Research Report: Team links protein to cartilage degeneration
A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has found an important link between a protein that declines with age and the development of osteoarthritis, the most common disease of aging affecting nearly 27 million Americans. The study shows how the loss of the protein, found in the surface layer of joint cartilage, leads to the progressive deterioration of the cartilage that is the hallmark of osteoarthritis.
The finding opens the door to developing effective new treatments for osteoarthritis. Currently, no treatment for this degenerative disease exists apart from drugs that reduce pain and inflammation. The results appear in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
New clues to Kawaski
A study looking at the entire human genome has identified new genes that appear to be involved in making some children more susceptible to Kawasaki disease (KD), a serious illness that often leads to coronary artery disease. This is the first genetic study of an infectious disease to look at the whole of the genome, rather than just selected genes.
Researchers from UCSD School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics joined an international research team to study naturally occurring genetic variation in almost 900 cases of KD. This study found that genes involved in cardiovascular function and inflammation may be particularly important and some of these genes seem to function together. The findings may lead to new diagnostics and better treatment. The study appears in “PLoS Genetics.”
Taking aim at cancer
Cancer vaccines have had a mixed record of success at best. Most immunotherapies have focused on revving up immune system antibodies to recognize proteins on tumor cells. Researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD are taking a different approach by focusing on sugar molecules that reside on the surface of cancer cells.
The efforts come after a decade of research proving that the immune system’s destructive” or “killer,” T-cells can recognize sugars on tumor cell surfaces. Researchers have designed “glycopeptides,” compounds in which sugars are linked to peptides that are recognized by T-cells. As part of a vaccine therapy, these glycopeptides rouse immune system T-cells into recognizing specific sugars on tumor cell surfaces, attacking and killing the cancer cells. The current research focus is to develop a low-cost immunotherapy for prostate carcinoma that may also have use against a variety of other carcinomas as well.