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Scientists modify breast milk molecule to fight cancer

Scientists at the University of Graz in Austria have discovered that lactoferricin has regressed human cancer cells in rats.

A team of scientists from Austria has been able to modify a molecule derived from a breast milk protein to act as a cancer detector and attack malignant cells in certain types of the disease that are difficult to treat.

The research focuses on lactoferricin, a peptide (a type of molecule) in breast milk that was already known for its antimicrobial properties, according to a statement from the University of Graz in southern Austria on Monday.

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What the researchers at this institution did was to modify this molecule to act as a detector for certain types of cancer that are difficult to treat, such as melanoma and glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor.

This modified lactoferricin is able to localize the negative charge of the phosphatidylserine molecule present on the membrane of cancer cells, adhere to it and cause its death, but without affecting healthy cells.

“The biggest challenge in the development process was finding the right balance between toxicity and specificity. If the peptides are very active, they also attack the healthy cells, “said Dagmar Zweytick and Sabrina Riedl, two of the research team, in the note.

Lactoferricin is a derivative of the lactoferrin protein, which is abundant in breast milk. Lactoferricin is part of the immune system and is one of the first defenses against foreign bodies such as bacteria and fungi.

The use of the substance in the fight against cancer requires a restructuring of its amino acids to achieve the right combination.

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Results
The team at the University of Graz developed 15 variants of lactoferricin over four years of research. Two of these were used in rats to which human cancer cells were transplanted.

The scientists observed an average regression of 85% in the case of melanoma and 50% in glioblastoma, compared to animals not treated with the peptide. In addition, healthy rats treated with this agent were not harmed.

The Zweytick-led team is working on improving this agent and collaborating with a pharmacist in the preparation of clinical trials starting in 2019.

Austria announces clinical trials for zika vaccine

After success in preliminary studies, the Viennese company selects volunteers for new vaccine test against Zika

A prototype zika vaccine was developed by a Viennese company, which launched a clinical trial in humans, open to volunteers worldwide after checking its possible efficacy in preliminary studies.

In a statement released today, the Austrian company Themis Bioscience explains that the new vaccine is based on the same technology that was applied to successfully develop another vaccine against Chikungunya fever.

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The company says the recombinant DNA technology (which uses DNA sequences from two different organisms) has been applied to the new vaccine and, in its view, “promises a rapid and effective immune response.”

The vaccination program “is based on a live attenuated vaccine (the type of immunization already used in the prevention of polio, rubella and measles, which consists in inoculating the same virus that causes the disease, but manipulated to reduce its risk and to stimulate the body’s defenses in fighting it, “the note said.

In the first phase of the clinical study, three treatments with different dosages were tested in 48 volunteers, in order to identify the most adequate for its protective effect and tolerance.

The study, which is open to volunteers by the end of this month, is conducted at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, and its first results are expected within six months.

It is the “first worldwide study of a live attenuated recombinant DNA vaccine against zika,” Erich Tauber, president and founder of Themis, said in a statement.

“The attenuated vaccines are considered better because they induce a faster and more complete activation of the immune system, with a lasting immunity, he explains.

Zika has been of great international concern since its relationship with cases of microcephaly in newborns, initially in Brazil and in Polynesia, and other neurological disorders that may affect all have been discovered.

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever, and among humans, contagion can be through sexual intercourse.

Habits and environment are most responsible for cancer

Daily factors prevail over genetics and heredity in the development of the disease

Attributed normally to genetic and hereditary factors, the onset of cancer is linked more to aspects related to the habits and environment in which one lives than to a biological predisposition.

Cancer is a name for more than 100 diseases with one feature in common: the abnormal proliferation of cells in the body.

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“Although it is not evident because the cells start to behave in a disorderly way, the causes of this lack of control are an interaction between genetic predisposition and the environment, in the sense of the conditions in which we live and the habits we adopt,” explained the director of the cancer center of the Beneficência Portuguesa Hospital in São Paulo, Antonio Buzaid during an oncology event organized by Bayer in São Paulo on May 2-3.

Experts expect that genetic syndromes will account for a maximum of 10% of the world’s cancer cases. The other cases are related to the environment or were made possible by environmental stimuli in an unfavorable genetic condition.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, quoted by Buzaid, looked at thousands of twin siblings, identical or otherwise, to relate the incidence of cancer to genetic aspects. In the case of identical twins, the DNA is totally equal, whereas in the case of the identical twins they are very similar.

The results of this study presented by the doctor indicate the thesis that the medium is the main responsible for the onset of cancer. Of all pairs of twins, in only 14% of cases where one of the siblings developed cancer, the other had a similar problem.

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Environment and habits

There are several variables that can be included in what is called an “environment” that favors the development of cancer. “Habits like smoking, consuming too much-saturated fat, eating too hot tea, or carrying certain types of viruses, such as HPV or hepatitis, are environmental factors that can contribute to cancer on many fronts,” says Buzaid.

Smoking is the main cause for the development of the disease. It is estimated that 80% of lung cancer cases and up to 1/3 of the general cases are caused by cigarette smoking.

Another cause of cancer indicated by the specialist is the feeding. “There are many foods that can cause cancer, even more, if consumed in excess, such as industrialized and fatty,” warns Buzaid.

The WHO classifies potential carcinogenic foods according to the proven relationship between their consumption and the development of the disease. Red meats, for example, are classified as “2a”, which suggests “probable relationship with cancer”. Processed meats, such as sausages, sausages, and sausages, are classified as “1”, that is, proven carcinogenic.

Study says smoking may increase stress sensitivity

“The researchers also found that a mouse exposed to a single aggression shows signs of stress only been exposed to nicotine,” the study said.

Smoking can increase stress sensitivity, according to a study in mice by the National Center for Scientific Research of France (CNRS) and published on Tuesday in the journal ” Molecular Psychiatry .”

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Contrary to popular belief that smoking has a relaxing effect and that a lack of nicotine produces stress, exposure to this addictive molecule may produce the opposite effect, the researchers said in a statement.

The scientists evaluated the levels of social stress in rodents, a situation that occurs when “one of these animals is subjected to repeated aggression from the dominant ones.” In this circumstance, some mice blocked the nicotine receptors, while others activated.

From the evaluation of behavior and electrophysiological parameters of the brain, the CNRS experts established that no signs of social stress appear when the receptors are blocked and on the contrary, they were amplified.

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“The researchers also found that a mouse exposed to a single aggression shows signs of stress only been exposed to nicotine,” the study said.

Although the work focuses on how nicotinic receptors affect the control of stress in mice, the CNRS has announced that scientists will examine whether this situation can be amplified for all mood disorders and whether the results are applicable to humans.

Japanese AI system allows early diagnosis of skin cancer

The system employs deep learning, a programming based on complex algorithms capable of analyzing images and relating certain patterns that are repeated in the development of malignant cells that lead to melanoma.

Japanese technology company Kyocera and the University of Tsukuba, Japan, developed a system to detect skin cancer in its initial phase, from the analysis of photographs of patients using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

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The method, still in the experimental phase, reached a precision in its diagnoses of 90% in 4 thousand analyzed snapshots of patients’ skin, according to the Japanese newspaper “Nikkei”.

The system designed by Kyocera employs deep learning, a programming based on complex algorithms capable of analyzing images and relating certain patterns that are repeated in the development of malignant cells that lead to melanoma.

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba plan to create more variants of the matrix program applicable to the diagnosis of other diseases, including contagious diseases.

Kyocera and the university are expected to start distributing a prototype of the system by next year, at hospitals in the country, with the idea of marketing it in 2019, says the Nikkei.

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The medical applications of AI could help cope with the increased demand for services in Japan as a result of the accelerated aging of the population, a trend that has led to a shortage of health professionals.

Other Japanese technology companies, such as Hitachi, NEC, and Toshiba, are also developing medical diagnostic systems based on imaging and artificial intelligence.

The government intends to promote these applications of AI, whose potential was highlighted in a report by the Ministry of Health in June and is expected to offer economic benefits to companies that invest in the sector.

French doctor performs first surgery with augmented reality vision

Equipped with a special helmet designed by the American company Microsoft, the doctor was able to visualize the patient’s skeleton and tendons in great detail.

French doctor Thomas Grégory performed the first operation in the world on Tuesday using a helmet with augmented reality vision, a technology that can contribute to improving accuracy in certain surgical interventions.

In the operation, which thanks to the new technologies was accompanied by three other doctors in the United Kingdom, South Korea, and the United States, Grégory placed a prosthesis on the shoulder of an 80-year-old patient, a rather delicate procedure.

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“It was as if the patient’s shoulder came to my eyes. All the help a doctor can expect in these conditions becomes reality, “said the surgeon, head of the orthopedic and orthopedic surgery and trauma department at the Avicenne Hospital in Bobigny, just outside Paris.

Equipped with a special helmet designed by the American company Microsoft, Grégory was able to visualize the patient’s skeleton and tendons in great detail thanks to a series of x-rays and other imaging tests performed before the operation.

Thanks to this device, surgery can be performed with millimetric precision, an important advantage in delicate procedures like the placement of prostheses.

In addition, those responsible for the experiment emphasized that the new technique minimizes the risk of infection.

The helmet allows the use of holograms representing different parts of the patient’s body and also determine the exact thickness of the tissues and the concrete site of nearby organs that remain invisible in a normal operation and therefore may be affected.

In addition, the doctor can consult the patient’s medical chart directly and even consult colleagues who accompany the operation in real time.

Grégory compared the “leap” that represents this technology with “the passage from the encyclopedia to the search engine of the internet,” because, thanks to the digital revolution, “limits human error .”

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“The technique will allow us to standardize this type of operation and thus reduce the risks,” said Grégory, who said that when its use becomes widespread “it will be the same as switching from aircraft in the Saint-Exupery era to current flights commercials “.

The doctor recalled that the success of some operations depends on “millimeters” and that the technology can also be applied in vascular surgeries in the brain, the most delicate.

Augmented reality technology is already used in military aircraft cabins and in some home electronic games.

On World AIDS Day, WHO calls for an end to discrimination

“If we want to have universal health coverage and eliminate AIDS and hepatitis, everyone should collaborate,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged World AIDS Day that there should be no “discrimination” and the collaboration of all to fight against this disease.

“If we want to have universal health coverage and eliminate AIDS and hepatitis, everyone should collaborate,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in a statement.

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“Health services should adapt to meet and meet the needs of the most exposed and affected populations and this includes a policy of zero tolerance of stigma and discrimination in all health services,” Tedros said.

In the statement, the doctor asks “how is it possible after decades of recognition of the key role of communities in conducting HIV response, men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, drug users and prisoners, who accounted for 40 % of infections by 2016, continue to face barriers to accessing the most basic health services. ”

In addition, many young women, adolescents, immigrants and displaced persons are particularly vulnerable, according to Tedros.

However, the doctor acknowledged that “we have advanced a lot in the last 30 years” since “today 21 million people are receiving retroviral treatment against the disease that allows them to live full and productive lives.”

“There are fewer people infected with HIV every day and there are fewer deaths as well, but these successes are hiding the many disparities and challenges that remain,” he warned.

According to the Blind Spot report published today by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), less than 50% of men with HIV are in treatment compared to 60% of women.

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In addition, men are less likely to have access to HIV treatment and greater risk of dying from AIDS-related illnesses, accounting for 58% of the 1 million AIDS-related deaths in 2016.

Globally, 36.7 million people are living with HIV, of which 20.9 million had access to retroviral treatment by the middle of 2017, four times more than in 2000 and 1.2 more than in 2015.

Studies further show that men are more likely to start treatment late and to stop it.

“The response to HIV has played a key role in transforming public health and, in turn, influences the universal health coverage agenda,” concluded WHO Director-General.

Scientists discover a medicine that can treat Huntington’s disease

The treatment, which consists of the injection of a drug, is the first developed to reduce the production of the mutant toxic huntingtin, the underlying cause of the disease.

For the first time, a drug under development has been shown to slow the progression of the degenerative Huntington ‘s disease, which is genetic in origin and has devastating effects, the Pharma Web site said on Monday.

The treatment, which consists of the injection of a drug, is the first developed to reduce the production of the mutant toxic huntingtin, the underlying cause of the disease, according to a statement from Ionis, the pharmaceutical company that is developing it.

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Although still in a state of clinical development, IONIS-HTTRx – the official name of the drug – is presented as the first innovation of its kind in efforts to contain this pathology.

“The key is now to move quickly to a larger testing process to see if it slows the progress of the disease,” said Sarah Tabrizi, the lead researcher for the project.

Innovation offers an alternative for all who suffer from Huntington’s disease, regardless of the individual mutation of each, making it “unique. ”

In the tests performed with the remedy, the researchers observed a reduction of the huntingtin protein. The drug was also safe and well tolerated, which led to its continued development.

There is currently no treatment to correct Huntington’s disease and the drugs focus on attenuating and controlling their symptoms.

Huntington’s disease is genetic, rare and neurodegenerative, and causes deterioration of mental abilities and physical control.

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The condition usually appears in people between the ages of 30 and 50 to continue to worsen for a period of 10 to 25 years. In addition, the disease affects 30,000 people and threatens another 200,000 in the United States alone, as the company recalled in the statement.

The treatment license was recently acquired by Roche, which will be in charge of finalizing its development and its subsequent commercialization after the payment of US $ 45 million.

In the first half of 2018, both Roche and Ionis, the two pharmacists involved in drug development, are expected to present the results of their studies in scientific journals.

UN expert denounces leprosy as a “forgotten disease”

The highest number of cases of leprosy are recorded in India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against people with leprosy, Portugal’s Alice Cruz, said on Thursday that the disease remains a “forgotten disease” despite statistics showing more than 200,000 cases per year.

Cruz called for the social stigma surrounding people with this disease to be eradicated, as they still suffer from discrimination and, in many cases, do not have access to medicines.

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In a statement, the expert pointed out that the highest number of cases are registered in India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria and the Philippines are some of the 22 countries identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) where the medical action is a priority.

In 2016, there were 214,783 new cases of leprosy or leprosy, as the disease is popularly known, of which 12,437 suffered serious disabilities.

“This level of disability is alarming and completely unnecessary,” Cruz said on the occasion of the commemoration of World Leprosy Day on January 28.

“No one with this pathology should be incapacitated,” said the rapporteur, who explained that the disease can be cured through treatment with several drugs “if it is detected and treated early enough” because otherwise “it may cause reactions severe immune disorders “such as chronic disability or pain.

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“The fact that this still occurs in 2018 shows that there are deficiencies in the diagnosis and lack of access to high-quality treatment,” he added.

In addition, Cruz pointed out that ” discrimination unnecessarily perpetuates the suffering of these people” and that “it is fundamental” to address causes from the root.

“Discrimination is linked to old stigmas that lead to segregation and violations of the human rights of those affected. This misconception must be approached with information and education, “said Cruz.

The specialist warned that this stigma is only “the tip of the iceberg” and denounced that these people continue to have their most basic human rights denied.

Premature deaths from cancer undermine BRICS productivity, WHO warns

BRICS countries, which account for more than 40% of the world’s population and 25% of the wealth produced, accumulate 42% of cancer-related deaths.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the major emerging economies are known as BRICS, lost $ 46.2 billion in 2012 in productivity because of premature deaths related to tumors, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer ).

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“Studying the economic impact of cancer in emerging economies leads us to think about the importance of stopping preventable cancers in these countries. It’s not just about the high human cost but also about its impact on the economy, “said lead author Alison Pearce.

BRICS countries, which account for more than 40% of the world’s population and 25% of the wealth produced, accumulate 42% of cancer-related deaths.

IARC, based in Lyon, South East France, calls on these countries to promote “lifestyle changes” – avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, drinking alcohol and smoking – to prevent these diseases.

The agency also calls for more health policies to be implemented and cites as an example the vaccination against hepatitis B virus to prevent liver cancer, especially in China, or directed against human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent cancer of the cervix.

By country, the IARC warns of the rapid “growth of obesity rates” in Brazil as a risk factor, in the same way as tobacco.

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“Despite successful tobacco control policies, as implemented in Brazil, this substance remains a significant increase in risk” in both Brazil and South Africa said the study.

In India, chewing tobacco is “one of the major factors” associated with premature mortality related to lip and oral cavity cancers.

China, the most populated BRICS, is the country with the highest productivity losses, US $ 28 billion, due to cancerous tumors such as liver cancer, while in Russia, head and neck cancers appear to be related to high alcohol intake.