Material for the reconstruction of bone defects, which can act as a carrier of drugs for osteoporosis, proteins helpful in new gene therapies, new methods of imaging gliomas: these are just some of the discoveries of Polish scientists that may change the face of medicine.
The research of Polish scientists is appreciated not only by communities in Poland, but also abroad. They give patients hope for health and longer life.
A breakthrough in the treatment of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease involving the gradual loss of bone mass, which may cause frequent fractures. Elderly people, especially perimenopausal women, are most at risk of developing the disease. In Poland, approximately 2.1 million people suffer from osteoporosis, of which 1.7 million are women.
A team of scientists from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków under the supervision of prof. Ph.D. Maria Nowakowska developed a material helpful in the reconstruction of small bone defects. It can also act as a precise carrier of osteoporosis drugs.
As explained in the announcement by the Jagiellonian University, Dr. hab. Joanna Lewandowska-Łańcucka, co-creator of the invention, the components of the material in the form of hydrogel (including collagen, hyaluronic acid, chitosan, hydroxyapatite) imitate the natural composition of bone tissue. Hydroxyapatite, which in living organisms is the main inorganic building block of bone tissue influencing its strength, plays the same role in the developed material. This mineral thickens the hydrogel, which adheres to the bone tissue at the defect site and provides a substrate for osteoblasts that rebuild the bone.
The hydrogel developed by scientists from the Jagiellonian University has an additional advantage: it can bind sodium alendorate (a drug for osteoporosis). Currently, this drug is used orally. Due to side effects, it cannot be administered in large doses. The chemical composition of the hydrogel enables the delivery of this drug to the vicinity of diseased tissues. Thanks to this, it can be applied in larger doses, which will increase the effectiveness of the therapy.
Scientists from the Jagiellonian University tested their material on mice. They showed that the hydrogel is biocompatible in vivo and does not cause any toxic effects. They also proved that natural angiogenesis (the process of capillary formation) occurs at the site of its administration. This means that the material can be used as a base for rebuilding bone tissue.
A milestone in the treatment of hereditary retinal diseases
Hereditary retinal dystrophies are a group of diseases associated with abnormal function of retinal cells and tissue degeneration. Retinal diseases can cause, among others: damage to the rods responsible for night vision and peripheral vision. The disease affects approximately 2.5 million people worldwide. Children are affected, but mainly adults over 30 years of age.
An international team of specialists from the University of Helsinki, the Medical University of Silesia and the University Clinical Center. prof. K. Gibiński, the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice summarized the “ProteoRetina” research project. The aim of this study was to discover new therapeutic options for the treatment of inherited retinal diseases. Scientists have identified nine proteins that may be helpful in new, effective gene therapies. The treatments available so far have been limited and expensive.
Ph.D. n. med. Adrian Smędowski, professor at the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, coordinator of the “ProteoRetina” project, announced during a press conference that thanks to these studies, doctors will be able to treat retinitis pigmentosa with one drug, regardless of which gene is damaged in a given patient .
This is undoubtedly a breakthrough that will increase the availability of patients to new therapy and reduce potential treatment costs. The drug is still being tested on transgenic animals that suffer from retinitis pigmentosa. The process of creating a new drug can take about 10 years.
Hope for patients with Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that manifests itself, among others, in: tremors of limbs, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement. Its incidence is constantly increasing, especially among older people. It is estimated that approximately 90,000 people in Poland currently suffer from Parkinson’s disease. people.
Research by scientists from the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw aims to develop a new method of treating Parkinson’s disease. The work is carried out by prof. Gracjan Michlewski, head of the RNA-Protein Interaction Laboratory – Dioscuri Center and prof. Jacek Kuźnicki, head of the Neurodegeneration Laboratory. In the institute’s announcement, prof. Michlewski explains that the main cause of Parkinson’s disease is the loss of neurons in the brain, especially dopaminergic neurons, which are responsible for the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Their loss is associated with the accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Research conducted by the team showed that selected non-coding RNAs, as well as intracellular proteins, play a role in the regulation of alpha-synuclein. – Targeting specific RNAs and proteins can lower alpha-synuclein levels. Our goal is to better understand and develop methods of modulating the mechanisms that influence the expression of alpha-synuclein – explains Prof. Gracjan Michlewski.
The results of laboratory tests on human dopaminergic cells and on the Parkinson’s disease model in the worm C. elegans will enable understanding of the regulatory processes related to this disease and will help develop innovative therapies based on controlling the expression of alpha-synuclein.
Prof. Jacek Kuźnicki conducts research on cells collected from patients and on a zebrafish model of Parkinson’s disease. They are intended to identify genes whose activity changes when the loss of dopaminergic neurons (nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine) is inhibited. – These genes and the proteins they encode may have diagnostic value before the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear and become the basis for the development of new therapies – explains Prof. Kuznicki.
A new method for precisely diagnosing glioma
Every year, approximately 3,000 tumors of the central nervous system are diagnosed in Poland. Gliomas constitute approximately 70%. all intracranial tumors. They are difficult to treat and operate on. However, due to limited brain imaging capabilities using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the size of the tumor cannot be precisely determined.
Specialists from the Oncology Center and the 10th Military Clinical Hospital in Bydgoszcz and the Collegium Medicum of the Nicolaus Copernicus University and the Bydgoszcz University of Technology are the authors of a new method involving the use of modified positron computed tomography (PET) imaging. Prof. Maciej Harat from the Bydgoszcz University of Technology explained in a press release that the new imaging method can determine glioma infiltration beyond the area visible in magnetic resonance imaging. It turns out that even the most radical tumor resection using MRI imaging actually left a significant portion of the tumor behind, resulting in disease recurrence. The scientists’ discovery results from their main achievement, i.e. the verification of another brain imaging technique: PET examination using fluorine-labeled tyrosine.
Research by prof. Maciej Harat, conducted with prof. Bogdan Małkowski from the Nicolaus Copernicus University Medical Center showed that when the test was performed immediately after the administration of the marker, the tumor image was different: tyrosine uptake was intense in the most aggressive tumor cells. This image of the glioma differed from that obtained using MRI or previous PET imaging methods.
The usefulness of the new method of imaging gliomas was confirmed by brain biopsies performed in patients.
– The collected evidence will allow us to better plan further clinical trials and hopefully expect that once introduced into clinical practice, we will finally improve the results of treatment of these one of the worst-prognosis cancers – says Prof. Maciej Harat.
Research by scientists from Bydgoszcz may therefore constitute the basis for changing the standards of conduct in the treatment of gliomas.
Prebiotics for psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated skin inflammation. It manifests itself with peeling, itching and redness of the skin. It is a non-infectious disease, occurring in approximately 2-3%. world population, regardless of gender and age. Scientists from the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IRZiBŻ PAN) in Olsztyn are checking how supplementation with a prebiotic derived from chicory improves the health of patients with psoriasis.
Ph.D. engineer Urszula Krupa-Kozak, prof. IRZiBŻ PAN in Olsztyn, in the institute’s announcement, expressed the assumption that restoring the balance of intestinal microbiota and the proper functioning of the intestinal barrier in people with psoriasis may alleviate the symptoms of inflammation and the severity of skin lesions.
Intestinal microbiota is a diverse group of microorganisms living in the human digestive tract. It performs important functions, including: enabling the digestion of food, supporting the proper functioning of the immune system, and protecting against pathogens. An imbalance in the intestinal microbiota (dysbiosis) may increase the permeability of the intestinal barrier and contribute to the development of inflammation. The pathogenesis of psoriasis is not yet fully understood. According to Dr. Hab. engineer Urszula Krupa-Kozak, the latest scientific research indicates that the increased immune response responsible for the systemic inflammation observed in psoriasis may be a consequence of intestinal dysbiosis.
Scientists will check a prebiotic derived from chicory: β-fructans of the inulin type, which also occurs naturally in onions, garlic and bananas. Previous scientific research has shown that this prebiotic positively changes the composition and activity of intestinal microorganisms and alleviates intestinal inflammation. If it turns out that dietary supplementation with inulin-type β-fructans derived from chicory brings measurable health benefits to people with psoriasis, the research results of scientists from Olsztyn may contribute to the development of dietary recommendations for patients.