#18 COVID-19 Treatment In Skin, New Form of Ant Society and Life as we Don't Know It...
New COVID treatment discovered in human skin cells, ant society growing within a species and astrobiology research showing life as we don't know it...
😷COVID-19 Treatment found In The Skin
New treatment discovered in human skin cells…
A research team from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre have potentially found a treatment for COVID-19, which may have been right on our fingertips all this time. The findings could open the door for a new COVID-19 treatment sometime in the near future. The treatment is thanks to a substance that holds the ability to block the infection. The new form of treatment is completely reliant on the substance that is created by reengineered human skin cells.
Whilst the work is still in the preliminary stages, the substance has shown promise with it holding the capacity to block SARS COV2 as well as protect human lung cells. The studies first author, Ahmed G. Ibrahim, assistant professor in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars Sinai went on to say how the potential therapy shuts down a novel pathway for viral replication and how it can also protects infected cells.
The key difference of this treatment is that it appears capable of actually inhibiting the replication along side both protecting and repairing damaged tissues. As many of us know, there are a few current available treatments for the COVID-19 virus however these focus solely on preventing replication. This new form of treatment could be an integral therapy in officially ending the pandemic due to the fact that it holds the potential to help those already suffering with long COVID as well as a normal infection.
The treatment was developed through the use of dermal fibroblasts. Dermal fibroblasts produce and organise the extracellular matrix of the dermis (the inner layer of the two main layers of skin). Scientists specifically engineered these cells to create therapeutic extracellular vesicles (named “ASTEX”) that aid communications between cells and tissue. Before the outbreak of COVID and the pandemic, ASTEX was shown to repair damaged heart tissues, lung tissues and muscles with the team redirecting focus to serve as a treatment against the SARS-COV2 virus.
UCLA scientists helped support the team in the next round of research. The ASTEX therapy was applied to human lung epithelial cells. These were cells lining the pulmonary tract due to the fact that this is a common target of the SARS CoV-2 virus. These experiments showed that ASTEX was successful in stopping inflammation of the cells which can go on to cause death in the patient. Furthermore, cells that were exposed to ASTEX created less specific ACE proteins which is what allows the COVID to bind and infect healthy cells.
🐜New Ant Society
New form of ant society evolved within a species…
Scientists from the Queen Mary University of London discovered a new form of ant society and social form that has spread across species. Essentially the research team found that, following the creation of a new form of society that evolved in one species, a social supergene that carries the instruction for the new social form, spread into other species. This is a perfect example of hybridisation, the process by which interbreeding individuals from genetically distinct populations reproduce to create a hybrid organism. In addition this change in social structure is believed to have benefitted the ants as a whole.
Red fire ants are native to South America and renowned for their painful sting. One of the species of red fire ants is known to other parts of the world where their aggressiveness and high density population have made them an invasive pest.
Red fire ants originally lived in colonies with just one queen. The team had previously discovered that the species had evolved to form a social structure with tens of queens roughly one million years ago. A particular version of a large section of chromosome is named the social supergene. The team found this to include the relevant genetic information that is necessary to make the worker ants accept more than one queen. The research article attached below, shows how the research team analysed the entire genomes and instruction sets of 365 male fire ants to show the evolution of the social supergene through the centuries. They found that the same version of this chromosome is present in multiple fire ant species.
The benefit to the multiple species of having multiple queens overrides the incompatibilities of large scale genetic “sharing”. The transfer of large volumes of genetic information is rare. However genetic material has repeatedly spread to other species from one source and so allowed this new social form to evolve over the years. Some of the benefits of a multiple queen colony is that the the colony can hold more workers and resultantly outcompete other single queen colonies as well as a colony being at less risk of becoming “queenless”.
Dr. Yannick Wurm, Reader in Evolutionary Genomics and Bioinformatics at Queen Mary University of London and a fellow of The Alan Turing Institute said that “This research reveals how evolutionary innovations can spread across species. It also shows how evolution works at the level of DNA and chromosomes”. Other members of the team went on to hint at how this detailed analysis of large numbers of wild animals can provide surprising insight into the development of traits and genes and how evolution works.
🌌Life As We Don’t Know It
Astrobiology research predicts life as we don’t know it…
Astrobiology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of life on earth and in space. The search for alien life thus far has been limited to using life on Earth as the reference. As a result we have been looking for “life as we know it”.
A team of scientists have tried to tackle this restriction. They have done this through identifying universal patterns in the chemistry of life, that do not appear to depend on specific molecules. These findings add to the growing collection of research that provide a new opportunity for predicting features of alien life with different biochemistry to that of life on Earth.
Co-author Sara Imari Walker of Arizona State Unviersity said that “We want to have new tools for identifying and even predicting features of life as we don’t know it,”. “To do so, we are aiming to identify the universal laws that should apply to any biochemical system. This includes developing quantitative theory for the origins of life, and using theory and statistics to guide our search for life on other planets.”
Walker along with lead author Gagler decided that enzymes were the best way to approach their concept due to the fact that they are a functional driver of all biochemistry. Through working with collaborators they were able to investigate the enzymatic make up of bacteria, archaea and eukarya and so capture the majority of Earth’s biochemistry. This enabled the team to identify statistical patterns that originate from functional principles that cannot be explained by the common set of enzyme functions used by all life.
“We identified this new kind of biochemical universality from the large-scale statistical patterns of biochemistry and found they are more generalizable to unknown forms of life compared to the traditional one described by the specific molecules and reactions that are common to all life on Earth,” explains Hyunju Kim an assistant research professor at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and ASU’s Beyond Centre and co-author of the study.
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😷COVID-19 Treatment found In The Skin
A.G. Ibrahim, A. Ciullo, C. Li, G. Garcia, K. Peck, K. Miyamoto, V. Arumugaswami, E. Marbán. Engineered extracellular vesicles antagonize SARS-CoV-2 infection by inhibiting mTOR signaling. Biomaterials and Biosystems, 2022; 6: 100042 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbiosy.2022.100042
🐜New Ant Society
Recurring adaptive introgression of a supergene variant that determines social organization by Eckart Stolle, Rodrigo Pracana, Federico López-Osorio et al., 11 March 2022, Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28806-7
🌌Life As We Don’t Know It
Scaling laws in enzyme function reveal a new kind of biochemical universality” Dylan C. Gagler, Bradley Karas, et al. (25 February 2022), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2106655119