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CAR T cells more powerful when built with CRISPR. Nature, 2017 Feb

The study uncovers facets of CAR immunobiology and underscore the potential of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to advance immunotherapies for cancer.

IFI16 is required for DNA sensing in human macrophages by promoting production and function of cGAMP. Nature Communications, 2017 Feb

A protein called IFI16, which most of our immune cells carry, has crucial significance for the cell’s defence against microorganisms or dying cells’ release of DNA. Researchers have found an important piece of the puzzle leading towards an understanding of how our innate immune system reacts against viral infections and recognises foreign DNA, for example from dying cancer cells. The discovery may prove to be of great importance for immunological treatment of cancer as well as autoimmune diseases in the future.

Tumor-associated macrophages drive spheroid formation during early transcoelomic metastasis of ovarian cancer. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2016 Oct 10.

The tumors release substances called cytokines to attract macrophages, which then secrete growth factors that promote tumor cell growth and proliferation. The study reveals a mechanism that provides researchers with a promising target for treating ovarian and other metastatic cancers.

Macrophage Metabolism Controls Tumor Blood Vessel Morphogenesis and Metastasis. Cell Metabolism, 2016 Nov

The metabolism of macrophages, a particular type of white blood cell, can be attuned to prevent the spread of cancer. The key is in making these macrophages more prone to ‘steal’ sugar from the cells forming the tumor’s blood vessels. As a result, these blood vessels will be structured more tightly, which can prevent cancer cells from spreading to other organs.

Cell of origin in childhood brain tumors affects susceptibility to therapy. Cancer Research, Nov 17, 2016

New findings show that in mice glioma development and glioma cell properties are affected by both age and the cell type from which the tumor has arisen. The tumor cell of origin was also important for the susceptibility of the tumor cells towards cancer drugs.

Genome-wide association study identifies three candidate genes linked to glioma development. PLOS Genetics, 2016 May.

A new study of the genetic factors underlying glioma formation in dogs may hold clues to how these common and often untreatable tumors form in humans.

Acquisition of Portal Venous Circulating Tumor Cells From Patients With Pancreaticobiliary Cancers by Endoscopic Ultrasound. Gastroenterology, November 23, 2015

New test may improve diagnosis, treatment of pancreactic cancers: Collecting blood samples from the portal vein can provide much more information about pancreatic cancer than taking blood from vein in the arm. Researchers found circulating tumors cells in 100 percent of 18 patients with suspected tumors in the pancreas and bile ducts.

Arthritis drug could be used to treat blood cancer sufferers. PLOS ONE, July 5, 2015

Methotrexate (MTX) can work in the same way as the drug Ruxolitinib, but is one thousandth of the cost.


Autoimmune disease

Interleukin-7 and -15 maintain pathogenic memory Th17 cells in autoimmunity. Journal of Autoimmunity, 2017 Feb.

Factors responsible for chronic nature of autoimmune disease identified and this may lead to development of new therapies for a range of chronic autoimmune diseases.

Neutrophils license iNKT cells to regulate self-reactive mouse B cell responses. Nature Immunology, 2016 Oct.

A cell in our inherited immune system can prevent our adaptive immune system from reacting to the body’s native cells, which can otherwise lead to autoimmune diseases such as SLE.

Gut bacteria may hold key to treating autoimmune disease. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2016 Dec.

Defects in the body’s regulatory T cells cause inflammation and autoimmune disease by altering the type of bacteria living in the gut. The study suggests that replacing the missing gut bacteria, or restoring a key metabolite called inosine, could help treat children with a rare and often fatal autoimmune disease called IPEX syndrome.

The gut microbiomes of infants have an impact on autoimmunity. Cell, 2016 May

Exposure to pathogens early in life is beneficial to the education and development of the human immune system.

The DNA Sensor AIM2 Maintains Intestinal Homeostasis via Regulation of Epithelial Antimicrobial Host Defense. Cell Reports, November 19, 2015

A pathogen-sensing molecule (AIM2) plays a vital role in keeping gastrointestinal (GI) systems healthy, valuable in treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) and colorectal cancer.

New strategies to decrease immune responses in inflammatory bowel disease. Nature Communications, November 10, 2015

Novel insights into the expression of the ecto-enzyme CD39 on immune cells and further illuminate the role of purinergic signaling in IBD.

Genetic sharing and heritability of paediatric age of onset autoimmune diseases. Nature Communications, October 9, 2015

Scientists have calculated more precise measurements of heritability — the influence of underlying genes — in nine autoimmune diseases that begin in childhood, better predicting a child’s risk for associated autoimmune diseases.



Compound in green tea found to block rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2016 Nov

A potential new approach to combating the joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage

Fibroblasts could provide new target for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2016 Nov

A new study reveals the key role of different types of fibroblast cells in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), opening up a new avenue for research into treatment of the disease. Synovial Fibroblasts (SFs) are cells that make up part of the connective tissue, or synovium, around human joints.

Neutrophil-derived alpha defensins control inflammation by inhibiting macrophage mRNA translation. PNAS, 2016 Apr;

Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions could be helped by new insights into how the immune response is switched off. Scientists have discovered how compounds, called alpha defensins, produced by the body’s immune system help to dampen inflammation and prevent damage to healthy tissues.

Interleukin-27 inhibits ectopic lymphoid-like structure development in early inflammatory arthritis. JEM, October 6, 2015

Described how interleukin-27 regulates the inflammatory process in lymphoid-rich rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting that targeting this cytokine might be beneficial.

C5orf30 is a negative regulator of tissue damage in rheumatoid arthritis. PNAS, August 31, 2015

Gene regulating severity of tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis identified.


Cardiovascular Disease

Blood Pressure Control by a Secreted FGFBP1 (Fibroblast Growth Factor–Binding Protein). Hypertension, 2017 Dec

Some cancer therapy drugs may provide a new way to treat high blood pressure

Blood Pressure Trajectories in the 20 Years Before Death. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2017 Dec

Blood pressure in the elderly begins to decrease about 14 or so years before death, according to a new study from 46,634 British citizens who had died at age 60 or older. Blood pressure declined over the last 14 to 18 years of life in both healthy elders and those with diseases.

Clonal hematopoiesis associated with Tet2 deficiency accelerates atherosclerosis development in mice. Science, 2017 Feb

A role for mutated blood cells in heart disease? A new study provides some of the first links between relatively common mutations in the blood cells of elderly humans and atherosclerosis. These studies suggest that genetic analyses of blood samples could add to the predictive value of traditional risk factors — high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and smoking — that are currently monitored.

The Association Between Air Pollution Exposure and Glucose and Lipids Levels. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2016 May.

Exposure to air pollution can worsen blood sugar levels, cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease, particularly in people with diabetes.

Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults. Circulation Research, 2016 Oct

Fine particulate matter air pollution may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults, according to new research.

Longitudinal Effects of Dietary Sodium and Potassium on Blood Pressure in Adolescent Girls. JAMA Pediatrics, 2015 June

Girls who consumed 2,400 mg per day or more of potassium had lower blood pressure at the end of adolescence

Projected benefits of high blood pressure treatment in China. PLOS Medicine, August 4, 2015

An expanded program of treatment for hypertension could prevent about 800,000 cardiovascular disease (CVD) events every year in China.

High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin T and Risk of Hypertension. Circulation, August 26, 2015

Analysis of blood samples from more than 5,000 people suggests that a more sensitive version of a blood test long used to verify heart muscle damage from heart attacks could also identify people on their way to developing hypertension well before the so-called silent killer shows up on a blood pressure machine.



Neuroprotective effects of a triple GLP-1/GIP/glucagon receptor agonist in the APP/PS1 transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Research, 2018; Jan

A drug developed for diabetes could be used to treat Alzheimer. This is the first time that a triple receptor drug has been used which acts in multiple ways to protect the brain from degeneration.

One-step optogenetics with multifunctional flexible polymer fibers. Nature Neuroscience, 2017 Feb.

For the first time, a single multifunction flexible fiber no bigger than a human hair, has successfully delivered a combination of optical, electrical and chemical signals back and forth into the brain.

Reduction of Abeta amyloid pathology in APPPS1 transgenic mice in the absence of gut microbiota. Scientific Reports, 2017 Jan

The intestinal bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which opens up the door to new opportunities for preventing and treating the disease.

New drug SAK3 may offer hope to Alzheimer’s disease patients. Neuropharmacology, 2017 Jan

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays an important role in controlling attention and cognition. Acetylcholine system dysfunction is believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia. The study showed that the T-type calcium channel enhancer, SAK3, stimulates the release of acetylcholine in the brain and improves cognition by activating the memory molecule CaMKII.

Neuronal human BACE1 knockin induces systemic diabetes in mice. Diabetologia, 2016 June

New link found between diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease. Drugs used to treat diabetes could also be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and vice versa, according to new research. This is also the first study of its kind to show that Alzheimer’s disease can lead to diabetes, as opposed to diabetes occurring first as was previously thought.

A new study suggests Alzheimer’s disease may come from the brain infections. Science Translational Medicine, 2016 May.

The new study could change the way we think about the disease, and develop new drugs for treatment.

New Alzheimer’s disease causing proline substitutions. The EMBO Journal, Nov 3, 2015

The failure to develop efficient Alzheimer’s therapy might come from the pooling, in clinical experiments, of patients who suffer from distinct disorders that eventually lead to Alzheimer’s symptoms. Therefore it is essential to carefully characterize and classify the mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer’s disease, in order to allow for the development of novel therapies.



Corticosteroids inhibit anti-IgE activities of specialized proresolving mediators on B cells from asthma patients. JCI Insight, 2017 Feb.

Omega-3 fatty acid products can reduce the production of IgE, the antibodies that cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms in people with milder cases of asthma, while in patients with severe asthma who use high doses of oral steroids, the omega-3 fatty acids are less effective because the corticosteroids block the beneficial effects.

Identification of BPIFA1/SPLUNC1 as an epithelium-derived smooth muscle relaxing factor. Nature Communications, 2017 Feb.

Researchers isolated a protein SPLUNC1, when missing or depleted, can cause airway constriction, production of mucus, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing for the 334 million people worldwide who suffer from asthma.


Diabetes and Obesity

Association of Modifiable Risk Factors in Young Adulthood With Racial Disparity in Incident Type 2 Diabetes During Middle Adulthood. JAMA, 2017 Dec.

Black people have double the rate of diabetes compared to whites by midlife. Obesity is the driven factor.

Body weight homeostat that regulates fat mass independently of leptin in rats and mice. PNAS, 2017 Dec

New evidence for the existence of an internal body weight sensing system, which could lead to a better understanding of the causes of obesity as well as new anti-obesity drugs.

True impact of global diabetes epidemic is vastly underestimated. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 2016 July.

There may be more than 100 million people with diabetes globally than previously thought. The prevalence of global diabetes has been seriously underestimated by at least 25 per cent, the paper suggests.

Association Between Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Biomarkers Related to Insulin Resistance, Subclinical Inflammation and Adipokines. Diabetes, 2016 Sept;

Exposure to air pollution at the place of residence increases the risk of developing insulin resistance as a pre-diabetic state of type 2 diabetes.

The Major Link Between Obesity and Diabetes. From Dr. Louis Venter. May 6, 2016

Leptin plays a direct role in cardiovascular disease in obesity. Circulation, October 7, 2015

While high levels of the satiety hormone leptin don’t help obese individuals lose weight, they do appear to directly contribute to their cardiovascular disease.

Adiponectin supplementation in pregnant mice prevents the adverse effects of maternal obesity on placental function and fetal growth. PNAS, 2015 Sept

As obesity rates for pregnant women continue to climb, scientists have discovered that increasing a specific hormone during pregnancy can reduce or eliminate the chances that the baby will become obese as well.

High dietary fiber intake linked to health promoting short chain fatty acids. Gut, September 29, 2015

Eating a lot of fibre-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes–typical of a Mediterranean diet–is linked to a rise in health promoting short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which include acetate, propionate, and butyrate, are produced by bacteria in the gut during fermentation of insoluble fibre from dietary plant matter. SCFAs have been linked to health promoting effects, including a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.



Contribution of Secreted NADase and Streptolysin O to the Pathogenesis of Epidemic Serotype M1 Streptococcus pyogenes Infections. The American Journal of Pathology, 2017 Feb.

Cytotoxins contribute to virulence of deadly epidemic bacterial infections. Severity of group A Streptococcus infections, including ‘flesh-eating disease,’ attributed to presence of 2 toxins.

Lack of plasmodium surface-protein blocks mosquito infection. Cell Host & Microbe, 2016 Nov.

a Plasmodium surface-protein plays an essential role at a stage of its life cycle that occurs not in the body of the host, but in the guts of the Anopheles mosquito. The finding has consequences for the search for vaccines or drugs that could alleviate the suffering caused by malaria.

L-selectin Is Essential for Delivery of Activated CD8 T Cells to Virus-Infected Organs for Protective Immunity. Cell Reports,  2016 Jan.

A new molecule which could help better target and kick-start the body’s natural fight against common infections like influenza.



Alcohol and endogenous aldehydes damage chromosomes and mutate stem cells. Nature, 2018 Jan;

How alcohol damages DNA in stem cells, helping to explain why drinking increases the risk of cancer

Abnormal epigenetic changes during differentiation of human skeletal muscle stem cells from obese subjects. BMC Medicine, 2017 Feb.

Obesity is associated with reduced muscle mass and impaired metabolism. Epigenetic changes that affect the formation of new muscle cells may be a contributing factor.

Stem cells used to regenerate the external layer of a human heart. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2017 Jan.

Long-term self-renewing human epicardial cells generated from pluripotent stem cells under defined xeno-free conditions.

Deep Learning predicts hematopoietic stem cell development. Nature Methods, 2017 Feb.

Deep Learning is generating more and more public awareness. Scientists have now used it to determine the development of hematopoietic stem cells in advance: they describe how their software predicts the future cell type based on microscopy images.

Therapeutic microparticles functionalized with biomimetic cardiac stem cell membranes and secretome. Nature Communications, 2016 Dec

Researchers have developed a synthetic version of a cardiac stem cell, offering therapeutic benefits comparable to those from natural stem cells and could reduce some of the risks associated with stem cell therapies. Additionally, these cells have better preservation stability and the technology is generalizable to other types of stem cells.

Functional human liver cells grown in the lab. Nature Biotechnology, November 26, 2015

This groundbreaking development could help advance a variety of liver-related research and applications, from studying drug toxicity to creating bio-artificial liver support for patients awaiting transplantations.