Written by cps on February 23, 2018. Posted in Blog

This is a “test” of characters from’office.! Let’s do it

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Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells as Cancer Vaccine

Written by lkods on February 20, 2018. Posted in Blog

cancer research - using stem cells as a possible vaccine

What, exactly, are iPS cells? And why are they so interesting?

In a lab setting, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells, for short) can become various types of cells and tissues, making them a cornerstone of regenerative medicine with seemingly endless applications for repairing damage due to trauma or disease.

Now, as ScienceDaily reports, a study in mice suggests that iPS cells could be used to train the immune system to attack (or possibly even prevent) tumors, which could pave the way for the possibility of a "cancer vaccine" that is individually tailored using a person's own iPS cells to protect against various forms of cancer.

How iPS cells work against cancer

In general, iPS cells are similar (on their surface) to tumor cells. Both resemble developmentally immature progenitor cells — which means that both iPS and tumor cells are free from the growth restrictions that are seen in mature tissue cells.

Because of this, injecting iPS cells that genetically match the individual (but that are unable to replicate) can provide safe exposure to a range of cancer-specific targets, according to new research recently published by Stanford Medicine.

As part of a potential vaccine, iPS cells have strong immunogenic properties that are able to induce a systemic cancer-specific immune response.

Creating iPS cells

Researchers are able to create iPS cells from an easily-accessible source, like skin cells or blood cells. The collected cells then undergo genetic treatment which essentially turns back the clock, developmentally speaking, to a pluripotent stage — meaning that the cells are able to develop from that stage into nearly any tissue of the body.

How it worked in mouse testing

In comparing gene expression between iPS and cancer cells in both mice and humans, researchers identified remarkable similarities that suggested these types of cells both contain the same surface proteins (epitopes) that could serve as immune targets.

This was tested in four groups of mice — the first group was injected with a control, the second received iPS cells that were a genetic match and irradiated, the third received a generic immune-stimulating agent, and the fourth and final group received both irradiated iPS cells and the immune-stimulating agent. A mouse breast cancer cell line was transplanted into all mice involved in the study so that potential tumor growth could be observed.

A week later, all of the mice had developed breast cancer tumors at the injection site. In the control groups, these tumors proceeded to grow robustly. In 7 of the 10 mice from the fourth group (receiving both the iPS cells and the immune-stimulating agent), the tumors shrank in size, and two of these mice were able to reject the cancer cells completely and live for more than one year following the tumor transplant. Similar results occurred when tested with mouse melanoma and mesothelioma.

What's next

The scientists involve believe this approach is especially powerful since it allows for exposure to different types of cancer-specific epitopes at the same time, putting the immune system on alert and allowing it to target cancers as they begin to develop.

Next, the team would like to study if this approach would work with samples of human cancers and immune cells in a laboratory setting.

The future looks bright, if this research continues to perform as expected, for creating a personalized vaccine using an individual's own iPS cells to prevent cancer development for months or years. Additionally, this could potentially be used as part of cancer therapy, alongside surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination thereof.

While much research remains to be done, the concept is certainly exciting — and we may be just around the proverbial corner from the development of better cancer treatment and prevention.

Further Reading & References:

Nigel G. Kooreman, Youngkyun Kim, Patricia E. de Almeida, Vittavat Termglinchan, Sebastian Diecke, Ning-Yi Shao, Tzu-Tang Wei, Hyoju Yi, Devaveena Dey, Raman Nelakanti, Thomas P. Brouwer, David T. Paik, Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Arnold Han, Paul H.A. Quax, Jaap F. Hamming, Ronald Levy, Mark M. Davis, Joseph C. Wu. Autologous iPSC-Based Vaccines Elicit Anti-tumor Responses In Vivo. Cell Stem Cell, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.01.016

Stanford Medicine. "Induced pluripotent stem cells could serve as cancer vaccine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180215125026.htm.

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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As reported in ScienceDaily, one of the earliest events that occurs with Alzheimer's disease is an unusual buildup of beta-amyloid peptide, which then can form the characteristic amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques disrupt the function of neuronal synapses. Beta-secretase (BACE1) is an enzyme that helps to produce the problematic beta-amyloid peptide.

A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have found that — in mice with Alzheimer's disease — gradually depleting the BACE1 enzyme completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. Not only that, but this reversal also led to improvements in the animals' cognitive function.

The new report, published this week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, brings hope that scientists will be able to develop drugs that target this enzyme in a bid to find a successful treatment for Alzheimer's disease in people.

Testing BACE1 reduction in adult mice

BACE1 controls many important processes, so simply getting rid of the enzyme could have serious side effects. Mice completely lacking BACE1 have severe neurodevelopmental defects — but, researchers wondered, would inhibiting this enzyme in adults be less harmful?

To find out, the team of scientists generated mice that gradually lose the BACE1 enzyme as they age. These mice developed as expected and seemed to remain perfectly healthy throughout their lifespan. Next, the team bred these mice with a group of mice that begin to develop amyloid plaques and Alzheimers disease when they reach 75 days old. The resulting offspring formed plaques at the expected age, with BACE1 levels close to half what they would normally be at 75 days.

Incredibly, these plaques began to shrink and disappear as the mice continued aging (and as their BACE1 levels continued to fall). Even more remarkable, by the time these cross-bred mice reached 10 months of age, the plaques had entirely disappeared.

In addition, the lower BACE1 activity also led to lower beta-amyloid peptide levels and reversals in other benchmarks of Alzheimer's disease (like the activation of microglial cells and formation of abnormal neuronal processes). The memory of the mice with Alzheimers disease saw improvement with the loss of BACE1 — but the depletion of the enzyme only partially restored synaptic activity, which may point to BACE1 as necessary for optimal cognition.

More study is needed, but this groundbreaking research certainly suggests progress in identifying treatments for Alzheimers disease, something that has proved elusive thus far.

Further Reading & References

Xiangyou Hu, Brati Das, Hailong Hou, Wanxia He, Riqiang Yan. BACE1 deletion in the adult mouse reverses preformed amyloid deposition and improves cognitive functions. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2018; jem.20171831 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20171831

Rockefeller University Press. "Alzheimer's disease reversed in mouse model." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180214093712.htm.

Alzheimer's Disease Reversed in Mouse Model." Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. 14 February 2018. https://genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/alzheimers-disease-reversed-in-mouse-model/81255493

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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DNA Transcription: New Research Offers New Insight

Written by lkods on February 16, 2018. Posted in Blog

In order to "read" the information from a gene — for purposes like mapping a human genome — the gene first needs to be copied. This transcription process uses a factory molecule (RNA polymerase) that works much like a biological jump-drive: it attaches to the DNA at the beginning of a gene, "downloads" the genetic information into the RNA molecule, and then terminates the transcription process at the end of the gene.

Not surprisingly, it is critical to start and stop this transcription process at exactly the correct place or the data (in this case, the RNA transcript) may become corrupted, meaning that it might not make any sense or sometimes may even cause harm.

As ScienceDaily reports, new research published this month in Genes & Development looks at understanding how the transcription process is terminated.

In general, there have been two models that are used to explain how this transcription process stops.

Allosteric Model of Termination

The allosteric model suggests that the properties of RNA polymerase are changed after binding or losing some of its associated proteins, causing it to detach from the DNA. Essentially, termination can be attributed to structural change to the RNA polymerase unit.

Torpedo Model of Termination

The torpedo model proposes that at the ends of genes, a "molecular torpedo" jumps onto the RNA and chases the RNA polymerase, bumping it off the DNA when it catches it.

Looking for Answers with Gene Editing

In this study, the scientists used the approach of gene editing to identify this molecular torpedo.

The team of researchers was then able to eliminate strategic mechanisms in a short time frame, which in turn gave the scientists a better look at what, exactly, was occurring. They then took this modality and combined it with a technique that illustrates the exact position of RNA polymerase on all genes in a cell.

Gene editing technology has been making a lot of news cycles as of late, especially when it comes to the therapeutic potential of such technology. Research like this shows a different side of this progress, however, by using these advances as a biological tool to look more closely at cellular processes. Removing the molecular torpedo demonstrated that the RNA polymerase took much longer to stop, and this result was seen in most genes.

Further Reading & References:

Joshua D. Eaton, Lee Davidson, David L.V. Bauer, Toyoaki Natsume, Masato T. Kanemaki, and Steven West. Xrn2 accelerates termination by RNA polymerase II, which is underpinned by CPSF73 activity. Genes and Development, 2018

University of Exeter. "New insight into workings of building blocks of life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180212105240.htm.

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Medical science has reached an exciting new milestone this month, when scientists were able to successfully produce human kidney tissue within a living organism. Not just any kidney tissue, though — this is FUNCTIONING kidney tissue with the ability to produce urine. This is widely regarded as a significant breakthrough in the path to creating treatments for kidney disease, as ScienceDaily reports.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and Kidney Research UK, and lead by Professors Sue Kimber and Adrian Woolf from the University of Manchester. The results were recently published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

How'd They Do That?

Kidney glomeruli (microscopic parts of the organ) were created from human embryonic stem cells, grown in a laboratory setting using a culture medium that contained molecules promoting kidney development. These were combined with a gel-like substance (to mimic natural connective tissues), and the mixture was then injected under the skin of mice.

Three months later

After a 90-day wait, the team examined the tissues and found that nephrons — the core structural and functional feature of the kidney — had developed. These tissue samples included most of the nephrons found in humans, including proximal tubules, distal tubules, Bowmans capsule, and Loop of Henle. In addition, small human capillaries had developed inside the mice, providing nourishment to the new kidney tissues.

These new tissues lacked a key component, however — they did not develop a large artery, without which the organ will only function at a fraction of what would normally be expected. The researchers are working with surgeons to work on adding an artery to bring more blood to the kidney tissue.

When tested, it was determined that the tissue was functioning as kidney cells — the structure was filtering blood and producing urine, a medical first.

What's Next

While this is a significant step that certainly proves the concept, there is important research still to come. Scientists hope to build upon this breakthrough by determining an exit route for the urine that is produced, and from there, a way to deliver this technology to diseased kidneys.

Further Reading and Reference

Ioannis Bantounas, Parisa Ranjzad, Faris Tengku, Edina Silajdi, Duncan Forster, Marie-Claude Asselin, Philip Lewis, Rachel Lennon, Antonius Plagge, Qi Wang, Adrian S. Woolf, Susan J. Kimber. Generation of Functioning Nephrons by Implanting Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Kidney Progenitors. Stem Cell Reports, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.01.008

University of Manchester. "Scientists create functioning kidney tissue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180209112402.htm.

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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Detecting Alzheimer’s risk with a blood test

Written by lkods on February 12, 2018. Posted in Blog

Could it really be so simple?

New research suggests that something as simple as a blood test could potentially reveal whether a person is at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

As ScienceNews reports, Alzheimer's patients will commonly begin developing a protein called amyloid-beta in their brain long before any outward sign of the disease develops. Detecting these A-beta buildups ("plaques") in the brain is traditionally done via brain scan or spinal tap, but research is showing that it may be possible to also use A-beta blood levels to predict the presence of these plaques.

A recent study published online in Nature outlines a test to successfully detect plaques as measured by the presence of A-beta in blood plasma with about 90% accuracy (as corroborated by PET brain scan). These results are in line with those from a smaller study that took place last year, performed by a different team of researchers.

Detecting A-beta levels in blood plasma

Developing a blood test for this has historically been challenging, as there are relatively tiny A-beta levels in the blood (as compared to the amounts that build up in the brain), and it has been difficult to find a consistent correlation between the presence of A-beta buildup in the brain and A-beta levels in the blood. This new study used a more sensitive measuring technique (mass spectrometry), allowing for the detection of minute amounts of the protein in blood plasma.

Interpreting A-beta results with ratios

Rather than looking at the total A-beta level found in the blood, the research team instead looked to the ratio between different types of A-beta. These ratios allowed the scientists to differentiate between those who had A-beta brain plaques and those who didn't.

The team created a composite biomarker score by combining two different ratios, which allowed them to predict the presence or absence of A-beta plaques in the brain with ~90% accuracy.

Looking Forward

Currently, there exists no known treatment for Alzheimer's that is able to slow or stop the progression of the disease, so detecting this early isn't able to improve patient outcome at the moment. However, researchers believe that a blood test like this could help to identify those who may be good candidates for clinical trials of early interventions.

While these results are promising, the test still needs to be researched and refined further before it would be ready for use. At the moment, it is not clear whether this blood test would eventually be more affordable than the traditional methods of detection, like brain scans and spinal taps.

Further Reading:

A. Nakamura et al. High performance plasma amyloid- biomarkers for Alzheimers disease. Nature Published online January 31, 2018. doi:10.1038/nature25456.

V. Ovod et al. Amyloid concentrations and stable isotope labeling kinetics of human plasma specific to central nervous system amyloidosis. Alzheimers & Dementia. Vol. 13, August 2017, p. 841. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2017.06.2266.

L. Hamers. A blood test could predict the risk of Alzheimers disease. Science News. February 1, 2018. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/blood-test-could-predict-risk-alzheimers

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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Although the first embryonic stem cells were developed from mice in 1981, and human embryonic stem cells were cultured in 1998, bovine embryonic stem cells have proved elusive until now, as reported in Science Mag.

What makes an embryonic stem cell so useful in research?

Key to successful embryonic stem cells is their pluripotency — the ability of the cells to differentiate into other cell types. In the case of pluripotent embryonic stem cells, they have no fixed developmental potential and the new bovine embryonic stem cells could make it easier to improve animal genetics.

Bovine stem cells have proved tricky to create, as stem cells cultured from cow embryos would quickly lose their pluripotency and develop into specific cell types when grown in a lab.

The beauty of embryonic stem cells is that they could become a wide variety of tissues, which (in the case of bovine embryonic stem cells) could make it easier to modify and/or preserve useful genetic traits of the various breeds of cattle. This could lead to animals that could theoretically produce more milk or higher-quality meat, have an easier time giving birth, or better resist common diseases. The possibilities are endless, really.

How'd they do that?

The research team used a unique culture medium that combined two key ingredients: a protein to boost cell growth and propagation, and a different molecule that inhibits cell development (so that the embryonic stem cells would be unable to differentiate into more mature cell types).

This combination both sped up and hampered cell development, resulting in stem cells that remained pluripotent in a laboratory setting over a long period of time.

How can this technology be used?

These cells could hypothetically make it possible for breeders to select more genetically-advantaged animals by testing embryonic stem cells from different embryos for desired genetic traits (and then even potentially creating clones from those cells).

Researchers are also looking at ways to develop these bovine embryonic stem cells into bovine sperm and egg cells, which would open up a method for creating embryos with new genetic combinations, isolating even more stem cells from the best ones. This sequence (stem cell, sperm/egg, embryo, stem cell) could then allow for livestock genetics companies to rapidly cycle through generations without needing to birth any animals, potentially fast-tracking genetic progress in an exponential way.

Access to a new species of embryonic stem cells could also open new research opportunities. For example, this may make it possible for creating large-animal models that could mimic human disease more closely than mice are able to.

Embryonic stem cells are still proving difficult to produce from most species — the new culture medium is showing early promise with sheep cells, and researchers are looking to test this with additional species in the near future.

Further Reading:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "First cow embryonic stem cells could lead to healthier, more productive livestock." Science Magazine Vol 359, Issue 6375. doi:10.1126/science.aat2197

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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Aging and Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor Type 1 (PAI-1)

Written by lkods on February 7, 2018. Posted in Blog

A recent article in GEN, titled "Gene Variant in Amish a Clue to Better Aging," illustrates how a genetic mutation could provide a better understanding of diseases related to aging.

It all circles back to a protein called plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1, shortened to PAI-1. Lacking this protein creates a life-threatening blood-clotting disorder, as initially observed in an Amish woman decades ago (when she was still a child). Since that time, several others in the community have also been diagnosed with the same unusual bleeding condition and complete PAI-1 deficiency.

How, though, is this related to aging?

PAI-1 has a confirmed link to cardiovascular disease, and further research determined that PAI-1 is also related to cellular senescence (when a cell essentially "sleeps" as a result of cellular damage).

Once these connections were verified — PAI-1 to senescence, senescence to aging — it inevitably led to further research and questions.

Would limiting PAI-1 in an aging adult help to counter the effects of aging and cellular senescence? And could this be done in a way that doesn't result in issues like blood-clotting disorders?

Where the research is going

Researchers are now working on investigational drugs to try and partially inhibit PAI-1 such that benefits are seen (and health problems are not). Early animal tests are proving promising, and researchers are hopeful that this will help them to develop treatments for conditions like chronic kidney disease (which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease), Alzheimer's, diabetes, and fibrotic diseases like systemic sclerosis.

The goal with this research is not to necessarily make people live far longer, but rather to suppress age-related disease so that people would be able to be healthier longer into their life span.

You can read the full article at: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News: Feb 1, 2018 (Vol. 38, No. 3)

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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Eliminating Cancer in Mice – New Vaccine Shows Promise

Written by lkods on February 7, 2018. Posted in Blog

It's the holy grail of cancer research: finding a treatment option that is (1) affordable and (2) highly effective in eliminating cancer. A recent study from Stanford University Medical Center is showing great promise in pioneering a groundbreaking potential cancer treatment that might just meet both of those criteria.

The research focuses on using two different immune-stimulating agents, applied locally.

As reported by ScienceDaily, directly injecting small amounts of two different immune-stimulating agents into solid tumors in mice is leading to all traces of cancer are being eliminated. This doesn't just include the tumor itself, but also encompasses distant, untreated instances elsewhere in the mouse.

Researchers believe that applying small amounts of these agents in such a localized way could eventually lead to a rapid and affordable cancer therapy, one that is unlikely to create the same adverse side effects that often occur with whole-body immune stimulation.

At the moment, one of these agents is already approved for human use, and the other has been tested for use in humans in several unrelated clinical trials.

Advances in immunotherapy

Cancer immunotherapy aims to use the body's own immune system to fight cancer. Some approaches look to stimulate the immune system as a whole, throughout the entire body, whereas others look to more narrowly target naturally-occurring checkpoints, limiting the anti-cancer activity of immune cells. Others, like CAR T-cell therapy (which was recently approved for treating some types of leukemia and lymphomas), remove immune cells from a patient, and then genetically engineer them to attack tumor cells.

While many of the studied approaches have shown successes, they each have their own downsides, as well. For example, some create hard-to-handle side effects, and others require long treatment times and/or extensive preparation time.

In contrast, this study looks to use a one-time application of minute amounts of the two agents, with the hope of stimulating the immune cells only within the tumor itself. When studied in mice, body-wide effects were observed, including eliminating tumors throughout the animal (not just the targeted tumor itself).

Further study is underway, with a small-scale clinical trial of low-grade lymphoma patients as the focus. If successful, this approach could lead to treatment for a wide range of tumor types.

Further Reading:

Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Debra K. Czerwinski, Shoshana Levy, Israt S. Alam, Aaron T. Mayer, Sanjiv S. Gambhir, Ronald Levy. Eradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy. Science Translational Medicine, 2018; 10 (426): eaan4488 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4488

Stanford University Medical Center. "Cancer 'vaccine' eliminates tumors in mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180131184751.htm

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Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and new research suggests that there could be a link between developing colon cancer and the presence of two common types of bacteria in the gut.

A new study published in the journal Science finds that two specific types of gut bacteria - Bacteroides fragilis and a strain of E. coli - may work together when it comes to the growth of tumors in the colon.

This is the latest in a growing body of research that suggests that the intestinal microbiome may play a key role in the immune system overall.

So how, exactly, do these two bacteria contribute to the development of colon cancer?

As the New York Times reports, these two identified strains of bacteria are able to work together to pierce the mucus shield lining the colon. Once past this protective lining, the bacteria is then able to grow into a thin film that covers the intestinal lining with microbes.

E. coli releases a toxin that damages the DNA of colon cells, while B. fragilis produces a different toxin that both damages the DNA and inflames the cells. In combination, these two bacteria can feed tumor growth.

What are the implications of having this bacteria in the gut?

These bacteria are not present in all people. For those who do have this bacteria present in the gut, its thought that they acquire the microbes in childhood where they simply become part of the mass of gut bacteria. Its not clear whether these bacteria would ever become a problem for most people who have them, but the new research suggests that they may contribute to taking precancerous cells and accelerating them down the path toward cancer.

The bacterial duo has been detected at the earliest stages of colon cancer, whereas they were found to be mainly absent form colon tissue samples from healthy people.

What's next?

More research is needed to determine whether these findings could be used to find any type of treatment down the road, but the findings show promise in developing preventative strategies in the future, like looking for bacteria during routine colonoscopies, and possibly even developing vaccines against one or both of the bacterial strains.

Learn More: Gut Microbes Combine to Cause Colon Cancer, Study Suggests. By GINA KOLATA FEB. 1, 2018

Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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A cell can hold how many protein molecules, exactly?

Written by lkods on February 5, 2018. Posted in Blog

It sounds like the opening to a really cheesy science joke

How many protein molecules are there in a cell?

But the answer isnt a punch line, its 42 million.

As ScienceDaily reports, scientists have finally put a number to this age-old question, concluding years of speculation and paving the way for further research into the effect protein levels could have on an organisms health.

Proteins do much of the heavy-lifting when it comes to the actual work that cells perform.

Not only that, but many diseases can be traced back to having too much or too little of a given protein. The more that researchers are able to find out about what proteins cells actually contain (and how many!), the more they will be able to learn about how protein abundance is controlled and potentially be able to fix things when protein levels go awry.

Up to this point, protein abundance has been studied in a variety of different ways, which makes it hard to compare data between different labs and studies.

For example, some researchers have estimated protein levels by using fluorescent tags on protein molecules and extrapolating abundance by how much the cells glow. But with variance in instrumentation, different labs would record different levels of emitted light. Other researchers and labs would use entirely different approaches. Because of this, it was difficult to conceptualize how many proteins there are in a cell, since the data was consistently reported so differently.

To begin quantifying the number of protein molecules per cell, researchers looked to bakers yeast a single-cell microbe that is easy to study and offers a look at the makeup and function of a basic cell. Also helpful is the fact that numerous studies exist that measured the abundance of all yeast proteins, offering a comprehensive data set for benchmarking and analysis.

For the first time, it was possible to calculate how many molecules of each protein existed in a cell, with the total number of molecules estimated at around 42 million.

Not only that, but researchers were able to discern mechanisms by which cells were able to control the levels of different proteins, which could eventually help researchers study similar things in human cells and find potential molecular roots of disease. They were also able to demonstrate a correlation between protein supply and role in the cell, which allows for potential future research into using abundance data to predict protein functions.

Interested in learning more?

University of Toronto. "A cell holds 42 million protein molecules, scientists reveal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180117131202.htm.

Brandon Ho, Anastasia Baryshnikova, Grant W. Brown. Unification of Protein Abundance Datasets Yields a Quantitative Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteome. Cell Systems, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cels.2017.12.004

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The Mexican salamander axolotl has long been a favorite biological model for developmental, regeneration, and evolutionary studies. What, exactly, makes the axolotl so fascinating?

It can regenerate body parts.

If the salamander loses a limb, it can grow a perfect replacement within weeks. The regenerated limb is fully complete with all of the necessary bones, muscles, and nerves. Not only that, but the axolotl can even repair severe injuries - like a severed spinal cord - and retinal tissue.

Decoding and Sequencing the Genome

A team of researchers led by scientists in Vienna, Dresden, and Heidelberg has recently taken an important next step in studying the axolotl, as reported recently in ScienceDaily. They have decoded the entire genetic information of the axolotl, making this the largest genome ever sequenced, and providing scientists with a new way to study tissue and limb regeneration on a molecular basis.

Scientists have been looking for a way to fully understand regeneration (and why it is so limited in most species), but the axolotl genome has been difficult to completely assemble due to its massive size roughly 32 billion base pairs, more than 10x the size of the human genome.

An international team of researchers have now managed to sequence, assemble, annotate, and even analyze the complete axolotl genome with the help of technology like the PacBio-platform and specialty software systems.

Interpreting the data

Analyzing the assembled genome is already leading to discoveries that uncover the uniqueness of the axolotl several genes have been identified as existing only in axolotl and other amphibian species that are expressed in limb tissue regeneration, and an essential developmental gene (PAX3) is completely missing from the genome, with a different gene taking over those functions.

The gene sequence has been made publicly available, creating a powerful resource for researchers around the globe to make further discoveries about tissue- and limb-regeneration.

For more information, read the full article on ScienceDaily.

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Flu Vaccine Reinvented

Written by lkods on January 23, 2018. Posted in Blog

As the flu season is in full swing across the United States, scientists are looking at better methods to provide the population with stronger immunity, as outlined in a recent article by ScienceNews.

In general, vaccines protect from illness by stimulating antibodies in order to block viruses. When it comes to the flu, however, this approach is not always as effective as we'd hope - influenza antibodies are strain-specific, and the flu shot is formulated to protect against the most likely strains.

While this definitely does much of the heavy lifting (seriously, get your flu shot!), every year there are strains that emerge that are not included in the vaccine. This can lead to widespread outbreaks of influenza across broad sections of the country.

Taking a different approach, researchers are looking to develop a flu vaccine that will keep influenza viruses from escaping the body's first line of defense - a powerful antiviral system that includes various immune proteins and cells.

Making the influenza virus more visible to the immune system will help to bring about a strong immune response, helping the body to fight the virus more effectively.

Called the hyper-interferon-sensitive (HIS) virus, this new method of vaccination is showing promise. In a recent study, mice infected with HIS survived exposure to lethal doses of several different strains of influenza A, while the majority of those exposed without HIS vaccination did not survive.

Researchers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in the genetic material of the influenza virus, creating a weakened version for vaccination purposes that is still able to jump-start the immune system. This approach could also be useful for creating more effective vaccines for other viruses, as well.

Find out more about the efforts to create a universal flu vaccine, and enjoy the full article on ScienceNews.

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TIME reports that scientists are making inroads when it comes to creating ways to detect many types of cancer at a very early stage, a breakthrough that will be especially welcome for the most deadly types of cancer that currently don't have routine early-detection methods.

New "Liquid Biopsy" Blood Test Shows Promise

Johns Hopkins University scientists have been working on a liquid biopsy test of sorts, with the goal of finding DNA and other matter that tumors can shed into blood, looking to find the cancer before it spreads. Catching tumors at an early stage, before they are detected by other means, can greatly increase the chances for successful treatment.

Early success in detecting common types of cancer

The blood test developed by Johns Hopkins University scientists can currently detect around 70% of eight common types of cancer, as tested on just over one thousand patients who were known to have cancer. The rate of successful detection varied depending on the type of cancer, with lower detection rates for breast tumors, but high rates of detection for ovarian, liver, and pancreatic tumors.

In addition, the test was able to narrow down the possible location of the tumor to one or two likely places, which could help to reduce the amount of follow-up diagnostic care the patient could need to go through. When tested on just over 800 cancer-free patients, the test resulted in only seven false positives.

Great - so what's next?

While the test is not ready for mass-use at this point in time (it needs to be validated in a larger study that focuses on the general population rather than a limited set of cancer patients this testing is already underway), it is exciting to see where the future of medicine and cancer detection could be headed.

For more information, read the full article at TIME.

Innovative Research has been supplying dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials for the past 20 years. Beginning with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today we manufacture and supply thousands of high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

Did you know? Innovative Research offers a wide range of cancer-specific research biologicals, like plasma and serum!

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Nextbigfuture interviewed Michael West, CEO of the startup AgeX for nearly three hours today. The key to human regeneration is from week 3 to week 8 after fertilization of the egg when we are an embryo. In week one and week two, we are a zygote. After week, we are fetus.

Nextbigfuture will follow up this article with several more articles with information from the interview. This article will provide the core of the AgeX approach to full regeneration and radical life extension.

We fully regenerate without scarring from week three to week 8 as embryos but heal with scarring from week 9 onwards

All vertebrate embryos can regenerate the developing limb bud as embryos. This has been demonstrated directly in frog embryos, where it is relatively easy to do the surgical manipulations. In chick embryos, an amputated limb bud fails to regenerate because the epidermal covering fails to reform. If you graft a new apical epidermis, or provide the appropriate chemical signals that the epidermis normally produces (fibroblast growth factor), then the amputated limb bud will regenerate. Amputations of developing mammalian limb buds are very difficult because the embryo develops inside the uterus of the mother. These experiments have been done in mice, and as in the case with frogs, amputated limb structures can regenerate depending on the stage of development. In humans, the developing limb can get amputated at later stages by amniotic constriction bands, and these limbs fail to regenerate. Presumably, if the limb bud is damaged or amputated at very early stages they would regenerate as in the case with frogs.

AgeX believes adult cells and bodies can be made to fully regenerate like they did as embyros

Agex has compared embryo cells with adult cells at the genetic and epigenetic level. They believe they have uncovered pathways which they can use to restore embryonic regeneration in adults.

They call it ITR (Induced Tissue Regeneration).

The first drug to induce ITR is called Renelon. It is a known drug which they have identified as having an ITR effect. It is a first generation drug which will enhance regenerative ability but will not be to the full embryonic level.

Using advanced molecular and artificial intelligence technologies, they identified pathways that they believe may provide means of unlocking this profound biology in human medicine. The pathways suggest that they may also be integral to the biology of aging and cancer as well. Patents relating to this emerging technology called induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR), have been filed and animal studies are currently underway.

They will follow initial ITR drug with more powerful ITR drugs.

BioTime HyStem hydrogel matrix will allow incorporation of your own fat cells like improved Botox

Biotime, the parent company of AgeX, has a stage two process called HyStem.

BioTimes HyStem hydrogel technology is a key foundation for the practice of regenerative medicine. It acts as a volumizer in cosmetic procedures that provides a matrix for the administration of therapeutic cells or biologics to a patient. It is the underlying technology for BioTimes Renevia product currently undergoing a pivotal clinical trial for the treatment of HIV-related lipoatrophy. HyStem matrix products mimic the natural environment that cells experience in the body, called the extracellular matrix. HyStem hydrogels are composed of a patented technology wherein naturally-occurring components of the extracellular matrix such as hyaluronan and collagen are safely cross-linked in the presence of cells in the body to create three-dimensional tissue.

The HyStem Matrix will also allow for incorporation of AgeX brown fat or heart tissue

AgeX will first target scarless heart tissue regeneration to improve the health of heart attack survivors.
AgeX also has an early target for producing brown fat to help people overcome obesity and type two diabetes.

The Mexican Salamander and the fictional Wolverine are Embryos

Mexican Salamanders can grow back a leg that is cut off. They are stuck in an embryonic state. If you give them hormones that non-embryos produce they develop into non-regenerating amphibians.

Michael West believes combining the power of Embryonic regeneration and Telomerase immortalization of cells could enable radical longevity

Michael West developed Telomerase and creating the first immortal cells.

West believes that giving adults the ability to have embyronic level regeneration with lengthened telomeres will enable radical life extension.

This will be discussed along with many other details in follow up articles to this article.

Some Bios of Some AgeX Executives

Michael D. West, Ph.D., served as BioTimes (NYSE MKT: BTX) CEO from 2007-2015, and is currently Co-CEO and member of the Board of Directors since 2002. Dr. West also serves as a Director of BioTimes subsidiary company Asterias Biotherapeutics (NYSE MKT: AST). From 1998 to 2007, Dr. West served as CEO, President, and Chief Scientific Officer of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (now Ocata Therapeutics, Nasdaq: OCAT), a company engaged in developing human stem cell technology for use in regenerative medicine. Prior to that, he was founder, officer, and board member of Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN).

Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Research Foundation, a California-based 501(c)(3) biomedical research charity that performs and funds laboratory research dedicated to combating the aging process. He received his BA in computer science and Ph.D. in biology from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, the worlds highest-impact peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. He is a highly sought-after speaker who gives 40-50 invited talks per year at scientific conferences, universities, companies in areas ranging from pharma to life insurance, and to the public. He now dedicates 30% of his time to AgeX.

Original Source: https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/12/embryos-have-full-human-regeneration-and-possibly-radical-life-extension.html Original Date: Dec 20 2017 Author: Brian Wang

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On a cool rainy day last month, more than 100 people rallied at the British Columbia legislature to fight for a drug that has improved the lives of those suffering with cystic fibrosis. The drug is expensive and those gathered at the legislature want it reimbursed by the provincial drug plan.

Shouting slogans and waving signs, their concerns are understandable: When it comes to medicine, all Canadians want access to the treatment that their physicians believe is best for them.

But while the issue over this medication — and others — is generating headlines, there is another health care issue that hasn’t hit the radar for most British Columbians. It involves a type of medicine called biologics, that are used to treat complex diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and more.

Over the last decade, biologic medicines have improved health outcomes in some of the most difficult-to-treat chronic conditions, greatly improving the lives of millions of patients. There are exciting and inspirational advancements on the horizon, with many British Columbia companies at the forefront of this pioneering science.

But there is a growing concern involving biologics — and related drugs called biosimilars. Since it could affect you, or someone you love, allow me to explain.

The most common drugs we use — like the aspirin in our medicine chests — are the product of a chemical mixing process. Cheaper generic drugs — such as no-name brands — are made the same way, carbon copy medicines created using the same chemical recipe. These generic drugs are chemically identical to the brand name ones, and so some public and private drug plans may only cover the generic version.

But biologic medicines are different. Biologic drugs aren’t simple molecules, they are complex genetically-engineered proteins derived from living cells. These therapeutic proteins replace or augment human proteins and are programmed to perform a precise function within the body with enhanced precision to treat the target disease.

This precise and highly-complicated biotechnology is subject to all the same regulations and approvals as other medications.

Now, though, as patents on innovator biologic medicines start to expire, lower cost “biosimilars” are becoming more common in Canada — and they aren’t the same as the original. Biosimilars are similar, but not identical to the originator biologic and they aren’t interchangeable. In most cases, they aren’t made by the same company, haven’t used the same living cells and may not have employed the same manufacturing process.

For patients, this is an important distinction. If your doctor prescribes a biologic drug for a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and you are switched to a biosimilar drug at the pharmacy for non-medical reasons, the substituted medicine may produce a different effect. In fact, Health Canada recommends that a decision to switch a patient being treated with a reference biologic drug (innovator product) to a biosimilar should be made by the treating physician in consultation with the patient and taking into account available clinical evidence and any policies of the relevant jurisdiction.

Confusing, yes. And it gets more complicated.

Currently, the two medications — the originator biologic drug and the biosimilar — have the same scientific name. This is despite the fact Health Canada has said biosimilars are not identical to their originator biologic counterpart and should not be deemed interchangeable.

Recently, the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines conducted a survey of Canadian doctors and found overwhelming support for creating distinguishable names for biologic and biosimilar drugs. Our survey also found that most doctors were not comfortable with a third party switching a patient’s medicine for non-medical reasons. Many worry the different medications may cause adverse effects in patients. I am hoping British Columbia, which is home to a vibrant biotechnology industry, will play a leadership role in working with Canadian physicians and stakeholders to develop guidelines on the responsible switching of originator biologics and biosimilars.

Biosimilars have a role to play in terms of offering patients and physicians lower cost alternatives and different therapeutic options. But for biosimilars to be introduced and used successfully, decision makers must rely on the input and opinions of those who prescribe them.

There is no doubt this is a complicated topic — and it still confuses many patients, doctors and pharmacists. But knowing what we are putting in our bodies is central to the care we receive.

Safety is paramount and the time for action is now. This issue is too important to make a mistake. Our health depends on it.

Michael Reilly is the Executive Director for the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines which is comprised of patients, physicians, pharmacists, health care groups and biotechnology companies.

Original Source: http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-patients-on-biologics-need-to-be-wary-of-substitutions Original Date: Dec 25 2017 Original Author: Michael Reilly

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Chinese firm clones gene-edited dog for blood disorder research

Written by cps on December 27, 2017. Posted in Blog

Disease is leading cause of stroke, heart disease

BEIJING (CNN) - With his black, brown and white fur, Longlong looks like most beagles. But the puppy has been sick with a blood-clotting disorder since birth --- exactly what scientists in China had wanted.

The pup was cloned from Apple, a different dog whose genome was edited to develop the disease atherosclerosis.

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With that genetic information now coded in, the disease -- a leading cause of stroke and heart sickness -- was passed along to Longlong, who scientists will use to study the condition and its possible cures.

Longlong's creator, Beijing-based biotech company Sinogene, said Longlong is the world's first dog cloned from a gene-edited donor. With Longlong's birth, the scientists claimed that China had matched South Korea as a leader in canine cloning technology.

South Korean scientists cloned the first dog, an Afghan hound named Snuppy, in 2005.

"A cloned dog born from a gene-edited cell donor is certainly a breakthrough," says Eugene Redmond, director of Neural Transplantation and Repair at the Yale University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research.

Sinogene have successfully cloned two more puppies in this manner, meaning the company now has four genetically identical puppies -- Apple, Longlong and two new canines, Xixi and Nuonuo.

"Dogs share the most inheritable diseases with human beings, which makes them the best disease models to study," says Feng Chong, technical director at Sinogene.

According to Feng, Longlong's birth was the first time scientists had combined two cutting-edge bio-technologies: A gene-editing tool called CRISPR with somatic cell cloning technology - the method used to clone Dolly the sheep.

Atherosclerosis, in which fatty material builds up and thickens artery walls, can cause heart attacks and strokes, and affects more than 15.8 million Americans alone. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, killing 17.7 million people in 2015, according to the WHO.

To date, researchers say the dogs haven't shown any symptoms of the disorder but they are closely monitoring their health, said Mi Jidong, General Manager of Sinogene. Drugs to treat cardiovascular diseases are already being tested on the healthy animals, he added.

Debating the ethics

While other countries are involved in similar research, China has been at the forefront of genetically customized animals, with scientists engineering monkeys to have a human autism gene, extra-strong dogs and pigs without retroviruses.

But as with other cloning and gene-changing experiments, Sinogene's success has been met with ethical concerns.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement calling Sinogene's research "unethical."

"Cloning is not only expensive, but also inherently cruel," the statement said.

Beyond concerns about the morality of the science, there's also a lack of legal protection for laboratory animals in China. The country is a major producer and user of lab animals. About 20 million lab animals, mostly mice, are used annually for testing, according to China's National Institutes for Food and Drug Control.

Deborah Cao, author of "Animals in China: Law and Society," and professor at Griffith University in Australia told CNN that lab animal welfare is one of the few areas of scientific research protected by law. Yet enforcement and transparency on the humane treatment of lab animals is spotty.

"Little scholarly investigation and reports have been done into the actual use or abuse of laboratory animals in China," Cao says.

China's state media reported last year that the government is writing tougher regulations for lab animals, but it is not clear when such rules would be effective or become legally binding.

Weighing the cost

Some people question the value of pouring money into research that is risky and controversial.

Zhao Jianping, vice manager of Sinogene, says the company's success in dog cloning is about 50 percent. Two surrogate dogs out of four gave birth to three cloned puppies. The other two did not get pregnant.

Apple's birth followed unsuccessful attempts with five puppies whose genes were modified but did not test positive for atherosclerosis.

PETA believes that the funding that goes to such research should be used to help homeless pets rather than create more animals.

"The vast amount of money used to clone could help save millions of cats, dogs and other companion animals who are euthanized at shelters every year because there are not enough homes for them," Chi Szuching, representative of PETA Asia, says.

But scientists at Sinogene believe their work aids the future of pharmaceutical development and biomedical research. The company is planning to produce more cloned dogs like Longlong.

"Gene-edited dogs are very useful for pharmaceutical companies," said Feng. "The supply falls short of the demand every year."

Commercialized cloning?

Feng added that making their gene-edited dogs more accessible could revolutionize research in this area.

The earlier method to create atherosclerosis in dogs was to force feed the animals with meals high in sugar and fat until symptoms appeared. The current technique of gene editing and cloning involves less suffering, he said.

Yale's Redmond agreed: "If anything, making better animal models more focused on the problem of interest could lead to better therapy development, [and] safer treatments, with fewer animals required."

However, Keith Guo, PETA Asia Press Officer for China, said he doubted whether the new method was less cruel than the previous one as the animals will still suffer.

Sinogene's Feng says the animals are treated with care and respect.

The company said it also planned to clone working dogs like police dogs, guide dogs, and even ordinary pets to ensure certain biological traits can be passed on.

Sarah Chan, Chancellor's Fellow in bioethics at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, thinks scale matters when it comes to commercialization -- and ethics.

She doesn't think this kind of research with a small number of test animals poses large ethical concerns just yet.

But if done on a larger scale and in the long term, people need to strike a balance between scientific advances and animal welfare, she said.

Original Author:
Posted: 9:59 PM, December 25, 2017
Updated: 10:22 PM, December 25, 2017

Original Source: https://www.clickorlando.com/health/chinese-firm-clones-geneedited-dog-for-blood-disorder-research

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Biologics may lack the efficacy and safety of traditional orthopaedic treatments

ROSEMONT, Ill., Dec. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Board of Directors approved a new "Use of Emerging Biologic Therapies" position statement urging orthopaedic surgeons and patients to be fully aware of the risks and benefits of stem cell and other biologic treatments for musculoskeletal joint conditions.

The development and use of biologics has expanded within orthopaedics over the past decade with some products reaching the market without extensive research or data. Biologics are treatments isolated or derived from natural sourceshuman or animal stem cells or tissues, or other microorganismsthrough innovative technologies. Common biologic treatments include the injection of platelet rich plasma, a patient's or donor's blood heavily concentrated with platelets, into an osteoarthritis infected joint. Biologics also are used to repair damaged cartilage. Through a process called autologous chondrocyte implantation, healthy cartilage cells are removed from a patient, altered in a lab, and then implanted into a patient's damaged cartilage to help spur regrowth.

"While gaining in popularity, and providing relief for some patients, biologic treatments may lack the demonstrated safety and efficacy of many traditional orthopaedic therapeutics," said J. Tracy Watson, MD, chair of the AAOS Biologics Committee. "The Academy wants to make sure that doctors and patients are making informed treatment decisions, based on the most current research and product indications."

The AAOS "believes that surgeons should be cognizant of the risks, benefits, regulatory status and labeled indications of the products they use," according to the new statement. Two additional Academy guidelines are reference in the new statement: Orthopaedic Surgical Consent and Standards of Professionalism (LINK), which reinforces the role of the orthopaedic surgeons in fully informing patients of the risks and benefits of various treatments, including biologics, and securing patient consent before moving forward with a particular modality.

Finally, the new statement recommends that orthopaedic surgeons and their affiliated hospitals and clinics/organizations participate in orthopaedic registries and other data collection systems to provide much-needed data on the efficacy of biologic treatments.

>More Information about the AAOS With more than 38,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world's largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS provides educational programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal care for patients, and is the authoritative source of information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related issues.

Original Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/physicians-patients-should-be-aware-of-the-potential-benefits-risks-associated-with-biologic-treatments-for-osteoarthritis-according-to-new-aaos-position-statement-300574079.html
Original Date: Dec 20 2017

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