Recent Genetic Findings Could Help Treat Osteoporosis Patients

With recent genetic work on osteoporosis, Montreal researchers believe they can pave the way for better drugs and treatments for this very common disease: about one third of women in Canada will experience a fracture during this lifetime due to this pathological rarefaction. bone tissue.

Osteoporosis has few treatment options for the time being, with some drugs being overpriced, and others having side effects that are not appreciated by patients, said Dr. Brent Richards in an interview. Principal investigator of the study, who led a team of international researchers and researchers from Montreal working at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital.

This is the importance of these research results, which have just been published in the journal Nature Genetics : find treatments and drugs and also determine who will be affected by this disease, which is characterized by the gradual decline bone strength, and therefore a high risk of fracture, he explained.

Increase in the number of cases

The impact is particularly important when considering the number of seniors who have hip fractures, often leading to hospitalization and subsequent loss of independence. Osteoporosis affects women more than men, but is also one of the most common age-related chronic diseases in men.

And the number of fractures related to osteoporosis is expected to increase, as the cost of health care to treat, as the population ages, warns Dr. Richards, professor of medicine and human genetics at McGill University .

The latter, who is also a geneticist at the Clinical Epidemiology Center of the Lady Davis Institute and who treats patients with osteoporosis in his practice, has worked with the lead author of this study, Dr. John Morris, as well. Institute and McGill University.

The team worked very hard for three years to concoct a species of “atlas” of genetic influences on osteoporosis, which they identified.

They used the UK biobank, “the world’s largest research cohort,” which analyzed the genome of 426,000 people.

The number of fractures related to osteoporosis is expected to increase, as will the cost of health care to treat them. Photo: getty images / istockphoto / kckate16
They then identified a smaller set of genes that could be targeted by those who develop drugs. From 20,000 genes, they have grown to a few hundred, including 301 newly identified, which predispose to reduced bone mineral density, one of the most relevant factors for diagnosing osteoporosis.

“A massive reduction,” says Dr. Richards.

Research targets for new drugs are significantly reduced.

“We can prescribe injectable drugs that rebuild the bone, but they are priceless. We have drugs that prevent bone loss, but they must be taken on a strict schedule. Thus, the number of people who need to be treated but who are not, is high. Therefore, we believe that we will be more successful in ensuring that patients follow a treatment regimen if it can be simplified, “says Dr. Richards.

But “it’s always better to prevent than treat,” says Dr. Richards.

He therefore welcomed the fact that recent research should also help prevent the spread of the disease.

Would you accept $1000 to leave Facebook?

One Thousand dollars. This is the minimum amount that should be given to an average Facebook user to convince him to leave the social network for a year.

This is at least the conclusion of a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One, and for the purposes of which we asked the question to 1258 people.

Of these 1258 people, 212 were students, 115 were adults recruited from a Midwestern US city and 931 were found online.

Scientists found that students were the most valuable at Facebook, averaging $2,076 a year. The group recruited on the Internet, considered to be the most representative, asked for an average of $1921 to be absent from the social network for one year.

The Midwest City group was more generous, claiming only $1139 on average to leave Facebook. The researchers indicate that this result could be influenced by several factors, including the fact that this group was more heterogeneous from a socio-economic point of view.

The team of scientists noted that participants who regularly use Snapchat or Instagram tended to bet a lower amount.

Real auctions

To achieve these results, the researchers organized four bids, during which participants had to indicate the lowest amount they would be willing to accept to deactivate their account for a full year.

In order to ensure that the guinea pigs were serious, the scientists promised them that they would really get the amount they had wagered if they won an auction (lowest bid) and that they managed to prove that they had deactivated their Facebook account.

For even greater reliability, the research team used a method called “Vickrey’s Auction,” which involves charging – or, in this case, giving – the winner the second highest bid. According to the experts, this method tends to ensure that participants will bet the amount they consider truly fair.

Facebook, happiness engine?

According to the researchers, their results show that even if Facebook registration is free, users consider that this social network has value.

They note that this value is relatively high despite the many scandals that shook the latter this year.

“One of the reasons people stay on Facebook, despite genuine concerns about how it’s used, is that they still get a lot of happiness out of it,” says Sean Cash, one of the authors. of the study, in an interview published in the journal MIT Technology Review.

This scientist also believes that a part of users’ lives is closely linked to the platform and that this discourages them from leaving it. “You may have 10 years of photos [on Facebook], or you may be using it to organize your study groups … People in their twenties may have even been on Facebook for their whole adult life” he emphasizes.

study shows how ants combat disease in a colony

During their evolution, ants adapted their social organization and developed defense mechanisms to counter disease, according to research from Swiss biologists.

All the factors that favor the spread of diseases are gathered in the anthill: a dense population and frequent contacts between individuals.

Biologist Nathalie Stroeymeyt and her colleagues at the University of Lausanne have discovered that they do not interact randomly with all their peers. Instead, they are organized into working groups, depending on their age and the tasks to be accomplished.

Thus, the young ants who look after the larvae inside the colony (workers / nannies) have very little contact with the elders who come out for food (workers / soldiers).

Study the spread of diseases

In order to understand the spread of diseases, biologists from the Department of Ecology and Evolution first put digital markers on 2266 black garden ants, divided into 22 colonies in its laboratories.

Then they took pictures every half-second to know very precisely the movements and positions of each individual.

The researchers then exposed 10% of the fodder workers to the spores of a pathogenic fungus, transmissible between ants by simple contact.

They then compared the properties of anthills before and after the introduction of the infective agent to find that these insects were able to detect the presence of the fungus and quickly adjust their behavior to enhance the colony’s defense mechanisms.

The fragmentation of the colony and the segregation between the different working groups have increased.

Nathalie Stroeymeyt, University of Lausanne

Thus, the nannies and the fodder have less interacted.

In addition, the fodder initially exposed to the fungus was isolated. They spent more time outdoors and reduced their movements once inside the colony. Healthy forage, which had not been exposed, reacted in the same way.

As for the nannies, they moved the brood (set of eggs, larvae and nymphs) deeper into the nest to make it safe.

The fact that unexposed ants are also able to adapt their behavior to the presence of a pathogen was unknown until now.

Nathalie Stroeymeyt

It has also been shown that the colony overprotects important insects when a threat arises.

For example, the queen (the only individual to breed) and nannies (young ants who still have many hours of work to offer to the community) were less exposed to the pathogen.

At the end of the 9-day experiment, “mortality was higher among fodder than nanny. And all the queens were still alive, “stresses Nathalie Stroeymeyt.

Common front against the disease

This study is the first to show that an animal community is able to actively modify its organization to reduce the spread of diseases.

Social insect groups have many similarities with human societies.

According to the researchers, the ability of ants to collectively cope with complex problems, such as the risk of an epidemic, could inspire the development of similar methods in humans, or even prevent pandemics on a global scale.

Ants know how to protect themselves against diseases for 100 million years. We, since a few centuries hardly.

Laurent Keller, University of Lausanne

The details of this study are published in the journal Science

Breakthrough towards the creation of an HIV/AIDS vaccine

A vaccine against HIV/AIDS has been successfully tested on rodents, succeeding, where other attempts have failed, to generate a powerful immune system response.

This new vaccine strategy was developed by American scientists from the Scripps Institute of Research in San Diego, California.

If these results are confirmed in humans, they would represent the largest breakthrough in the fight against HIV / AIDS in the last 30 years, believe the biophysicist Jiang Zhu and his colleagues.

They could actually lead to the design of an HIV / AIDS vaccine.

We view this new approach as a general solution to the longstanding problems in designing HIV vaccines.

Jiang Zhu, Scripps Research Institute

Did you know?

  • At present, 37 million people are living with HIV / AIDS on the planet. No less than 1.8 million new cases were diagnosed in 2016.
  • More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it.
  • From 2010 to 2015, the estimated number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. declined 8%.

How The New Vaccine Works

The present vaccine is based on the Env protein present in the HIV envelope.

It is a very complex and variable molecule, with a variable form, which is very difficult to synthesize for the creation of a vaccine, but whose production is necessary in order to induce an effective immunity against HIV.

Expression of this gene allows retroviruses to target and attach to specific cell types and infiltrate a cell membrane.

But the Scripps Institute team has found a simple way to stabilize the Env protein for the various strains of HIV.

To date, we have made this change to the Env protein from 30 to 40 different strains of HIV and, in most cases, it has worked as a charm.

Jiang Zhu

Mounted on virus-like particles that mimic an entire virus, the stabilized Env protein has triggered solid anti-HIV antibody responses in mice and rabbits.

The researchers have already started testing the candidate vaccine on 24 monkeys.

The institute has patented its technique and granted its rights to a company (Ufovax LLC) that sponsors the tests in progress and will market the vaccine if all the tests prove conclusive.

The details of this work are published in the journal Science Advances.

different experimental vaccine against HIV-1 was well tolerated and generated good immune responses in 393 adults 18 to 50 years in good health from Africa, Thailand, and the United States. Tests are also underway to determine whether the immune response produced is sufficient to prevent HIV infection.

In addition, weekly HIV / AIDS treatment tests on pigs have yielded encouraging results.


“Facebook has a problem with blacks,” says former employee

A former Facebook employee on Tuesday lamented the under-representation of black people in the social network teams, saying they were subject to remarks and derogatory behavior by other employees.

Mark Luckie, himself a black man, posted a message on his Facebook page that he sent on November 8 to all employees of the social network around the world, the day before leaving his position as manager of strategic partnerships.

“Facebook has a problem with blacks,” he writes, saying they are “marginalized.”

The world’s first social network was not immediately available to answer these accusations.

Mark Luckie, who does not explain the reasons for his departure, says that black employees are told, for example: “I did not know that black people were working for Facebook.”

He also cites the example of employees who were “accosted more aggressively than necessary by campus security”.

However, he says that the number of black employees has doubled, from 2% of the workforce in 2016 to 4% in 2018.

Not the opinion of all
Carl Smith, also posing as a black Facebook employee, swept aside Mark Luckie’s charges.

“Mr. Luckie does not speak on behalf of us all. Ironically, Mark and I started working on Facebook the same day. I’m still here, “he wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page.

He ensures to wear, at his place of work, t-shirts with the mention “Black Lives Matter” (the life of blacks account), the movement having emerged after a long series of police burrs often involving white agents against black men.

“And I feel very comfortable doing it,” he added.

A report on diversity published in July confirms this figure of 4%, noting that the number of black employees increases to 8% for sales activities.

“However, we continue to have difficulty recruiting Blacks and Hispanics into technical and coaching jobs,” said Diversity Officer Maxine Williams.