Using bone marrow precursor cells instead of transplantation
Bone is the second most commonly transplanted tissue after blood, with about two million bone transplants performed worldwide each year – but often with only moderate therapeutic success. Cell-based therapies could provide an alternative approach to transplantation. Together with colleagues from Paracelsus Medical Private University (PMU) Salzburg, researchers at the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) have now demonstrated that human progenitor cells can regenerate large bone defects and form new mineralized tissue. The researchers have published the findings from their work in the journal Science Translational Medicine*.
Cause of leukaemia in trisomy 21
People with a third copy of chromosome 21, known as trisomy 21, are at high risk of developing Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer. Scientists led by the Department of Paediatrics at University Hospital Frankfurt have now identified the cause: although the additional chromosome 21 leads to increased gene dosage of many genes, it is above all the perturbation of the RUNX1 gene – a gene that regulates many other genes – that seems to be responsible for AML pathogenesis. Targeting the perturbed regulator could pave the way for new therapies.
Successful cure of HIV infection after stem cell transplantation
Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation for the treatment of severe blood cancers is the only medical intervention that has cured two people living with HIV in the past. An international group of physicians and researchers from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States has now identified another case in which HIV infection has been shown to be cured in the same way. In a study published this week in Nature Medicine, in which DZIF scientists from Hamburg and Cologne played a leading role, the successful healing process of this third patient was for the first time characterised in great detail virologically and immunologically over a time span of ten years.
Pungent Ginger Compound Puts Immune Cells on Heightened Alert
Ginger has a reputation for stimulating the immune system. New results from the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich (Leibniz-LSB@TUM) now support this thesis. In laboratory tests, small amounts of a pungent ginger constituent put white blood cells on heightened alert. The study also shows that this process involves a type of receptor that plays a role in the perception of painful heat stimuli and the sensation of spiciness in food.
New insights into the genetic basis of leukemia
Kiel research team discovers links between certain gene mutation and the spatial structure of DNA in blood cancer at an advanced age
In the core of the cell: New insights into the utilization of nanotechnology-based drugs.
Novel drugs, such as vaccines against covid-19, among others, are based on drug transport using nanoparticles. Whether this drug transport is negatively influenced by an accumulation of blood proteins on the nanoparticle’s surface was not clarified for a long time. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have now followed the path of such a particle into a cell using a combination of several microscopy methods. They were able to observe a cell-internal process that effectively separates blood components and nanoparticles.
Long COVID study: blood values indicate reprogramming of immune cells
The underlying mechanisms of long COVID are not yet fully understood. Molecular clues to different subgroups of long COVID have now been provided by a research group at University Medicine Halle.
Why do blood and lymphatic vessels grow unchecked? ERC Starting Grant for René Hägerling
Anomalies in the formation of blood and lymphatic vessels are, thankfully, rare. Those who do have them face a lifetime of complications that can range from the mild to the life-threatening. To date, little is known about the causes, which means the diagnostic and treatment options are very limited. René Hägerling of the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) has made it his mission to remedy this. His good ideas have won the regard of the European Research Council (ERC), which has awarded Hägerling, who leads a junior research group, an ERC Starting Grant of €1.5 million over five years.
The Influenza Virus and Its Influence on Blood Stem Cells and Coagulation
Virus-induced respiratory infections can become life-threatening. A team at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, together with researchers in Heidelberg, have discovered that flu virus infection limited to the lungs also leads to the activation of blood stem cells and the increased formation of platelets. Platelets can cause thrombosis, as has been shown in severe cases of COVID-19. The messenger substances interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 are involved in the activation. Cell Reports chronicles the results in its online edition from 4 October 2022.
Type 1 diabetes: New findings on the development of the autoimmune disease in children
Study provides novel insights on dynamics of blood sugar levels and autoimmunity in early childhood: When and why does type 1 diabetes manifest in children? For the first time, researchers conducted a long-term study on infants and young children with increased genetic risk of type 1 diabetes. The results have now been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The authors provide a unique picture of the dynamics of blood sugar regulation during early childhood and its relationship to the development of autoimmunity.
Fitness program for blood stem cells – the TAZ protein protects from age-related loss of function
A well-functioning immune system is essential for protection against infections. However, with increasing age, the functioning of the immune system diminishes, which is also due to age-related damage in hematopoietic (blood) stem cells. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena, Germany, have now discovered how the co-activator of the Hippo signaling pathway, the TAZ protein, can protect hematopoietic stem cells from aging and thus prevent them from loss of function. Moreover, hematopoietic stem cells age very heterogeneously. In addition to old cells, one can also find “youthful” cells when the protective mechanism has worked effectively.
Study: Significant antiviral activity of the agent bulevirtide for the treatment of chronic hepatitis D virus infection
Between 10 and 20 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV infection is always associated with hepatitis B virus infection. So far there has been no satisfactory therapeutic option for this most severe form of chronic viral hepatitis. In a multicenter Phase II clinical trial, an international research team was now able to show that the 24-week application of the drug candidate bulevirtide, developed by DZIF virologist Prof. Stephan Urban, significantly reduced hepatitis D viral load in blood serum and liver. Treatment with the novel entry inhibitor therefore represents a promising strategy for patients with chronic HDV infection.
The predictive power of blood: metabolomic profiling reveals risk of multiple diseases all at once
To prevent diseases from occurring in the first place, it is important to identify those individuals who are at particularly high risk as early as possible. Yet current screening methods are often costly and focus only on one disease at a time. Scientists from the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH), Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and University College London profiled 168 metabolic markers in the blood samples of over 100,000 people and combined this data with their medical histories. With the help of artificial intelligence, they were able to predict the risk of onset of several diseases with just one test and show where early intervention could be beneficial.
New Drug Candidate Developed to Treat Type 2 Diabetes
A team of researchers from Helmholtz Munich, the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and Novo Nordisk have developed a new hormone combination for the future treatment of type 2 diabetes. The scientists have combined the blood sugar-reducing effects of the drugs tesaglitazar and GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1) in a new and highly effective drug. The advantage is that, by combining Tesaglitazar with GLP-1, the Tesaglitazar only enters tissue that contains GLP-1 receptors. This reduces the adverse effects of tesaglitazar while increasing the effects on sugar metabolism. The new drug has already been successfully tested in animal studies. The findings were published in Nature Metabolism.
Immune system: First image of antigen-bound T-cell receptor at atomic resolution
T cells are our immune system’s customised tools for fighting infectious diseases and tumour cells. On their surface, these special white blood cells carry a receptor that recognises antigens. With the help of cryo-electron microscopy, biochemists and structural biologists from Goethe University Frankfurt, in collaboration the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, were able to visualise the whole T-cell receptor complex with bound antigen at atomic resolution for the first time. Thereby they helped to understand a fundamental process which may pave the way for novel therapeutic approaches targeting severe diseases.
When smooth muscle cells lack strength
University of Tübingen team discovers how malformations of the blood vessels can occur in mice – yielding information with possible ramifications for retinal disease
Research grants endowed with €240,000 each
Scientists with a research focus on stem cell transplantation and cell therapy are invited to apply for the 2023 DKMS John Hansen Research Grant starting August 10, 2022. With this grant, the DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden (Foundation for Giving Life) supports up to four outstanding research projects each year that aim to advance the medical progress and improve the chances of recovery for blood cancer patients. The requirements include a doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent) that was obtained no longer than 10 years ago. The grants are endowed with €240,000 each, which will be paid out over a period of three years. The application deadline is December 2, 2022.
Leipzig Haematologists Research Rare Forms of Blood Cancer
Although there has been significant progress in the treatment of rare forms of blood cancer in recent years and new drugs have been approved in Germany, the prognosis for many affected individuals remains unfavourable. Research teams at Leipzig University’s Faculty of Medicine are working in several preclinical and translational projects to gain a better understanding of these diseases. The researchers are investigating how bone marrow cancer develops. In addition, they have found a new molecular functional mechanism and have shown that patients with even low amounts of leukaemia cells have a high risk of relapse. The results have been published in journals.
Vitamin K prevents cell death: a new function for a long-known molecule
A team of researchers located at Helmholtz Munich reports on a novel function of vitamin K, which is generally known for its importance in blood clotting. The researchers discovered that the fully reduced form of vitamin K acts as an antioxidant efficiently inhibiting ferroptotic cell death. Ferroptosis is a natural form of cell death in which cellular iron plays an important role and which is characterized by the oxidative destruction of cellular membranes. In addition, the team identified FSP1 as the warfarin-insensitive enzyme reducing vitamin K, the identity of which had been postulated but remained unknown for more than half a century.
A roadmap for the future of hepatitis B therapy development
Worldwide, 880,000 people die each year as a result of infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Antiviral drugs that can suppress replication of the virus are available. However, these must be taken for decades, as there is yet no curative therapy for chronic HBV infection available. Biomarkers—biological molecules in blood serum that can be used to monitor the course of chronic infection and the response of patients to new therapies—are needed to guide the development of these therapies and to assess their efficacy. Potential biomarkers have now been evaluated in a widely acclaimed review and a roadmap for their further development has been established.
How blood vessels remember a stroke
Networks adapt over time and in this way form a kind of memory. This is the key finding of a new study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and the Technical University of Munich. They show that the structure of blood vascular network is dynamic and can adapt to external factors. In particular, the scientists found that rarely used connections are weakening more and more until they disappear eventually.
Preprogrammed aging: gene-controlled growth in youth drives aging of blood stem cells in late life
Throughout one’s life, the blood is constantly being replenished from blood stem cells. However, these cells lose their functionality in old age. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) have now found a gene mechanism that is responsible for the aging of hematopoietic stem cells. The gene Igf2bp2 is important in youth for the full function of these cells, as it activates their growth and metabolism. When the gene is missing, however, the aging-associated loss of function of the stem cells is surprisingly diminished. The eventual aging of hematopoietic stem cells is apparently already preprogrammed by their gene-driven growth in youth.
Effective against an overactive immune system: Research team discovers body’s own anti-inflammatory substance
A team of scientists led by Professor Karsten Hiller from the Braunschweig Centre for Systems Biology BRICS has discovered an endogenous, anti-inflammatory substance: mesaconic acid. This molecule could be a drug candidate that can be further developed to treat shock resulting from blood poisoning and autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – without the known side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs currently in use.
Precise blood diagnostics improve treatment outcome in non-small cell lung cancer patients
Non-small cell lung carcinoma is a particularly aggressive type of lung cancer. Tumor cells and tumor DNA (ctDNA) in the blood of patients with the disease can be analyzed by means of liquid biopsy throughout the course of the disease. This information is important in order to be able to target the constantly changing tumor. A study from the University of Bayreuth is the first to show that liquid biopsy significantly improves treatment outcomes in many cases and can be cost-effective in the German care system. The scientists present their research results in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.
How blood stem cells stay intact for a lifetime
Stem cells in the bone marrow keep replenishing us with blood cells until the day we die. They do this by dividing into a daughter cell that becomes a blood cell, and a second cell that remains a stem cell. But every time a cell divides, mistakes can occur that change the cell’s genome and increase the risk of it becoming a cancer cell.