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November 2014 Archive

Posted by Karen on November 4th, 2014  ⟩  0 comments

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we will spend our entire life trying to elude death. Despite fruitless attempts to escape, our healthy instincts never allow us to put down the quest. Our heavily programmed will to live goes beyond fight or flight; it has motivated some of the greatest advances in medicine, anti-aging and biotechnology, yet we have never succeeded in dethroning the Reaper. A breakthrough, however, has been discovered by researchers that has produced more significant results in age reversal.

Arsenic as cancer treatment - aqua toffana

From Gilgamesh, to Tithonus, to Juan Ponce de Leon, immortality has been a topic of interest since the beginning of time, and slowing the aging process has been the consolation prize. While science has come far in decelerating the rate of aging, scientists have been doubtful about the possibility of actually reversing its effects.This is because certain age related illnesses are thought to be caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA, which cannot be repaired.

Instead of focusing only on mutations, researchers at the Harvard Medical School have also evaluated mitochondrial and nuclear genome communication. Initially, they studied a set of genes called sirtuins (SIRT). The genes’ protein products are involved in metabolic regulation, DNA repair and have a role in the aging process.

                                                   

Like all cellular processes, there is a mechanism that regulates the transmission of information, and without a proper balance of key molecules, dysfunction occurs.

The mechanism begins with NAD+, which directs activity between a cell’s nuclear genome and mitochondrial genome. As an organism ages, the levels of NAD+ are reduced and this reduction in NAD+ levels causes SIRT1s to become less effective and unable to block interfering signals. As a result, there is weaker communication between the two genomes, reducing a cell’s efficiency in producing energy.

The results of the Harvard study found that when the cells of 22-month-old mice were treated with an NAD + precursor,the levels of NAD+ were increased, restoring ATP production and showing a reversal in certain aspects of aging. When scaling the impact of this research to human size, it would mean treatment with this precursor could restore a 60-year-old to his or her 20-year-old self.

Just as Tithonus faced a catch when receiving immortality, we must tame our excitement. This discovery does not necessarily mean that we may see a reversal in some of the physical signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin; though, that would be nice. Instead, this study shows that it is possible to correct some of the biochemical disruptions that occur when we age if the treatment is taken early enough. And if the results of human trials are similar to those of the mice, we may see an impact on diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and other age related illnesses.

As exciting as this news is, the movement toward clinical trials has been full of obstacles, mainly due to cost. In July, however, ChromaDex announced they would be initiating human trials using NIAGEN TM, which is the only available NAD+ precursor made for human use. Through the study, they hope to assess the necessary dosage and effectiveness.

The potential for mankind to live longer, healthier lives appeals to our most fundamental senses, and humanity’s fierce will to live forces us to continue pursuing ways to find a fountain of youth. It will be interesting to see how the development of this treatment progresses, its effectiveness and how or if it will be dispensed among the entire population.

Gomes, A., Price, N., Ling, A., Moslehi, J., Montgomery, M., Rajman, L., White, J., Teodoro, J., Wrann,. Hubbard, B., Mercken, E., Palmeira, C., Cabo, R., Rolo, A., Turner, N., Bell, E., Sinclair, D. (2013). Declining NAD + induces a pseudohypoxi state disrupting nuclear-mitochondrial communication during aging. Cell 155(7), pages 1624-38. Doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.037.


    
              Karen Martin
GoldBio Marketing Coordinator


"To understand the universe is to understand math." My 8th grade
math teacher's quote meant nothing to me at the time. Then came
college, and the revelation that the adults in my past were right all
along. But since math feels less tangible, I fell for biology and have
found pure happiness behind my desk at GoldBio, learning, writing
and loving everything science. 



Category Code: 88241

Posted by Karen on November 20th, 2014  ⟩  0 comments

You hold up a bottle of old antibiotic stock solution and wonder if it's still good? Learn how to quickly determine whether your old antibiotic solutions are still good to use.

It happens to us all on occasion – an urgent craving attacks, and it must be addressed immediately. Naturally, to get your fix in this situation, you make your way to the kitchen, about to bake some mouthwatering brownies. As you swiftly set the ingredients on the counter, you pull a nearly empty carton of eggs out of the refrigerator. You look at the expiration date, and your stomach drops because you see you’re three weeks overdue. Are your eggs still good, or are they spoiled. It might be a risk to cook with them, but you must have those brownies. Thankfully, you are quickly rescued by the realization that eggs have a grace period, and there is an easy way to test whether or not your eggs are still good


Like the baking scenario, this also occurs in the lab with old antibiotic powders and stock solutions. As you get excited to move on to the next step, you pray that old solution in the back of the fridge is still good. Testing the efficacy of your antibiotics requires a little more work than testing eggs, but it’s better than throwing out perfectly good material or using bad material.

GoldBio offers a video tutorial that walks you through how to test the stability of your antibiotics. This procedure is structured like a reverse Kirby-Bauer assay. Instead of testing bacterial susceptibility, you’re evaluating whether your old solutions or powders are salvageable. 

Rather than going through the steps addressed in the video, this blog will just highlight important things to consider so you’re prepared to test when the time comes.

First, it’s important to make sure you have the right supplies in your lab’s inventory. Keep this list handy because you will need to have the following in your inventory to perform this process:

  • 6 mm filter paper discs
  • Sterile petri dishes
  • Agar plates lacking antibiotic
  • Sensitive and resistant bacterial cultures at mid log phase
  • Control antibiotic and test antibiotic (your good egg and your bad egg).

Another thing to keep in mind is the time constraints for this procedure. Unlike testing an egg in a matter of seconds, you have to consider colony growth times, drying times and actual procedure times. The time it takes to complete each step is mentioned in the video; however, here is a list to serve as a quick reference:

  • Grow two bacterial cultures overnight: one colony that is susceptible and one that is resistant.
  • Allow three hours for filter paper discs to dry.
  • The drying process can be reduced to 30 minutes if petri dish holding the discs is left open under a sterile flow hood.
  • The test requires an overnight (16-20 hours) incubation before you can evaluate the effectiveness of the discs.
  • And you will also want to consider the time it will take to prepare stock solution if you’re testing powder, and the times required for the actual process, which depends on how you work.

Whether you’re looking forward to some gooey brownies or the next step in your experiment, interruptions can feel absolutely heartbreaking. But knowing how to steer around the obstacles so you can move forward quickly amends everything. Using this blog as a quick guide to remain prepared and bookmarking the video for future reference will keep you in even better shape.

    
              Karen Martin
GoldBio Marketing Coordinator


"To understand the universe is to understand math." My 8th grade
math teacher's quote meant nothing to me at the time. Then came
college, and the revelation that the adults in my past were right all
along. But since math feels less tangible, I fell for biology and have
found pure happiness behind my desk at GoldBio, learning, writing
and loving everything science. 



Category Code: 79103 79108 79107

Posted by Karen on November 14th, 2014  ⟩  0 comments

“Sir, if you were my husband, I’d put arsenic in your tea.”

                                                         -Lady Astor to Winston Churchill

Being colorless, odorless, tasteless in food and beverages, and appearing to cause symptoms similar to food poisoning, arsenic has had a sinister history as an ideal poison. Often a foe, this seemingly sly element has also been a medical savior from time to time.

Historically, its deadly properties were recognized and employed before its utility in medicine was ever considered. For Roman politicians, it was a popular tool used to remove a rival and foe, and for women, it offered one of the only available means to escape from a difficult marriage. (Note: GoldBio does not endorse the use of arsenic as a marital aid or for political gain.)

Poisoning had become so notorious, especially in high ranking officials, that it became hard to believe anyone of status died from natural causes.

During the late Renaissance, Giulia Tofana spent her younger years in apothecaries, and later she became an infamous professional poisoner in Italy. Tofana was famed for her product Aqua Tofana, its primary ingredients being arsenic and lead. Aqua Tofana was often mixed in cosmetics and sold with instructions for use to female patrons. With the help of another Italian woman named Hyeronyma Spara, it is believed that more than 600 people died from this poison, most of whom were husbands of their clients.

Arsenic, at toxic levels, not only wreaks havoc on the body by causing abdominal cramping, shock and death, but it is also menacing to DNA after long periods of exposure, causing hypermethylation. The methylation activity can lead to epigenetic changes in genes. As a result, inorganic arsenic compounds are considered carcinogenic.

Despite its unfriendly nature and history, the great poison has also acted as a healing agent, most notably as a base for the first effective treatment of syphilis. And even today in modern medicine, arsenic based drugs are playing an important role in the treatment of illnesses, particularly in the treatment of cancer.

Pancreatic cancer has a distressing prognosis because metastases develops early and tumor cells have a low response to chemotherapy. Often upon diagnosis, the tumor has spread beyond the pancreas. According to the American Cancer Society, the five year relative survival rate is 6%.

Gemcitabine is a common post-op chemotherapeutic treatment for pancreatic cancer. This nucleoside analog replaces cytidine during DNA replication, inhibiting tumor growth which results in cell apoptosis. The drug also works by binding to the ribonucleotide reductase active site, inactivating the enzyme, making the cell unable to produce deoxyribonucleotides for replication.While this process also induces apoptosis, the drug alone is not effective enough to promote higher survival rates. Therefore, researchers are developing more promising outcomes by using KML001 (sodium meta-arsenite) to reinforce other treatments.

KML001 is an inorganic arsenic based drug that has moved into clinical trials for prostate cancer, and due to its success, it has now become the subject of research in treating pancreatic cancer.

Researchers from the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, Korea investigated the effects KML001 had on cell proliferation, metastases inhibition and apoptosis.

In order to measure the inhibition of pancreatic cancer cell proliferation using the drug, researchers used the Dojindo Cell Counting Kit-8 to examine the proliferation of normal pancreatic cells (HPDE-4) versus pancreatic cancer cells (MIA PaCa-2). Researchers treated both cell lines with KML001 and, in both cell lines, the research team found the drug to be significantly effective in reducing proliferation in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner.

Image Credit: Yang, M.H., Kim, H.T., Lee, K.T., Yang, S., Lee, J.K., Rhee, J.C. (2014). KML001 inhibits cell proliferation and invasion in pancreatic cancer cells through supperession of NF-kB and VEGF-C. Anticancer Research 34(7), pages 3469-3474.

Their research also showed that treating the cancer cell line with KML001 reduced migration, increased apoptosis, and it suppressed the activity of NF-kB p65 (involved in migration, invasion, angiogenesis and metastases) and VEGF-C activity.

The success of this study is not surprising. Using poison to treat cancer and other illnesses has never been a new concept. Antivenom is made from venom, vaccines use less virulent viruses and many traditional chemotherapeutic agents are cytotoxic. In most cases, the line between poison and cure is thin, and biochemistry teaches us that it’s not always the compound that kills, it’s the concentration.



Yang, M.H., Kim, H.T., Lee, K.T., Yang, S., Lee, J.K., Rhee, J.C. (2014). KML001 inhibits cell proliferation and invasion in pancreatic cancer cells through suppression of NF-kB and VEGF-C. Anticancer Research 34(7), pages 3469-3474.


    
              Karen Martin
GoldBio Marketing Coordinator


"To understand the universe is to understand math." My 8th grade
math teacher's quote meant nothing to me at the time. Then came
college, and the revelation that the adults in my past were right all
along. But since math feels less tangible, I fell for biology and have
found pure happiness behind my desk at GoldBio, learning, writing
and loving everything science. 



Category Code: 88241 79101