25 years have passed since the publication of the first work on solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) and nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs) as a system for delivering drugs. So the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics has prepared a special edition for which it asked the PharmaNanoGene group of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country to produce a piece of work reviewing the application of SLNs and NLCs in gene therapy since the group’s significant contributions made in this area have been included in various international scientific publications.
MicroRNA as anti-aging molecule in brain
The older we get, our brain ages. Cognitive abilities decline and the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease or having a stroke steadily increases. A possible cause is the accumulation of iron molecules within neurons, which seems to be valid for all vertebrates. In a collaborative research project within the consortium JenAge, researchers from the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena, Germany, and the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) in Pisa, Italy, found that this iron accumulation is linked to a microRNA called miR-29. This little molecule has so far been known to act as a tumor suppressor, hindering the proliferation of cancer cells. However, clearly, miR-29 also regulates whether or not iron can be deposited in neurons. Using the African fish Nothobranchius furzeri – the shortest-living vertebrate that can be kept under laboratory conditions – the team of Alessandro Cellerino showed a large increase of iron deposits in fish where miR-29 had been suppressed, which led to premature brain aging. In contrast, healthy fish showed the more miR-29 in their neurons, the older they were. Hence, miR-29 acts as a kind of anti-aging molecule during aging, inhibiting the accumulation of iron in neurons.
The geneticist David Vendrami from Bielefeld University is studying ways in which populations of scallops differ. Photo: Bielefeld University
Biologists at Bielefeld University publish analysis
The scallop is one of the largest edible molluscs, and gourmets consider it to be a great delicacy. To meet this demand, the fishing industry cultivates these shellfish in coastal aquafarms. In a new analysis, behavioural ecologists at Bielefeld University have confirmed that cultivated scallops developed their own genetic structure that differs from that of natural scallops. The biologists studied a total of nine populations of scallops (Pecten maximus) along the coast of Northern Ireland. They are presenting their results this Wednesday (8.2.2017) in the research journal ‘Royal Society Open Science’.
Researchers from VIB, UGent, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and several collaborators developed a new antiviral strategy to fight human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections in children. The approach hinges on the use of single-domain antibodies, also known as Nanobodies®, which target and neutralize a vital protein in the virus, rendering it unable to enter lung cells. The research, published in the leading scientific journal Nature Communications, elucidates how these Nanobodies® interact with and neutralize the virus and demonstrates their ability to successfully protect mice from RSV infection and related inflammation.
The most common genetic cause of the brain diseases frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a mutation in the C9orf72 gene. Researchers from VIB and UAntwerp, headed by Prof. Christine Van Broeckhoven, have demonstrated that if an affected parent passes on this mutation, the children will be affected at a younger age (than the parent). There are no indications that the disease progresses more quickly. These results are published today in the international scientific journal JAMA Neurology.
The newly developed RNAi agent suppressed chronic inflammation in the retinas of diabetic mice. The number of leukocytes (arrows) in the inflamed vasculature was significantly reduced in the RNAi-treated retina (right) comparing to the control experiment (left). (Kanda A. et al., Molecular Therapy: Nucleic Acid, January 12, 2017)
Scientists have developed a new RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutic agent that safely blocked ocular inflammation in mice, potentially making it a new treatment for human uveitis and diabetic retinopathy. Inflammation plays a central role in vision-threatening eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. More commonly, it causes uveitis, or inflammation of the uvea, the pigmented middle layer of the eye. Uveitis causes redness, pain and blurred vision, requiring urgent treatment to prevent complications, including blindness.