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Discovery of New Biomarker in Blood Could Lead to Early Test for Alzheimer’s Disease – UC San Diego Health

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Researchers at the University of California San Diego discovered that high blood levels of RNA produced by the PHGDH gene could serve as a biomarker for early detection of Alzheimers disease. The work could lead to the development of a blood test to identify individuals who will develop the disease years before they show symptoms.

The team published their findingsin Current Biology.

The PHGDH gene produces RNA and proteins that are critical for brain development and function in infants, children and adolescents. As people get older, the gene typically ramps down its production of these RNAs and proteins. The new study, led by Sheng Zhong, a professor of bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering in collaboration with Dr. Edward Koo, a professor of neuroscience at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, suggests that overproduction of a type of RNA, called extracellular RNA (exRNA), by the PHGDH gene in the elderly could provide an early warning sign of Alzheimers disease.

Several known changes associated with Alzheimers disease usually show up around the time of clinical diagnosis, which is a little too late. We had a hunch that there is a molecular predictor that would show up years before, and thats what motivated this study, Zhong said.

The discovery was made possible thanks to a technique developed by Zhong and colleagues that is sensitive enough to sequence tens of thousands of exRNAs in less than one drop of blood. The method, dubbed SILVER-SEQ, was used to analyze the exRNA profiles in blood samples of 35 elderly individuals 70 years and older who were monitored up to 15 years prior to death. The subjects consisted of 15 patients with Alzheimers disease; 11 converters, which are subjects who were initially healthy then later developed Alzheimers; and 9 healthy controls. Clinical diagnoses were confirmed by analysis of post-mortem brain tissue.

The results showed a steep increase in PHGDH exRNA production in all converters approximately two years before they were clinically diagnosed with Alzheimers. PHGDH exRNA levels were on average higher in Alzheimers patients. They did not exhibit an increasing trend in the controls, except for in one control that became classified as a converter.

The researchers note some uncertainty regarding the anomalous converter. Since the subject died sometime during the 15-year monitoring, it is unclear whether that individual would have indeed developed Alzheimers if he or she lived longer, Zhong said.

The team acknowledges additional limitations of the study.

This is a retrospective study based on clinical follow-ups from the past, not a randomized clinical trial on a larger sample size. So we are not yet calling this a verified blood test for Alzheimers disease, said co-first author Zixu Zhou, a bioengineering alumnus from Zhongs lab who is now at Genemo Inc., a startup founded by Zhong. Nevertheless, our data, which were from clinically collected samples, strongly support the discovery of a biomarker for predicting the development of Alzheimers disease.

In addition to randomized trials, future studies will include testing if the PHGDH biomarker can be used to identify patients who will respond to drugs for Alzheimers disease.

The team is also open to collaborating with Alzheimers research groups that might be interested in testing and validating this biomarker.

If our results can be replicated by other centers and expanded to more cases, then it suggests that there are biomarkers outside of the brain that are altered before clinical disease onset and that these changes also predict the possible onset or development of Alzheimers disease, Koo said.If this PDGDH signal is shown to be accurate, it can be quite informative for diagnosis and even treatment response for Alzheimers research.

This study was performed in collaboration with Genemo Inc.

Paper title: Presymptomatic Increase of an Extracellular RNA in Blood Plasma Associates with the Development of Alzheimers Disease. Co-authors include Zhangming Yan*, UC San Diego; Qiuyang Wu*, Genemo Inc.; and Zhen Chen, Beckman Research Institute.

*These authors contributed equally

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Discovery of New Biomarker in Blood Could Lead to Early Test for Alzheimer's Disease - UC San Diego Health

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The New Study finds a New Biomarker in Blood for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s disease – TheHealthMania

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm

A new study published in the journal Current Biology by the researchers at the University of California San Diego discovers that high blood levels of RNA delivered by the PHGDH gene could fill in as a biomarker for early recognition of Alzheimers disease. The work could prompt the advancement of a blood test to distinguish people who will build up the disease years before the side effects shown by them.

The proteins and RNA that are produced by the PHGDH gene are basic for mental health and functions in newborn children, kids and teenagers. As individuals get older, the gene ordinarily inclines down its creation of these proteins and RNAs.

Study in detail here.

The lead author of the study is a professor of bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering in collaboration, Sheng Zhong proposes that the PHGDH gene causes the overproduction of a kind of RNA, called extracellular RNA (exRNA) that could give an early admonition indication of Alzheimers ailment in older people.

Read more-New Research Shows Air Pollution Is One of the Top Causes of Death Worldwide

Sheng Zhong tells that A few realized changes related with Alzheimers ailment for the most part appear around the hour of clinical finding, which is excessively late. Researchers suspected that there is an molecular predictor that would show up a long time previously, and that is the thing that persuaded this investigation

This discovery is just made due to a technique created by Zhong and colleagues that is sufficiently enough to succession countless exRNAs in under one drop of blood. The strategy, named SILVER-SEQ, was utilized to examine the exRNA profiles in blood tests of more than thirty old people 70 years and those who were checked as long as 15 years before death.

The outcomes indicated a precarious increment in PHGDH exRNA creation in all converters roughly two years before they were clinically determined to have Alzheimers. PHGDH exRNA levels were on normal higher in Alzheimers patients. An expanding pattern wasnt shown in the controls, aside from in one control that got named a converter.

Zhong further tells that the scientists noted some vulnerability in regards to the irregular converter. Since the subject died at some point during the 15-year checking, it is indistinct whether that individual would have undoubtedly built up Alzheimers if the person lived longer.

The co-first author, Zixu Zhou who is a bioengineering alumnus from Zhongs lab, explains that this is a review study dependent on clinical subsequent meet-ups from the past, not a randomized clinical preliminary on a bigger sample size. So researchers are not yet calling this a checked blood test for Alzheimers disease.

In this study, the data from clinically gathered samples strongly bolster the revelation of a biomarker for anticipating the development of Alzheimers disease. In addition to randomized preliminaries, future examinations will incorporate testing if the PHGDH biomarker can be utilized to recognize patients who will react to drugs for Alzheimers ailment.

Read more-The New Study Finds that Psychiatric disorders Cause Pregnancy Issues

The team is also open to collaborating with Alzheimers research groups that might be interested in testing and validating this biomarker.

The studys team is also working together with Alzheimers research group that may be keen on testing and approving this biomarker.

Koo tells that if the outcomes of this study can be recreated by different centres and extended to more cases, at that point it recommends that there are biomarkers outside of the brain that are modified before clinical disease onset and that these progressions additionally foresee the conceivable onset or development of Alzheimers malady.

If this PDGDH signal is demonstrated to be precise, it tends to be very educational for diagnosis and treatment response for Alzheimers examination.

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The New Study finds a New Biomarker in Blood for Early Detection of Alzheimer's disease - TheHealthMania

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UH students turn alcohol project into hand sanitizer – UH System Current News

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm

CTAHR students distilling alcohol into hand sanitizer.

Desperate times call for imaginative measures. Instead of making rum and ginger beer, students in the University of Hawaii at Mnoas College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering (MBBE) are using the knowledge they gained to distill hand sanitizer to help combat COVID-19.

The project began in early March, when classmates in fermentation biochemistry were originally planning to make rum for the annual CTAHR Awards Banquet by fermenting sugar and water to be distilled into alcohol. However, public shortages of hand sanitizer caused by COVID-19 led them to change direction and turn the product into hand sanitizer.

The class only had to alter a few steps in the process, including distilling the spirit to a greater percentage of ethanol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines call for hand sanitizers to be at least 60 percent alcohol to kill the coronavirus, and the students product will meet that mark.

Fermentation biochemistry course consultant and MBBE PhD candidate Nick Sinclair is excited about the project. We are hoping that all of Hawaii will be able to benefit from us alleviating at least our section of the populace from having to buy hand sanitizer, he said. This is also a learning experience for everyone involved, so this experience enriches our education as well.

After distillation, the pulp of fresh, locally grown aloe provided by specialist Ken Leonhardt from the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences was extracted and blended smooth. This creates a gel-like consistency and keeps the spirit from drying out hands excessively. Next, it will be mixed with the distilled alcohol and the product will be tested.

Eventually, we hope to be able to distribute it at the very least to people around us, but the class is also working on other channels of distribution, said Sinclair.

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Wave Of Higher Ed Shutdowns Threatens Americas Progress In Getting Low-Income, First-Generation Students To And Through College – Forbes

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 12: Graduate student Aubrey Simonson protests inside Building 10 on ... [+] the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology after students were asked to move out of their dorms due to the coronavirus. Protestors were frustrated by MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Only a few weeks ago, Brandy Caldwell was finishing up her senior year at Bostons Brandeis University when she got the notice: The coronavirus was forcing a campus shutdown in two days.

For most students, that meant a hasty packing up and a quick car trip home to their parents. But for Caldwell, 22, it wasnt that easy.

I am a homeless college student. I went into foster care when I was 5 years old and aged out when I was 21, Caldwell said. Technically, I dont have a place to go. I have no permanent address. Where was I going to go?

From a public health perspective, the recent wave of short-notice college shutdowns may make sense. But for thousands of first-generation college-goers and there are far more of them than ever the closures of more than 200 schools across the U.S. present special emergencies. How do I pay for a plane ticket home? How will I replace the income from a campus work study program? If I cant afford to return to my four-year college, how will enrolling in a local community college affect my life plans?

The challenges appear serious enough to threaten the fragile progress the nation has made in recent years in getting more low-income students both enrolled in college and earning degrees progress I laid out in my recent book, The B.A. Breakthrough: How Ending Diploma Disparities Can Change the Face of America.

In that book I describe a college world foreign to most middle-class families, a world where students are one car repair away from dropping out. I tell the story of a student from a small high school in the South arriving at a chilly Pennsylvania campus without sufficient warm clothing. She became so isolated she didnt seek outside help and almost flunked out her first semester. Finally, the principal of her high school learned of her dilemma and bought her a warm coat and some long underwear.

How many fragile students are buffeted by sudden changes such as a campus shutdown? A 2018 report from Georgetown Universitys Center on Education and the Workforce concluded that 70% of full-time college students hold down jobs.

And the campus poverty level, which usually translates into worries about being able to afford meals, is far higher than most people imagine. A 2019 survey out of Temple University laid out the problem. An excerpt from that report:

During the 30 days preceding the survey, approximately 48% of students in two-year institutions who responded to the survey experienced food insecurity, with slightly more than 19% assessed at the low level and slightly more than 28% at the very low level of food security. Approximately 41% of students at four-year institutions who responded to the survey experienced food insecurity, with slightly less than 18% assessed at the low level and slightly less than 24% at the very low level of food security. More than half of survey respondents from two-year institutions and 44% of students from four-year institutions worried about running out of food. Nearly half of students could not afford to eat balanced meals.

For Caldwell, a graduate of a KIPP charter high school in Washington, D.C., the first worry was, Where do I go?

I called my KIPP Through College adviser, Caldwell said, and she told me to calm down, we can figure it out.

Like most top charter school organizations, KIPP maintains a staff that tracks their alumni in college. In KIPPs case, thats 15,000 students, almost all of them low-income and minority. Caldwells advisor, Kamilah Holder, advised her to ask Brandeis for the same accommodation afforded to international students: dorm space during the shutdown. Caldwell did, and that was granted.

With most of the Brandeis student cafeterias closed, the next worry was food. Caldwell also appealed to KIPP for grocery help.

As with other charter networks, KIPP does special fundraising for emergencies such as this. Within a few days, KIPP raised over $135,00 and started processing claims. So far, just under 200 grants have gone to network alums who have been dislocated due to college closings, with 40 percent of grants going to food, 25 percent to transportation, 25 percent to tech and course supplies and 6 percent to emergency housing. The average grant size: $245.42.

I got a response within 20 minutes, and 20 minutes after that I got money through PayPal, she said Kamilah is like my mom; I love her.

Gabriela Gabby Zorola graduated from an IDEA charter high school in Texass high-poverty Rio Grande Valley and improbably ended up at Bostons Northeastern University. They gave me the most financial aid money. The first time I ever saw the campus was at freshman orientation.

But she quickly adjusted to the campus, thanks mostly to the Latinx Student Culture Center she discovered. First came the announcement the university was shifting online; then came the shutdown notice: How to get home? It was horrible for me, Zorola said.

IDEA stepped in to pay the airfare, but her worries havent lessened. She chose a challenging major, bioengineering, and now she faces the prospect of taking physics online with uncertain outside help. What about labs? I know its going to be much harder.

In theory, she could transfer to nearby University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, but she was counting on the advantages offered by the prestigious Northeastern University. Aside from the schools reputation, the location is priceless. Boston is at the center of bioengineering. Boston has everything, right here.

Sancia Celestin, 21, whose family is Haitian, grew up in Virginias Hampton Roads area and ended up at George Mason University in northern Virginia. There, shes a senior and also serves as president of the campuss student group for first-generation college-goers. She is majoring in psychology and wants to work in education policy.

Celestins challenge is paying her share of an off-campus apartment. Her rent money came from a campus work study program in a testing center. When the campus shut down and shifted to online learning, her job evaporated. And while she has moved back home to Hampton Roads, she still owes rent and utilities. I dont have much choice other than paying it. She is asking the leasing agent for a grace period on rent.

Paulina Pereira Miranda, who graduated from an IDEA high school in Texas, never imagined shed attend school as far away as Kalamazoo College in Michigan, but thats where she ended up the result of a generous scholarship offer. Her biggest surprise about Kalamazoo: When she went to a Mexican restaurant there they served hard-shelled tacos that appeared to have come out of a box. No, those are like fake, she told her friends with a laugh.

Her mother is a house cleaner, her father a truck driver and she would be the first college graduate in her family. A freshman there, she was shocked by the sudden closure notice. I was scared. I didnt know what to do. Had IDEA not picked up her plane fare home, she guesses her father would have driven the roughly 1,273 miles and back again from Austin to Michigan to get her.

Not all universities are simply flushing out all their students. Many allow low-income students to stay. And the high schools that track their alumni, and arrange assistance, are proving to be lifelines.

But if those lifelines dont broaden, the B.A. Breakthrough will become a sad retreat.

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Wave Of Higher Ed Shutdowns Threatens Americas Progress In Getting Low-Income, First-Generation Students To And Through College - Forbes

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State Police: Cortland man threatened trooper with compound bow – Cortland Voice

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm

WILLET --- A city man was arrested Friday for threatening a state trooper with a drawn compound bow after he and his girlfriend were discovered living in another persons Willet residence, according to police.

Michael Johnson, 38, and Elaine Smith, 38, were arrested after a trooper discovered them in the pre-dawn hours at a Mooney Hill home and Johnson threatened the officer with the bow, according to state police.

Troopers went to check on the residence at about 4 a.m. as state police were continuing to investigate the homeowners Tuesday report that someone had been living in his house, without his permission, police stated.

The homeowner was away from his house for several days and returned home Tuesday to find other peoples personal belongings in his residence, said Trooper Aga Dembinska, the public information officer for the locally stationed state police. State police were called at 5:40 p.m. to the residence on Tuesday regarding the trespassers, according to state records.

Investigators were able to identify potential suspects from the left-behind belongings and troopers returned Friday to check on the home, Dembinska said.

It was three hours before sunrise when a trooper looked into a window of the residence and saw a man pointing a drawn compound bow at him, according to state police. Troopers called Cortland County Sheriffs officers and a Cortland City Police officer to support them as they arrested the man, later identified as Johnson, police said.

Smith was also found at the Mooney Hill Road residence and arrested, according to state police records.

If struck with a compound bow at close range, the trooper could have suffered serious or deadly injuries, said Dr. Ian Dickey. Dickey is an emergency room doctor and orthopaedic surgeon who previously practiced at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center; he is also an adjunct professor of orthopaedic oncology and adult reconstruction at the University of Maine, where he is chair of the Bioengineering External Advisory Board, and is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at the University of Colorado.

Now this could be fatal if a torso wound, said Dickey, who now practices in Colorado. The arrows are able to inflict damage.

Dickey noted the stress of current events including COVID-19 and its financial effects as well as access to recreational and legitimate drugs could contribute to an increase of violent attacks during these uncertain times.

Johnson was charged with first-degree criminal trespass, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and menacing a police officer, felonies, as well as the misdemeanor of second-degree menacing with a weapon. He was arraigned in Cortland County Court and remanded to the Cortland County Correctional Facility without bail.

Smith was charged with the misdemeanor second-degree criminal trespass and released on a ticket to appear on May 13 in Willet Town Court.

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Rice University students and staff team up with Canadian company to make low-cost ventilators – InnovationMap

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm

When foreigners invest in emerging markets, the prospect for those markets' local businesses looks bright. The payoffs for a country's companies can range from injections of foreign capital to better managerial talent, technological sophistication and international know-how. But does foreign investment ever push local firms to venture into international projects of their own?

Rice Business professor Haiyang Li looked closely at the ripple effects of foreign investments, and concluded it all depends on the local businesses' adaptability. That and their appetite for risk.

Together with Xiwei Yi of Peking University and Geng Cui of Lingan University, Hong Kong, Li launched a large-scale study of Chinese manufacturers to better understand how multinational investment in domestic companies influences the global market.

The subject was ripe for analysis. Over the past decade, more and more companies in China and other emerging markets have been testing the waters of direct investment in other countries in sectors as varied as food and beverages, apparel, electronics and transportation equipment.

Li's team hypothesized that these emerging market companies were leveraging benefits that foreign investment had ferried into their home markets. This investment, the researchers theorized, had brought in useful resources and skills, which helped ease the local companies into international business markets.

To confirm this, the team needed to test whether the converse was true: Might information gained from foreign investors actually dull a local firm's interest in branching out overseas? Maybe the risks of that type of venture which are higher for firms in emerging markets would seem too stark.

To find out, the researchers first vetted the literature on inward and outward investment activities. How, they wanted to know, did domestic firms interact with foreign players in the technology or product importing process? In equipment manufacturing? In franchising and licensing, mergers and acquisitions and activities such as setting up subsidiaries?

Working with a global research company, Li and his colleagues next surveyed 1,500 Chinese businesses in the food, clothing, electronics and vehicle industries. (Firms in finance, banking, natural resources and business services were ruled out because of their government ties, and also because such organizations usually use fewer resources, which made them harder to evaluate.)

Each company that took part in the survey rated how much they engaged with foreign investors in activities such as importing products and services or forming joint ventures. They also indicated if dealing with foreign direct investment had brought them foreign capital, advanced manufacturing know-how, managerial experience or competitive insight into overseas business.

The researchers also measured the "fungibility" of these firms' resources in other words, how easily could their organizational, cultural and technological resources be adapted to various geographical settings?

Finally, managers rated how risk-prone they thought their firms were.

After Li and his coauthors processed the answers, they found several links between foreign investment in domestic firms and local companies' internationalization efforts.

First, there was a positive relationship between the local gains from foreign investment and a firm's interest in internationalization projects. While this effect was indirect, it was amplified when foreign investment gave a firm new capabilities that made it more adaptable. In other words, the Chinese companies whose contact with foreign multinationals made them more adaptable in general were better positioned to prosper in ventures abroad.

This stands to reason, the researchers note. That's because by its very nature foreign investment sparks awareness of new opportunities: every business trip, plant visit or negotiation with foreign partners is a hands-on lesson in international trade.

But the researchers also uncovered a significant downside to foreign investment for local Chinese firms. When a project was considered high-risk, such as a merger or establishment of a wholly owned subsidiary, the local firms were less prone to venture abroad. This adverse effect was worse for firms that labeled themselves risk-averse, probably because exposure to foreign investors only made the risks of internationalizing clearer.

These findings add important detail to the way foreign investment can affect their local partners' own international plans for good and ill. Already, businesses in emerging markets are used to optimizing resources, wrangling diverse idioms and artisans and adapting logistically to get their products to market. That nimbleness, Li and his colleagues propose, should also be seen as a globalization tool. For businesses in emerging markets, the researchers conclude, day-to-day technical ability is actually less important than cultural and organizational flexibility and applying lessons learned from foreign investors to their own projects abroad.

In other words, for firms in emerging markets, globalization is not just a path to new markets. It's a way to study interactions with foreign firms while on their home turf and learn how to apply those lessons abroad.


This story originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom.

Haiyang Li is Area Coordinator and Professor of Strategic Management at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

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