Home

Therapeutic Target for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common of pancreatic cancers, is extraordinarily lethal, with a 5-year survival rate of just 6 percent. Chemotherapy treatments are poorly effective, in part due to a high degree of drug-resistance to currently used regimens. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, together with colleagues at Keio University, the University of Nebraska, and Ionis Pharmaceuticals, describe an innovative new model that not only allowed them to track drug resistance in vivo but also revealed a new therapeutic target, which early testing suggests could provide a strategy to arrest pancreatic cancer growth. In a collaboration that combined scientific and clinical expertise, principal investigators Tannishtha Reya, Ph.D., professor in the departments of pharmacology and medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Andrew Lowy, MD, chief of surgical oncology in the department of surgery at UC San Diego Health and Moores Cancer Center, worked with colleagues to develop a new "reporter" mouse model that enables non-invasive, image-based tracking of stem cell signals in living animals. Using this strategy, the group showed that the stem cell gene Musashi (Msi) is a critical element in pancreatic cancer progression. In particular, the work revealed that Msi expression rises with cancer progression and that Msi expressing cells are key drivers of cancer growth, drug resistance, and lethality. Given the role of Msi in promoting aggressive disease, the investigators partnered with Robert MacLeod Ph.D., vice-president of oncology drug discovery at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, to develop next-generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) inhibitors against Msi. These inhibitors effectively targeted and blocked Msi expressing cells, resulting in halted tumor growth in animal models as well as in patient-derived cancer cells, which harbor more complex mutations and are uniformly drug-resistant. Antisense inhibitors are synthetic nucleic acid drugs that can be designed to selectively bind to messenger RNA from the targeted, disease-linked gene, and inactivate it. Reya said the findings could be broadly useful for studying cancer. "Because Msi reporter activity can be visualized by live imaging," said Reya, "these models can be used to track cancer stem cells within the tumor microenvironment, providing a real-time view of cancer growth and metastasis, and serving as a platform to test new drugs that may be better able to eradicate resistant cells."

Posted in: News

Read More >>

AutoLens Analysis for Euclid Challenge

The European Space Agency's Euclid satellite, due for launch in 2020, will set astronomers a huge challenge: to analyze 100,000 strong gravitational lenses. The gravitational deflection of light from distant astronomical sources by massive galaxies (strong lenses) along the light path can create multiple images of the source that are not just visually stunning but also are valuable tools for probing our Universe. In preparation for Euclid's challenge, researchers from the University of Nottingham have developed AutoLens, the first fully automated analysis software for strong gravitational lenses. AutoLens demonstrated its capabilities with a stunning image of a strong gravitational lens system captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, said James Nightingale, who developed AutoLens together with his colleague, Dr. Simon Dye. "The software's reconstruction of the lensed source reveals in detail a distant pair of star-forming galaxies that are possibly in the early stages of merging. Within the lensed image of the source are small-scale distortions, which encode an imprint of how the lens galaxy's mass is distributed. AutoLens has a novel new approach to exploit this imprinted information and can accurately measure the distribution of dark matter in the lensing galaxy." Historically, the analysis of strongly lensed images has been a very time-consuming process, requiring a large amount of manual input to study just one system. To date, only around 200 strong lens systems have been analyzed. AutoLens can be run on “massively parallel” computing architecture that uses multiple processors and requires no user input, so will be able to manage the huge amount of data delivered by the Euclid mission.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Imaging Software Shows Your Future Self

When people go to a hair stylist, they often browse magazines to find a photo of a style they want to try, but they won’t know if they really like it until they try it. Police are often challenged when looking for missing people when those individuals disguise their appearance with different hair colors and styles or facial hair. And children who have been missing for years can be very difficult to find because their looks have changed over the years. What if we had help figuring out all these appearance challenges? A new system called Dreambit, developed by a University of Washington computer vision researcher, lets a person imagine how they would look with a different hairstyle or color or even in a different time period, country, or anything that can be queried in an image search engine. After uploading an input photo, you type in a search term (such as curly hair, India, 1930s), and the software's algorithms mine Internet photo collections for similar images in that category and seamlessly map the person's face onto the results. Dreambit draws on previous research conducted at the UW and elsewhere in facial processing, recognition, three-dimensional reconstruction, and age progression, combining those algorithms in a unique way to create the blended images.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Imaging Finds Book Hidden for 500 Years

Researchers from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries and from universities in the Netherlands have used high-tech imaging to uncover the details of a rare Mexican codex dating from before the colonization of the Americas. The newly revealed codex, or book, has been hidden from view for almost 500 years, concealed beneath a layer of plaster and chalk on the back of a later manuscript known as the Codex Selden, which is housed at the Bodleian Libraries. Scientists have used hyperspectral imaging to reveal pictographic scenes from this remarkable document and have published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Ancient Mexican codices are some of the most important artefacts of early Mexican culture and are particularly rare. Codex Selden, also known as Codex Añute, dates from around 1560 and is one of fewer than 20 known Mexican codices to have survived from pre-colonial and early colonial Mexico. Of those, it is one of only five surviving manuscripts from the Mixtec area, now the Oaxaca region of Mexico. These codices use a complex system of pictures, symbols, and bright colors to narrate centuries of conquering dynasties and genealogies as well as wars and the history of ancient cities. In essence, these codices provide the best insight into the history and culture of early Mexico. Since the 1950s, scholars have suspected that Codex Selden is a palimpsest: an older document that has been covered up and reused to make the manuscript that is currently visible. Codex Selden consists of a five-meter-long strip composed of deer hide that has been covered with gesso, a white plaster made from gypsum and chalk, and folded in a concertina format into a 20-page document. The manuscript underwent a series of invasive tests in the 1950s when one page on the back was scraped, uncovering a vague image that hinted at the possibility that an earlier Mexican codex lay hidden beneath. Until now, no other technique has been able to unveil the concealed narrative in a non-invasive way. The organic paints that were partly used to create the vibrant images on early Mexican codices do not absorb X-rays, which rules out the X-ray analysis that is commonly used to study later works of art. “After four or five years of trying different techniques, we've been able to reveal an abundance of images without damaging this extremely vulnerable item. We can confirm that Codex Selden is indeed a palimpsest,” said Ludo Snijders from Leiden University, who conducted the research with David Howell from the Bodleian Libraries and Tim Zaman from the University of Delft. This is the first time an early Mexican codex has been proven to be a palimpsest.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

New Fabric Uses Sun to Power Devices

A new fabric developed at Georgia Institute of Technology uses sunlight and motion to harvest energy. Combining the two types of electricity generation into one textile paves the way for creating garments that could provide their own source of energy to power devices such as smartphones or global positioning systems.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Nanomaterial Could Speed Up Electric Vehicle Charging

A new nanomaterial acts as both battery and supercapacitor. A conductive polymer (green) formed inside the small holes of a hexagonal framework (red and blue) works with the framework to store electrical energy. (William Dichtel, Northwestern University) A new material could one day speed up the charging process of electric cars and help increase their driving range. Researchers have combined a covalent organic framework (COF) – a strong, stiff polymer with an abundance of tiny pores suitable for storing energy – with a very conductive material to create the first modified redox-active COF that closes the gap with other older, porous, carbon-based electrodes.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

New Radio Technology Extends Mobile Device Battery Life

UMass Amherst professor Deepak Ganesan. University of Massachusetts Amherst professors introduced a new radio technology that allows small mobile devices to take advantage of battery power in larger devices nearby for communication. The Braidio, or braid of radios, can offload energy to larger devices nearby and, in effect, make both device size and battery consumption proportional to the size of battery.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.