Author Archives: sonia

Turning cancer back into healthy tissue

This is rather exciting news. If it works in humans, it would be a game changer. A number of media sites wrote about this work by Dr Panos Anastasiadis and his team at the Mayo Clinic. Here’s the BBC’s story.

“Scientists believe they may have found a way to turn cancerous cells back into healthy tissue.
Their lab-based work suggests there is a biological step that can restore normality and stop cells replicating out of control.”

FDA to consider anti-aging drugs

According to Nature, researchers are poised to meet with the FDA this month to discuss “medicines that delay ageing-related disease as legitimate drugs.” This makes sense, given that there are a number of scientific teams working on such compounds. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York is one of those scientists, and the compond he’s focused on is metformin, which has shown promise in previous studies.

Scientists Regrow an Entire Rat Limb in the Lab

A huge advance. Here’s the story from Discover Mag:

“A team of regenerative scientists and surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital successfully grew a semi-functional rat forelimb in the lab, employing a technique previously used to build bio-artificial organs. If someday perfected, the experimental approach could be used to create human limbs suitable for transplantation.”

FDA Panel Backs a ‘Female Viagra’

From the WSJ:

“A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has recommended the first drug to help combat female sexual dysfunction. And Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which owns the pill, hopes agency approval will occur in mid-August.”

I’ll be speaking at Novus tomorrow in SF

Here’s the description:

“A one-day event with leading influencers and visionaries to reimagine the American dream in an intimate setting at The Battery in San Francisco. NOVUS is a tour de force that unites global shapers from around the world to tackle the today’s grand challenges via actionable change. “

Young blood helps repair fractured bones of ageing mice

From the New Scientist:

“Over the past few years, researchers have reversed muscle atrophy, memory loss, heart degradation and some of the effects of cognitive decline by pumping the blood of young mice into old mice. The results from these animal experiments were so intriguing that last year a team at Stanford University began the ultimate rejuvenation trial: giving blood plasma from under 30s to people with Alzheimer’s. Results are expected next year.

Now, Benjamin Alman, a professor of surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, and his colleagues have tested young blood’s ability to heal bones.”

A 3-D-printed airway splint cures babies, then disappears

From the LAT:

“So far, the medical implant has been tested in three children between the ages of 3 months and 16 months. Before getting the implant, the young patients had spent much of their lives in intensive care, where they needed to be on ventilators full-time to help them breathe. But after surgeons inserted the small white device around their narrow airways, all three recovered rapidly, according to a study published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.”

Obama’s BRAIN Initiative’s first study results

Scientists controlled a mouse’s behavior using a method called “DREADDs (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs).” Not a great acronym (given the potential abuse for such a method), but it does reflect a shift away from linking mental “illnesses to “chemical imbalances” in the brain, instead tracing them to miswiring and misfiring in neuronal circuits.” Here’s the story.

Transforming all donated blood into a universal type

From Phys.org:

“What do you do when a patient needs a blood transfusion but you don’t have their blood type in the blood bank? It’s a problem that scientists have been trying to solve for years but haven’t been able to find an economic solution – until now.

University of British Columbia chemists and scientists in the Centre for Blood Research have created an enzyme that could potentially solve this problem. The enzyme works by snipping off the sugars, also known as antigens, found in Type A and Type B blood, making it more like Type O. Type O blood is known as the universal donor and can be given to patients of all blood types.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-donated-blood-universal.html#jCp

100 Plus in the Washington Post

Here’s the latest news piece to cite 100 Plus. The author interviewed some naysayers on the topic of healthspan, but ultimately I think it’s clear that if Silicon Valley can figure out how to increase human health, that is a good thing for everyone.

Killing cancer with the polio virus

Researchers at Duke University have engineered a polio virus to infect cancer cells. This weakens the cancer and alerts the body’s immune system to the fact that there is something growing in the body that shouldn’t be there. It’s brilliant work and 60 Minutes has done a great job of capturing the story. Watch it here.

23andMe Announces Intention to Invent Drugs Using Customer Data

Here’s the story from Forbes.

“The company has hired Richard Scheller, who led drug discovery at biotech icon Genentech for 14 years before announcing he would retire in December, and who has won some of science’s top awards, including the Lasker Prize, often referred to as “America’s Nobel,” and the Kavli Prize.”

Senolytics: Scientists identify new class of drugs that slows the aging process

From the Independent:

“A new class of drugs has been identified that slow the ageing process in mice, alleviating symptoms of frailty and extending a healthy lifespan.

If their effect on humans is as marked as it is on animal models, their benefit could be enormous.

The research was carried out by a team from Mayo Clinic, The Scripps Institute and other institutions and published in the journal Aging Cell yesterday.

“We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” said co-lead author and TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, PhD.”

Craig Venter lecture at the Beckman Symposium

It was a pleasure to meet Dr. Craig Venter at Stanford this week. As you can imagine, he had strong views and a huge amount of energy. I’m super-interested in all of his work, but was surprised to find out about his efforts to fight the spread of influenza using genomics. He convinced me that it is possible to create an annual flu vaccine that actually targets the flu of that year. That would be useful.

Craig Venter and Charles Shultz