Stem cell treatment corrects skull shape and restores brain function in mouse model of childhood disorder
Scientists regenerate parts of the skull affected by craniosynostosis, a common birth defect.
Using stem cells to regenerate parts of the skull, scientists corrected skull shape and reversed learning and memory deficits in young mice with craniosynostosis, a condition estimated to affect 1 in every 2,500 infants born in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The only current therapy is complex surgery within the first year of life, but skull defects often return afterward. The study, supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), could pave the way for more effective and less invasive therapies for children with craniosynostosis. The findings were published in Cell. NIDCR is part of the National Institutes of Health.
“This is a pivotal study demonstrating both structural regeneration and functional restoration in an animal model of craniosynostosis, said Lillian Shum, PhD, director of NIDCR’s Division of Extramural Research. “It holds great potential for translation to treatment of the human condition.”
Healthy infants are born with sutures — flexible tissue that fills the space between the skull bones — that allow the skull to expand as the brain grows rapidly in the first few years of life. In craniosynostosis, one or more sutures turn into bone too early, closing the gap between skull plates and leading to abnormal growth. The resulting increase in pressure inside the skull may cause physical changes in the brain that lead to thinking and learning problems.
“The connection between changes in the skull and the development of cognitive deficits had not been fully explored,” said Yang Chai, D.D.S., Ph.D., director of the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology and associate dean of research at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, who led the study. “We wanted to know if restoring sutures could improve neurocognitive function in mice with mutations in a gene that causes craniosynostosis in both mice and humans.”
That gene, called TWIST1, is thought to be important for suture formation during development. In humans, mutations in this gene can lead to Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by craniosynostosis and other skeletal abnormalities.
To see if flexible sutures could be restored in mice with craniosynostosis due to Twist1 mutations, the scientists focused on a group of stem cells normally found in healthy sutures. Previous studies by the group indicated that these stem cells—called Gli1+ cells—are key to keeping skull sutures of young mice intact. The team had also found that Gli1+ cells are depleted from the sutures of mice that develop craniosynostosis due to Twist1 mutations. Chai and his colleagues reasoned that replenishing the cells might help regenerate the flexible sutures in affected animals.
To test this idea, the researchers added Gli1+ cells from healthy mice to a biodegradable gel. They deposited the mixture into grooves meant to re-create the space where skull sutures had been in mice with craniosynostosis.
Skull imaging and tissue analysis revealed that after six months, new fibrous sutures had formed in treated areas and that the new tissue remained intact even after a year. In contrast, the same grooves closed in mice that received a gel that lacked Gli1+ cells.
Closer analysis showed that Gli1+ cells in the regrown sutures had different origins: some were descended from the cells that had been implanted, while others were the animals’ own, having migrated from nearby areas. The findings suggest that Gli1+ cell implantation leads to suture regeneration in part by recruiting native Gli1+ stem cells to help in the process.
Further experiments showed that untreated mice with craniosynostosis had increased pressure inside their skulls and poor performance on tests of social and spatial memory and motor learning. After treatment, these measures all returned to levels typical of healthy mice. The skull shapes of treated mice were also partially corrected.
The treatment also reversed the loss of brain volume and nerve cells in areas involved in learning and memory. According to the scientists, this finding sheds light on the mechanisms underlying impaired brain function and its improvement after suture regeneration.
“We have discovered that Gli1+ stem-cell-based suture regeneration restores not only skull shape but also neurocognitive functions in a mouse model of craniosynostosis,” said Chai.
The scientists note that more work remains before such an intervention can be tested in humans, including studies to determine the optimal timing of surgery and the ideal source and amount of stem cells.
“This study provides a foundation for efforts to develop a less-invasive, stem cell-based therapeutic strategy that can benefit patients who suffer from this devastating disorder,” Chai said.
Samsung Galaxy F62, Samsung Galaxy M02 Spotted on India Support Page; Hints at Imminent Launch
Samsung Galaxy F62 and Samsung Galaxy M02 have leaked in the past on several occasions, and now the model numbers associated with these phones have been spotted on Samsung’s official support page in India as well. This indicates that both the phones’ launches could be inching closer and Samsung is gearing up to introduce them in the Indian market. Samsung Galaxy F62 is also reported to be called the Samsung Galaxy E62. In some markets, this phone may likely be also called the Samsung Galaxy M62.
MySmartPrice spotted two model numbers – SM-E625F/DS and SM-M022G/DS – on the Samsung India support page. The support page doesn’t offer any details about the phone, and it doesn’t even reveal the commercial name of the phone, but the SM-E625F/DS model number is largely associated with Samsung Galaxy F62, or Samsung Galaxy E62, in the past. Likewise, the SM-M022G/DS is associated with the anticipated Samsung Galaxy M02 handset.
Samsung introduced the Galaxy M02s in the Indian market earlier this month, but the Galaxy M02 still remains in the rumour mill. As per a Geekbench listing, Samsung Galaxy M02 may run on Android 10 and come with 3GB of RAM. The smartphone could also come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC that is clocked at 1.8GHz.
The rumoured Samsung Galaxy F62 has also leaked in images, hinting at a square shaped module on the back. The phone has also been spotted on BIS website and an earlier report also claims that the production of the rumoured Samsung Galaxy F62 has begun at the company’s Greater Noida facility in the Delhi-NCR region. The Galaxy F62 could be one of the slimmest phones from Samsung and it is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2021. Specifications leaked in the past include Exynos 9825 SoC, have 6GB of RAM and Android 11.
Is this the end of the Samsung Galaxy Note series as we know it? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
The new Microsoft Edge browser will warn you if your password has been leaked online
The new Edge 88 browser includes tough new security features, including a password generator and a tool for monitoring whether your login details have been exposed to the dark web.
Microsoft Edge 88 is rolling out to users in the Stable channel alongside some new privacy-focused features, including a long-awaited credentials monitor and a built-in password generator.
The first of these features, Password Monitor, will help users stay protected against data breaches involving passwords. If Edge determines that a user’s login credentials have been exposed on the dark web (or elsewhere), it will notify them within the browser and advise them to update their passwords.
SEE: Identity theft protection policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Password monitor was
and began rolling out yesterday (January 21) with the release of Edge 88, though it may take a week or two to reach Edge users, Microsoft said.
The latest version of Microsoft Edge, which is based on the open-source Chromium architecture, also features a built-in password generator. When users sign up to a new account on a website, Edge will automatically generate a strong password for the user, which is then automatically saved and synced across their devices.
The feature is similar to the one available on Google Chrome, and helps ensure users are using strong passwords for their accounts, while taking away the onus of having to memorize (or worse, write down) lists of complex, unique passwords for each service they sign up for. This is particularly important when creating accounts for financial services and other websites that require valuable information, Microsoft said.
Password Monitor is available for Windows 7, 8 and 10 users. Password Generator is available to the same Windows users, in addition to being available on macOS. Both features require users to be signed into Edge with a work or school account, and password sync turned on.
Microsoft has made additional privacy tweaks under the hood of Edge 88. This includes more transparent options around data collection, with users now able to dip into the permissions settings and control which sites have access to location, camera and microphone functions. Customers also have more control over how cookies are stored, specifically by allowing them to delete unnecessary third-party cookies while hanging onto ones they want to keep: say, for keeping certain settings in place for websites they visit regularly.
SEE: Top Windows 10 run commands (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Edge 88 also adds features for making browsing in private mode even more private. Users can now toggle a ‘Strict’ mode within the InPrivate browser that will block any trackers that personalize content and ads. This will prevent users from being shown personalized ads based on their browsing history, which Microsoft said would be useful when shopping for gifts or planning a surprise. This could be inadvertently ruined by an ad that gives the game away, particularly on a shared computer.
For times when even more privacy is needed, Microsoft Edge 88 features Secure DNS. This bolsters security by looking up website addresses over the more secure HTTPS protocol, ensuring data remains encrypted and protecting it from attackers who might try to modify or eavesdrop on the connection.
Users can configure a different secure DNS provider or disable it altogether within the Edge 88 privacy settings. Strict mode and Secure DNS is available on Edge 88 for Windows 7, 8 and 10 users, and on macOS.
AI-Based Urine Test Diagnoses Prostate Cancer with Almost 100% Accuracy
Although prostate cancer is one the most common types of malignancy in men, diagnosis is typically made on the basis of the Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), with an accuracy as low as 30%. Given how unreliable PSA-based testing can often be, many patients require invasive biopsy which often leaves them with long-term side effects, such as pain and bleeding.
To address the situation, researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have recently developed an AI algorithm which, coupled with an electrical-signal-based ultrasensitive biosensor, can diagnose prostate cancer within 20 minutes with almost 100% accuracy.
Commenting on the findings, Professor In Gab Jeong at the Asan Medical Centre said their smart biosensor could also be used for the precise diagnosis of many other types of cancer based on urine sampling alone.
The semiconductor biosensor was engineered to simultaneously measure trace amounts of four different cancer factors in urine. Thus far, cancer factors – present in urine only at low concentrations – have been used for classifying risk groups, rather than for precise diagnosis.
Training of the AI system was performed using the correlation between the four cancer factors obtained from the novel biosensor. Once ready, the algorithm was deployed to analyse complex patterns of the detected signals.
After performing tests on 76 urinary samples, the researchers found the algorithm to be capable of diagnosing prostate cancer with near-perfect accuracy – an achievement that could eventually improve the lives of millions of men around the world.
“For patients who need surgery and/or treatments, cancer will be diagnosed with high accuracy by utilizing urine to minimize unnecessary biopsy and treatments, which can dramatically reduce medical costs and medical staff’s fatigue,” Jeong said.
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