Health,Stem Cells, and Technology

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Exercise Induces Expression Of Newly Discovered Hormone Irisin

A newly discovered hormone called Irisin might help explain some of the health benefits of exercise and point the way to understanding and better controlling obesity and diabetes. The finding was described online Wednesday in Nature by Dr. Bruce M. Spiegelman, a professor of cell biology at Harvard's school of medicine.

Exercise benefits a variety of organ systems in mammals, and some of the best-recognized effects of exercise on muscle are mediated by the transcriptional co-activator PPAR-γ co-activator-1 α (PGC1-α). The authors show in mouse that PGC1-α expression in muscle stimulates an increase in expression of FNDC5, a membrane protein that is cleaved and secreted as a newly identified hormone, Irisin. Irisin acts on white adipose cells in culture and in vivo to stimulate UCP1 expression and a broad program of brown-fat-like development. Irisin is induced with exercise in mice and humans, and mildly increased irisin levels in the blood cause an increase in energy expenditure in mice with no changes in movement or food intake. Thus, an increase in irisin helps turn white fat into the more beneficial and metabolically active brown fat, which burns more calories. Irisin also seems to make the body more sensitive to glucose, an important capability for keeping diabetes at bay

The effects of exercise on the hormone’s production seem to be long-lived. Even after 12 hours of rest, mice that had been on a three-week jogging regimen had 65 percent more irisin in their blood than unexercised mice. And people with 10 weeks of endurance exercise training had double the amount of irisin in their blood than those who had not. This results in improvements in obesity and glucose homeostasis. With many more studies and further development, Irisin could be helpful as therapeutic for human metabolic disease and other disorders that are improved with exercise.

This study, along with many others, points to the multiple health benefits of exercise such as the recently discovered benefits to age managment through telomere lengthening.

Exercise Induces Autophagy In Skeletal And Cardiac Muscle

Exercise has beneficial effects on human health, including protection against metabolic disorders such as diabetes, enhanced brain function, and regulation of telomeres. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying these effects are incompletely understood. A recent study by Professor Beth Levine, M.D. and her colleagues shows that acute exercise induces autophagy in skeletal and cardiac muscle of fed mice.

Autophagy is an essential, homeostatic process by which cells break down their own components. The lysosomal degradation pathway, autophagy, is an intracellular recycling system that functions during basal conditions in organelle and protein quality control. During stress, increased levels of autophagy permit cells to adapt to changing nutritional and energy demands through protein catabolism. Perhaps the most primordial function of this lysosomal degradation pathway is adaptation to nutrient deprivation. However, in complex multicellular organisms, the core molecular machinery of autophagy, the 'autophagy proteins,'  orchestrates diverse aspects of cellular and organismal responses to other dangerous stimuli such as infection. Recent developments reveal a crucial role for the autophagy pathway and proteins in immunity and inflammation. The pathway balances the beneficial and detrimental effects of immunity and inflammation, and thereby may protect against infectious, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. Moreover, in animal models, autophagy protects against diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, aging, and insulin resistance.

These new data add to the growing list of other benefits of exercise that include increased blood flow, the release of factors that enhance brain growth, and regulation of telomere function, including telomere lengthening.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Short Introduction To BioRegenerative Sciences, Inc.

Some Keys To US Competitiveness

As part of the America Competes Reauthorization Act, the Commerce Department just released "The Competitiveness and Innovation Capacity of the United States." The report contains recommendations for the best ways to support innovation.
The United States, once the global leader in innovation, has fallen behind. For instance, the report cites a July 2011 Atlantic Century report reviewing 16 key indicators, including the number of scientists and engineers, corporate and government R&D, venture capital, productivity, and trade performance.
The report found that the United States has made little or no progress in competitiveness since 1999 and now ranks fourth in innovationbased competitiveness. To determine what would make the U.S. more innovative, the Commerce Department reviewed how innovation has been fostered in the past. The Dept. found that government funding for research, education, and infrastructure are essential for enabling innovation. Because private industry  under invests in these three keys areas, the report says it’s crucial for government to invest in them. But in our recent political climate, starting with the Reagan Revolution’s stated goals to diminish government, research, education and infrastructure have not been prioritized. The authors note that these investments require much time to pay off, so these investment benefits aren’t immediately clear to cash-strapped governments trying to cut spending.

What changes will bring the United States back on track? The Competitiveness and Innovation report from the US Commerce Dept. recommends that government should focus on these areas.

·         Provide funding for basic research
·         Enhance and extend the R&D tax credit
·         Speed ideas from science labs to commercial applications
·         Improve education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
·         Increase spectrum for wireless communications
·         Improve access to data to help spur innovation
·         Coordinate federal support for manufacturing
·         Promote exports and improve access to foreign markets
·         Ensure that conditions encourage private enterprise to thrive

As stated in the report, although improving research, education, infrastructure and the manufacturing sector are essential to increasing innovation and competitiveness, many other factors also contribute to economic success. Perhaps chief among them is ensuring that both established firms and entrepreneurs in the private sector have the best possible environment in which to innovate.
The report identifies five steps that can be taken to help encourage entrepreneurial innovation:
1. Support regional clusters
Clusters of similar businesses encourage innovation. Silicon Valley is the best example of that. The Federal government is partnering with state and local governments through agencies like the SBA and the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to foster the growth of regional clusters.
2. Accelerate highgrowth entrepreneurship
Startup America is a White House initiative to foster innovative, high-growth companies through both public-sector efforts and public-private partnerships. The Startup America Partnership matches businesses with resources.
3. Promote exports and access to foreign markets
President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and the recent approval of free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea are steps in the right direction.
4. Restructure corporate taxes
The tax code needs to be simplified to save businesses time. It should be designed to help businesses easily collect taxes and adequately reward R&D efforts. The taxes collected in turn support the federal government’s efforts.
5. Provide an effective intellectual property system
Protecting intellectual property is key to innovation, but the Patent Office has been backlogged for years. The logjam hinders entrepreneurs’ ability to bring innovations to market. The America Invents Act, which was passed in September 2011, creates a new fast track for reviewing patents with a guaranteed 12month approval timetable for certain patents,an improvement on the current situation.
As I have stated in past articles, we need a strong government spending money in the right places in order to drive our economy and maintain our middle class. Now is not the time shred our government, rather now is the time for government to invest in our future as outlined above.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Global Leaders Healthcare And The JP Morgan Healthcare Congresses 2012

The Global Leaders Healthcare and The JP Morgan Healthcare Congresses 2012 were in San Francisco for their annual meetings this week.

Kevin Willsey, J.P. Morgan’s co-head of investment banking for North America, announced his prediction that the U.S. economy would grow 2.5 percent in 2012. Despite this encouraging statement and recent media reports of a strengthening economy, however, uncertainty permeated both conferences. While the view espoused by many was that the current unsustainable healthcare system in the USA would certainly radically change in the next 5-10 years, uncertainty about how the system will change is widespread. The Global Leaders sent a proclamation to President Obama urging a solution to the current healthcare crisis in the US.

Many presentations from Big Pharma and Big Biotech were often standard fare as speakers made stock statements and provided financial data intended to comfort investors that the interest of shareholders was a top priority. Several members of the audience mentioned they could have obtained this information from company websites and noted the similarity in phrases and financial slogans heard repeatedly across presentations.

Interestingly, AstraZeneca’s CFO Simon Lowth provided a change of themes as he placed the importance of partnering as a primary point of his talk. NIH Director Francis Collins provided some of the passion of past years’ biotech entrepreneur presentations as he shared his excitement for the profusion of new science, and described objectives of new NIH Institutes, including translational medicine, and a $140 million dollar partnership between NIH and DARPA to develop a chip-based approach to drug toxicity.

The lack of sufficient funding for start-ups is a major cause of feelings of uncertainty among entrepreneurs, and was largely unaddressed at the platform, but echoed throughout the hallways. Start-up company founders and supporters shared experiences of VC sitting on their money, greater difficulty in winning NIH and other grants, and finding alternative funding sources. Some looked to other conferences in town for answers to these important questions, such as the The Global Leaders Healthcare Congress held at the nearby Marines' Memorial Club.

According to George Bickerstaff, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of The Global Leaders and former Chief Financial Officer of Novartis Pharma AG, "Our goal is to connect our top minds to focus on healthcare challenges – leaders who can sit down and share ideas to arrive at innovative yet realistic solutions."

Dr. Francis Waldvogel, Chairman of the Novartis Venture Fund, said that pharmaceutical companies face two major problems – "lost in translation and lost in transition." By lost in translation, he meant obstacles in the translation of scientific research to practical treatment because of regulations that hamper R&D. Lost in transition was a reference to the need for better processes for moving patients from hospital to ambulatory environment to home settings. Dr. Waldvogel said the pharmaceutical industry must move beyond developing and manufacturing drugs toward more comprehensive care by packaging medications together with services to achieve better patient outcomes.

Po Chi Wu, Adjunct Professor, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, presented an international model to watch. He said that with a population of 1.5 billion, the potential for innovative talent in China is staggering. He encouraged attendees to become familiar with the China Medical City model – a $1.7 trillion investment at a site near Shanghai. "This is an example of how China is making scale work," he said

The Forum highlighted the need for countries to share information. Some cross-market exchange already is underway globally with organizations in various countries sharing ideas on payment plans, consumer engagement, service delivery and outpatient care.

Panelists were generally optimistic about growth in the healthcare sector, and noted increased demand for medical products by a rising global middle class. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Multiple Sclerosis May Be A Metabolic Disorder

A paper in the latest issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology (Vol 86 Number 4, December 2011), entitled "Multiple Sclerosis is Not a Disease of the Immune System," Dr Angelique Corthals, Ph.D. argues that multiple sclerosis (MS) isn't a disease of the immune system, rather is caused by faulty lipid metabolism.

Medical researchers have long believed that MS is a disease in which the body’s own immune defenses attack nerve tissue in the central nervous system. The disease's main characteristic is inflammation and scarring of tissue called myelin that insulates the brain and spinal cord. Over time this scarring can lead to profound neuron damage.

Researchers have thought that the fault lies with a dysfunctional immune system, but no one has been able to explain what triggers the onset of the disease. Researchers have linked genes, diet, pathogens, and vitamin D deficiency to MS, but evidence for these risk factors is oddly inconsistent and often contradictory, hampering the search for an effective treatment.

Each time a genetic risk factor shows a significant increase in MS in one population, the factor has been found to be unimportant in another. Pathogens like Epstein-Barr virus have been implicated, but that doesn’t explain why genetically similar populations with similar pathogen loads have drastically different rates of disease. As Dr. Corthals points out, the search for MS triggers in the context of autoimmunity hasn’t led to any unifying conclusions about the etiology of the disease.

Understanding MS as metabolic in origin rather than autoimmune begins to bring the disease and its causes into focus. The new approach explains both the recent rise in incidence and all pathological, genetic, and environmental aspects of the disease. In other words, this new understanding of MS may finally make possible the finding of an effective treatment, including preventative treatment.

Corthals believes that the primary cause of MS can be traced to transcription factors in cell nuclei that control the uptake, breakdown, and release of lipids (fats and similar compounds) throughout the body. When the lipid-metabolizing function of these receptors, known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), is disrupted, the dysfunction can cause the accumulation of toxic lipids known as oxidized LDL, which form plaques on the affected tissues. The accumulation of plaque triggers an immune reaction, in part also regulated by the PPARs. With a failed inflammation control and the accumulation of oxidized LDL, the immune response runs amok and the toxic plaques leads to scarring of the tissue. The mechanism is essentially the same as atherosclerosis, in which PPARs' failure in heart cells leads to inflammation and an immune response in coronary arteries. When lipid metabolism fails in the arteries, atherosclerosis results. When lipid metabolism fails in the central nervous system, MS results.

Two key risk factors for reduced PPAR function, include:
a diet high in saturated fats and carbohydrates (sugar)
environmental factors (such as poor exposure to sunlight or sources of vitamin D)