While chemotherapy and radiation therapy kill cancer cells, they can also damage blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow and slow recovery in people with cancer. Now, in a pair of new studies conducted in mice, researchers are reporting the identification of two genetic factors that appear to control blood-forming stem cells and might lead to improvements in cancer therapy. In one study, scientists found that a gene called Grb10 appears to hinder the regenerative property of stem cells. In another study, scientists found that a protein called DKK1 boosted the ability of stem cells to regenerate. Together, these two studies could provide a way manipulate these factors to help regenerate stem cells and improve cancer therapy. The study on Grb10 appeared in Cell Reports and the study on DKK1 appeared in Nature Medicine. NHLBI partly funded both studies.
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Researchers have tested an experimental drug called SelG1 which shows promise in reducing the number of pain crises that those living with sickle cell disease experience, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute supported the research into the drug which is also known as crizanlizumab.
A gene called HOX9 has been shown to limit the ability of adult muscle stem cells to regenerate themselves, according to research appearing in Nature. The work, with funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, may be a therapeutic target for improving regenerative medicine.
Ever wonder why some people become heavy drinkers while others are able to do so in moderation? That answer may be in our genes. Researchers are reporting the discovery of a gene, called beta-Klotho, that seems to regulate our ability to drink alcohol. In lab studies, they found that mice engineered to lack this gene drank more than normal mice. Using records of more than 100,000 people of European descent, the researchers also found that people with a version of this gene drink less alcohol on average. The finding could lead to new treatments for people with alcohol use disorders, they say. The study is partly funded by NHLBI and appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Exercise has long-been associated with health benefits, including cancer prevention, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. Researchers are now reporting the identification of a molecular mechanism that could help explain this association. In lab studies using genetically modified mice, scientists demonstrated that two proteins, called FOXO3 and CHCHD4, appear to interact together to boost the activity of p53, a protein well-known to suppress tumors, during exercise. The study, funded by NHLBI, appears in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
An NHLBI-funded study showed that palliative care can improve the quality of life and lessen the burden of symptoms of people with chronic or serious illnesses. However, there was no evidence of improved survival rates. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, were mixed regarding improvement in caregivers’ quality of life, burden, mood and overall satisfaction.
An NHLBI-funded study has confirmed what we have been hearing for a long time: Saturated fats are strongly linked to increased heart disease. The research published in the BMJ suggests that replacing as little as one percent of daily calories from red meat, butter and other dairy products with vegetables, olive oil, fish or wholegrain carbs reduces the heart disease risk by 4-8 percent.
According to an NHLBI-funded study, abdominal aortic aneurysms repairs were twice as common in the U.S. than in England. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also show that English patients were more likely to die or be hospitalized due to an aneurysm. The data raise questions regarding potential improvement in outcomes in England with the adoption of U.S. repair thresholds, researchers suggested.
A new study funded by NHLBI has found that a class of blood pressure medications, thiazide diuretics, could help reduce the risk of hip and pelvic fractures. The findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, show the protective effects of these drugs as compared to other anti-hypertensive medications, but researchers caution that thiazides may not be the first choice for every patient.
Using a powerful new tool that can tag blood stem cells and their clones (copies) with distinctive colors, researchers are reporting an improvement in their ability to track these cells over time to better understand how blood disorders and cancers form. The researchers used zebrafish that were bred to contain genes for red, blue, and green fluorescent proteins throughout its genome (an organism’s complete set of DNA). By activating certain enzymes in the zebrafish embryos, the scientists demonstrated that they could produce a wide spectrum of colors that enable researchers to mark each stem cell with a different color and follow each cell through development. This color-coding tool will allow researchers to better track what happens to the stem cells over time and under different conditions, including the number of cells and cell types that form, the scientists say. The study, funded partly by NHLBI, appeared in Nature Cell Biology.