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THE BIOWORLD BIOME: Our Habitat for All Things Science

EXPLOITING EPIGENETICS

In the quest to understand what determines whether checkpoint blockade will work for a given patient, new research points to epigenetic factors. Tumor immunotherapy in the form of checkpoint blockade by PD-1 and CTLA-4 blockers has joined chemotherapy, radiation and targeted therapy as a pillar of cancer therapy.

REHABILITATING ROS

A new Japanese study's findings cast light on the role of intracellular signaling mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) in maintaining placental angiogenesis, which may explain the failure of clinical trials of antioxidants in preeclampsia and supports their use for the currently untreatable condition.

The first therapeutic monoclonal antibody (MAb) that selectively targets activated intracellular cytosolic Ras mutant proteins, which are inaccessible to current antibodies, has been developed and assessed preclinically in a new South Korean study. Performed by scientists at Ajou University in Suwon and Korean biotech company Orum Therapeutics Inc., the study was published in the May 10, 2017, edition of Nature Communications.

FROM HCB TO NTDS

An international study led by researchers at Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) in Melbourne has shown how the hepatitis C virus (HCV) takes over the communication systems in infected host cells, revealing potential new therapeutic targets for HCV and other diseases.

GOING BEYOND THE EXOME

The first large-scale analysis of noncoding genome regions in pancreatic cancer samples has both implicated new players in pancreatic cancer and given insights into how known culprits exert their effects. Researchers from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory published their findings in the May 8, 2017, online issue of Nature Genetics.

NOT JUST PLUMBING

A new way of conceptualizing lymphedema has led to the discovery of a new way to treat it. The approach is now being tested in a phase II trial. Lymphedema patients, which number several million in the U.S., "should feel extraordinary hope for the future," Stanley Rockson told BioWorld Today.

INSIDE THE BRAIN, OUTSIDE THE LYMPH

Australian scientists at the University of Queensland (UQ) have discovered a new type of lymphatic brain "scavenger" cell in zebrafish, which may provide protection from stroke and dementias such as Alzheimer's disease and have important implications for drug development.

GANG OF FOURTEEN

Growth control is critical for individual organs as well as whole organisms. That is certainly true for the brain, where pruning of neurons and of connections between them is critical to its function. More generally, overgrowth – defined as excessive height, head circumference or both – frequently goes along with intellectual disability.

Patients with early stage Alzheimer's disease (AD) had epilepsy-like activity in the brain that was too subtle to be picked up with standard EEG recording methods, but could be detected with intracranial electrodes. The findings, which were published in the May 1, 2017, online issue of Nature Medicine, suggest that epilepsy can occur early in AD, and may contribute to both memory problems and neuronal damage without being clinically apparent.

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