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Gut Microbes Eat Our Medication
The first time Vayu Maini Rekdal manipulated microbes, he made a decent sourdough bread. At the time, young Maini Rekdal, and most people who head to the kitchen to whip up a salad dressing, pop popcorn, ferment vegetables, or caramelize onions, did not consider the crucial chemical reactions behind these concoctions.
Even more crucial are the reactions that happen after the plates are clean. When a slice of sourdough travels through the digestive system, the trillions of microbes that live in our gut help the body break down that bread to absorb the nutrients. Since the human body cannot digest certain substances -- all-important fiber, for example -- microbes step up to perform chemistry no human can.
"But this kind of microbial metabolism can also be detrimental," said Maini Rekdal, a graduate student in the lab of Professor Emily Balskus and first-author on their new study publishe
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Penn Researchers Influence CDC’s Clarification On Prescribing Opioids For Cancer Pain
To reduce the number of people who may misuse, abuse, or overdose from opioids, multiple national agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published guidelines to improve the way opioids are prescribed. Yet some of these guidelines have caused confusion and misapplication among clinicians and unintendedly limited treatment of pain for people with cancer.
A JAMA Oncology article by two Penn researchers calling for consistency in clinical practice guidelines for pain control in individuals with cancer-related pain has helped to bridge the divide in pain management guidelines. As a result, The CDC has issued key clarification on its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in order to ensure safe and appropriate access for cancer patients, cancer survivors, and individuals with sickle cell disease. The CDC clarification is especially importan
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A Homing Beacon For Chemotherapy Drugs
Killing tumor cells while sparing their normal counterparts is a central challenge of cancer chemotherapy. If scientists could put a “homing beacon” in tumors, they could attract these medicines and reduce side effects caused by the drugs acting on healthy cells. Now, researchers have made a hydrogel that, when injected near tumors in mice, recruits drugs to shrink the tumor with fewer side effects. They report their results in ACS Central Science.
Scientists have tried to target chemotherapy drugs to tumors by attaching antibodies that bind to proteins expressed on the cancer cells’ surfaces. However, less than 1% of the administered drug actually ends up at the tumor site. Matthew Webber and colleagues decided to take a different approach: using cucurbituril to target therapies to a tumor. Cucurbituril is a pumpkin-shaped molecule that can capture certain other chemicals within its ce
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Drug To Treat Malaria Could Mitigate Hereditary Hearing Loss
The ability to hear depends on proteins to reach the outer membrane of sensory cells in the inner ear. But in certain types of hereditary hearing loss, mutations in the protein prevent it from reaching these membranes. Using a zebrafish model, researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have found that an anti-malarial drug called artemisinin may help prevent hearing loss associated with this genetic disorder.
In a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers found the classic anti-malarial drug can help sensory cells of the inner ear recognize and transport an essential protein to specialized membranes using established pathways within the cell.
The sensory cells of the inner ear are marked by hair-like projections on the surface, earning them the nickname “hair cells.” Hair cells convert sound and movement-in