News of Note—Targeting neuroblastoma; injecting islets into muscle to treat diabetes; gut microbes that influence MS

A potential new treatment for neuroblastoma was among the discoveries announced this past week.

A new target for childhood brain cancer

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed an antibody drug conjugate that targets glypican-2 (GPC2) a common protein on the cell surface of neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric tumor. The team discovered that GPC2 is necessary for neuroblastoma cells to proliferate, so they surmised that the cancer wouldn’t suppress the protein in order to escape recognition by the immune system. In cell cultures and mouse models of neuroblastoma, the antibody killed the cancer cells without damaging normal cells. The research was published in the journal Cancer Cell. (Release)

Islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes

Pancreatic islet cells, which produce insulin, can be transplanted in the livers of patients with type 1 diabetes, but the procedure is risky. It can cause bleeding, blood clots and other complications, limiting its use for the majority of patients. Now researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia are trying a different site for the islet cell transplants: the quadriceps muscle. In mouse studies, the team showed that transplanting islets into the muscle was more successful than putting them into the portal vein that leads to the liver. The research was published in the journal Diabetologia. (Release)

New insight into gut microbes and MS 

The neurodegeneration that’s characteristic of multiple sclerosis may be influenced by three microbes in the gut, suggests new research out of the University of California at San Francisco. In mouse models, the team showed that these microbes help regulate immune responses. They identified the bacteria by studying the microbiomes of 71 people with MS and 71 healthy controls. They then introduced the microbes to the mice and discovered that two of them triggered immune responses characteristic of MS, while one dampened inflammation. The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Release)

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