embryos.

The decision permits Niakan to study the embryos for 14 days for research purposes only. It does not permit them to be implanted into women. Niakan’s research is aimed at finding the genes at play in the early days of human fertilisation.

The decision was greeted positively by the Francis Crick Institute and British scientists but was met with anger and dismay by those concerned that rapid advances in the field of genome editing is precluding proper consideration of the ethical implications.

Paul Nurse, director of the institute, said: “I am delighted that the HFEA has approved Dr Niakan’s application. Dr Niakan’s proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and will enhance our understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development – one to seven days.”

The work, using embryos donated by couples with a surplus after IVF treatment, will look at the fertilised egg’s development from a single cell to about 250 cells. The basic research could help scientists understand why some women lose their babies before term and provide better clinical treatments for infertility, using conventional medical methods.

Niakan will use a powerful genome editing procedure called Crispr-Cas9 to switch genes on and off in early stage human embryos. She will then look for the effects the modifications have on the development of the cells that go on to form the placenta.

Crispr-Cas9 has revolutionised biomedical research since its invention three years ago. It allows scientists to make precise changes to DNA, and has the potential to transform the treatment of genetic disorders by correcting faulty genes.

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “

The approval of her [Niakan’s] licence gives the exciting prospect that we will at last begin to understand how the different cell types are specified at these pre-implantation stages in the human embryo.”

Lovell-Badge said it would also provide invaluable information about the accuracy and efficiency of the technique, helping to inform the debate about whether genome editing could be used in future to correct faulty genes that cause devastating diseases.

That prospect remains a long way off but is already a subject of concern.

Dr David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, said: “This is the first step in a well mapped-out process leading to GM babies, and a future of consumer eugenics.” He claimed the government’s scientific advisers had already decided they were comfortable with the prospect of so-called “designer babies”.

Anne Scanlan, from the anti-abortion organisation Life, said: “The HFEA now has the reputation of being the first regulator in the world to approve this uncertain and dangerous technology. It has ignored the warnings of over 100 scientists worldwide and given permission for a procedure that could have damaging far-reaching implications for human beings.”

There are fears that changes to an embryo’s DNA could have unknown harmful consequences throughout a person’s body and be passed on down the generations.

Last year, leading UK funders called for a national debate on whether editing human embryos could ever be justified in the clinic. Some fear that a public backlash could derail less controversial uses of genome editing, which could lead to radical new treatments for conditions such as muscular dystrophy and sickle cell disease.

The US National Institutes of Health will not fund any genome editing research on human embryos at present.

But supporters of the HFEA’s decision said it had arrived at the right conclusion, balancing the benefits to research and ethical considerations.

“The ruling by the HFEA is a triumph for common sense,” said Darren Griffin, a professor of genetics at the University of Kent.While it is certain that the prospect of gene editing in human embryos raised a series of ethical issues and challenges, the problem has been dealt with in a balanced manner. It is clear that the potential benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen risks.”

Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust, called it a victory for level-headed regulation over moral panic”.

Dr Sarah Chan, chancellor’s fellow at Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, said: “We should feel confident that our regulatory system in this area is functioning well to keep science aligned with social interests.”


Henry Sapiecha

Human like Organs-on-Chips emulate human organs & could replace animals in tests

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Organs-on-Chips emulate human organs, could replace animals in tests

emulate artificial human organ microchip image

The search for more efficient tests of pharmaceuticals without animal models is taking a stride forward, with a new technology being developed in the US called Organs-on-Chips. The new miniature platform and software, which mimic the mechanical and molecular characteristics of human organs, were developed by bioengineers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

The device, about the size of a small computer memory stick, is created using microchip-manufacturing techniques. It features a porous flexible membrane that separates two channels at the center of the device. The channels are filled with living human cells and tissues cultured in a fluid that mimics the environment inside the human body. Micro-engineering and automated instrumentation allows the system to perform real-time analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic functions within single cells.

The idea is to authentically replicate, or “bioemulate” in science-speak, the workings of human organs. This way, scientists and even clinicians without high-level expertise can determine the efficacy and safety of potential new drugs, chemicals and cosmetics, with no animal models in the process.

The Wyss Institute team has formed a company called Emulate to further develop and market the product. They have also developed a system to automate the chips and connect them with a blood-like medium in order to reproduce the experience of the whole human body on chips. This way, researchers can get a better picture of the responses of the body as one unit and not just as series of individual organs.

“This advanced technology is the beginning of a revolution in the way we study human biology and disease,” said senior scientist Geraldine Hamilton. She added that Emulate is more predictive of the human situation than animal models, besides being more cost-effective and less time-consuming. Therefore, new pharmaceuticals could get to market, and to those in need of them, more rapidly.

Another aspect of the new technology is that it paves the way for more personalized treatment with stem cells. “Our vision is we can one day put each patient’s cells on chips that mimic the function of organs, and this will open up new ways for us to design truly personalized treatment with stem cells, based on each patient’s unique genetic profile on their own individualized Organs-on-Chips,” added Shlomo Melmed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of the medical faculty at Cedars-Sinai, one of the institutional investors in the new company.

Emulate has just secured a US$12 million Series A financing to develop the product for commercial purposes. The team will now focus on design, biology and engineering in order to further develop the technology and design new products for various industries.

Besides the lung-on-chip seen at the top of the page, in the last four years the researchers have also developed more than 10 types of organ/chips, including some that emulate the liver, gut, kidney, and bone marrow.

Elsewhere, other researchers are looking for methods to replace animal testing including the similarity ensemble approach and sensor nanoparticles.

Source: Emulate

Henry Sapiecha


Monday, May 19th, 2014

An academic at the University of Texas at Arlington believes his research team may have unintentionally stumbled upon a more efficient way to treat cancer through nanotechnology.

Copper-based experiment leads academic to find new way to treat cancer

Wei Chen. (Credit: U of T at Arlington)

Physicist Wei Chen, who is co-director of UT Arlington’s Center for Security Advances via Applied Nanotechnology, or SAVANT, was working to create a light-emitting nanoparticle for use in security-related radiation detection. Instead, he found that when the copper-cysteamine complex he created in his lab was exposed to X-rays, it started emitting a toxic by-product called “singlet oxygen,” which can be used to damage cancer cells in photodynamic therapy.

More testing led him to find that the nanoparticles, called Cu-Cy, significantly slowed tumour growth when combined with X-ray exposure in lab studies involving human breast and prostate cancer cells, according to UT Arlington, which has filed a provisional patent application on the complex.

Chen, who is also leading federally, funded cancer research, called the findings promising.

“This new idea is simpler and better than previous photodynamic therapy methods. You don’t need as many steps. This material alone can do the job,” he said in a press release issued by the university.

The new nanoparticle has low toxicity to healthy cells, according to Chen’s research.

The full paper is scheduled to appear in the August edition of the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology.

Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, June 4th, 2013



June 3 – Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have identified a blood protein they say can reverse the aging process in mouse hearts. After introducing the protein into the hearts of old mice, the scientists say they saw the organs ‘grow younger’ before their eyes, results that could eventually help in the treatment of human heart disease.


Research published yesterday in the journal Cell (abstract) by Richard Lee and Amy Wagers of Harvard has isolated GDF-11 as a negative regulator of age-associated cardiac hypertrophy. ‘When the protein … was injected into old mice, which develop thickened heart walls in a manner similar to aging humans, the hearts were reduced in size and thickness, resembling the healthy hearts of younger mice.’ Through a type of transfusion called parabiotic or ‘shared circulation’ in mice — one old and sick, the other young and well — they managed to reverse this age-associated heart disease. From there, they isolated an active agent, GDF-11, present in the younger mouse but absent in the older, which reverses the condition when administered directly. They are also using the agent to restore other aged/diseased tissues and organs. Human applications are expected within six years. Since the basis for the treatment is ordinary sharing of blood between an older ill, and younger healthy patient, we can probably expect someone to start offering the transfusion treatment somewhere in the world, soon, to those with the means to find a young and healthy volunteer


Henry Sapiecha

rainbow line


Friday, July 13th, 2012

Ginseng can fight cancer fatigue

I don’t know what’s worse — cancer, or the treatments.
Natures Brands Natural Health & Beauty Products

The disease itself is enough to leave you feeling drained. But throw in invasive surgeries, toxic drugs, radiation, and chemo and it’s no wonder cancer patients look and feel like death most of the time.

So OF COURSE they’re fatigued. Can you blame them? But a new study finds ginseng root can help bring a little of that energy back.

The only “catch” is that it takes a few weeks.

Researchers gave 360 patients receiving cancer treatments — including more than 200 breast cancer patients — either 2,000 mg of ground ginseng root or a placebo for eight weeks.

After four weeks, there were no differences between the two groups. After eight, bingo — 90 percent of the women on ginseng reported improvements. On average, the women started out at a 55 on a 100-point fatigue “scale,” but after eight weeks they dropped 20 points to a much more manageable 35.
Natures Brands Natural Health & Beauty Products

Those who got the placebo only had half that improvement.

The women who took the ginseng said they felt less “sluggish,” “tired,” “worn out,” and “pooped” than they did at the start.

The one caveat here is that low-quality ginseng supplements are processed with ethanol, and ethanol can actually stimulate the growth of breast tumors.

Clearly, you don’t want that — so stick to pure ground ginseng root rather than an extract.

By the way, it’s not a bad idea to take this stuff even if you aren’t “sluggish,” “tired,” “worn out,” or “pooped” — because ginseng can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, including cancers of the breast and prostate.

But while ginseng is great it’s not the only drug-free cancer beater. It’s not even the best of the lot — because there are even more effective natural cures that can help you beat the disease without drugs or even chemo

Natures Brands Natural Health & Beauty Products

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in North America, while retinitis pigmentosa causes approximately 1.5 million people worldwide to lose their sight every year. Individuals afflicted with retinal degenerative diseases such as these might someday be able to see again, however, thanks to a device being developed at California’s Stanford University. Scientists there are working on a retinal prosthesis, that uses what could almost be described as miniature solar panels to turn light signals into nerve impulses.

The system consists of a camera- and microprocessor-equipped pair of goggles, and a small photovoltaic chip that is implanted beneath the retina.

The output of the camera is displayed on a miniature LCD screen, located on the inside surface of the goggles. That screen is special, however – it emits pulses of infra-red laser light, that correspond to the images it’s displaying. Photodiodes on the chip register those pulses, and in turn stimulate retinal neurons. In theory, this firing of the neurons should produce visual images in the brain, as would occur if they had been stimulated by visible light.

“It works like the solar panels on your roof, converting light into electric current,” said Dr. Daniel Palanker, associate professor of ophthalmology. “But instead of the current flowing to your refrigerator, it flows into your retina.”

Palanker’s team has created a chip about the size of a pencil point, which is thinner than a human hair, and contains hundreds of the photodiodes. These were tested using retinas from both sighted rats, and rats that were blind in a fashion similar to human degenerative blindness – the retinal neurons were still present, but were generally inactive. While the chips in the blind retinas didn’t respond to visible light (unlike those in the sighted retinas), they did respond to the near-infrared light. “They didn’t respond to normal light, but they did to infrared,” said Palanker. “This way the sight is restored with our system.”

The photovoltaic chip is implanted under the retina in a blind rat (upper right corner) – it is comprised of an array of photodiodes (center and lower left) (Image: Palanker Laboratory/Stanford University)

The scientists are currently testing the technology on live rats, and state that it so far looks as if the electrical signals are indeed reaching the rats’ brains. They are now looking for a sponsor for human trials. Palanker notes that the system doesn’t allow for color vision, however, and that what vision is does provide would be “far from normal.”

While other retinal prostheses are also in development, these reportedly involve more in the way of hardware such as coils or antennas being implanted in the eye. Most of the technology used in the light-based Stanford system, by contrast, is located in the goggles.

A paper on the research was published this week, in the journal Nature Photonics

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


A group of plant researchers & scientists at the University of Missouri have uncovered a new, inexpensive approach to extracting a powerful anticancer chemical from soybeans. The incidence of several common cancers (breast, colorectal, prostate, bladder, lymphoma, and oral cancers) is lower in Japan by a factor of two to ten times than in North America or Western Europe (GLOBOCAN 2008). The medical profession is edging toward a conclusion that a significant portion of the reduction in alimentary system cancers and breast cancer is connected with the significant importance of the humble soybean to Japanese diets.

Researchers have considered the medical benefits of the soybean over centuries. However, the modern level of interest began with the identification of the Bowman-Birk Protease Inhibitor (BBI) in 1963.

Molecular structure of the soybean-derived Bowman-Birk Protease Inhibitor (BBI)

This small protein (molecular weight of about 8,000 Daltons) has demonstrated strong cancer chemoprotective and anticancer treatment properties. It has been proved effective against breast, colon, liver, lung, esophageal, and oral cancers. The studies are so impressive that BBI has been an FDA Investigational New Drug since 1992.

Unfortunately, BBI has also been very expensive (~US$2,000/gram at Sigma/Aldrich) owing to the very complex extraction sequence developed during its discovery. Early studies showed that BBI is found primarily in the soybean hulls (seed coats), which are generally removed before processing raw soybeans for the produce and fermentation markets. As a result, the hulls are very inexpensive at around 10 cents per kilogram. Ten percent of soybean hulls extracts as sugary solids with a protease inhibitor activity equivalent to about 70 mg/gram of solids, so that protease inhibitors make up about 7 mg/gram of the raw hulls.

Protease is any enzyme which starts the digestion of proteins by breaking peptide bonds in proteins. The extract of protease inhibitors consists of two main inhibitors, the Kunitz trypsin inhibitor and the Bowman-Birk protease inhibitor (BBI), which make up about 6 percent of the total protein of soybeans. However, the fraction with the largest level of protease inhibition is that containing BBI, a substance known to possess chemopreventive activity against a range of cancers.

BBI is traditionally purified by ammonium sulfate precipitation, organic solvent extraction, centrifugation, gel filtration, column chromatography, or high performance liquid chromatography. Each of these procedures is time-consuming, involves a variety of hazardous materials, and results in limited amounts of purified material. The result is, as mentioned earlier, an extremely expensive substance.

The Missouri plant scientists have invented a green procedure for extracting BBI from soybean hulls. They found that soybean hulls soaked in water at 122ºF (50ºC) for about four hours naturally release large amounts of BBI that can easily be extracted from the water. Higher extraction temperatures yield less BBI activity – apparently the protein will denature with very long exposures to 50ºC water. When the chemoprotective anticancer properties of the extracted BBI were tested, the extract proved capable of stopping the dividing of in-vitro breast cancer cell division.

There remains considerable research and testing to be carried out on soybean-extracted BBI. However, it provides another tempting and relatively harmless approach to fighting a wide range of cancers.

Source: American Chemical Society

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

FIFTEEN years ago, the bid to create Australia’s first bionic eye relied on university researchers pillaging old stereos for parts.

However today, 154 researchers led by biomedical engineers from the University of NSW could be less than a year away from their goal of saving the vision of degenerative eye disease sufferers.

In 1997, when the work began, Gregg Suaning and Nigel Lovell were unfunded, but dogged, researchers ripping old stereos asunder for spare parts in their attempts to build a bionic eye.

Their work today is a $42 million joint project involving the university, the Bionics Institute, the Centre for Eye Research Australia, NICTA and the University of Melbourne.

Researchers say they could be months away from offering hope to people with macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, the leading causes of sight loss in industrial countries.

The technology centres on an intricate and minuscule implant containing 98 electrodes, which is designed to stimulate nerve cells in the retina.

Images taken by an external camera implanted in glasses worn by the patient would be processed and relayed via an external wire to a receiver implanted behind the ear, from which signals will be sent to the retina processing chip. If all goes to plan the retina, having been stimulated with the signals, will send information to vision processing centres in the brain.

Human trials will begin next year. But people with any vestiges of sight will not be accepted. ”Because they have so much to lose, people who even see light won’t be able to qualify,” Professor Suaning said.

These trials will be the researchers’ first in Australia, fulfilling a dream held for decades.

The team began producing the implants last week, and will make about 25 before they know whether they’re ready to proceed.

It is envisaged that the technology, and follow-up treatment, will cost more than $60,000 per patient

Sourced & published  Henry Sapiecha


Friday, September 9th, 2011


The Monster Study was a stuttering experiment on 2 dozen homeless orphan children in Davenport, Iowa,USA  in 1939 conducted by Wendell Johnson at the University of Iowa. Johnson chose one of his graduate students, Mary Tudor, to conduct the experiment and he closely supervised & observed her research. After placing the children in control and experimental groups, Tudor gave positive speech therapy to half of the children, praising the fluency of their speech, and negative speech therapy to the other half, belittling the children for every speech imperfection and telling them they were stutterers. Many of the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech problems during the course of their life. Dubbed “The Monster Study” by some of Johnson’s peers who were horrified that he would experiment on orphan children to prove a theory, the experiment was kept hidden for fear Johnson’s reputation would be tarnished in the wake of human experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II. The University of Iowa publicly apologized for the Monster Study in 2001.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, April 4th, 2011

Head-worn device uses sonar to rapidly diagnose stroke
A team of radiologists and retired US Navy sonar experts have used technology developed for submarines as the basis for a new device which offers quick detection, diagnosis and monitoring of stroke. Combined with a portable laptop based console, the head-worn device enables different types of stroke and brain injury to be discovered and located, differentiating normal blood flow from life threatening conditions and delivering an initial diagnosis in under a couple of minutes. Read More

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha