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Archive - Nov 4, 2019

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From Cone Snail Venom to Pain Relief; One Conotoxin (Prialt) Has Been Approved by FDA As Treatment for Sever Chronic Pain and Is 1,000 Times More Potent Than Morphine & Triggers No Dedpendence

Conotoxins are bioactive peptides found in the venom that marine cone snails produce for prey capture and defense. These peptides are used as pharmacological tools to study pain signaling and have the potential to become a new class of analgesics. To date, more than 10,000 conotoxin sequences have been discovered. Associate Professor Markus Muttenthaler, PhD, from the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Vienna and his colleagues from the University of Queensland in Australia are experts in the field of venom drug discovery and have now provided an overview on the status quo of conotoxin research in the top-of-its-class journal "Chemical Reviews” (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.chemrev.9b00207). That article, published on Octobder 21, 2019 is titled “Conotoxins: Chemistry and Biology.” In another study accepted on October 16 for publication in the Australian Journal of Chemistry, the authors describe an “On-Resin Strategy to Label Α-Conotoxins: Cy5-Rgia(https://www.publish.csiro.au/CH/justaccepted/CH19456), the researchers have furthermore developed fluorescently labeled conotoxin versions to visualize pain receptors in cells. The marine predatory cone snail is well-known for its effective envenomation strategy, which helps the relatively slow-moving animal to catch their prey such as fish or molluscs and to defend itself. The cone snail paralyzes and kills its prey with the help of a very selective and potent cocktail of venom peptides, which is injected into prey through a harpoon-like needle. "Cone snails can control their venom composition depending if they hunt or defend themselves," says Dr. Muttenthaler.

Commonly Used Diabetes Drug (Pioglitazone) Relieves Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal; May Provide New Strategy in Efforts to Help Individuals Stop Smoking

A drug commonly used to treat Type II diabetes abolishes the characteristic signs of nicotine withdrawal in rats and mice, according to new research published on November 4, 2019 in the Journal of Neuroscience. The finding may offer an important new strategy in the battle to end smoking. The article is titled “Activation of PPARγ attenuates the expression of physical and affective nicotine withdrawal symptoms through mechanisms involving amygdala and hippocampusneurotransmission.” Smokers trying to quit face potent side effects from nicotine withdrawal, including cravings, increased appetite, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and depression. Even though they may want to quit, many smokers continue to smoke simply because the withdrawal experience is so unpleasant. The diabetes drug, pioglitazone, targets a specific form of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors in the nucleus. This receptor, PPARγ, is found in areas of the brain involved in drug addiction. In their current work, Esi Domi(photo), PhD, post-doc at the Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience-Linköping University (Sweden), and colleagues have demonstrated that direct injections of pioglitazone into the hippocampi of male mice reduced the signs of physical nicotine withdrawal, including paw tremors, chattering, and head shakes. Injecting pioglitazone into the amygdala of male mice ameliorated signs of anxiety associated with nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine abusers face a 30% higher risk of developing Type II diabetes. The researchers suggest pioglitazone may help diabetic smokers quit by lessening the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms while reducing insulin resistance.

Simple Blood Test for Tumor-Associated Antigens My Be Effective for Early Detection of Breast Cancer; Similar Test Being Assessed in Soctland for Lung Cancer

Breast cancer could be detected up to five years before there are any clinical signs of it, using a blood test that identifies the body's immune response to substances produced by tumor cells, according to new research presented on November 3 at the 2019 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference (November 3-5)(https://www.ncri.org.uk/events/2019-ncri-cancer-conference/) in Glasgow. The work was presented in poster #2966, entitled “Clinical Utility of Autoantibodies in Early Detection of Breast Cancer.” Cancer cells produce proteins called antigens that trigger the body to make antibodies against them - autoantibodies. Researchers at the University of Nottingham (UK) have found that these tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) are good indicators of cancer, and now the scientists have developed panels of TAAs that are known already to be associated with breast cancer to detect whether or not there are autoantibodies against them in blood samples taken from patients. In a pilot study, the researchers, who are part of the Centre of Excellence for Autoimmunity in Cancer (CEAC) group at the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, took blood samples from 90 breast cancer patients at the time they were diagnosed with breast cancer and matched them with samples taken from 90 patients without breast cancer (the control group). The researchers used screening technology (protein microarray) that allowed them to screen the blood samples rapidly for the presence of autoantibodies against 40 TAAs associated with breast cancer, and also 27 TAAs that were not known to be linked with the disease.