Science Round-Up: Aboriginal medicinal plant reverses chemotherapy resistance

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a special flavonoid in an Australian plant used in traditional Aboriginal medicine, appears to reverse chemotherapy resistance.

Professor Dan Stærk is leading the project, which is investigating the flavonoid’s interaction with ‘SN-38’ – the active substance in the drug irinotecan, which is used to treat an aggressive form of lung and colon cancer.

Inhibits ‘efflux pump’ proteins

“Cancer cells that are resistant to SN-38 produce a protein that pumps the medicine out of the cancer cell again. This protein is called an efflux pump, but this natural substance from the Australian plant inhibits the pump so that the cancer cells cannot remove the medicine as effectively, ”he explained.

Currently, about 90 percent of all cancer deaths are due to drug resistance produced by the production of efflux pumps.

Flavanoids – phenolic plant compounds that help regulate cellular activity – have already been well researched and touted for their ability to combat oxidative stress in humans, but the pairing of this specific compound with anti-cancer drugs is new.

Walk the distance

Strong stressed that the research was only possible due to a broad international cooperation.

“We worked with an Australian botanist who traveled 55,000km in arid Western Australia to collect plants; a colleague at the University of Melbourne who used DNA sequencing to identify which plants to study; and researchers at the University of Copenhagen who are working on reproducing the bioactive substances in the laboratory, ”said Stærk.

Medicinal plants have been used for thousands of years to fight infections and whole wounds, but it is only in recent decades that modern medicine has begun to study the active ingredients behind ancient remedies. Currently, about 70 percent of cancer drugs come directly from the natural world.

“In the long run, it will be possible to make a sustainable biological synthesis of the substances,” said Stærk.

Danish-Swedish study sheds light on SARS-CoV-2 spread
Viruses spread in the body by ‘hijacking’ the body’s own proteins to make new genetic material. A study from the universities of Copenhagen and Uppsala on SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the current pandemic, has identified a ‘peptide inhibitor’ that can prevent 90 percent of this reproduction. A further 22 coronaviruses were tested in the hope of creating an antiviral agent that could counteract an outbreak in the absence of a vaccine.

Artificial intelligence favors white men under 40
Insert the missing word: “I closed the door to my ____”. Some demographic information may say “cottage”, others “dorm room” or “workshop”, depending on age, location and background. But according to a study conducted by the University of Copenhagen’s Data Institute, the language in everyday life, from Google to Siri, systematically favors young white men’s language use and discriminates especially against young, non-white men. The researchers claim that there is a need for better AI training.

DTU joins the world’s frontline CO2 capture project in Aarhus
DTU has joined the newly established Novo Nordisk Foundation’s CO2 research center at Aarhus University to supply enzymes that can efficiently absorb CO2 from the air and store it in solid form. It is the world’s first dedicated research center for CO2 capture, and the work combines chemistry, life sciences and systems analysis. Institutions in the USA, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands also collaborate. In Denmark, CO2 capture could reduce emissions by 4-9 million tonnes by 2030.

Aarhus will have a new recycling water district
DTU Environment is conducting a biological and economic analysis together with Aarhus Vand in a new district in Aarhus, where they plan to build a two-tier water system – one for drinking water and another that recycles rainwater for toilets and washing machines. Preliminary results show that the approach is both cheaper and more sustainable. Once the system has been in operation for a year, the analysis will be updated.

New Novo Nordisk award recognizes diabetes project
To mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, Professor Thomas Pieber from the University of Graz in Austria has been awarded the Diabetes Medicine Award by the Novo Nordisk Foundation in collaboration with the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD). The price of 2 million kroner will support Pieber’s development of a new insulin pump – a device type 1 diabetes patients use to inject insulin via a catheter, which must be changed every 2-3. day. The new pump measures the resistance in the tissue at the injection site, which can delay the need for catheter replacement by more than seven days.

Dane receives US award for heart research
Sivagowry Rasalingam Mørk, PhD student at Aarhus University, has been awarded the American Heart Association’s annual Young Investigator Award for his research into visitation, transportation and mechanical circulatory support for patients suffering from cardiac arrest.

How is plastic degraded in Danish weather?
A study at Roskilde University is underway into when and how plastic becomes microplastic under Danish weather conditions. The experiment will assess top plastic waste items such as cigarette butts, food containers, water bottles, coffee mugs, beer mugs, disposable cutlery, plastic bags and dishwashing sponges using sensors that continuously register the total radiation and temperature during their exposure to Danish climate conditions.

Free access to new Arctic climate data
DMI has made freely the results of its four-year Arctic climate study known as CARRA (Copernicus Arctic Regional ReAnalysis) via the European climate service Copernicus Climate Change Service. The detailed meteorological data specifically relate to Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard and the areas in and around the Barents Sea. The data are available to all researchers interested in climate change in the Arctic region.

Source: The Nordic Page





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