Week 3: Univercells launches new platform, horses may hold the key to osteoarthritis management, and can receipt paper be damaging to your health?

Posted on January 24, 2019 in Ingredients & Advances

Can Deep Learning and Routine Blood Tests Shed Light on Biological Effects of Smoking?

Research out of Insilico Medicine seem to think so, as reported here by GEN. Specifically, the team wanted to know the impacts smoking had on biological age. It has been well documented that smoking has other serious and detrimental impacts on overall health, with social understanding that it can appear to physically age a person. But now there may be strong evidence to back up this claim.

The study focused on being able to determine whether a subject was a smoker based on blood chemistry and artificial intelligence (AI). By utilizing age-prediction models, researchers discovered that female smokers appeared as twice their actual physical age, while male smokers appeared to be one and a half times their actual physical age.

Belgium-based Univercells Debuts NevoLine

In an effort to aid in the global eradication of polio, Univercells has developed a self-contained, low cost, low footprint solution to develop and manufacture inactivated polio vaccines (sIPV).

Composed of a series of cabinets, the biotechnology was developed as a result of an initial $12M Grand Challenges grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. NevoLine can produce trivalent sIPV vaccines at $0.30 per dose, a five-fold reduction to current costs. As a result, a $4M grant extension was given to the consortium of Univercells, Batavia Biosciences, and Merck to scale up the process.

Read more on this exciting new development here.

Abbott Receives FDA Approval for Pediatric Implant

The medtech giant launches its newest member to their line of implants treating patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a congenital heart condition characterized by an opening in the heart, effecting premature and newborn babies.

The new device can be used in patients weighing as little as two pounds. The Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder is a self-expanding wire mesh device that seals the opening between two vessels leading to the heart closing normally during development.

Abbott already has approved devices to treat PDA in older pediatric patients, with the Piccolo device being its newest and smallest. This is in addition to the world’s smallest mechanical heart valve, around the size of a dime, that is used is patients with mitral or aortic valve replacement in infants and children.

Read more from FireceBiotech’s coverage here.

Could Receipt Paper Contain Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals?

A study out of University of Granada (Spain) indicates yes. The study looked at thermal-type paper used to print most store receipts and found that the majority of those tested in Spain and Brazil, and about half of those tested in France, contained BPA Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is mass-produced and well-known to cause a disruption in endogenous hormones.

The paper in question turns black when exposed to heat and displays the ability to have estrogenic and antiandrogenic effects on the body. This means that BPA can mimic estrogen within the body and block androgens, such as testosterone. The common BPA alternative, Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol F (BPF) also display similar characteristics to BPA as endocrine-disruptors and can be found as an alternative to BPA in thermal paper. BPA has been associated with many conditions such as cancer, infertility, genitourinary malformation, and obesity, to name a few.

Researchers advised that these types of paper should be handled minimally, if at all, and should not come into contact with food. In addition, they suggested that regulations and changes should be made to limit the exposure of these thermal paper components, which can be found in many recycled materials such as toilet paper and napkins.

Read more from GEN here.

Does an Enzyme Hold the Answer to Pain Management for Osteoarthritis in Horses, and Humans?

Research out of the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine thinks an enzyme used to control the metamorphosis of caterpillars may help manage pain in those suffer from osteoarthritis and other skeletal pain, as reported by

Where did they look? The horse, of course.

The team looked at an enzyme that was studied in insects at UC Davis during the 1980s, called JHEH that was used to control insects, and found that mammals have a similar enzyme called soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). Since most mammals don’t undergo metamorphosis, Dr Alonso Guedes, DVM, MS, PhD, wanted to study what role sEH plays in mammalian bodies. He discovered that it actually blocks cells from being able to repair themselves properly.

He studied sEH’s role in horses who are impacted by laminitis, a condition that causes the lining of their hoof capsule to separate from their hoof bone due to the presence of inflammation. This can lead to severe pain and be potentially life-threatening, with intense follow up care required for the remainder of the horse’s life.

The lining, called the laminae, acts as a Velcro-like structure and suspends the hoof bone inside the hoof capsule. This Velcro-like structure is held together by proteins. These proteins can be broken down in the presence of inflammation, which can occur for various reasons, causing the bone to start rotating within the hoof capsule. The hoof capsule is similar in structure to the human nail in how it grows and behaves.

Dr Guedes and his team believe that by inhibiting sEH, they can help protect any connections of the laminae and help maintain the foot’s integrity. In turn, this would allow for more blood flow to be delivered to the damaged areas and increase healing potential.

A small sample size of patients have been treated, both with laminitis and osteoarthritis, showing promising results when used in conjunction with pain meds. A similar compound is being tested in human patients with neuropathy.