News of Note—A drug to reduce age-related stomach damage; a CAR-T to attack colon tumors

brown mouse
Intestinal stem cells can be revived with 24 hours of fasting, scientists discovered in mouse experiments. (Alexandra/München)

Drug that mimics fasting reverses age-related decline in stem cells

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered in mouse experiments that a decline in intestinal stem cells that typically occurs during aging can be reversed with 24 hours of fasting. What’s more, they discovered a drug that can mimic this effect, sans starvation. The drug activates PPARs, which are transcription factors that turn on several genes related to the metabolism of fatty acids. Treating mice with the drug stimulated the regeneration of intestinal stem cells. They believe the discovery, reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell, could lead to new therapies for stomach infections, as well as for chemotherapy-induced intestinal disorders. (Release)

A CAR-T for colorectal cancer

Researchers at the Jefferson Health Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a CAR-T treatment that targets an antigen common in colorectal cancer. In mouse models of the disease, they showed that the CAR-T kills tumors and prevents metastases, as reported in the journal Cancer Immunology. The antigen, called GUCY2C, is also prevalent in other aggressive tumor types, including esophageal and pancreatic cancer. The team is now planning a phase 1 study in humans. (Release)

Newly discovered fat molecule may boost heart health

A fat molecule that’s released following exercise may help explain the metabolic benefits of physical activity, and boosting this newly discovered lipid could help patients with obesity, high triglycerides and heart disorders. The finding was reported by scientists from the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard, and Ohio State University in the journal Cell Metabolism. The molecule is called 12,13-dihydroxy-9Z-octadecenoic acid (12,13-diHOME), and it was found by studying people after they performed both short bursts of exercise and long-term training. It’s produced by beneficial brown fat and appears to promote the use of fatty acids by working muscles during exercise. Further research in this mechanism could spark ideas for new therapies to improve cardiovascular health, the researchers believe. (Release)