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News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

The experiments were not randomized and the investigators were not blinded to allocation during experiments and outcome assessment. ARC-Net, University of Verona: approval number 1885 from the Integrated University Hospital Trust (AOUI) Ethics Committee (Comitato Etico Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata) approved in their meeting of 17 November 2010, documented by the ethics committee 52070/CE on 22 November 2010 and formalized by the Health Director of the AOUI on the order of the General Manager with protocol 52438 on 23 November 2010. APGI: Sydney South West Area Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee, western zone (protocol number 2006/54); Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee (X11-0220); Northern Sydney Central Coast Health Harbour Human Research Ethics Committee (0612-251M); Royal Adelaide Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee (091107a); Metro South Human Research Ethics Committee (09/QPAH/220); South Metropolitan Area Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee (09/324); Southern Adelaide Health Service/Flinders University Human Research Ethics Committee (167/10); Sydney West Area Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee (Westmead campus) (HREC2002/3/4.19); The University of Queensland Medical Research Ethics Committee (2009000745); Greenslopes Private Hospital Ethics Committee (09/34); North Shore Private Hospital Ethics Committee. Baylor College of Medicine: Institutional Review Board protocol numbers H-29198 (Baylor College of Medicine tissue resource), H-21332 (Genomes and Genetics at the BCM-HGSC), and H-32711(Cancer Specimen Biobanking and Genomics). Patients were recruited and consent obtained for genomic sequencing through the ARC-Net Research Centre at Verona University, Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI), and Baylor College of Medicine as part of the ICGC (www.icgc.org). A patient criterion for admission to the study was that they were clinically sporadic. This information was acquired through direct interviews with participants and a questionnaire regarding their personal history and that of relatives with regard to pancreas cancers and any other cancers during anamnesis. Clinical records were also used to clarify familial history based on patient indications. Samples were prospectively and consecutively acquired through institutions affiliated with the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative. Samples from the ARC-Net biobank are the result of consecutive collections from a single centre. All tissue samples were processed as previously described5151. Representative sections were reviewed independently by at least one additional pathologist with specific expertise in pancreatic diseases. Samples either had full face frozen sectioning performed in optimal cutting temperature (OCT) medium, or the ends excised and processed in formalin to verify the presence of tumour in the sample to be sequenced and to estimate the percentage of neoplastic cells in the sample relative to stromal cells. Macrodissection was performed if required to excise areas that did not contain neoplastic epithelium. Tumour cellularity was determined using SNP arrays (Illumina) and the qpure tool9. PanNET is a rare tumour type and the samples were collected via an international network. We estimate that with 98 unique patients in the discovery cohort, we will achieve 90% power for 90% of genes to detect mutations that occur at a frequency of ~10% above the background rate for PanNET (assuming a somatic mutation frequency of more than 2 per Mb)52. Cancer and matched normal colonic mucosa were collected at the time of surgical resection from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and snap frozen in liquid nitrogen. A biallelic germline mutation in the MUTYH gene was detected by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and confirmed by automated sequencing to be the G382D mutation (or ENST00000450313.5 G396D, ClinVar#5294) in both alleles53. The primary antibodies used for immunohistochemical staining were: cytokeratin 8/18 (5D3, Novocastra), chromogranin A (DAK-A3, Dako), and CD99 (O13, Biolegend). Antibodies and staining conditions have been described elsewhere39. Whole-genome sequencing with 100-bp paired reads was performed with a HiSEQ2000 (Illumina). Sequence data were mapped to a GRCh37 using BWA and BAM files are available in the EGA (accession number: EGAS00001001732). Somatic mutations and germline variants were detected using a previously described consensus mutation calling strategy11. Mutations were annotated with gene consequence using SNPeff. The pathogenicity of germline variants was predicted using cancer-specific and locus-specific genetic databases, medical literature, computational predictions with ENSEMBL Variant Effect Predictor (VEP) annotation, and second hits identified in the tumour genome. Intogen27 was used to find somatic genes that were significantly mutated. Somatic structural variants were identified using the qSV tool as previously described10, 11, 17. Coding mutations are included in supplementary tables and all mutations have been uploaded to the International Cancer Genome Consortium Data Coordination Center. Mutational signatures were predicted using a published framework14. Essentially, the 96-substitution classification was determined for each sample. The signatures were compared to other validated signatures and the prevalence of each signature per megabase was determined. Somatic copy number was estimated using high density SNP arrays and the GAP tool12. Arm level copy number data were clustered using Ward’s method, Euclidian distance. GISTIC13 was used to identify recurrent regions of copy number change. The whole genome sequence data was used to determine the length of the telomeres in each sample using the qMotif tool. Essentially, qMotif determines telomeric DNA content by calculating the number of reads that harbour the telomere motif (TTAGG), and then estimates the relative length of telomeres in the tumour compared to the normal. qMotif is available online (http://sourceforge.net/projects/adamajava). Telomere length was validated by qPCR as previously described54. RNASeq library preparation and sequencing were performed as previously described55. Essentially, sequencing reads were mapped to transcripts corresponding to ensemble 70 annotations using RSEM. RSEM data were normalized using TMM (weighted trimmed mean of M-values) as implemented in the R package ‘edgeR’. For downstream analyses, normalized RSEM data were converted to counts per million (c.p.m.) and log transformed. Genes without at least 1 c.p.m. in 20% of the sample were excluded from further analysis55. Unsupervised class discovery was performed using consensus clustering as implemented in the ConsensusClusterPlus R package56. The top 2,000 most variable genes were used as input. Differential gene expression analysis between representative samples was performed using the R package ‘edgeR’57. Ontology and pathway enrichment analysis was performed using the R package ‘dnet’58. PanNET class enrichment using published gene signatures44 was performed using Gene Set Variation Analysis (GSVA) as described previously55. Two strategies were used to verify fusion transcripts. For verification of EWSR1–BEND2 fusions, cDNAs were synthesized using the SuperScript VILO cDNA synthesis kit (Thermofisher) with 1 μg purified total RNA. For each fusion sequence, three samples were used: the PanNET sample containing the fusion, the PanNET sample without that fusion, and a non-neoplastic pancreatic sample. The RT–PCR product were evaluated on the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer (Agilent Technologies) and verified by sequencing using the 3130XL Genetic Analyzer (Life Technologies). Primers specific for EWSR1–BEND2 fusion genes are available upon request. To identify the EWSR1 fusion partner in the case ITNET_2045, a real-time RT–PCR translocation panel for detecting specific Ewing sarcoma fusion transcripts was applied as described59. Following identification of the fusion partner, PCR amplicons were subjected to sequencing using the 3130XL Genetic Analyzer. EWSR1 rearrangements were assayed on paraffin-embedded tissue sections using a commercial split-signal probe (Vysis LSI EWSR1 (22q12) Dual Colour, Break Apart Rearrangement FISH Probe Kit) that consists of a mixture of two FISH DNA probes. One probe (~500 kb) is labelled in SpectrumOrange and flanks the 5′ side of the EWSR1 gene, extending through intron 4, and the second probe (~1,100 kb) is labelled in SpectrumGreen and flanks the 3′ side of the EWSR1 gene, with a 7-kb gap between the two probes. With this setting, the assay enables the detection of rearrangements with breakpoints spanning introns 7–10 of the EWSR1 gene. Hybridization was performed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and scoring of tissue sections was assessed as described elsewhere60, counting at least 100 nuclei per slide. Recurrently mutated genes identified by whole-genome sequencing were independently evaluated in a series of 62 PaNETs from the ARC-Net Research Centre, University of Verona. Four Ion Ampliseq Custom panels (Thermofisher) were designed to target the entire coding regions and flanking intron–exon junctions of the following genes: MEN1, DAXX, ATRX, PTEN and TSC2 (panel 1); DEPDC5, TSC1 and SETD2 (panel 2); ARID1A and MTOR (panel 3); CHEK2 and MUTYH (panel 4). Twenty nanograms of DNA were used per multiplex PCR amplification. The quality of the obtained libraries was evaluated by the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer on chip electrophoresis. Emulsion PCR was performed with the OneTouch system (Thermofisher). Sequencing was run on the Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (PGM, Thermofisher) loaded with 316 or 318 chips. Data analysis, including alignment to the hg19 human reference genome and variant calling, was done using Torrent Suite Software v4.0 (Thermofisher). Filtered variants were annotated using a custom pipeline based on the Variant Effector Predictor (VEP) software. Alignments were visually verified with the Integrative Genomics Viewer: IGV v2.3 (Broad Institute). There is no contiguous structure available for CHEK2, so we produced a model of isoform C using PDBid 3i6w61 as a template for predicting the structure of sequence O96017. Modelling was carried out within the YASARA suite of programs62 and consisted of an initial BLAST search for suitable templates followed by alignment, building of loops not present in selected template structure and energy minimization in explicit solvent. Modelling was carried out in the absence of a phosphopeptide ligand, which was added on completion by aligning the model with structure 1GXC and merging the ligand contained therein with the model structure. Similarly, MUTYH is represented by discontinuous structures and so this too was modelled using PDBids 3N5N and 4YPR as templates together with sequence NP_036354.1. Having constructed both models, amino acid substitutions were carried out to make the wild-type sequences conform to the variants described above. Each substitution was carried out independently and the resulting variant structures were subject to simulated annealing energy minimization using the AMBER force field. The resulting energy-minimized structures formed the basis of the predictions. CHEK2 site mutants were generated by site-directed mutagenesis of wild-type pCMV–FLAG CHEK2 (primer sequences in Supplementary Table 16). Proteins were expressed in HEK293T, a highly transfectable derivative of HEK293 cells that were retrieved from the cell culture bank at the QIMR Berghofer medical research institute. Cells were authenticated by STR profiling and were negative for mycoplasma. Transfected cells were lysed in NP-40 modified RIPA with protease and phosphatase inhibitors. Protein expression levels were analysed by western blotting with anti-FLAG antibodies and imaging HRP luminescent signal on a CCD camera (Fuji) and quantifying in MultiGauge software (Fuji). Kinase assays were performed using recombinant GST–CDC25C (amino acids 200–256) as substrate, essentially as described63. Kinase assay quantification was performed by scintillation counting of excised gel bands in OptiPhase scintillant (Perkin Elmer) using a Tri-Carb 2100TR beta counter (Packard). Counts for each reaction set were expressed as a fraction of the wild type. All experiments were performed at least three times. The date of diagnosis and the date and cause of death for each patient were obtained from the Central Cancer Registry and treating clinicians. Median survival was estimated using the Kaplan–Meier method and the difference was tested using the log-rank test. P values of less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant. The hazard ratio and its 95% confidence interval were estimated using Cox proportional hazard regression modelling. The correlation between DAXX or ATRX mutational status and other clinico-pathological variables was calculated using the χ2 test. Statistical analysis was performed using StatView 5.0 Software (Abacus Systems). Disease-specific survival was used as the primary endpoint. Genome sequencing data presented in this study have been submitted to the European Genome-Phenome Archive under accession number EGAS00001001732 (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/ega/search/site/EGAS00001001732).


News Article | November 17, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A brief but brilliant burst of radiation that travelled at least a billion light years through Space to reach an Australian radio telescope last year has given scientists new insight into the fabric of the Universe. ICRAR-Curtin University's Dr Ryan Shannon, who co-led research into the sighting along with the California Institute of Technology's Dr Vikram Ravi, said the flash, known as a Fast Radio Burst (FRB), was one of the brightest seen since FRBs were first detected in 2001. The flash was captured by CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales. Dr Shannon, from the Curtin node of ICRAR (the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research) and CSIRO, said all FRBs contained crucial information but this FRB, the 18th detected so far, was unique in the amount of information it contained about the cosmic web - the swirling gases and magnetic fields between galaxies. "FRBs are extremely short but intense pulses of radio waves, each only lasting about a millisecond. Some are discovered by accident and no two bursts look the same," Dr Shannon said. "This particular FRB is the first detected to date to contain detailed information about the cosmic web - regarded as the fabric of the Universe - but it is also unique because its travel path can be reconstructed to a precise line of sight and back to an area of space about a billion light years away that contains only a small number of possible home galaxies." Dr Shannon explained that the vast spaces between objects in the Universe contain nearly invisible gas and a plasma of ionised particles that used to be almost impossible to map, until this pulse was detected. "This FRB, like others detected, is thought to originate from outside of Earth's own Milky Way galaxy, which means their signal has travelled over many hundreds of millions of light years, through a medium that - while invisible to our eyes - can be turbulent and affected by magnetic fields," Dr Shannon said. "It is amazing how these very few milliseconds of data can tell how weak the magnetic field is along the travelled path and how the medium is as turbulent as predicted." This particular flash reached CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope mid-last year and was subsequently analysed by a mostly Australian team. A paper describing the FRB and the team's findings was published today in the journal Science. The Parkes telescope has been a prolific discoverer of FRBs, having detected the vast majority of the known population including the very first, the Lorimer burst, in 2001. FRBs remain one of the most mysterious processes in the Universe and likely one of the most energetic ones. To catch more FRBs, astronomers use new technology, such as Parkes' multibeam receiver, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Western Australia, and the upgraded Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope near Canberra. This particular FRB was found and analysed by a system developed by the supercomputing group led by Professor Matthew Bailes at Swinburne University of Technology. Professor Bailes, who was a co-author on the Science paper, also heads The Dynamic Universe research theme in the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO), which has seven Australian nodes including ICRAR-Curtin University. "Ultimately, FRBs that can be traced to their cosmic host galaxies offer a unique way to probe intergalactic space that allow us to count the bulk of the electrons that inhabit our Universe," Professor Bailes said. "To decode and further understand the information contained in this FRB is an exceptional opportunity to explore the physical forces and the extreme environment out in Space." "The magnetic field and turbulence of the cosmic web measured using a brilliant fast radio burst" published November 17th 2016 in Science. CAASTRO is a collaboration of The University of Sydney, The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Queensland, The University of Western Australia and Curtin University, the latter two participating together as the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR). CAASTRO is funded under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence program, with additional funding from the seven participating universities and from the NSW State Government's Science Leveraging Fund. ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with support and funding from the State Government of Western Australia.CONTACTS


TORONTO, ON and BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwired - December 05, 2016) - Patients at risk of life-threatening infections following chemotherapy could benefit from a new cell-based treatment developed from University of Queensland research. In the weeks following chemotherapy, a patient's immune system is depleted as a result of neutropenia -- a decrease in the number of circulating white blood cells or neutrophils -- which leaves the patient vulnerable to potentially fatal infection. UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology's (AIBN) Professor Lars Nielsen and his team have developed a method of producing a therapeutic dose of white blood cells in a typical transfusion bag which can be administered to patients immediately after chemotherapy. Professor Nielsen said chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN) is a life-threatening risk to cancer patients. "It exposes them to infection and fever, which can lead to delays in treatment and reductions in chemo dose intensity," he said. "The treatment most commonly used for neutropenia involves an injection of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) which stimulates the patient's own stem cells to expand and differentiate into neutrophils. "G-CSF's effectiveness relies on the number of stem cells in the patient's bone marrow, which is significantly reduced after chemotherapy, and it takes time for the stem cells to recover and mature into white blood cells. "Our method instead avoids that 'at risk' period following treatment by extracting and separating stem cells from umbilical cord blood to produce a transfusion-ready therapeutic dose of white blood cells, which can be administered to patients immediately after chemotherapy," Professor Nielsen said. The technology is based on research by UQ's Professor Nielsen and Dr. Emma Palfreyman, and Dr. Nick Timmins, formerly of UQ and now based at CCRM -- a Canadian leader in developing and commercializing regenerative medicine technologies and cell and gene therapies. It will now progress towards the clinic following a licensing deal with CCRM, negotiated by UQ commercialization company UniQuest. UniQuest CEO Dr. Dean Moss said CCRM was the ideal partner to take the neutrophil technology towards the market. "CCRM has demonstrated experience in fundamental stem cell science and the commercialization of regenerative medicine and we are delighted that they will take UQ's research towards the clinic so that it can benefit patients," Dr. Moss said. CCRM President and CEO, Dr. Michael May, said the centre is excited about the agreement with UQ and UniQuest. "By combining the technology licensed from UQ with CCRM's expertise and capabilities in the commercialization of stem cell therapies, we believe we can provide a solution to this unmet clinical need and make a real difference to chemotherapy patients," Dr. May said. The neutrophil research at UQ has been supported since 2003 by Stem Cells Australia and its forerunner, the Australian Stem Cell Centre, as well as the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and the Australian Research Council. CCRM, a Canadian not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and leading academic and industry partners, supports the development of regenerative medicines and associated enabling technologies, with a specific focus on cell and gene therapy. A network of researchers, leading companies, strategic investors and entrepreneurs, CCRM aims to accelerate the translation of scientific discovery into marketable products for patients with specialized teams, funding and infrastructure. CCRM is the commercialization partner of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the University of Toronto's Medicine by Design. CCRM is hosted by the University of Toronto. Visit us at ccrm.ca UniQuest is the main commercialisation company of The University of Queensland, specialising in the transfer of intellectual property, research outcomes and expertise. UniQuest has a 30-year track record, including the commercialisation of the HPV vaccine Gardasil®, the Triple P Positive Parenting Program, the image correction technology used in two-thirds of the world's MRI machines and Spinifex Pty Ltd -- a biopharmaceutical company acquired recently in one of Australia's largest ever biotech deals. To learn more, visit www.uniquest.com.au. The University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is a multi-disciplinary translational research institute that brings together the skills of world-class researchers working at the intersection of biology, chemistry, engineering and computer modelling. AIBN has more than 450 researchers housed in a state-of-the-art building, complimented by an extensive suite of facilities. This critical mass of researchers is working to develop innovative technologies such as stem cell ageing and regenerative engineering, precision nanomedicine, advanced materials, nanoagriculture, and industrial biotechnology. Discover more at www.aibn.uq.edu.au.


News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

(PHILADELPHIA) Dec. 12, 2016 - In one of the first studies to examine priorities in recovery identified by trauma patients, family members and clinicians over time, an international research partnership that was launched from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) and Griffith University School of Nursing & Midwifery in Australia has helped advance the importance of patient-reported outcome measures for improved trauma care and research. The study, "Indicators of Injury Recovery Identified by Patients, Family Members and Clinicians," was recently published in the journal Injury and is available here in digital format. "While it is recognized that focusing on what patients envision to be good outcomes is an important part of patient-centered care, asking trauma patients and their families what they consider to be the priorities of care and recovery has been neglected," said Penn Nursing's Therese S. Richmond, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, the Andrea B. Laporte Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Research & Innovation. Richmond, and study's lead author Leanne M. Aitken, PhD, RN, Professor of Nursing, now at the City, University of London, conceived the research while Aitken was undertaking a Fulbright Senior Scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania. The study focused on two areas: learning what patients, family members and clinicians considered to be the indicators of successful recovery from an acute hospitalization after traumatic injury; and understanding if these indicators differed between these groups of stakeholders or changed over time, from during hospitalization to three months after discharge. Thirty-three trauma patients, 22 family members and 40 clinicians were recruited from trauma departments in two Australian teaching hospitals. Stakeholders in the study identified five specific Indicators of recovery, including returning to work, resuming family roles, achieving independence, recapturing normality and achieving comfort. Trauma patients articulated the most detail in these indicators, compared to the responses from the study's other stakeholders. "Understanding different perceptions in relation to outcomes is particularly important in trauma, where patients may not be able to participate in decision making for a period of their hospitalization," said Aitken. Perceptions of indicators of injury recovery changed for some participants over the three months after they were discharged. These changes fell into three broad groups: increasing recognition that activities of daily living were important; increasing realization of the impact of the injury; and unfolding appreciation that life could not be taken for granted. While in the hospital, trauma patients in the study often noted the desire to be able to care for themselves. The practical implications of their physical limitations, however, did not fully reveal themselves until after discharge. Instead, the ripple effects of limitations in their abilities to undertake basic self-care activities or have full range of movement of their limbs became increasingly apparent within the first month of being at home. "Changes in expectations and priorities over time have implications for how we provide education and support that should be tailored to different phases in the recovery trajectory," said Richmond. "As patients and family members change their expectations over time, appropriate care needs to be provided across the care continuum." The study's findings indicate a further need to explore recovery priorities using quantitative techniques to determine relevance to a broad cross-section of trauma patients and to develop an appropriate set of outcome measures that patients consider to be important. Although some differences between stakeholder groups were identified, similarities and differences should be tested further in larger groups. "It is expected that by understanding what matters to patients and family members will help us empower patients to be active participants in the healthcare process and will underpin development of patient-reported outcomes that should be used in practice and research in trauma care," said Aitken. "This information will also inform future trauma outcome research to ensure these priority areas are appropriate for a broader range of participants." In addition to Aitken and Richmond, the research team included: Wendy Chaboyer, RN, PhD, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Nursing (NCREN), Menzies Health Institute Queensland & School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Australia ; Carol Jeffrey, RN, MHSc, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Australia, and School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Australia; Bronte Martin, RN, MNurs, National Critical Care Trauma Response Centre, Royal Darwin Hospital, Australia; Jennifer A. Whitty, BPharm(Hons) GradDipClinPharm PhD, Health Economics, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, Menzies Health Institute Queensland & School of Medicine, Griffith University, Australia and School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Australia; Michael Schuetz, FRACS, Dr.med. Dr.med.habil., Charité Hospital, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. Editor's Note: The team of researchers report no conflicts of interest. About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world's leading schools of nursing and is ranked the #1 graduate nursing school in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Penn Nursing is consistently among the nation's top recipients of nursing research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Penn Nursing prepares nurse


News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: phys.org

Researchers at The University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have designed a virus-like nanoparticle (VNP) that delivers drugs directly to the cells where they are needed. The lead author of a paper on the topic, Dr Frank Sainsbury, said the VNP was made from the structural proteins that formed the virus's protective shell. "Viruses have evolved to contain and protect bioactive molecules," Dr Sainsbury said. "They've also evolved smart ways to get into cells and deliver these bioactive molecules. "The VNP is an empty shell. It looks like a virus but it's not infectious. This makes it safe to use as a targeted drug delivery system." With infectious viral genes removed, empty shells can be loaded with small molecules or proteins resulting in a stable, well-protected therapeutic package. The outside of the shell then determines where the package will go. The ability to send drugs directly to their target is a critical goal in the development of safe, effective therapeutics. Currently many drugs, including anti-cancer chemotherapies, must be administered at high doses in order to have a therapeutic effect. This can lead to harsh side effects because drugs can damage healthy cells as well as intended targets. Dr Sainsbury and his colleagues developed a VNP using the Bluetongue virus, which normally infects cows, sheep and other ruminants. They picked the virus because of its stable shell, made of hundreds of proteins that are known to bind to a molecule found in high levels around many cancer cells. Dr Sainsbury teamed up with Dr Michael Landsberg at UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and researchers at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the UK's John Innes Centre. They were able to demonstrate that the porous VNPs could be filled with small molecules for drug delivery and it also was possible to design VNPs to contain larger molecules, such as therapeutic proteins. Importantly, the researchers showed VNPs were able to bind to breast cancer cells, and then be absorbed. Dr Sainsbury said the next step was to load the VNPs with anti-cancer drugs and see if they could kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Although VNPs are highly complex and difficult to synthesise, Dr Sainsbury said they could be easily produced in the leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana, a wild relative of tobacco. By providing plant cells with genetic instructions for making VNPs, the plant was able to assemble virus protein shells without any permanent change to the plant's own genetic code. Dr Sainsbury said one day greenhouses may be able to produce large amounts of the nanoparticles within days. "This research unlocks a myriad of potential applications in therapeutic delivery," Dr Sainsbury said. Because the nanoparticles they have designed are highly stable, the AIBN research team is exploring other biotechnology applications. Explore further: Plant-made virus shells could deliver drugs directly to cancer cells


News Article | December 8, 2016
Site: www.marketwired.com

The University of Queensland's Queensland Brain Institute First to Deploy Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel Technology in Australia for Storage Networking BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwired - Dec 8, 2016) - Brocade ( : BRCD) today announced that The University of Queensland's Queensland Brain Institute will become the first organization in Australia to migrate to Brocade® Gen 6 Fibre Channel storage networking solutions. Brocade G620 switches will be deployed to provide the speed and performance the Queensland Brain Institute needs to eliminate data bottlenecks and accelerate research into preventing brain diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer's, motor neuron disease, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Established in 2003, the Queensland Brain Institute is one of the world's largest dedicated facilities focused on understanding how the brain works and finding ways to prevent diseases. While it has been remarkably successful in making major neuroscientific discoveries -- with an Alzheimer's breakthrough among the world's most discussed medical research last year -- the difficulty accessing, storing, and managing increasingly large data sets from brain imaging and microscopy devices is a constant consideration. Continuous improvement is vitally important to ensure scientific research staff have a "zero friction" experience in their workflows. "Whole-brain imaging is critical to our research, but as advances in imaging and microscopy instruments continue to increase the resolutions and sampling rates of the data they generate, our storage infrastructure has new and unpredictable demands put upon it every day," said Jake Carroll, senior information technology manager (research), Queensland Brain Institute. "Brocade's Gen 6 Fibre Channel switches will provide a massive boost in our data transfer speeds to enable our scientists to get their job done seamlessly and efficiently." The Brocade G620 is a high-density storage networking switch that delivers breakthrough performance and scalability designed to support data growth and demanding workloads from mission-critical applications. The Queensland Brain Institute will deploy Brocade G620 switches to form a fully redundant, low-latency storage network fabric with 32 Gigabit per second (Gbps) links -- which can be combined into a 128 Gbps framed-based trunk -- capable of dealing with the most demanding data flows. These switches will operate alongside the Brocade 6510 Gen 5 Fibre Channel switches the Queensland Brain Institute is already using to handle its less demanding storage network requirements. "We have to conduct increasingly complex experiments with rapidly growing data sets to make research breakthroughs, with researchers employing the latest imaging techniques and technologies, as well as running analysis against an increasing number of data points," added Carroll. "With data already growing at several petabytes per year without any pattern, it's very difficult to predict data growth going forward in a dynamic research computing environment. This puts a premium on storage network scalability -- a requirement that Brocade's Gen 6 Fibre Channel technology is more than capable of meeting." The Brocade G620-based Fibre Channel fabric is part of an integrated storage solution alongside high-performance storage arrays from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and a high-end file server and preservation platform from Oracle (Hierarchical Storage Manager) to control the flow of data between storage layers. This next-generation storage infrastructure is designed to future-proof the institute by eliminating performance barriers and helping to deliver data processing on demand. This approach will enable scientists to have seamless access to the data they need to carry out the Queensland Brain Institute's important research. It also provides appropriate governance and preservation layers in an increasingly complex sector, in regard to reproducibility and immutability. "Gen 6 Fibre Channel delivers a huge leap in performance for organizations with demanding Big Data environments like the Queensland Brain Institute, particularly in the face of its rapidly evolving brain imaging technology and increasing data needs," said Jason Baden, senior director ANZ, Brocade. "Organizations can now confidently address performance, reliability, and scalability requirements for hyperscale virtualization, new data center architectures, and next-generation storage technologies." About Brocade Brocade ( : BRCD) networking solutions help the world's leading organizations turn their networks into platforms for business innovation. With solutions spanning public and private data centers to the network edge, Brocade is leading the industry in its transition to the New IP network infrastructures required for today's era of digital business. (http://www.brocade.com/) These products and features and their availability are subject to change at the sole discretion of Brocade, and Brocade shall have no liability for delay in the delivery or failure to deliver any of the products or features described herein. Brocade, the B-wing symbol, and MyBrocade are registered trademarks of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., in the United States and in other countries. Other brands, product names, or service names mentioned of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. are listed at http://www.brocade.com/en/legal/brocade-Legal-intellectual-property/brocade-legal-trademarks.html. Other brands, product names, service names or marks mentioned may belong to third parties.


News Article | December 15, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Australian, South African and US researchers say that although the environmental movement is in shock at US President-elect Donald Trump's election victory and its implications, it is not all doom and gloom. "The environmental movement should proactively seize opportunities over the next four years," said lead author Dr Duan Biggs of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (CBCS) at The University of Queensland. "China, Australia, Indonesia, Brazil and other countries have already indicated they will forge ahead with implementing the climate treaty signed in Paris irrespective of the US position." Writing today in Nature, Dr Biggs said withdrawal of the US federal government from the international environmental movement provided space and opportunity for other actors like cities, states, companies, and communities to take action. "The next four years will likely be challenging for the environmental movement, and megaphone diplomacy with the US government will be needed," he said. "But by proactively seizing opportunities, the environmental movement will be strengthened beyond a Trump presidency." Dr Biggs is also a senior research fellow with Griffith University's Environmental Futures Research Institute and Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Correspondence co-authors are Dr Kent Redford, of Archipelago Consulting and University of New England, Maine; UQ PhD student Hubert Cheung (CBCS) and Associate Professor James Watson of UQ's School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management and the Wildlife Conservation Society.


News Article | December 8, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

Australia’s top climate scientists have come out in support of their American counterparts, in response to news that the incoming Trump Administration will scrap climate research at the country’s top research facility, NASA. Trump’s senior advisor on NASA, Bob Walker, announced the plans strip NASA’s Earth science division of funding on Wednesday, in a crackdown on what his team refers to as “politicised science”. The policy – and the language used to frame it – would be all too familiar to Australian climate scientists, who faced a similar attack on funding and staff of the world-leading CSIRO climate department, and the dismantling of the Climate Commission. In defense of the CSIRO cuts, the Organisation’s ex-venture capitalist CEO Larry Marshall said the national climate change discussion was “more like religion than science.” Here’s what Australia’s scientists are saying about Trump and NASA… “Just as we have seen in Australia the attack on CSIRO climate science under the Coalition government, we now see the incoming Trump administration attacking NASA,” said Professor Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University and a former President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. “They obviously hope that pressure for action will be eased if the science is muffled. “But with temperatures in the Arctic this week a startling 20 degrees above normal, no amount of waffle can disguise the need for urgent action to decarbonise our energy supply and immediately withdraw support for new coal mines,” Prof Lowe said. “Why a world leader in Earth observation should do this is beyond rational explanation,” said David Bowman, a “fire scientist” and Professor of Environmental Change Biology at The University of Tasmania. “Earth observation is a non-negotiable requirement for effective, sustainable fire management and it will be provided by other sources if the US proceeds with this path, such as Europe, Japan and China,” Prof Bowman said. “So, effectively the US would be ceding intellectual ‘real estate’ to other nations that could quickly become dominant providers of essential information on fire activity.” Dr Megan Saunders, a Research Fellow in the School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management & Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland, said scrapping funding to climate research in NASA would be devastating. “Climate change is already causing significant disruptions to the earth system on which humanity relies, and urgent action on climate change is required around the globe. Cutting funding to NASA compromises our ability to cope with climate change sends a message that climate change is not being taken seriously,” Doctor Saunders said. “In many instances symptoms of climate change are occurring faster than predicted by models. For instance, NASA’s temperature records have shown that September 2016 was the warmest in 136 years of modern record keeping. NASA’s research on sea-level rise demonstrated that sea-level rise in the 21st century was greater than previously understood. NASA research in West Antarctica identified the fastest rates of glacier retreat ever observed.” Dr Liz Hanna, fellow of the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health at the Australian National University, and National Convenor Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health said that shutting down the science would not stop climate change. “All it will do is render people, communities and societies unprepared at even greater risk. …If Trump does not care about people’s lives, perhaps he might consider the drop in productivity that inevitably tracks temperature increases,” she said. “My advice to president-elect Trump is to look beyond his advisor Bob Walker’s comments and see exactly the important work done by the NASA Earth science division,” said Dr Helen McGregor, an ARC Future Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong. “This is not ‘politically correct environmental monitoring’ as Walker asserts but is essential data to ensure society’s health and wellbeing. “As for climate change science, the division’s reports on global temperatures are solely based on robust data. What’s being politicised here is not the science but the story that the science tells: that the planet is warming. Let’s not shoot the messenger,” Dr McGregor said. “Will Mr Trump be taking his electorate with him once he’s finished with Earth?” asked Dr Paul Read, a Research Fellow in Natural Disasters at the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute. “Mr Trump is about 10 years behind the public understanding of climate science, much less the scientific consensus. As the climate hits home here on Earth, his own support base could turn on him like snake with whiplash.” Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A remarkable 250 million-year-old "terrible-headed lizard" fossil found in China shows an embryo inside the mother -- clear evidence for live birth. Head of The University of Queensland's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and co-author Professor Jonathan Aitchison said the fossil unexpectedly provided the first evidence for live birth in an animal group previously thought to exclusively lay eggs. "Live birth is well known in mammals, where the mother has a placenta to nourish the developing embryo," Professor Aitchison said. "Live birth is also very common among lizards and snakes, where the babies sometimes 'hatch' inside their mother and emerge without a shelled egg." Until recently it was thought the third major group of living land vertebrates, the crocodiles and birds (part of the wider group Archosauromorpha) only laid eggs. "Indeed, egg-laying is the primitive state, seen at the base of reptiles, and in their ancestors such as amphibians and fishes," Professor Aitchison said. He said the new fossil was an unusual, long-necked marine animal called an archosauromorph that flourished in shallow seas of South China in the Middle Triassic Period. The creature was a fish-eater, snaking its long neck from side to side to snatch its prey. Its fossil was one of many astonishingly well-preserved specimens from new "Luoping biota" locations in south-western China. There were no known fossils like this (marine vertebrates of this age) from Australia. Lead author Professor Jun Liu from Hefei University of Technology China, said the researchers were "excited" when they first saw this embryonic specimen. "We were not sure if the embryonic specimen was the mother's last lunch or its unborn baby," Professor Liu said. "Upon further preparation and closer inspection, we discovered something unusual." He said the embryo was inside the mother's rib cage, and it faced forward; swallowed animals generally face backward because the predator swallows its prey head-first to help it go down its throat. Furthermore, the small reptile inside the mother was an example of the same species. "Further evolutionary analysis revealed the first case of live birth in such a wide group containing birds, crocodilians, dinosaurs and pterosaurs among others, and pushes back evidence of reproductive biology in the group by 50 million years," Professor Liu said. "Information on reproductive biology of archosauromorphs before the Jurassic Period was not available until our discovery, despite a 260 million-year history of the group." Professor Chris Organ from Montana State University said evolutionary analysis showed that this instance of live birth was also associated with genetic sex determination. "Some reptiles today, such as crocodiles, determine the sex of their offspring by the temperature inside the nest," he said. "We identified that Dinocephalosaurus, a distant ancestor of crocodiles, determined the sex of its babies genetically, like mammals and birds. "This new specimen from China rewrites our understanding of the evolution of reproductive systems." Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol said analysis of the evolutionary position of the new specimens showed no fundamental reason why archosauromorphs could not have evolved live birth. "This combination of live birth and genotypic sex determination seems to have been necessary for animals such as Dinocephalosaurus to become aquatic," he said. "It's great to see such an important step forward in our understanding of the evolution of a major group coming from a chance fossil find in a Chinese field." The work is part of ongoing wider collaborations between palaeontologists in China, the United States, the UK and Australia. The paper is published in the journal, Nature Communications.


PubMed | Monash University and The University of Queensland
Type: Journal Article | Journal: RNA biology | Year: 2014

Argonaute proteins (AGOs) are vital components of the RNA-induced silencing complex in gene silencing. AGOs are indispensable for microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis as well as function, and are intracellularly localized to both the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Cytoplasmic AGO-miRNA complexes are mainly involved in cleavage or translational repression of target mRNAs while the nuclear ones are engaged in transcriptional gene silencing, methylation, chromatin remodeling, and splicing. In insects, AGO1 and AGO2 are involved in RNA interference and miRNA pathways but the components involved in their trafficking between the nucleus and the cytoplasm are not known. In this study, we found that importin -4 facilitates AGO1 distribution to the nucleus, which is regulated by aae-miR-981 miRNA. The results also revealed association of prohibitin with AGO1 that may play an important role in its stability. Importantly, we found that AGO1 distribution to the nucleus is blocked by Wolbachia, an endosymbiotic bacterium introduced into the Dengue vector, Aedes aegypti. Our results provide basic mechanisms on intracellular trafficking of AGO1 in insects and how this may be altered by Wolbachia, which may affect trafficking of miRNAs to the nucleus leading to alteration in epigenetic effects.


IMB Centre for Superbug Solutions Deputy Director Associate Professor Lachlan Coin said arming clinicians with this information could help them prescribe the most effective antibiotic for their patient. "Antibiotic resistance is a global challenge that threatens our ability to treat common infections," he said. "Sequencing a bacterial genome using standard techniques resulted in a genome splitting into hundreds of fragments which was impossible to piece together. "In particular, pathogenicity islands—which are crucial to identifying antibiotic resistance—usually split across multiple pieces. "For the past two years, we have used cutting-edge Oxford Nanopore Technologies sequencing devices to sequence bacterial genomes and understand how antibiotic resistance develops. "Because this technology is so new, we needed to develop a powerful method that could help us make the most of its results and really understand the genetic drivers of antibiotic resistance," Associate Professor Coin said. IMB Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Minh Duc Cao said the team developed a new method for analysis of sequencing data on the fly, which allowed them to quickly and accurately piece together complete genomes. "With our method, we can reconstruct an entire bacterial genome shortly after you switch on the machine and put in the DNA sample. "The speed is key as we're interested in predicting antibiotic resistance in real time on clinical samples, because when it comes to diagnosing and treating infections, every minute counts," he said. Associate Professor Coin said the method could be applied to help unravel the genomic causes of other diseases. "We would like to work towards finding new ways to apply this approach to help unravel other diseases, particularly cancer. "Cancer genomes are about 1000 times larger than bacterial genomes, so the powerful combination of this leading technology and our improved method holds enormous potential for rapid assembly of personalised tumour genomes," Associate Professor Coin said. The research was published in Nature Communications and was funded by The University of Queensland, National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council. The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience Centre for Superbug Solutions will host the Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections conference in Brisbane from 3-5 April 2017. The conference will bring international experts and advocates in the field to network and discuss new ways to solve the global challenge of drug-resistant infections. More information: Minh Duc Cao et al. Scaffolding and completing genome assemblies in real-time with nanopore sequencing, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14515


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

SAINT-PREX, Switzerland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ferring today announced the recipients of the 2016-2017 Ferring Innovation Grants program, an annual initiative of the Ferring Research Institute (FRI) which provides grants of up to $100,000 for early stage research. The program focuses on novel extracellular drug targets addressable with peptides or proteins within Ferring’s core therapeutic areas: reproductive health, gastroenterology, urology, and endocrinology. The 2016-2017 awardees and their research subjects are: Stuart Brierley - Flinders University, Australia Venom-derived NaV1.1 inhibitors as novel candidates for treating chronic visceral pain associated with IBS James Deane - Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Australia Investigating the requirement for Notch and Hedgehog signalling in the endometrial stem/progenitor populations that cause endometriosis Marie van Dijk - University of Amsterdam, Netherlands ELABELA as a potential biomarker and therapeutic for pre-eclampsia Florenta Kullmann - University of Pittsburgh, USA Artemin: a novel target for treatment of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome Mireille Lahoud - Monash University, Australia The development of Clec12A-ligands as a therapeutic approach to regulate gastrointestinal inflammation Padma Murthi - Monash University, Australia Investigating the role of novel peptide receptor as an effective target to improve placental function in preeclampsia Markus Muttenthaler - The University of Queensland, Australia Mapping the location and function of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors throughout the gut Rodrigo Pacheco – Fundación Ciencia & Vida and Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile Targeting heteromers formed by G-protein coupled receptors involved in the gut-homing of T-cells in inflammatory bowel diseases Aritro Sen – The University of Rochester, USA Regulation of AMH expression by GDF9+BMP15 and FSH during follicular development as a novel therapeutic option “We look forward to the outcomes of the research being carried out by our grant awardees,” said Keith James, President of FRI and Senior Vice President, Research and Development. “Ferring is committed to stimulating basic research, with the ultimate aim of developing innovative products that improve the lives of patients.” Applications for the 2017-2018 Ferring Innovation Grants programme will open in spring/summer 2017. For more information on this year’s program, visit www.ferring-research.com/ferring-grants. About Ferring Research Institute Inc Located in San Diego, California Ferring Research Institute Inc. (FRI) is the global peptide therapeutics research center for Ferring Pharmaceuticals. FRI is committed to building a portfolio of novel, innovative peptide-based drugs and biologicals to address the high unmet medical need for patients in our therapeutic areas of interest. For more detailed information please visit www.ferring-research.com. About Ferring Pharmaceuticals Headquartered in Switzerland, Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group active in global markets. The company identifies, develops and markets innovative products in the areas of reproductive health, urology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and orthopaedics. Ferring has its own operating subsidiaries in nearly 60 countries and markets its products in 110 countries. To learn more about Ferring or its products please visit www.ferring.com.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Australia could save AUD $3.4 billion (USD $2.3 billion) in healthcare costs over the remaining lifetimes of all Australians alive in 2010 by instituting a combination of taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies on fruits and vegetables, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine by Linda Cobiac, from the University of Melbourne, Australia and colleagues. An increasing number of Western countries have implemented or proposed taxes on unhealthy foods and drinks in an attempt to curb rates of dietary-related diseases, however the cost-effectiveness of combining various taxes and subsidies is not well-understood. In the new study, researchers modeled the effect of taxes on saturated fat, salt, sugar, and sugar-sweetened beverages and a subsidy on fruits and vegetables on the Australian population of 22 million alive in 2010. They simulated how different combinations of these taxes and subsidies--designed so there would be less than a one percent change in total food expenditure for the average household--impacted the death and morbidity rates of Australians as well as healthcare spending over the remainder of their lives. The greatest impact, the researchers concluded, came from a sugar tax, which could avert 270,000 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs, or years of healthy lifespan across the population lost due to disease). "That is a gain of 1.2 years of healthy life for every 100 Australians alive in 2010," the authors say. "Few other public health interventions could deliver such health gains on average across the whole population." A salt tax was estimated to save 130,000 DALYS over the remainder of the lives of Australians alive in 2010, a saturated fat tax 97,000 DALYs, and a sugar-sweetened beverage tax 12,000 DALYs. Combined with taxes, the fruit and vegetable subsidies made for additional averted DALYs and reduced health sector spending, but on their own were not estimated to lead to a clear health benefit. Overall, when combined to maximize benefits, the taxes and subsidies could save an estimated 470,000 DALYs and reduce spending by AUD $3.4 billion (USD $2.3 billion). "Simulation studies, such as ours, have uncertainty. For example, we are reliant on other research estimating the responsiveness of the public to changes in food prices. There are also implementation issues for the food industry." "Nevertheless, this study adds to the growing evidence of large health benefits and cost-effectiveness of using taxes and regulatory measures to influence the consumption of healthy foods," the authors say. "We believe that with such large potential health benefits for the Australian population and large benefits in reducing health sector spending...the formulation of a tax and subsidy package should be given more prominent and serious consideration in public health nutrition strategy." "Several countries have imposed taxes on sugary drinks, with the UK the latest to consider such a policy. Our research suggests that even bigger health gains and cost savings may be possible with food taxes and subsidies on a wider range of foods." Funding: LJC was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowship (Grant number 1036771; http://www. ). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: LJC is a member of the Editorial Board of PLOS Medicine. Citation: Cobiac LJ, Tam K, Veerman L, Blakely T (2017) Taxes and Subsidies for Improving Diet and Population Health in Australia: A Cost-Effectiveness Modelling Study. PLoS Med 14(2): e1002232. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002232 Centre for Health Policy, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia, Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-Effectiveness Programme, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://journals.


News Article | February 8, 2017
Site: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Australian researchers are a step closer to understanding immune sensitivities to well-known, and commonly prescribed, medications. Many drugs are successfully used to treat diseases, but can also have harmful side effects. While it has been known that some drugs can unpredictably impact on the functioning of the immune system, our understanding of this process has been unclear. The team investigated what drugs might activate a specialised type of immune cell, the MAIT cell (Mucosal associated invariant T cell). They found that some drugs prevented the MAIT cells from detecting infections (their main role in our immune system), while other drugs activated the immune system, which may be undesirable. The results, published in Nature Immunology overnight, may lead to a much better understanding of, and an explanation for, immune reactions by some people to certain kinds of drugs. The findings may also offer a way to control the actions of MAIT cells in certain illnesses for more positive patient outcomes. The multidisciplinary team of researchers are part of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, and stem from Monash University, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland. Access to national research infrastructure, including the Australian synchrotron, was instrumental to the success of this Australian research team. Dr Andrew Keller from Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute said that T cells are an integral part of the body's immune system. "They protect the body by 'checking' other cells for signs of infection and activating the immune system when they detect an invader," he said. "This arrangement is dependent on both the T cells knowing what they're looking for, and the other cells in the body giving them useful information." PhD student Weijun Xu from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience used computer modelling to predict chemical structures, drugs and drug-like molecules that might impact on MAIT cell function. Such small compounds included salicylates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac, and drug metabolites. University of Melbourne Dr Sidonia Eckle from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said the implications point to possible links between known drug hypersensitivities and MAIT cells. "A greater understanding of the interaction between MAIT cells and other host cells will hopefully allow us to better predict and avoid therapeutics that influence and cause harm," she said. "It also offers the tantalising prospect of future therapies that manipulate MAIT cell behaviour, for example, by enhancing or suppressing immune responses to achieve beneficial clinical outcome." Article: Drugs and drug-like molecules can modulate the function of mucosal-associated invariant T cells, Andrew N Keller, Sidonia B G Eckle, Weijun Xu, Ligong Liu, Victoria A Hughes, Jeffrey Y W Mak, Bronwyn S Meehan, Troi Pediongco, Richard W Birkinshaw, Zhenjun Chen, Huimeng Wang, Criselle D'Souza, Lars Kjer-Nielsen, Nicholas A Gherardin, Dale I Godfrey, Lyudmila Kostenko, Alexandra J Corbett, Anthony W Purcell, David P Fairlie, James McCluskey & Jamie Rossjohn, Nature Immunology, doi:10.1038/ni.3679, published online 6 February 2017.

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