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Scientists discovers protein PorB that increases effectiveness of vaccines against cancer

Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine, US have discovered a protein called PorB that could help make vaccinations more effective and provide protection from diseases such as cancer.

In this study, researchers had purified this protein, found on the exterior of bacteria (neisseria meningidis). It helps to increase amount of antibody production and can stimulate cells to kill offending agent and used it as an accessory to provide a better vaccination response.

Proteins are unusually any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. They are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.

Significance of discovery
  • Typically, vaccines can either increase the amount of antibody production or they can stimulate cells (called cytotoxic T cells) to directly kill the offending agent. But the unique protein PorB can do both.
  • In this study, researchers had used two experimental models. The first model was given a vaccination with antigen and mixed PorB, while the second model was given the antigen alone.
  • The model that received the PorB had an increase in the response to the vaccine antigen as compared to the vaccination with the antigen alone.
  • Potential applications: The discovery may lead to greater understanding of how vaccine enhancers work. It can also be used to help body identify and fight off bacterial infections and also potentially to use its own machinery to fight off other diseases like cancer, HIV, and influenza before they establish.

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Scientists develop solar-powered skin for prosthetic limbs

Researchers including Indian origin from University of Glasgow have developed new prototype prosthetic limbs having solar-powered skin.

The solar-powered skin will give amputees with prosthetic limbs a better sense capabilities of touch, temperature and texture compared to battery powered prosthetics.

Key Facts
  • The new technology involves installing a thin layer of pure carbon around a prosthetic arm, hand or leg. This allows light to pass through it and be easily used as solar energy.
  • The sun can provide up to 15 times more energy than is usually needed to power a prosthetic limb. This extra and renewable energy can be used to power sensors.
  • These sensors can increase sense and feeling in a limb, so much so that the prosthetic can feel pressure, temperature and texture like natural skin.
  • The technology also has potential to increase the functionality of robots, allowing them to have a better understanding of what they touch.

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Scientists successfully test male contraceptive on monkeys

Scientists from California National Primate Research Centre, US have successfully tested a new male contraceptive  ‘Vasalgel’ that blocks sperm flow on monkeys. Now it is waiting for human trials.

During the animal trials, the Vasalgel contraceptive provided effective birth control in rhesus monkey groups for more than one year. It brings the prospect of an alternative form of birth control for humans. 

Key Facts
  • The trial use of Vasalgel in groups of rhesus macaques has confirmed the previous preclinical trail findings in rabbits on the efficacy of the new contraceptive.
  • Vasalgel is a high molecular weight polymer containing styrene-alt-maleic acid (SMA) dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide.
  • The polymer forms a hydrogel after injection into the sperm-carrying tube vas deferens, creating a blockage to the passage of sperm rather than cutting it as in vasectomy, to filter sperms from the fluid ejaculation.
  • The contraceptive effect of Vasalgel can also be reversed by flushing the material out with a simple sodium bicarbonate solution.
  • Significance: The purpose Vasalgel is to prevent pregnancy, not just by eliminating sperm in larger animals more anatomically. In over a last century, male contraceptive options have not changed and currently are limited to vasectomy (meant to be permanent) and condoms and withdrawal (with high pregnancy rates). Vasagel could be the first long-acting, non-hormonal, potentially reversible male contraceptive to reach market.

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