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via Key Immune System Genes Identified to Explain High COVID Deaths and Spread in Northern Italy Versus Fewer Cases and Deaths in the South

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The race for a COVID-19 vaccine: What’s ahead ?

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Researchers are conducting over 100 coronavirus vaccines studies, as they race to produce the first serum to protect people from COVID-19. Its uncertain which one would be successful, but what is certain is that without the vaccine, life would not return to normal anywhere on the world.

Usually, a vaccine takes 20 to 15 years to develop, but Moderna Therapeutics, a U.S. pharmaceutical company will test their vaccine on tens of thousands of people which are in critical phase 3. Even though many vaccines are tested now, only ten candidates are currently in clinical trials. The process to develop a vaccine is complicated and requires time and money.

However, in order to develop a vaccine, a pathogen has to be identified. After several in vitro trials, the vaccine is tested in mice, then in a non-human primate model. After these preclinical studies show  promising results, then the next step is to into clinical trials i.e. human testing. The human testing, occurs in various steps. The first step, phase 1 clinical trial is usually a small trial with 20 to 100 patients. The goal of this step is to asses the toxicity of the vaccine. Once, the first step clinical trials are completed and the results show positive result on toxicity and safety, progress to phase 2 trials can be started. Phase 2 clinical trials include 200 to 400 patients. In this phase, immunogenicity of the vaccine it is tested as well as how long it is effective.  Then, the last step is phase 3 clinical trial which can include as many as 30,000 people. The last phase it assesses whether the vaccine works on a broader scale.

Once the vaccine is effective, companies have to increase production to develop more than 7 billion doses. But due to the large number of people requiring this vaccine, scientists have to look at how to increase the manufacturing capability and distribution. In order to produce them effectively, a portfolio of vaccines have to be used.

 SOURCE

https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2020/06/25/the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-whats-ahead/

 

 

 

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Reporter and Curator: Dr. Sudipta Saha, Ph.D.

 

The pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has affected more than 10 million people, including pregnant women. To date, no consistent evidence for the vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been found. The placenta serves as the lungs, gut, kidneys, and liver of the fetus. This fetal organ also has major endocrine actions that modulate maternal physiology and, importantly, together with the extraplacental chorioamniotic membranes shield the fetus against microbes from hematogenous dissemination and from invading the amniotic cavity.

 

Most pathogens that cause hematogenous infections in the mother are not able to reach the fetus, which is largely due to the potent protective mechanisms provided by placental cells (i.e. trophoblast cells: syncytiotrophoblasts and cytotrophoblasts). Yet, some of these pathogens such as Toxoplasma gondii, Rubella virus, herpesvirus (HSV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Zika virus (ZIKV), among others, are capable of crossing the placenta and infecting the fetus, causing congenital disease.

 

The placental membranes that contain the fetus and amniotic fluid lack the messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule required to manufacture the ACE2 receptor, the main cell surface receptor used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to cause infection. These placental tissues also lack mRNA needed to make an enzyme, called TMPRSS2, that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter a cell. Both the receptor and enzyme are present in only miniscule amounts in the placenta, suggesting a possible explanation for why SARS-CoV-2 has only rarely been found in fetuses or newborns of women infected with the virus, according to the study authors.

 

The single-cell transcriptomic analysis presented by the researchers provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to infect the placenta and fetus since its canonical receptor and protease, ACE2 and TRMPSS2, are only minimally expressed by the human placenta throughout pregnancy. In addition, it was shown that the SARS-CoV-2 receptors are not expressed by the chorioamniotic membranes in the third trimester. However, viral receptors utilized by CMV, ZIKV, and others are highly expressed by the human placental tissues.

 

Transcript levels do not always correlate with protein expression, but the data of the present study indicates a low likelihood of placental infection and vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2. However, it is still possible that the expression of these proteins is much higher in individuals with pregnancy complications related with the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which can alter the expression of ACE2. The cellular receptors and mechanisms that could be exploited by SARS-CoV-2 are still under investigation.

 

References:

 

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/placenta-lacks-major-molecules-used-sars-cov-2-virus-cause-infection

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32662421/

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32217113/

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32161408/

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32335053/

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32298273/

 

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6/30/2020

Chasing change: Innovation and patent
activity during COVID-19

A report on the pandemic’s impact on the global
R&D community and innovation lifecycle

Reporters: Aviva Lev-Ari, Ph.D., RN & Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Published by Clarivate Derwent

In just a few short months, COVID-19 swept through the world. While many aspects of everyday life have altered as the pandemic has gripped the globe, society at large has been and remains remarkably resilient.

To understand the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s innovators, we asked organizations from a cross-section of industries globally about how the pandemic has affected their organizations’ innovation strategies.

We are pleased to share the results with you in the report, “Chasing change: Innovation and patent activity during COVID-19.”

SOURCE:

https://clarivate.com/derwent/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/dlm_uploads/2020/06/DW507408683-COVID-19-Report_FINAL.pdf?utm_campaign=EM1_Report_Derwent_COVID_19_Survey_Apr_IPS_Global_2020_ClientsProspects

Other related article published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Corticosteroid, Dexamethasone Improves Survival in COVID-19: Deaths reduction by 1/3 in ventilated patients and by 1/5 in other patients receiving oxygen only

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/06/27/corticosteroid-dexamethasone-improves-survival-in-covid-19-deaths-reduction-by-1-3-in-ventilated-patients-and-by-1-5-in-other-patients-receiving-oxygen-only/

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Tweets & Retweets 2020 World Medical Innovation Forum – COVID-19, AI and the Future of Medicine, Featuring Harvard and Industry Leader Insights – MGH & BWH, Virtual Event: Monday, May 11, 8:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. ET

From: “Partners Innovation (via Twitter)” <notify@twitter.com>

Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 2:24 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: Partners Innovation (@PHSInnovation) has sent you a Direct Message on Twitter!

 

Thanks for tweeting about the live event Aviva! We appreciate the support!

 

e-Proceedings 2020 World Medical Innovation Forum – COVID-19, AI and the Future of Medicine, Featuring Harvard and Industry Leader Insights – MGH & BWH, Virtual Event: Monday, May 11, 8:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. ET

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/04/22/world-medical-innovation-forum-covid-19-ai-and-the-future-of-medicine-featuring-harvard-and-industry-leader-insights-mgh-bwh-virtual-event-monday-may-11-815-a-m-515-p-m-et/

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCauKpbsS_hUqQaPp8EVGYOg

 

Aviva Lev-Ari
@AVIVA1950

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Michel Vounatsos, CEO, Biogen Venture community supportive to be on the safe side  employees tested every evenings to prevent rebound of the pandemic Pandemic is acceleration progress technologies new drugs Biogen will lead new model

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#WMIF2020 @PHSInnovation @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950 Michael Mina, MD, PhD @BH Antigen test for home administration consumerization of the Testing  Walmart can be positioned for blood tests Not only Physicians can order tests @Microsoft @Amazon can interpretation of Test using Alexa

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#WMIF2020 @PHSInnovation @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950 Michael Mina, MD, PhD @BH Antigen test for home administration consumerization of the Testing  Walmart can be positioned for blood tests Not only Physicians can order tests @Microsoft @Amazon can interpretation of Test using Alexa

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#WMIF2020 @PHSInnovation @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950 Ross Zafonte, DO, SVP, Research Education and Medical Affairs, SRN; Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, HMS @MGH is family, the unattainable is attainable

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#WMIF2020 #Telemedicine so important for #COVID19 pandemic. Platforms developed years ago. Who would have known?

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#WMIF2020 @PHSInnovation @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950 Jan Garfinkle, Founder & Manager Partner, Arboretum Ventures Can you close a deal with out meeting management team Known funds will prevail vs new funds Parma adjacencies vs medical devices Telehealth is of interest GI Cardiovascular

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2020 World Medical Innovation Forum – COVID-19, AI and the Future of Medicine, Featuring Harvard and Industry Leader Insights – #MGH & #BWH Virtual Event: Monday, May 11, 8:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. ET #WMIF

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2020 World Medical Innovation Forum – COVID-19, AI and the Future of Medicine, Featuring Harvard…
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#WMIF20 @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950 covering event in #realtime +9,500 Global Attendees for lnkd.in/ePwTDxm about worldmedicalinnovation.org/2020-disruptiv 2020 #Virtual #World #Medical #Innovation #Forum#COVID-19 #AI #Future #Medicine @MGH & @BWH, Monday, May 11, 8:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. ET

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#WMIF20 @pharma_BI @AVIVA1950 covering event in #realtime +9,500 Global Attendees for lnkd.in/ePwTDxm about worldmedicalinnovation.org/2020-disruptiv 2020 #Virtual #World #Medical #Innovation #Forum#COVID-19 #AI #Future #Medicine @MGH & @BWH, Monday, May 11, 8:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. ET

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Reporter: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

The following article is reprinted from the Anchorage Daily News.

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2020/03/18/one-of-alaskas-first-confirmed-coronavirus-patients-tells-his-story/

One of Alaska’s first confirmed coronavirus patients tells his story

March 19, 2020

A Ketchikan man who contracted the illness caused by the new coronavirus is speaking out about his experience.

In a social media post and an interview with the Ketchikan Daily News, he described his symptoms, how he was tested and his experience communicating with Alaska public health officials.

As of Wednesday morning, Glenn Brown, the attorney for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, is one of nine people statewide who have confirmed cases of the virus. Officials have not said any of the people with confirmed cases have been hospitalized.

Brown said in a Facebook post that he was feeling better and was notified by public health officials that he’d tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon.

“I became sick Saturday morning with fever, headache, general achiness and chills,” Brown wrote.

Brown said he has “no idea” how he contracted the illness.

“I interacted with no one in recent weeks who was exhibiting obvious symptoms,” he wrote.

According to a statement Tuesday from the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center saying one of its employees tested positive for the virus, the employee had a history of travel to the Lower 48. The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday confirmed Brown is the employee.

The Ketchikan Daily News reported that Brown had recently traveled to Oregon and Juneau before returning to Ketchikan on March 9.

After public health officials told Brown his diagnosis, he said that he went through more than an hour of questions with them, he told the Ketchikan Daily News.

“I used everything from cellphone records to work calendars to debit card bills, to recall everybody that I may have had contact with,” Brown told the Ketchikan Daily News. “I wanted to provide that information to public health, (so) that they could alert those people and really hope to kind of arrest this thing.”

Brown told the paper that public health officials focused on two days before he developed symptoms of the illness. Brown had been “working closely with borough staff and upper management” in those days as part of his job, the paper reported.

“I apologize for causing undue concern for anyone, especially my co-workers at the Borough,” Brown said in the Facebook post.

Ketchikan Gateway Borough employees in direct contact with Brown were instructed to self-quarantine for two weeks, according to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center statement.

The statement also said that the borough had hired a service to disinfect the now-closed White Cliff Building, which houses the Ketchikan Borough offices.

According to the Ketchikan Daily News, the last time Brown was at the borough’s White Cliff Building was Friday.

The paper reported that as of Tuesday night, there were no plans to test people who had been in direct contact with Brown.

A public information officer for Ketchikan’s Emergency Operations Center told the Ketchikan Daily News that she understood that to be tested, people would need to have “several” symptoms of the virus.

“I would also ask that you join me and all of Ketchikan to actively minimize community transmission so that we can protect our seniors or other medically vulnerable folks in Ketchikan,” Brown wrote. “I pray that we all make it through this largely unharmed, and together.”

The first person in Alaska to test positive for COVID-19 was an air cargo pilot who arrived at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on March 11, officials announced last week. He went through the airport’s North Terminal, which is separate from the domestic terminal.

Alaska’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said last week the man had self-isolated and was “stable.”

On Monday, officials said two older men in Fairbanks were diagnosed with the illness. Both had recently traveled to the Lower 48, Zink said, but were not traveling together.

In addition to the Anchorage case, the case in Ketchikan and the two in Fairbanks, officials on Tuesday announced that two more people had become sick with the virus — one in Fairbanks and one in Anchorage — bringing the total number of confirmed cases as of Wednesday morning to six.

Zink said that both of those cases were also travel-related. None of the three people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday were hospitalized, Zink said.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital released a statement Tuesday saying a woman with a history of recent travel had tested positive for COVID-19.

“She self-isolated prior to testing,” the statement said. “This patient has been notified and is in stable condition and does not require hospitalization.”

A University of Alaska Fairbanks employee was one of the people who had recently tested positive for the virus in Alaska, university officials said Tuesday.

An internal email advised anyone who had used the O’Neill Building, which houses the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, to stay home and monitor themselves for two weeks.

State and local officials have taken a series of steps to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Alaska, including closing schools, calling on hospitals to halt elective surgeries and shutting down dine-in service at all restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes and similar businesses.

About this Author

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow is a general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Oregon and spent the past summer as a reporting intern on the general assignment desk of The Washington Post. Contact her at mkrakow@adn.com.

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Ethics Behind Genetic Testing in Breast Cancer: A Webinar by Laura Carfang of survivingbreastcancer.org

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

The following are Notes from a Webinar sponsored by survivingbreastcancer.org  on March 12,2020.

The webinar started with a brief introduction of attendees , most who are breast cancer survivors.  Survivingbreastcancer.org is an organization committed to supplying women affected with breast cancer up to date information, including podcasts, webinars, and information for treatment, care, and finding support and support groups.

Some of the comments of survivors:

  • being strong
  • making sure to not feel overwhelmed on initial diagnosis
  • get good information
  • sometimes patients have to know to ask for genetic testing as physicians may not offer it

Laura Carfang discussed her study results presented at  a bioethics conference in Clearwater, FL   on issues driving breast cancer patient’s  as well as at-risk women’s decision making process for genetic testing.  The study was a phenomenological study in order to determine, through personal lived experiences, what are pivotal choices to make genetic testing decisions in order to improve clinical practice.

The research involved in depth interviews with 6 breast cancer patients (all women) who had undergone breast cancer genetic testing.

Main themes coming from the interviews

  • information informing decisions before diagnosis:  they did not have an in depth knowledge of cancer or genetics or their inherent risk before the diagnosis.
  • these are my genes and I should own it: another common theme among women who were just diagnosed and contemplating whether or not to have genetic testing
  • information contributing to decision making after diagnosis: women wanted the option, and they wanted to know if they carry certain genetic mutations and how it would guide their own personal decision to choose the therapy they are most comfortable with and gives them the best chance to treat their cancer (the decision and choice is very personal)
  • communicating to family members and children was difficult for the individual affected;  women found that there were so many ramifications about talking with family members (how do I tell children, do family members really empathize with what I am going through).  Once women were tested they felt a great strain because they now were more concerned with who in their family (daughters) were at risk versus when they first get the diagnosis the bigger concern was obtaining information.
  • Decision making to undergo genetic testing not always linear but a nonlinear process where women went from wanting to get tested for the information to not wanting to get tested for reasons surrounding negative concerns surrounding knowing results (discrimination based on results, fear of telling family members)
  • Complex decision making involves a shift or alteration in emotion
  • The Mayo Clinic has come out with full support of genetic testing and offer to any patient.

Additional resources discussed was a book by Leslie Ferris Yerger “Probably Benign” which discusses misdiagnoses especially when a test comes back as “probably benign” and how she found it was not.

 

for more information on further Podcasts and to sign up for newsletters please go to https://www.survivingbreastcancer.org/

and @SBC_org

More articles on this Online Open Access Journal on Cancer and Bioethics Include:

Ethical Concerns in Personalized Medicine: BRCA1/2 Testing in Minors and Communication of Breast Cancer Risk

Tweets and Re-Tweets by @Pharma_BI ‏and @AVIVA1950 at 2019 Petrie-Flom Center Annual Conference: Consuming Genetics: Ethical and Legal Considerations of New Technologies, Friday, May 17, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT @Harvard_Law

Genomics & Ethics: DNA Fragments are Products of Nature or Patentable Genes?

Study Finds that Both Women and their Primary Care Physicians Confusion over Ovarian Cancer Symptoms May Lead to Misdiagnosis

 

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Reporter and Curator: Dr. Sudipta Saha, Ph.D.

 

Early menopause, defined as the cessation of ovarian function before the age of 45 years, affects approximately 10% of women in Western populations. Current research suggests that women who experience early menopause are at increased risk of premature mortality, cognitive decline, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.

 

The reproductive aging process is characterized by the gradual decrease in both quantity and quality of oocytes within ovarian follicles. The number of oocytes a woman is born with, the rate of loss of those oocytes during the life span because of the process of atresia, and the threshold number of oocytes needed to produce sufficient hormones to maintain menstrual cyclicity have been identified as determinants of age at menopause.

 

Women who breastfed their infants exclusively for seven to 12 months may have a significantly lower risk of early menopause than their peers who breastfed their infants for less than a month, according to an analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study was conducted at University of Massachusetts provide the strongest evidence to date that exclusive breastfeeding may reduce the risk of early menopause. The study also suggests that pregnancy can reduce the risk of early menopause.

 

Previous studies have suggested that menopause before age 45 (early menopause) increases the risk of early death, cognitive decline, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Smaller studies have found evidence linking pregnancy and breastfeeding with later menopause, but because of their size and other limitations, the results are inconclusive. Moreover, the earlier studies focused on timing of menopause and not on the risk of early menopause.

 

In the present study, researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 women ages 25 to 42 years. Every two years, from 1989 to 2015, the participants responded to detailed questionnaires, providing health information and medical history, including pregnancy history. Compared to women who had never been pregnant or who had been pregnant for less than six months, women who had one full-term pregnancy had an 8% lower risk of early menopause. Those who had two pregnancies had a 16% lower risk, and those who had three pregnancies had a 22% lower risk.

 

Women who breastfed had an even smaller risk for early menopause. Those who breastfed for a total of 25 months or more during their premenopausal years had a 26% lower risk than women who breastfed for less than a month. Similarly, women who breastfed exclusively seven to 12 months had a 28% lower risk of early menopause, compared to those who breastfed for less than a month.

 

It is yet to be determined why pregnancy and breastfeeding lower the risk of early menopause. However, researchers theorize that because pregnancy and breastfeeding halt ovulation, the slowing of the egg loss may delay menopause. This study population is fairly homogeneous with respect to race and ethnicity, but it is expected that the physiological association between the reproductive factors of parity, breastfeeding, and early menopause would not differ substantially by race/ethnicity. Additional evaluation of these associations in more diverse populations as well as further study of the association with anti-Müllerian hormone levels are important.

 

References:

 

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/pregnancy-breastfeeding-may-lower-risk-early-menopause-nih-study-suggests

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31968114

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19733988

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18192670

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7856687

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2615483/

 

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What's The Big Data?

Terence Parr: “I am a computer scientist retooling as a machine learning droid and have found the nomenclature used by statisticians to be peculiar to say the least, so I thought I’d put this document together. It’s meant as good-natured teasing of my friends who are statisticians, but it might actually be useful to other computer scientists. I look forward to a corresponding document written by the statisticians about computer science terms!” (Statisticians say the darndest things)

I know of at least one corresponding document, published in 1994 with the rise of Neural Networks or what I have called Statistics on Steroids (SOS), which are responsible, to a large extent, to the success of today’s “AI” or Deep Learning, an advanced version of machine learning.

In Neural Networks and Statistical Models (1994), Warren Sarle explained to his worried and confused fellow statisticians that the ominous-sounding artificial neural…

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Healing traumatic brain injuries with self-assembling peptide hydrogels

Reporter : Irina Robu, PhD

In 2014, TBIs resulted in about 2.53 million emergency department visits in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can range from a mild concussion to a severe head injury. It is caused by a blow to the head or body, a wound that breaks through the skull or another injury that jars or shakes the brain. Individuals with traumatic brain injuries can develop secondary disorders after the initial blow. Researchers, Biplab Sarkar and Vivek Kumar from New Jersey Institute of Technology are hoping to prevent secondary disorders by injecting a self-assembling peptide hydrogel into the brains of rats with traumatic brain injury and see what happens. They observed that the hydrogel helped blood vessels regrow in addition to neuronal survival.

The researchers explained that after traumatic brain injury, the brain can amass glutamate which kills some neurons which is marked by overactive oxygen-containing molecules (oxidative stress), inflammation and disruption of the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, TBI survivors can experience impaired motor control and depression. Within the experiment, the researchers showed that a week after injecting the gel in rats, the neurons have twice as many neurons at the injury site than the control animals did.

The NJIT researchers distinguished that they needed to inject the hydrogel directly in a rat’s brain just seconds after a TBI, which is not ideal, because it would be impossible to give a patient the treatment within that short period of time. The next step in showing that the self-assembling peptide hydrogel works is to combine their previous blood vessel-growing peptide and the new version to see whether it could enhance recovery. And the researchers plan to inspect whether the hydrogels work for more diffuse brain injuries such as concussions.

SOURCE

https://www.fiercebiotech.com/research/healing-traumatic-brain-injuries-self-assembling-peptide-hydrogels

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