Pulse 162: Aging Could Be Significantly Slowed

28 July 2020
Giulio Prisco

Aging

The aging research breakthrough covered in the last issue of Pulse is making headlines. UCSD scientists created a "novel aging route," with a dramatically extended lifespan. "This, researchers believe, could ultimately lead to the possibility of delaying human aging," CNN reports.

"Aging is a fundamental biological question," researcher Nan Hao told CNN. "We know very little about the aging process." The researcher added: "This is an aging path that never existed, but because we understand how it is regulated, we can basically design or regulate a new aging path."

It seems conceivable that these early stage studies with yeast cells could, one day, open the door to the possibility of reprogramming human cells to age in a different way, at a much slower pace.

Seaweed Extract May Treat COVID-19

In a test of antiviral effectiveness against the virus that causes COVID-19, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that an extract from edible seaweeds substantially outperformed remdesivir. Remdesivir is the current standard antiviral used to combat the disease.

Heparin is also effective to combat the disease. It is a common anticoagulant.

A study was published in Cell Discovery. It reports encouraging results in three variants of heparin (heparin, trisulfated heparin, and a non-anticoagulant low molecular weight heparin) and two fucoidans (RPI-27 and RPI-28) extracted from seaweed.

According to the researchers, these substances could be the basis for a nasal spray for early stage treatment of COVID-19 infection.

21 Existing Drugs Could Help COVID-19 Patients

Scientists led by Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have identified 21 existing drugs that stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2. This is the virus that causes COVID-19.

A study was published in Nature. It reports that 100 molecules were confirmed to have antiviral activity in laboratory tests.

Of these, 21 drugs were determined to be effective at concentrations that could be safely achieved in patients. Two are already FDA-approved. And four were found to work synergistically with remdesivir, a current standard-of-care treatment for COVID-19.

Magnetic Nanodiscs to Treat Neural Diseases

MIT scientists have developed magnetic nanodiscs that can be activated by an external magnetic field. This provides a research tool for studying neural responses to mechanical effects, such as pressure or vibration.

The findings were reported in a research paper published in ACS Nano. They might offer a step toward new kinds of therapeutic treatments.

The new treatments may be similar to electrically based neurostimulation, which has been used to treat Parkinson's disease and other conditions. However, the current system requires an external wire connection. And the new system would be completely contact-free after an initial injection of particles. It could also be reactivated at will through an externally applied magnetic field.

Nanoparticle-Based RNA Vaccine for COVID-19

Researchers at University of Washington have developed a replicating RNA vaccine. They formulated it with a lipid-based nanoparticle emulsion, which produces antibodies against the COVID-19 coronavirus in mice and primates with a single immunization.

The research results are published in Science Translational Medicine. They indicate that these antibodies potently neutralize the virus in young and old animals. The antibody levels induced are comparable to those in recovered COVID-19 patients.

This formulation is shelf-stable, with mass-production and distribution advantages.

Nanomaterial Kills Aggressive Breast Cancer

Researchers at University of Arkansas have developed a new nano drug candidate that kills triple negative breast cancer cells. Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive and fatal types of breast cancer.

The researchers linked a new class of nanomaterials to create a nano-porous material that targets and kills tumor cells without creating toxicity for normal cells. The new nanomaterials are metal-organic frameworks, an already-developed photodynamic therapy drug.

The research results are reported in a study published in Advanced Therapeutics. They could help clinicians target breast cancer cells directly, while avoiding the adverse, toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

Ultra-Sensitive Nano Testing for On-Demand Drugs

Nanoscale physicists at the University of Bath have found a way to measure and characterize a single, twisted nanoparticle in the lab.

A research paper was published in Nano Letters. It reports that a new technique, hyper-Rayleigh scattering optical activity (HRS OA), produced an exceptionally clear image of “screw thread” twists (chirality). This is highly relevant to pharmaceutics.

Ultra-sensitive chiral sensing could permit mixing substances in a completely new way. And this may enable production of pharmaceuticals on-demand from minute droplets of active ingredients.

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