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Development of avian influenza virus H5 DNA vaccine and MDP-1 gene of Mycobacterium bovis as genetic adjuvant

Posted: May 25, 2010 at 8:16 am

Studies have shown that DNA vaccines can induce protective immunity, which demonstrated the high potential of DNA vaccines as an alternative to inactivated vaccines. Vaccines are frequently formulated with adjuvants to improve their release, delivery and presentation to the host immune system.
The H5 gene of H5N1 virus (A/Ck/Malaysia/5858/04) was cloned separately into pcDNA3.1+ vector. The immunogenicity of the cloned H5 DNA vaccine was tested on SPF chickens using two different approaches. First approach was using H5 DNA vaccine (pcDNA3.1/H5) and the second was using H5 DNA vaccine in addition to the pcDNA3.1/MDP1 vaccine. Ten days old chickens inoculated three times with two weeks intervals. The spleen and muscle samples from chickens immunized with H5 (pcDNA3.1/H5) and H5+MDP1 (pcDNA3.1/H5+pcDNA3.1/MDP1) vaccines were collected after sacrificing the chickens and successfully expressed H5 and MDP1 RNA transcripts. The sera of immunized chickens were collected prior to first immunization and every week after immunization; and analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test.
Results of competitive ELISA showed successful antibody responses two weeks post immunization. The HI test showed an increased in antibody titers during the course of experiment in group immunized with H5 and H5+MDP1 vaccines. The result showed that the constructed DNA vaccines were able to produce detectable antibody titer in which the group immunized with H5+MDP1 vaccine produced higher antibody comparing to H5 vaccine alone.
This study shows for the first time the usefulness of MDP1 as a genetic adjuvant for H5 DNA vaccine.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

DTC Genomics reviewed in Genetics in Medicine

Posted: May 25, 2010 at 8:16 am

I just received the May issue of Genetics in Medicine, only 24 days late. But it caught my attention for several reasons.

1. The issue is covering Adult Topics almost exclusively this month

Granted this article was a single author MBA, it was notable at the work she must have put in to this review.


1st she did an extensive analysis of the service 23andMe, Navigenics, deCodeMe, Gene Essence. She assembled the 20 multigenically evaluated conditions, reviewed website data, and deep dove into the studies, average pop lifetime risk, loci, genes, SNPs, Quant risk assessment, and methodologies.

That sounds very similar to what the FDA is requesting to do. In their case with non publically available data as well.

2nd she did a complete locus analysis which is available here.


Analysis 1.
213 conditions covered by DTCG companies, with only 9 conditions covered by all identified companies. 15 addition covered by 4/5 companies.

Analysis 2:

Lifetime average risk values of the same populations.
It turns out that the companies provide different life time risks for the same disease in the same populations.

This is not a big deal to me if you wiggle 2-4 points. But some vary widely

Glaucoma 1% in Navigenics while it is 15 for deCodeme
Heart attack 42% for Navigenics and 21% for 23andMe in Men
Heart attack in women 25% in Navigenics while it is 7% at 23andMe
DVT 3 percent for Navigenics 12% for 23andMe

23andMe does not provide references for their lifetime risk data.

Heterogeneous SNPs and Loci Assessed

No big surprise here, it turns out each company has their own way to make a Big Mac, each has their own special sauce and pickles/onions and even their own sesame seed bun. Thus you get different SNP risks given to customers.

A total of 224 loci are covered 401 SNPs for the 20 multigenic conditions. Of the 224 loci, 115 are only covered by one company. 63 are reviewed by only 2 companies.

For 12 conditions covered by all 4 companies, only 9 SNPs were covered by all. These 9 SNPs represent ONLY 3% of the total SNPs covered by all 4 companies and 18% of all loci covered.

Heterogeneous quantitative risk assessment

Once again, different risk assessment methods rule the day at these companies. Just like if I were to use Reynold Risk instead of Framingham risk but at least I have some data to base my conclusion. We have none of that with the DTC company risk models……

He kept saying, It’s My data. I kept saying. Fine, but the interpretation needs to be regulated.

I think we have a very decent reason why right here.

When you get a cholesterol of a blood pressure reading in the United States, you would hope the interpretation you receive is standardized in some way.

Further you hope at least the person giving you the interpretation of that data has some sort of licensing to assure quality and accuracy.

Unfortunately in this field there are many, many unknowns. This makes the risk prediction even less accurate. So it is no surprise these companies have widely variable assessments. But what does trouble me more, is the fact that they seem to not have done their homework with average lifetime risk populations.

That seems like they should be at least on the same page with this information. And why 23andMe has not listed reference articles for their quoted population risk is beyond me.

The Sherpa Says: Doctors go to medical school for 4 years, then go onto residency for 4-8 years and some do fellowship for another 2-5 years. And then we give risk assessment and diagnose and treat. Why do people forget that? Oh and we first operate under the principle of First Do No Harm. What doesn’t Mr Goetz get about that?

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Longevity Meme Newsletter, May 24 2010

Posted: May 25, 2010 at 8:15 am

May 24 2010

The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a weekly email containing news, opinions, and happenings for people interested in aging science and engineered longevity: making use of diet, lifestyle choices, technology, and proven medical advances to live healthy, longer lives. This newsletter is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. In short, this means that you are encouraged to republish and rewrite it in any way you see fit, the only requirements being that you provide attribution and a link to the Longevity Meme.

To subscribe or unsubscribe from the Longevity Meme Newsletter, please visit



– Is Aging a Disease?
– Applying Reliability Theory to Aging
– Sarcopenia Caused by Blood Vessel Aging?
– Discussion
– Latest Healthy Life Extension Headlines


This is an often debated question amongst researchers and advocates, but it isn’t really about words and definitions – this has far more to do with research fundraising and the consequences of regulation:

“At the moment, drug companies and scientists keen to develop their research on aging into tangible results are hampered by regulators in the United States and Europe who will license medicines only for specific diseases, not for something as general as aging. … Because aging is not viewed as a disease, the whole process of bringing drugs to market can’t be applied to drugs that treat aging. This creates a disincentive to pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to treat it. … Unelected officials of organizations like the FDA in the United States cause untold harm to progress in medical science by (a) placing huge and unnecessary burdens upon research and development, and (b) forbidding outright commercial application for any purpose or disease that is not in their list. It can take a decade – and millions of dollars in the formalized bribery known as lobbying – for a new discovery, new classification, or new form of therapy to be recognized by regulators. Or even longer, as is the case for aging.”

Thus many promising lines of technology are developed very slowly, or not at all. Those that do gain traction are sidelined into commercial development as treatments for specific late-stage diseases of aging – typically far from their most optimal usage. As is true of everything touched by bureaucrats, this situation is a debacle and a vast waste.


Reliability theory is a way of making predictions on failure modes and mean time to failure for complex systems consisting of many redundant parts. It has seen extensive use in the electronics industry, for example, though its roots are far older than that. There is a growing interest in applying reliability theory to considering aging and longevity:

“Biological organisms can be considered as reliability-engineered, robust systems and applying reliability theory to their basic non-aging components, proteins, could provide insight into the aging mechanism. Reliability theory suggests that aging is an obligatory trade-off in a fault-tolerant system such as the cell which is constructed based on redundancy design. Aging is the inevitable redundancy loss of functional system components, that is proteins, over time. In our study we investigated mouse brain development, adulthood and aging from embryonic day 10 to 100 weeks. We determined redundancy loss of different protein categories with age using reliability theory. We observed a near-linear decrease of protein redundancy during aging.”

If you visit the SENS Foundation science pages, you’ll see that many of the root causes of aging involve accumulating damage to the protein building blocks used by our cells and by the machinery within our cells:


Sarcopenia is the characteristic loss of muscle mass and strength with advancing age, and there is a healthy debate in the gerontology community over its root causes. Here, researchers put forward a fairly convincing demonstration in support of their theory that sarcopenia results from age-related declines in blood vessel function:

“Normally, [the tiny blood vessels in muscle] are closed, but when a young person eats a meal and insulin is released into the bloodstream, they open wide to allow nutrients to reach muscle cells. In elderly people, however, insulin has no such ‘vasodilating’ effect. … We found that by blocking vasodilation, we reproduced in young people the entire response that we see in older persons – a blunting of muscle protein response and a lack of net muscle growth. In other words, from a muscle standpoint, we made young people look 50 years older.”

Blood vessels are an important form of biological infrastructure in our bodies: not just tubes, but in fact complex reactive machinery. They become progressively more damaged by age, unable to adjust as they should, and this causes harm to many of our bodily systems.


The highlights and headlines from the past week follow below. If you have comments for us, please do send e-mail to [email protected]

Remember – if you like this newsletter, the chances are that your friends will find it useful too. Forward it on, or post a copy to your favorite online communities. Encourage the people you know to pitch in and make a difference to the future of health and longevity!

[email protected]



From the SENS Foundation: “Aggregates of beta-amyloid (Abeta) and other malformed proteins accumulate in brain aging and neurodegenerative disease, leading progressively to neuronal dysfunction and/or loss. The regenerative engineering solution to these insults is therapeutic clearance of aggregates, extracellular (such as Abeta plaques) and intracellular (such as soluble, oligomeric Abeta). Immunotherapeutic Abeta clearance from the brain is a very active field of Alzheimer’s research, with at least seven passive, and several second-generation active, Abeta vaccines currently in human clinical trials … One challenge to optimal vaccine design is matching the specificity of antibodies the range of Abeta aggregates that form in vivo … agents that sequester one Abeta species may leave other species intact, and in some cases a shift in assembly dynamics can actually promote the formation of one species while clearing or reducing the formation of others … Although in very early in vivo testing, a new approach has emerged that may offer that promise. This is the use of an Abeta-targeting affibody, i.e., a novel non-immunoglobulin binding protein generated through combinatorial protein engineering.”

Via EurekAlert!: “excess abdominal fat places otherwise healthy, middle-aged people at risk for dementia later in life. … [The study] included 733 community participants who had a mean age of 60 years with roughly 70% of the study group comprised of women. Researchers examined the association between Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, waist to hip ratio, CT-based measures of abdominal fat, with MRI measures of total brain volume (TCBV), temporal horn volume (THV), white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) and brain infarcts in the middle-aged participants. … Our results confirm the inverse association of increasing BMI with lower brain volumes in older adults and with younger, middle-aged adults and extends the findings to a much larger study sample. … Prior studies were conducted in cohorts with less than 300 participants and the current study includes over 700 individuals. … More importantly our data suggests a stronger connection between central obesity, particularly the visceral fat component of abdominal obesity, and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease … the association between VAT and TCBV was most robust and was also independent of BMI and insulin resistance. Researchers did not observe a statistically significant correlation between CT-based abdominal fat measures and THV, WMHV or BI.”

Another paper looks at some of the consequences of becoming obese. In a more fair and productive world, medical costs would be an individual responsibility rather than being socialized as they are at present: “The prevalence of adult obesity has increased in recent decades. It is important to predict the long-term effect of body weight, and changes in body weight, in middle age on longevity and Medicare costs in older ages. … We predicted longevity and lifetime Medicare costs via simulation for 45-year-old persons by body weight in 1973 and changes in body weight between 1973 and 1983. … Obese 45-year-olds had a smaller chance of surviving to age 65 and, if they did, incurred significantly higher average lifetime Medicare costs than normal-weight 45-year-olds ($163,000 compared with $117,000). Those who remained obese between ages 45 and 55 in 1973 to 1983 incurred significantly higher lifetime Medicare costs than those who maintained normal weight. … Chronic obesity in middle age increases lifetime Medicare costs relative to those who remained normal weight. As the survival of obese persons improves, it is possible that Medicare costs may rise substantially in the future to meet the health care needs of today’s obese middle-aged population.”

From the Technology Review: “Support cells in the brain called astroglia can be turned into functioning neurons. … Researchers found that they could transform the cells into two different classes of neurons, and that the neurons could form connections with one another in a dish. Although the research is at an early stage, the finding suggests that scientists could someday recruit existing cells in the brain to repair the brain and spinal cord after a stroke, injury, or neurodegenerative disease. … The addition of one specific gene generated excitatory neurons, which promote activity in other cells. By adding a different gene, they generated inhibitory neurons, which dampen cell activity. In principle, [you] could generate other types of neurons if you choose the appropriate factors … The study adds to growing evidence that certain cell types can be transformed directly into other cell types without first being converted into stem cells. … one of the next challenges is to determine whether these reprogrammed neurons can survive and function in a living brain. Fortunately, the brain seems to have a ready source of astroglia. When the brain is injured, these cells proliferate, similar to the way the skin repairs itself after a wound. The researchers found they could also derive neurons from injury-induced astroglia taken from the brains of adult mice.”

From h+ Magazine: “A new study [sheds] some light on how ‘memory disturbances’ in an aging mouse brain are associated with altered ‘hippocampal chromatin plasticity’ – the combination of DNA, histones, and other proteins that make up the chromosomes associated with the hippocampus. Specifically, the study describes an acetyl genetic switch that produces memory impairment in aging 16-month-old mice. Because the acetyl wasn’t present in young 3-month-old mice, the study concludes that it acts as a switch for a cluster of learning and memory genes. … when young mice are learning, an acetyl group binds to a particular point on the histone protein. The cluster of learning and memory genes on the surrounding DNA ends up close to the acetyl group. This acetyl group was missing in the older mice that had been given the same tasks. By injecting an enzyme known to encourage acetyl groups to bind to any kind of histone molecule, [researchers] flipped the acetyl genetic switch to the ‘on’ position in the older mice and their learning and memory performance became similar to that of 3-month-old mice. … [Researchers hope] that the study of hippocampal chromatin plasticity and gene regulation in mice will help them to identify therapeutic strategies to encourage neuroplasticity (the formation of new neural networks in the brain), to improve learning behavior, and to recover seemingly lost long-term memories in human patients.”

Via EurekAlert!: “Two methods of extending life span have very different effects on memory performance and decline with age. … While the nematode C. elegans is already well known for its utility in longevity research, previously it was not known how the memory of C. elegans compares with that of other animals, or whether longevity treatments could improve learning and memory. To answer these questions, [researchers] designed new tests of learning and memory in C. elegans, then used these tests to identify the necessary components of learning, short-term memory, and long-term memory. They found that the molecules required for learning and memory appear to be conserved from C. elegans to mammals, suggesting that the basic mechanisms underlying learning and memory are ancient. The authors also determined how each of the behaviors declines with age, and tested the effects of two known regulators of longevity – dietary restriction and reduced Insulin/IGF-1 signaling – on these declines. Surprisingly, very different effects on memory were achieved with the two longevity treatments: dietary restriction impaired memory in early adulthood but maintained memory with age, while reduced Insulin/IGF-1 signaling improved early adult memory performance but failed to preserve it with age. These results suggest not only that longevity treatments could help preserve cognitive function with age, but also that different longevity treatments might have very different effects on such declines.”

Researchers here demonstrate that comparatively simple stem cell transplants may be effective in regenerating lung injuries: “Human stem cells administered intravenously can restore alveolar epithelial tissue to a normal function in a novel ex vivo perfused human lung after E. coli endotoxin-induced acute lung injury (ALI) … ALI is a common cause of respiratory failure in the intensive care units, often leading to death. It can be caused by both direct injury such as aspiration and pneumonia, and indirect injury such as sepsis and from trauma. … Yearly, ALI affects approximately 200,000 patients in the US and has a 40 percent mortality rate despite extensive investigations into its causes and pathophysiology. Innovative therapies are desperately needed. … we found that intravenous infusion of [stem cells] preferentially homed to the injured areas of the lung, which means that the cells find their way from the bloodstream to the sites in the lung of injury. … In addition to having restored function of alveolar epithelial cells, lungs treated with [stem cells] showed a reduction in inflammatory [cytokine] levels suggesting a favorable shift away from a proinflammatory environment in the injured alveolus.”

From the Guardian: “The human body has tremendous capacity to repair itself after disease or injury. Skin will grow over wounds, while cells in our blood supply are constantly being manufactured in our bone marrow. But there is a limit to the body’s ability to replace lost tissue. Cartilage cells are notoriously poor at regrowing after injury, for example. As a result, accidents and illnesses – including cancers – often leave individuals with disfiguring wounds or life-threatening damage to tissue. The aim of Molly Stevens, a nanoscience researcher at Imperial College, London, and founder of the biotech firm Reprogen, is a simple but ambitious one. Working with a team of chemists, cell biologists, surgeons, material scientists and engineers, she is developing techniques that will help the body repair itself when it suffers damage. This is the science of regenerative medicine. … One approach that we have had considerable success with involves taking quite straightforward materials including simple polymers and using them to boost bone growth in a person. We made them into gels that we could inject into bones. The key to this technique lies with the fact that our bones are covered in a layer of stem cells. We inject our material under that layer and that wakes up those stem cells. They start to multiply and produce lots of new bone.”

Researchers have regrown teeth in rats by manipulating existing stem cells: “a new technique [can] orchestrate the body’s stem cells to migrate to three-dimensional scaffold that is infused with growth factor. This can yield an anatomically correct tooth in as soon as nine weeks once implanted in the mouth. … These findings represent the first report of regeneration of anatomically shaped tooth-like structures in vivo, and by cell homing without cell delivery. … By homing stem cells to a scaffold made of natural materials and integrated in surrounding tissue, there is no need to use harvested stem cell lines, or create a an environment outside of the body (e.g., a Petri dish) where the tooth is grown and then implanted once it has matured. The tooth instead can be grown ‘orthotopically,’ or in the socket where the tooth will integrate with surrounding tissue in ways that are impossible with hard metals or other materials. … A key consideration in tooth regeneration is finding a cost-effective approach that can translate into therapies for patients who cannot afford or who aren’t good candidates for dental implants. Cell-homing-based tooth regeneration may provide a tangible pathway toward clinical translation.”

From the Max Planck Institute: “Marriage is more beneficial for men than for women – at least for those who want a long life. Previous studies have shown that men with younger wives live longer. While it had long been assumed that women with younger husbands also live longer, [a new study] has shown that this is not the case. Instead, the greater the age difference from the husband, the lower the wife’s life expectancy. This is the case irrespective of whether the woman is younger or older than her spouse. … The mortality risk of a husband who is seven to nine years older than his wife is reduced by eleven percent compared to couples where both partners are the same age. Conversely, a man dies earlier when he is younger than his spouse. For years, researchers have thought that this data holds true for both sexes. They assumed an effect called ‘health selection’ was in play; those who select younger partners are able to do so because they are healthier and thus already have a higher life expectancy. … These theories now have to be reconsidered. It appears that the reasons for mortality differences due to the age gap of the spouses remain unclear.”


If you have comments for us, please do send email to [email protected].

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"Another Science Fiction," Tomorrow, Tuesday May 25, 86th Street Barnes and Noble, 7 PM, NYC

Posted: May 24, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Tomorrow night–Tuesday, May 25–Megan Prelinger, co-founder of San Francisco’s inspiring Prelinger Library and author of the new book Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957 – 1962, will be on hand at the 86th Barnes and Noble to sign copies of her book and present an illustrated lecture about her research into science fiction advertising from the late 50s to the early 60s.

Prelinger’s book, while not anatomical in theme, does feature a smattering of spectacular space medicine adverts, a few of which you can see above; Perhaps this should come as no surprise, as the book is published by Blast Books, which is (in)famous for its more corporeal offerings such as the Mütter Museum Books and Calendars and last year’s best-selling Dissection.

Having had a peek at this book while it was still in production, I can assure you that the non-anatomical images which fill this book are as awe-inspiring and surprising as those you see above, and tomorrow’s presentation is sure to be fantastic in every sense of the word!

You can find out more about the event by clicking here; You can find out more about the book by clicking here or here. To find out more about the Prelinger Library, click here.

Thanks so much to Blast Books‘ Laura Lindgren for sending these wonderful images my way!

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Longevity Meme Newsletter, May 24 2010

Posted: May 24, 2010 at 8:16 am

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Physically fit students score higher on tests than their less fit peers

Posted: May 24, 2010 at 8:15 am

Test scores dropped more than one point for each extra minute it took middle and high school students to complete a 1-mile run/walk fitness test.

65% of the students were below the state fitness standard. Compared with these students, students who met or exceeded fitness standards had higher average test scores. Overweight and obese students also scored significantly lower on tests.
Schools may have to reverse their recent disinvestment in physical education ostensibly for the purposes of boosting student achievement.
Exercise slows telomere shortening (and aging). Telomeres are the chromosome tips which shorten each time a cell divides, making them a possible marker of aging. A study of 2400 twins showed that physically active people had longer telomeres than sedentary people.

Human chromosomes (grey) capped by telomeres (white). Image source: Wikipedia, public


If you need any more convincing, please see this “health promotion” video that clearly shows the benefits of exercise:

“Health Promotion” video: Benefits of exercise.

Physical, academic fitness tied at the hip: study. Reuters, 2010.

The Journal of Pediatrics, published online January 25, 2010.

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

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