Health

Engineered ‘mini’ CRISPR Genome Editing System Developed

The common analogy for CRISPR gene editing is that it works like molecular scissors, cutting out select sections of DNA. Stanley Qi, assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, likes that analogy, but he thinks it's time to reimagine CRISPR as a Swiss Army knife.

Crispr, Genetic, Scissors, Dna, Biology, Science"CRISPR can be as simple as a cutter, or more advanced as a regulator, an editor, a labeler or imager. Many applications are emerging from this exciting field," said Qi, who is also an assistant professor of chemical and systems biology in the Stanford School of Medicine and a Stanford ChEM-H institute scholar.

The many different CRISPR systems in use or being clinically tested for gene therapy of diseases in the eye, liver and brain, however, remain limited in their scope because they all suffer from the same flaw: they're too large and, therefore, too hard to deliver into cells, tissues or living organisms.

In a paper published Sept. 3 in Molecular Cell, Qi and his collaborators announce what they believe is a major step forward for CRISPR: An efficient, multi-purpose, mini CRISPR system. Whereas the commonly used CRISPR systems -- with names like Cas9 and Cas12a denoting various versions of CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins -- are made of about 1000 to 1500 amino acids, their "CasMINI" has 529.

The researchers confirmed in experiments that CasMINI could delete, activate and edit genetic...

Ethical Considerations of Ridding Humanity of Diseases

Although some researchers feel a moral obligation to cure genetic diseases with DNA editing techniques such as CRISPR, others hesitate to embark on gene editing of human eggs, sperm and early-stage embryos(called germline editing) whose DNA changes can be passed on to future descendants. These practitioners feel that not enough is understood, and further research is critical for exploring the early development of embryos and fetuses. Such research would resurrect ethical questions about creating and destroying viable or non-viable fetuses, and the creation or termination of human life.

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One example of a lethal inheritable genetic disease, potentially curable through gene-editing, is Huntington's disease, caused by a gene defect that will trigger a fatal brain condition even in someone with just a single copy of the gene. Gene editing could remove the defect from an egg cell to prevent the disease from being passed on to descendants. Some laboratories are working now, trying to edit egg stem cells to rid them of inherited genetic disease. The end-to-end process is multi-step, and would no doubt first be worked out in animals such as cattle, pigs, and rabbits.

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Alzheimer's Breakthrough Sheds New Light on the Disease

If you suffer from Alzheimer's or know that a loved one is struggling with the condition, it's important to note that new scientific breakthroughs may provide the public with key insights regarding the disease. Learn more about the efforts of researchers and how their findings could revolutionize the approach to curing the disease by reviewing the following outline:

cholesterol treatment

Beta-Amyloid And Alzheimer's Disease: A Brief Overview

To fully understand the scientific breakthroughs that have transpired in the field of Alzheimer's research, one must first grasp the relevance of beta-amyloid within this sector. As Lund University's researchers understand, toxic clumps of beta-amyloid are believed to be the root cause of Alzheimer's. In the past, researchers thought that beta-amyloid should be eliminated. However, new findings indicate that the protein should be stabilized. 

The History Of Beta-Amyloid

For quite some time, members of the scientific community have thought that beta-amyloid appeared almost immediately in cases of Alzheimer's. It is for this reason that the phrase "popcorn plaques" was coined. Now, however, infrared spectroscopy images reveal information that contradicts this basic assumption. Specifically, researchers are now able to note molecular, structural changes that take place in the brain. 

In discussing the images, professor of experimental neurology...

Importance of Vitamin D to a Healthy Adult Cardiovascular System

Researchers and medical professionals continue to reinforce the importance of vitamin D intake to ensure proper bone health. But more recent headlines like “More severe heart disease found in patients with vitamin D deficiency”, “Vitamin D Deficiency Associated with Asthma Exacerbation”, and “Childhood Vitamin D Levels Tied to Adult Atherosclerosis” leave little doubt that there is more significance to this vitamin than most people may realize.

What is Vitamin D?

vitamin dVitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that your body can not make on its own; it needs help from nature. That help comes in the form of exposure to natural sunlight. Being fat soluble means your diet must contain some fat if you are trying to get enough vitamin D through your diet alone. It also means you need to have a healthy gut, and be able to eat and digest fat effectively, in order for your body to be able to absorb the fat and the vitamin. This essential vitamin is also necessary for your body to absorb calcium from the foods you eat. Most people are familiar with calcium’s ties to good bone health, but it is also involved in muscle contraction, regulation of body cell growth, reducing and preventing inflammation, and ensuring a healthy immune system. To do all that, this mineral needs vitamin D.

Vitamin D and Your Heart

Your heart is only a part of the cardiovascular system, the system that keeps healthy blood circulating throughout...

Kettlebell Workout Benefits For all Ages

kettlebellGet a grip, Californians---A killer kettlebell workout in Pacific Grove burns fat and sculpts sexy muscles! Plus, it improves balance, strength and stability!

Kettlebell, Arm, Strong Arm, Sport, BodyThink mini bowling ball with a handle. That best describes what a kettlebell is. And like weight-training with dumbbells, a kettlebell can also be lifted, pushed and pulled during a workout. The difference is in the freedom and versatility of movement.

With a kettlebell class in Pacific Grove, you can row, press, swing and jerk the cast iron equipment in different directions with one or both hands. The heart gets pumping, and it makes for a super aerobics exercise with resistance training. It's a gorgeous, oceanview city whose real estate offers plenty of recreational activities.

A kettlebell workout is great for all ages, including seniors, living in the prime real estate of the Pacific Grove area. And although the equipment might look intimidating, it really isn't. Kettlebells range in weight from 2lbs. to 175lbs. That's quite a huge range, meaning there are many benefits to this exercise at individual abilities.

Of course, instruction using a kettlebell is very important. Exercising with too heavy a kettlebell can cause injury to the spine, neck and so forth. There are a lot of kettlebell classes available across gorgeous ...

About Liver Cirrhosis Treatment. Is It Possible To Cure Liver Cancer?

curing liver diseaseCould Pacific Grove home owners someday benefit from new advances in CRISPR gene editing treatment for genetic diseases? 

MIT researchers have recently developed a method of using nanotechnology to deliver CRISPR gene-editing components into mice for treating defective genes in liver cells. Previous CRISPR delivery methods have used viruses that might in some cases elicit possible immune responses from the body. The new study demonstrates for the first time that you can make a nanoparticle that can be used to permanently and specifically edit the DNA in the liver of an adult animal. The success rate for cutting certain genes in 80% of liver cell using this new delivery system was about 80 percent, the best ever attained with CRISPR in adult animals. 

Daniel Anderson, associate professor of chemical engineering at MIT, and member of the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science is senior author of the study on the Pcsk9 gene which regulates cholesterol levels. He reports that mutations of the Pcsk9 gene in humans is associated with a rare disease called familial hypercholesterolemia. This disorder is treated with antibody drugs that inhibit the Pcsk9 gene and which must be taken on a regular basis for the patient's entire life. Using the new nanoparticle method, the faulty gene is permanently edited in one treatment. Furthermore,...

Fashionable Mask to Express Your Personality Amidst COVID

covid maskIn Monterey, your mask can be fashionable and express your personality. Take a deep breath before you begin. Basic knowledge of your sewing machine is necessary for this project. For all seams always remember to backstitch at the start and finish of each seam. You will have options for securing the mask to your face with elastic or shoelaces. You will need thread, material, scissors, two 7 inch pieces of elastic or four 15 inch shoelace pieces, an iron and sewing machine. A six-inch piece of pipe cleaner is optional. If you use round elastic, you will need to tie a knot on each end to keep it in place once sewn in. The material can be anything breathable.

Decide on the fabric you want to use. Some can be quite fashionable while some others can actually be quite helpful in filtering out aerosols of the covid -19 particles. Use one layer of tightly woven cotton with 2 layers of polyester spandex material. A sheer fabric like you see on evening gowns can also be used. This combination is likely to provide performance close to the hard to find N-95 mask. You can also use silk or flannel on the inner lining as well. A good quality cotton fabric, the type used for quilting, with a polyester liner is also is great. 

covid mask...

CRISPR Technology to Cure Sickle Cell Disease

University of Illinois Chicago is one of the U.S. sites participating in clinical trials to cure severe red blood congenital diseases such as sickle cell anemia or Thalassemia by safely modifying the DNA of patients' blood cells.

CRISPR_Technology_to_Cure_Sickle_Cell_DiseaseThe first cases treated with this approach were recently published in an article co-authored by Dr. Damiano Rondelli, the Michael Reese Professor of Hematology at the UIC College of Medicine. The article reports two patients have been cured of beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease after their own genes were edited with CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The two researchers who invented this technology received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020.

In the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing for Sickle Cell Disease and beta-Thalassemia, researchers reported gene editing modified the DNA of stem cells by deleting the gene BCL11A, the gene responsible for suppressing fetal hemoglobin production. By doing so, stem cells start producing fetal hemoglobin so that patients with congenital hemoglobin defects (beta thalassemia or sickle cell disease) make enough fetal hemoglobin to overcome the effect of the defective hemoglobin that causes their disease.

The advantage of this approach is that it uses the patient's cells with no need for a donor. Also, the gene manipulation does not use a viral vector as with other gene therapy studies but is done with electroporation (quick production of...

Why Older Adults Must Go to the Front of the Vaccine Line

Study shows speeding up roll-out, prioritizing 60-plus could save 65,000 US lives in three months.

covid 19 vaccineVaccinating older adults for COVID-19 first will save substantially more U.S. lives than prioritizing other age groups, and the slower the vaccine rollout and more widespread the virus, the more critical it is to bring them to the front of the line.

That's one key takeaway from a new University of Colorado Boulder paper, published today in the journal Science, which uses mathematical modeling to make projections about how different distribution strategies would play out in countries around the globe.

The research has already informed policy recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to prioritize older adults after medical workers.

Now, as policymakers decide how and whether to carry out that advice, the paper -- which includes an interactive tool (https://vaxfirst.colorado.edu/) -- presents the numbers behind the tough decision.

"Common sense would suggest you want to protect the older, most vulnerable people in the population first. But common sense also suggests you want to first protect front-line essential workers (like grocery store clerks and teachers) who are at higher risk of exposure," said senior author Daniel Larremore, a computational biologist in the Department of Computer Science and CU Boulder's BioFrontiers Institute. "When common sense leads you in two different directions, math can help you decide."

For the study, Larremore and lead author Kate Bubar, a graduate student in the Department of Applied Mathematics, teamed up with colleagues at the Harvard T.H. Chan School...

Homemade Masks Help Combat the Spread of Viruses like COVID-19

Homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19. Researchers tested the breathability and droplet-blocking ability of 11 common household fabrics, using a medical mask as a benchmark. 

Studies indicate that homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19 when combined with frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. Many of these studies focus on the transfer of tiny aerosol particles; however, researchers say that speaking, coughing and sneezing generates larger droplets that carry virus particles. Because of this, mechanical engineer Taher Saif said the established knowledge may not be enough to determine the effectiveness of some fabrics used in homemade masks.

Saif, a mechanical science and engineering professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, led a study that examined the effectiveness of common household fabrics in blocking droplets. The findings are published in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters.

Aerosol particles are typically classified as less than 5 micrometers, and lie in the range of hundreds of nanometers. However, larger droplets -- up to about 1 millimeter in diameter -- can also be expelled when an individual speaks, coughs or sneezes. These larger droplets pose a problem because, with sufficient momentum, they can squeeze through the pores of some fabrics, break into smaller droplets and become airborne.

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Homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19....

Beat Skin Cancer By Knowing Your Level of Exposure

type of skin cancerSkin cancer is a major health concern around the world. Millions are diagnosed with one of the various types of skin cancer each year. Most skin cancers are treatable, but melanoma is a very dangerous type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. The spread of melanoma may lead to death.

There are three major types of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most dangerous. Melanomas often develop from an existing mole on a person's skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is another common type of skin cancer. This type can spread across the skin and into the mucous membranes. Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on the exposed areas of the body. These skin cancers rarely spread, but they may become large and unsightly.

Doctors know that the main cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation such as that produced by the sun. In order to prevent skin cancer from developing, doctors highly recommend that anyone who is going out in the sun for a prolonged period of time wear sunscreen and that they reapply the sunscreen regularly throughout the day. People who have very fair skin should cover up as much as possible to avoid a sunburn which can lead to skin cancer development.

While these are quite well-known means of preventing skin cancer, researchers have now developed a new way to help beat skin cancer that lets people know their level of UV radiation exposure. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia along with a research team at the University of Granada have developed a bracelet that people can use when they go out in the sun.

This bracelet is made up of four emoticon faces. The faces are made of UV sensitive invisible...

Better Painkillers made with Yeast

Better Painkillers Designed with Yeast

In Carmel Valley, a charming, rustic village located 11 miles inland of Carmel-by-the-Sea, there are a score of Monterey County wineries and tasting rooms, convenient to Carmel Valley home dwellers and tourists alike. The yeasts cultivated from wild strains have fermented wine from grapes or leavened bread from flour for thousands of years. Now cutting-edge Stanford research has taken yeast into the laboratory and reengineered it to produce modern plant-based painkilling medications.


In a recent breakthrough after a decade-long effort, Stanford scientists reprogrammed the genetic machinery of baker’s yeast so that it could convert sugar into the opioid compound hydrocodone within three to five days. Producing the opioid so rapidly could potentially speed access to lower cost medicines, especially for impoverished countries. The techniques they developed and demonstrated for opioid pain relievers can be adapted to produce many plant-derived compounds to fight and treat chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritis, infectious diseases, and cancers.


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