Our top 10 most read medical news articles in 2015 include topics as diverse as cataracts treatment, lupus clinical trials, cancer cell regulation, and multiple sclerosis.
Reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry, was a study assessing the effects of cannabis on ‘neural noise’ in the brain. The study found that increasing doses of Δ9-THC resulted in increasing levels of psychosis-like symptoms.
This study described brain alterations that occur in response to high-fat versus low-fat diets. The study reported that in response to a high-fat diet, immune cells present in the brain change their behaviour, resulting in an overall reduction in brain connections.
Findings that were published in the journal Nature described how lanosterol – a compound that is found naturally within the eye – can prevent and reverse the formation of cataracts. This was a particularly exciting discovery, since it demonstrates the possibility of a new cataract treatment in the form of an eye drop, as an alternative to surgery.
The commencement of Phase III trials for Lupuzor for treating Lupus also made our top 10 most viewed medical research news in 2015. The trial began at centers across Europe and the United States, testing the effectiveness of Lupuzor, a small protein that inhibits the autoimmune response that characterises lupus. Earlier trials reported disease regression in 62% of patients treated with Lupuzor.
This exciting study described how researchers aimed to target PCSK9, by creating a vaccine that could induce an antibody response against the protein PCSK9. They created ‘virus-like particle’ (VLP)-based vaccines, testing them in both mice and macaque monkeys. The researchers found that vaccinating these animals resulted in significant reductions in total cholesterol, free cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides.
This research study, published in the journal Cell, found that melatonin can affect multiple sclerosis relapses. Melatonin levels are influenced by the amount of daylight, and patients with higher levels of melatonin during fall and winter had an associated reduction in their frequency of multiple sclerosis relapses. The study underscores the importance of environmental factors that impact upon multiple sclerosis.
This study describes how scientists were able to determine that a molecule called PLEKHA7 interacts with a small molecule of RNA (called microRNA). By comparing the healthy cells with the cancerous cells, scientists were able to figure out specifically which miRNA are responsible for preventing the expression of genes involved in the rogue process of cancerous growth. These miRNA are basically missing from the cancerous cells, and by adding them back, they were able to turn the cancer off.
8. Scientists Have Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes to Spread Infertility and Reduce Malaria Transmission
Researchers genetically engineered female mosquitoes (A. gambiae), which contain a fertility gene mutation and a gene-editing system to render their female offspring infertile. While the mosquito gene-drive system is a very promising technology to reduce pest populations, it will require much optimization prior to any testing in actual malaria populations.
The results from this study not only report that these common single-serve coffee machines are environments where many different types of ‘coffee-adapted’ bacteria can grow, but emphasize between the lines that your coffee machine should be frequently cleaned.
This Nature study reported on a link between increased activity of good bacteria and resistance to colonization by the yeast Candida albicans. These results point towards developing methods of fighting yeast infection with good bacteria from our gut.