Certain types of skin cancers and blindness due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy are likely to be among the first uses for the drug. AMD is the most common cause of blindness in Australia (Macular Degeneration Foundation).
The experimental drug has already been shown to be effective on skin cancers in pre-clinical models, in another paper published this month by Professor Khachigian's team in the journal, Oncogene.
"This may be a 'one-size fits all' therapy, because it targets a master regulator gene called c-Jun which appears to be involved in all of these diseases," said UNSW Professor Levon Khachigian, of the Centre for Vascular Research (CVR), who is the senior author of the Nature Biotechnology paper.
"c-Jun is an important disease-causing gene," said Professor Khachigian, a molecular biologist. "It stands out because we don't see much of it in normal tissue but it is highly expressed in diseased blood vessels, eyes, lungs, joints, and in the gut – in any number of areas involving inflammation and aggressive vascular growth.
"Our experimental drug, Dz13, is like a secret agent that finds its target, c-Jun, within the cell and destroys it," he said. "It is a specific, pre-programmed 'molecular assassin'."
The paper in Nature Biotechnology shows the potential of c-Jun as a drug target in inflammation. It details tests in a variety of pre-clinical models showing how effective Dz13 is in problems such as eye disease and arthritis.
The next phase in the therapy's development would be a trial, involving up to 10 people with non-melanoma skin cancers. The tumours would be injected with the drug over an eight-week period.
"If such a trial were successful, it would be a significant development given the high rates of skin cancer and because the main treatment currently is surgical excision, which can cause scarring," said Professor Khachigian.
"Conventional anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with a whole host of side-effects. Our therapeutic may potentially avert some of these."
A third paper using the same technology, but focusing on a different master regulator, Egr-1, has also been published this month by Professor Khachigian's group in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis and shows that heart muscle damage is reduced by the drug after a heart attack.
Susi Hamilton | EurekAlert!
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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