Stem Like Regenerative Cell Type Discovered in Human Lungs

Research highlighting a new type of cell discovered in the human lung could play an important role in treating diseases of the lungs. The study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the Univ. of Pennsylvania have reported their discovery of finding and identifying the new cells.

The new cells are called respiratory airway secretory cells or RASCs. They are found deep in the human lungs and line airway branches near bronchi structures that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Because they are similar to stem cells they can regenerate other essential cells for bronchi to function normally. But if a person smokes or has COPD this regenerative function can be disrupted and, therefore, the RASCs will not be effective. Research can be done to see if this disruption can be corrected.

COPD, which is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is quite common and can be devastating. It is not known how or why some people develop it but it progressively damages the bronchi and elevates chronic inflammation. Currently in some parts of the U.S. it affects about 10% of people and around the globe there are approximately 3,000,000 deaths. The treatment is usually steroid anti-inflammatory drugs along with oxygen therapy but they can only slow the process instead of stopping or reversing it.

By finding new cell types like progenitor cells that are injured by COPD, it may help in developing new treatments. COPD is still not understood completely because the current studies use mice and their lungs are missing some important features similar to human lungs.

But now new evidence has been uncovered from the examination of gene activity lung cell signatures showing RASCs present. These cells do not exist in mouse lungs. They found that RASC cells are seretory cells residing near bronchi and are used to produce proteins that are essential to the fluid lining of airways.

The researchers note that studies of this magnitude help discover at the cell-biology level just what is occurring when a person has COPD. From observing similarities between gene activity and RASCs along with a progenitor cell in brochi called AT2 further discoveries can be made. Because of the secretory function of RASCs they may act as precursors for AT2 cells which would regenerate them to keep the AT2 population and bronchi healthy.

When COPD is present in a person, their AT2 cells become abnormal. The RASCs may have defects that enhance these abnormalities creating a faulty RASC-to-AT2 transformation in people with COPD and people that smoke.

With more research there is great possibility that new treatments can be discovered that can restore normal RASC-to-AT2 transformation in people with damaged lungs.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Human distal airways contain a multipotent secretory cell that can regenerate alveoli

New Spinal Therapy Using Yamanaka Stem Cell Factors

In the world of aging research, using the Yamanaka stem cell factors for cellular reprogramming has become very important. Yamanaka factors are four master genes that were discovered by Drs. Kazutoshi and Shinya Yamanaka and are used to reprogram cells back to an embryonic state. It has now been suggested that transient exposure to them may be the key to treating many health problems such as vertebral disc degeneration.

These genes have the ability to turn back the biological clock in old cells by reprogramming them. By limiting the length of treatment cells can be returned to a younger state without going all the way back to embryonic. That makes cells epigenetically younger and partially reverses cellular aging.

It has been previously shown in living animals by using the Yamanaka factors, that they can reverse the biological age of cells. New research is now ongoing to make this technology safe enough for humans. This could have the potential of rejuvenating tissues and organs that have aged, therefore, changing the future of aging.

As it relates to the back, intervetebral disc degeneration (IDD) is closely associated with lower back pain. This condition is where the bones of the spine and the discs that separate the vertebrae break down. It leads to pain in the back, neck and even in the legs and hands. It causes loss of mobility and is an extreme burden to society.

This study examined using the Yamanaka factors as a potential therapy for IDD. Using a mouse model they tested short-term cyclic exposure. They found that the progression of IDD was inhibited with several treatments.

They also took a look at the jelly-like substance that is located in the center of an intervertebral disc. It is used to distribute hydraulic pressure between the discs when movement or load is put on the back. When partial cellular reprogramming was used it resulted in preventing characteristics that were age-related from forming. This was achieved by an increase in the expression of HK2 (hexokinase 2), which activates energy metabolism. This, in turn, promotes the cytoskeleton redistribution into a more youthful form.

This new research helps to understand the potential mechanisms and effects of partial cellular reprogramming in people with IDD. This will help in creating new therapies for IDD and other conditions. It is hopeful that in the future this technology may be able to prevent aging and age-related diseases.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Partial reprogramming strategy for intervertebral disc rejuvenation by activating energy switch

New Essential Fatty Acid Discovered – Needed to Maintain Health

A discovery of an essential nutrient has been found that the body needs to maintain health. The research from Seraphina Therapeutics in San Diego discovered the first essential fatty acid. It is known as pentadecanoic acid, also called C15:0. It has been shown to have broad health benefits and can be found in saturated fat from butter, milk, plants and fish. Currently there is omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are considered essential by nutrition scientists. C15:0 would join these fatty acids and could be the first of other essential nutrients that could now be found.

The new findings are very promising but more research needs to be done. The current results in the study show that when C15:0 was used on over a dozen different human cell systems the results were lower inflammation and less tissue scarring. The human cells that were used mimicked immune disorders, chronic inflammation and fibrosis.

Studies on obese mice found that a 3-month supplementation of C15:0 resulted in a lowering of glucose and cholesterol levels.

C15:0 is found in dairy foods but there are certain types of plants and fish that could also be sources for it. Foods could be fortified with it as well as supplements. Because it can strengthen red blood cells and ease chronic inflammation it might help treat anemia.

C15:0 is considered an odd-chain saturated fatty acid that is better for a person than an even-chain but most people are not getting enough of it. It can be found in whole milk and butter but in the last 40 years people have been discouraged from using these products because of the risk of heart disease. While the even-chain fatty acids are considered unhealthy in large quantities this new odd-chain fatty acid can strengthen outer cells which can protect from inflammation as we get older.

A deeper understanding of the benefits of C15:0 as an important part of a person’s diet needs to be shown. When people cut back on foods that contain it this increases the potential for diseases. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic liver disease have been on the increase since nutritionists have suggested cutting back on saturated fat consumption.

In the future, higher levels of C15:0 could be added to beverages such as plant-based milk and foods much like calcium, vitamins and probiotics currently are to further enhance their nutrient value. As more study is done it is going to be shown that not just dairy is a beneficial source of C15:0 but also certain types of plants and fish. This could increase demand for these foods and may help cut the rate of diseases.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential?

Microbes Can Turn Back the Clock to Reverse Aging in Brain

New research has introduced a new approach to reverse aspects of age related cognitive function and deterioration in the brain through the microbes in the gut.

As the population is aging, one of the main worldwide challenges is to develop new strategies to maintain the health of function of the brain. The new research has opened up possible therapeutic avenues in the form of microbial based interventions which will slow down aging of the brain and associated problems with cognition.

There is growing interest and appreciation of gut microbes in all areas of medicine and physiology. In the newest mouse study the researchers have shown that through transplanting microbes from young mice into older mice they can rejuvenate aspects of immune function and the brain.

Earlier research has shown that gut microbiome plays a significant role in the process of aging. The latest research is a possible game changer as the team has established that the gut microbiome can be harnessed to reverse brain deterioration due to aging. They also saw evidence of improved ability to learn and cognitive function. It is still early and more work is needed to transfer the findings to humans.

The team further demonstrates the significance of the microbiome in the gut in a variety of health aspects and especially across the gut/brain axis where functioning of the brain can be influenced in a positive manner. The study shows possibilities for the future in modulating gut microbiata as a therapeutic target to influencing health of the brain.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Microbiota from young mice counteracts selective age-associated behavioral deficits

The Surprising Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Do you drink coffee daily? New research shows that there are benefits from caffeine on your cardiovascular and digestive systems.

High levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study from McMaster University showed that the amount of caffeine in 2-3 cups of coffee a day reduced LDL cholesterol. Consuming caffeine on a regular basis has also been linked to reduced blood levels of the PCSK9 protein. This protein helps the liver remove excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. The research has discovered the underlying mechanism as to how caffeine and its derivatives mitigate levels of blood PCSK9.

The researchers discovered that caffeine and its derivatives block a protein called SREBP2. When this happens, the protein PCSK9 is reduced. Current study results have shown that coffee and tea drinkers display a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. This is the first time an explanation has been made as to why this is.

Because the protein SREBP2 is connected to cardiometabolic diseases, such as fatty liver and diabetes this discovery has many implications. They can now link caffeine to metabolism of cholesterol at a molecular level. In the process of the study they developed new caffeine derivatives that can greatly lower blood PCSK9 levels. This is very promising and could lead to new treatments for high LDL cholesterol levels.

In a new review of previous studies it is shown that drinking coffee can stimulate biliary, gastric and pancreatic secretions. This, in turn can influence the digestive process by aiding acid production in the stomach, pancreatic and bile secretion and colon motility.

After drinking coffee the first organs it comes into contact with are in the gastrointestinal tract. The findings show that coffee consumption of 3-5 cups a day did not generate any harmful effects. It is very interesting that the study also showed a reduced risk of gallstones and pancreatitis, although more research on this is needed.

As coffee travels down the gastrointestinal tract, its impact on gastric, biliary and pancreatic secretions is necessary for digestion of food. It helps stimulate production of gastrin, a digestive hormone, and hydrochloric acid, which both help break down food. The secretion of a hormone that increases the production of bile, called cholecystokinin is also stimulated.

Another benefit of coffee consumption is changes to gut microbiota by improving the level of Bifidobacteria, which inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. Colon motility is also improved. This is the process of food traveling through the digestive tract. The study found that it is stimulated 23% more than decaf coffee and 60% more than a glass of water and could reduce risk of chronic constipation. In some cases, drinking coffee produces a protective effect against constipation.

So drink a cup or two of coffee a day. It can be beneficial.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Caffeine blocks SREBP2-induced hepatic PCSK9 expression to enhance LDLR-mediated cholesterol clearance
Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and Literature Update

New Therapy Removes Unhealthy Cells From Blood With Magnets

An engineer has discovered a way to filter unwanted blood cells using magnets. His tool might be able to be used in clinical trials within the next year.

The biochemical engineer knew there was the possibility to force magnetic nanoparticles to bind to specific cells found in the body. However, while other researchers did so mainly to make those cells available in images, he wondered if the identical technique could allow doctors to remove cells that were unwanted from blood.

When a person has a tumor it is cut out. Cancer of the blood is a tumor in the blood so why could it not be taken out the same way?

MediSieve was created which is a treatment technology that works very much like dialysis through removing blood from a patient and infusing it with magnetic nanoparticles which are made to bind to a particular disease. Then it uses magnets to draw out and then trap the cells prior to pumping the blood that has been filtered back into the patient.

The thought is that doctors could run a patient’s blood through the machine many times until their levels of the disease are low enough to be wiped out by medicine or even by the patient’s very own immune system.

The team is now waiting approval to trial their system on patients infected with malaria which is naturally magnetic due to its consumption of its own iron based waste product.

In theory, anything could be gone after. Pathogens, poisons, bacteria, viruses and anything that can be specifically bound to can be removed. It is a very powerful possible tool.

Airway Stem Cells Work Together in Regeneration and Aging

Researchers conducting a new study have identified the process of how stem cells located in the airways of the lungs switch between two distinct phases. They create more of themselves and produce mature airway cells to regenerate lung tissue following an injury.

The study additionally sheds light on how aging can lead to lung regeneration going awry which can lead to cancer of the lungs and other diseases. Currently there are few therapies that target the biology of diseases that affect the lungs. The new findings will assist researchers in efforts to develop targeted therapies to improve the health of the airway.

The airways carry the air that is breathed in from the mouth and nose to the lungs. They are the body’s first line of defense against airborne particles such as pollution and germs that can lead to illness. The two types of airway stem cells have a vital role in this process. Mucus cells secrete mucus to trap harmful particles. Ciliated cells use their finger like projections to sweep the mucus engulfed particles up to the back of the throat and then cleared out of the lungs.

Infectious and toxic particles which people breathe in every day can lead to injury of the airways. When this happens, airway basal stem cells which are capable of self-renewing and producing mucus and the ciliated cells which line the airways, are activated to repair any damage.

In order to keep the correct balance of each type of cell, airway basal stem cells must transition from the proliferative phase where they produce more of themselves, to the differentiation phase where they give rise to mature airway stem cells.

These particular stem cells must maintain a very delicate equilibrium. They need to produce just the correct amount of mucus and ciliated cells in order to keep harmful particles out of the lungs. They must also self-replicate to ensure there will be enough of these stem cells to respond to the next injury.

For the study, the research team examined mice who had lung injuries. They analyzed how the different kinds of cells found in the supportive environment that surrounds airway basal stem cells, work together to insure the repair response.

They discovered that a group of molecules known as the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway activate to stimulate the basal stem cells found in the airway to respond to injury. They were surprised to discover that this molecule group originates in one cell type to initiate proliferation and a different cell type to initiate differentiation.

During the proliferation phase of repair, a connective tissue cell known as a fibroblast secretes the Wnt molecule which then signals to the stem cell that it is time to self-renew. During the differentiation phase of repair, the Wnt molecule is secreted by an epithelial cell which make up the lining of organs and tissues, to signal to the stem cells that it is time to produce mature airway cells.

Understanding how the regeneration process works in healthy lungs is an important first step to understanding how disease can occur when the process goes wrong. In order to gain insights into what role this process and the cells that activate it could play in disease, the team studied its activity in older mice.

They were surprised to find that in the airways of the aging mice, the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway is active in the stem cells even when there is no injury. This is in contrast to the airways of young mice where it is only activated when necessary. When the pathway is active, it stimulates the stem cells to produce more stem cells and more airway stem cells even when they are not needed.

Early research has established a connection between a more active Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and lung cancer. The more a cell divides, the greater the chance that a mutation or a proofreading error can occur which can lead to cancer.

The new study builds on this work by establishing not only what goes wrong, but exactly when it goes wrong in otherwise healthy people as part of the process of aging. The findings have given researchers insight into which types of stem cells are important, which pathway is also important and when therapies to prevent the formation of cancer might be developed.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Distinct Spatiotemporally Dynamic Wnt-Secreting Niches Regulate Proximal Airway Regeneration and Aging.

Cell Speed Limit is a Game Changer for Stem Cell Therapy

Cellular reprogramming is a goal of regenerative medicine. It can be used to replace damaged or sick cells with a cell that is healthy. New research has now discovered improvements for the efficiency of cellular reprogramming which has great potential in cellular repair therapy.

It has been known that adult cells can only duplicate into the same cell type, thus, limiting adult cell therapy. The new discovery has found that embryo cells have the capability to multiply all cell types in our body. This is called totipotency and researchers have found it to be an inspiration in finding new ways to repeat totipotency in the lab by using cellular reprogramming.

Totipotent cells are still a mystery as to their properties, which are not all known yet. And this research made a new discovery about them. From being the mother cells of stem cells, the pace at which DNA replication occurs in them is different in comparison to cells that are more differentiated. It was shown to be much slower.

The researchers now asked if they can change the speed of DNA replication could they then improve the reprogramming of them into totipotent cells? Totipotent cells have been studied for years hoping to discover how nature has made them capable of producing all cell types in our bodies.

In an exceptional experimental achievement, they did observe that slowing down the DNA replication speed did increase reprogramming efficiency. They had slowed down the DNA replication speed by limiting the substrate that the cells use for DNA synthesis.

It was an amazing discovery. It is considered a huge advancement for stem cell therapy and a fundamental strategy of future research in regenerative medicine.

To view the original scientific study click below:
DNA replication fork speed underlies cell fate changes and promotes reprogramming

Cognitive Function Influenced by Gut Microorganisms

A recent study has found a link between microorganism composition that are in the gut and cognitive health. It adds to a growing wealth of research into the interactions between the brain and gut microbiome. Researchers are finding a variety of ways microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract are diverse leading to studies over the past few years.

Earlier studies in animals and small clinical studies have shown changes in cognition could be linked to changes in the gut microbiome. But there has been few studies investigating cognition and gut microbiome in large samples in community settings.

Recently U.S. researchers have analyzed data from a large cross sectional study and found a connection between cognition in middle aged adults and gut microbial composition. Participants were recruited from across the U.S. as part of the CARDIA Study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults).

The CARDIA study 30 year follow-up examination took place in 2015-2016 and had 3,358 participants. The participants were given a set of cognitive assessments as a part of the study with 3,124 participants completing at least one of the assessments. Also, 615 participants were recruited into a microbiome sub-study which sent stool samples to a lab for DNA sequencing.

Six cognitive tests were used – Rey-Auditory Verbal Learning Test, Digit Symbol Substitution Test, letter fluency, Stroop Test, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and category fluency. The results of the tests were collated for a summary score for each participant.

Other factors were accounted for that could influence either the microbiome composition or test scores in the analysis. The factors included education level, demographics, physical activity, smoking status, medications and diet. Data on comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension was also collected.

607 of the 615 participants had stool samples that were suitable for DNA sequencing. Ten of the participants didn’t have complete data on the cognitive tests so analysis was used for 597 participants.

Participants were aged 48 to 60 with an average age of 55. 45.2% were Black, 44.7% were men and 44.8% were white. The analysis focused on three main areas – within-person diversity, between person diversity and the individual composition of microorganisms in the sample of stools.

Microbial composition was greatly linked with cognitive measures in the between-person differences after adjusting for risk factors. There was a statistically notable interaction by sex and no notable difference within race. Within-person diversity was generally not linked with cognition in the data.

Future work is essential using whole metagenomics sequencing called shotgun. This is a quick method of sequencing of DNA and gives more information in regards to the interactions and metabolic pathways that take place in the microbiome.

Data that is collected over multiple time points is also needed. This might confirm that gut microbial changes can occur before physiological changes.

There is also a need for longitudinal analysis that collects a lot of information on our health behaviors and social environment to see how these factors and the microbiome will influence health. It is possible that different behaviors and exposures could affect a person’s microbes in different ways and would be important for interventions in the future on a personal level.

The hope is that additional evidence could lead to opportunities to reduce cognition decline in later life. There is the potential to adjust the gut microbiota by altering targeted treatments and health behaviors.
But microbiota could eventually be utilized to identify biomarkers that are involved in risk of chronic diseases which will lead to cognition decline.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Association of the Gut Microbiota With Cognitive Function in Midlife

Does Eating Less Meat Lower Cancer Risk?

The team investigated the connection between cancer risk and diet through analyzing data from 472,377 British adults from the UK Biobank during the years 2006-2010. The participants were 40-70 years old and reported they consumed fish and meat. Using health records, the research team calculated the occurrence of cancers that had developed roughly over 11 years. They took into account sociodemographics, diabetes status, socioeconomics and other lifestyle factors.

247,572 (52%) of the participants consumed meat more than 5 times a week, (44%) 205,382 consumed meat 5 times or less a week, (2%) 10,696 consumed fish and no meat, and (2%) 8,685 were vegan or vegetarian. Of the participants (2%) 54,961 developed cancer during the period the study ran.

The team discovered that the risk of cancer was lower by 2% among the participants who consumed meat 5 times a week, 10% or lower with those who consumed fish but no meat, and lower by 14% among the vegan and vegetarians. These results were in comparison to those who consumed meat more than 5 times a week. When looking at the occurrence of certain cancers, the team found those who consumed meat 5 times per week or less had a 9% lower risk of colorectal cancer when compared to the participants who consumed meat in excess of 5 times in a week.

They additionally discovered there was a 20% lower risk of prostate cancer among men who consumed fish but no meat. Those on a vegetarian diet the risk was 31% lower compared to those who consumed meat more than 5 times a week.

Women who were post-menopausal and consumed a vegetarian diet had a lower risk by 18% of getting breast cancer than those who consumed meat more than 5 times a week. However, these findings suggested that this might be due to women who were vegetarian tend to have a lower body mass index than the women who ate meat.

The team do warn that the study was observational in nature and should not be accepted as a causal relationship between diet and cancer risk. And it should be taken into consideration that the dietary information was collected at one time and not over a continuous time period so that it might not be representative of the participant’s lifetime diets.

The team suggests that additional research could done to investigate the link between diets containing little or no meat and the risk of individual cancers in populations that are larger and with longer periods of follow-up.

An important question to also investigate is whether eating meat from 100% pasture fed animals lowers cancer risk compared to eating meat from grain fed animals.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Risk of cancer in regular and low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians: a prospective analysis of UK Biobank participants