Leading Alternative Healing Director of Total Health Institute Reviews and Receives 3rd Fellowship in Stem Cell Therapy – Financialbuzz.com

Chicago, IL, Nov. 14, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) Dr. Keith Nemec the clinic director ofTotal Health Institute in Chicago has received yet another fellowship in his advanced research. Most recently Dr. Nemec received his fellowship in Stem Cell Therapy to add to his other fellowships in Regenerative Medicine and Integrative Cancer Therapies.

Dr. Nemec has overseen patient care for the last thirty-five years at Total Health Institute which is an alternative and integrative medical facility. Total Health Institute has seen over 10,000 patients who have traveled from around the world to seek Dr. Nemecs guidance in their healing journey.

Total Health Institute uses unique approach developed by Dr. Nemec called theSystems Sequence Approach to balance cellular communication between the cells, tissues, organs, glands and systems of the body. Dr. Nemec explains It is like knowing the combination to open the lock to complete healing. To open this lock, you must not only know the right systems to balance but also in the right sequence.

Dr. Keith Nemec is very excited about the research in stem cells and stem cell therapy that is why he focused his concentration in this area. According to Dr. Nemec All health and healing starts at the stem cell level. Whether a person has cancer, autoimmune disease or chronic diseases of aging they are all involving stem cells. In cancer, an inflammatory environment has mutated a normal stem cell into a cancer stem cell which is not killed with either chemotherapy nor radiation. This is why many times with conventional cancer treatment alone one tends to see improvements for a season but then return the cancer stem cell retaliates with a vengeance. Dr. Nemec also states Since all cells come from a base stem cell then the answer to all chronic disease can be found in activating the stem cells to produce an anti-inflammatory niche and continual healthy cell renewal.

Dr. Nemec is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine which is the largest and most prestigious group of Regenerative and Anti-Aging Medicine doctors in the world. He received his masters degree in Nutritional Medicine from Morsani College of Medicine. He has also published 5 books including: The Perfect Diet, The Environment of Health and Disease, Seven Basic Steps to Total Health and Total Health = Wholeness. Dr. Nemec has also published numerous health articles including: The Single Unifying Cause of All Disease and The answer to cancer is found in the stem cell and for 18 years he hosted the radio show Your Total Health in Chicago AM1160.

Total Health Institute boasts all 5 starreviews on RateMDs, an A+ rating onBBBand is top rated on Manta.

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Research Roundup: New Molecule Slows Broad Range of Cancer Types and More – BioSpace

Every week there are numerous scientific studies published. Heres a look at some of the more interesting ones.

Glutamine Blocker Slows Cancer Growth

Researchers at Johns Hopkins developed a molecule that blocks glutamine metabolism. In their studies, they found that this slowed tumor growth, changed the tumor microenvironment, and promoted production of high-active anti-tumor T-cells. They believe it could be used across a wide spectrum of cancer types.

By targeting glutamine metabolism, we were not only able to inhibit tumor growth and change the tumor microenvironment, but also alter the T-cells in a way that we markedly enhanced immunotherapy for cancer, said Jonathan Powell, associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. In the beginning, our thought was that if we could target tumor metabolism, we could achieve two goals: slow tumor growth and alter the tumor microenvironment.

The compound, JHU083, in mice, significantly decreased tumor growth and improved survival in a number of different cancer models. They also experimented on using JHU083 and a checkpoint inhibitor. Initially, we thought we would need to use the two therapies sequentially in order to avoid any potential impact of the metabolic therapy on the immunotherapy, Powell said. Remarkably, however, it turned out that the combined treatment worked best when we gave them simultaneously. We found that JHU083 was having a very positive, very direct effect on the immune cells, and we had to investigate why.

Most Foods in the US are Deemed Hyper-Palatable

Although many nutritionists and researchers have dubbed a class of foods hyper-palatable, which typically means a combination of fat, sugar, carbohydrates and sodium, there has been no specific guidelines for that class of food. Researchers published an article in Obesity that offers specific metrics to qualify hyper-palatable, and found that most foods in the U.S. met those criteria. What this means is that much of the food eaten in the U.S. is designed by food companies to light up your brain-reward neural circuit and overwhelm natural brain mechanisms to signal when weve had enough to eat.

Protein Appears Protective Against Type 2 Diabetes

Adipsin is a protein produced in body fat. It seems to protect pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin, from destruction in type 2 diabetes. In a study of middle-aged adults, higher levels of adipsin was associated with protection from type 2 diabetes. Adipsin appears to activate a molecule called C3a, which protects and support function of beta cells. C3a also suppresses an enzyme called Dusp26 that can damage and kill beta cells. By directly blocking DUSP26 in human beta cells, the researchers found it protected the beta cells from death.

Surprising Insight into Parkinsons Disease

Researchers with Rockefeller University discovered something completely unexpectedthe affected neurons in Parkinsons may not be dead. They found they may shut down without dying and these undead neurons release molecules that shut down neighboring brain cells, which leads to the common Parkinsons symptoms. The research focused on the function of a Parkinsons protein called SATB1 in dopamine-producing neurons. SATB1s activity is decreased in Parkinsons disease. The researchers grew human stem cells into dopamine neurons in a petri dish. They then silenced the gene for SATB1.

What they found was that the neurons without SATB1 released molecules that cause inflammation and eventually senescence in neighboring neurons. The cells also showed other abnormalities, including damaged mitochondria and enlarged nuclei. None of those changes were observed in dopamine neurons with intact SATB1 or in a separate group of non-dopamine neurons without SATB1. They concluded that the senescent pathways were specific to dopamine neurons.

The Role of Enzymes in Antibiotic Synthesis

Researchers at McGill University were able to develop a technique to take ultra-high resolution 3D images of nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs). NRPSs synthesize a broad range of antibiotics, as well as molecules to fight viral infections and cancers. They discovered significantly new information about how the NRPSs work, which may lead to the production of new antibiotics.

Oxygen Deficiency Reprograms Mitochondria

The mitochondria are the energy engines of the cell. They burn oxygen and provide energy. Researchers discovered that mitochondria, under low oxygen and nutrient conditions, are rewired to use glycolysis, where sugar is fermented without oxygen. These conditions are common in cancers. The researchers identified a new signaling pathway, which may have implications for pancreatic cancer and other tumors.

Using Anthrax to Fight Bladder Cancer

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a combination of the anthrax toxin with a growth factor to kill bladder cancer cells and tumors. Bladder has a protective layer that prevents the anthrax cells from getting through, but with the addition of the growth factor, the anthrax toxin killed cancer cells within minutes without harming the normal bladder cells. The research was tested in dogs with bladder cancer who had no other treatment options. The treatment decreased the tumor size without causing any other side effects.

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BREAKTHROUGH: Her vision was getting worse, then animal research made things clear – Speaking of Research

By Justin A. Varholick, Ph.D.

As we grow older theres an impending fear that we will slowly, but surely, begin to lose our vision. This slow loss of vision is clinically dubbed low vision and impacts more than 39 million Americans, costs $68 billion annually in direct health care costs, and is only growing in our population as baby boomers enter the at-risk age of 65 and older. Magnifiers can often be used to help people with acute issues of low vision, but are often inconvenient and frustrating. More serious issues of low vision such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy require advanced treatment and surgery. For example, cataracts can be improved or reversed by removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Such surgeries are not always ideal, or convenient, and further contribute to the already hefty direct health care costs. But, a recent breakthrough by Japanese scientists, in correcting blurry vision, might reverse this bleak future.

Old cells can become new againOur story begins around the mid-20th century, in 1958. A young and aspiring scientist, named John Gurdon, was studying frogs at the University of Oxford in England. Not everyone thought Gurdon would end up actually becoming a scientist. In his early days his school master thought such a career was far-fetched for Gurdon. Indeed, he ranked last in his Biology class out of 250 students. Yet despite such poor grades, Gurdon found himself studying frogs at Oxford and earning a doctoral degree in Biology. And his studies would surprisingly lead to a breakthrough in vision, and likely many other issues in human health, like Parkinsons Disease, heart disease, and spinal cord injury.

At the time Gurdon was trying to test an age-old theory on cell development. Many scientists before him discovered that cells the smallest unit of life begin without a clear fate in the early stages of an embryo. Then as the cell develops, their fate becomes more clear. They become cells of the heart, of the brain, the kidneys, the stomach, the spinal cord, or the eyes. But they cannot go back to a time when they had no fate, or specialization. The cells can only develop in one direction, from no destiny, to a clear path, then to a mature adult cell; like one found in the heart. But you just cant take a heart cell and start the process over, maybe turning it into a brain cell.

In disagreement with this theory, Gurdon did a simple experiment. He knew that a tadpole has more adult cells than a frog egg. A tadpole has gills, a heart, eyes, etc., while a frog egg simply does not. So, he cut open the tadpole and removed a single cell from the intestine; an intestinal cell. He then cut open the intestinal cell and removed its nucleus; the seed of the cell carrying all the DNA. Very carefully, he did the same with the frog egg, and finally replaced the nucleus of the frog egg with the nucleus of the intestinal cell. According to the age-old theory, the intestinal nucleus should stop normal development of the frog egg. But thats not what happened.

Instead, the new frog egg continued to develop normally, becoming a tadpole that later became an adult frog. Gurdon thought this was unbelievably odd, and so did everyone else in science. After many more experiments doing the exact same procedure (i.e., replication), it seemed that what he saw was a real, replicable fact. For some reason the nucleus of the intestinal cell was able to reverse itself to have no fate and slowly develop into any other adult cell. The seed from the intestine somehow could become the seed of a heart, brain, kidney, or even an eye cell and of course, an intestinal cell too.

After many more experiments testing the same theory, on many more animals, it seemed the theory was true, but it just didnt work for mammals. Given that the same effect could not be repeated in a mammal, some believed this discovery did not apply to humans. But they were wrong.

The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cellsAlmost 45 years later, around the start of the millennium, Shinya Yamanaka and Kazutoshi Takahashi began running experiments that would translate Gurdons findings to humans. Born after Gurdons findings were already published and well known, Yamanaka and Takahashi grew up in a world in which the fact that old cells can become new again was widely knowna solid foundation for further hypotheses, experiments, and discovery. So, the scientists set out to do what no one had before: turn adult skin cells of mice into new cells without a clear fate.

Yamanaka, the lead investigator of the study, shared a similar early history with Gurdon. He first became a medical doctor in Japan but was frustrated by his inability to quickly remove small human tumors taking over an hour rather than the typical 10 minutes. Senior doctors gave him the nickname Jamanaka, a Japanese pun for the word jama meaning obstacle. He then found himself earning a PhD in pharmacology and becoming a post-doctoral scientist, but spent more time caring for mice than doing actual research. Frustrated again, his wife suggested he just become a practicing physician. Despite her advice, Yamanaka applied to become an Assistant Professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology, in Japan, and won everyone over with his fantastical ideas of investigating embryonic stem cells; the cells without a clear fate.

Then the persistence paid off when Yamanaka with his assistant, Takahashi discovered how to induce adult skin cells from mice to return to an embryonic, or stem cell, state without a clear fate. They began their experiments knowing that gene transcription factors proteins that turn genes on and off were responsible for keeping embryonic cells in a state without a clear fate. They thought that by turning specific genes on and off with these factors, they could turn back time and make an adult cell embryonic again. So, they tried many different combinations of gene transcription factors and ultimately discovered that 4 specific ones were enough to induce an adult skin cell to a mouse to become an embryonic cell. Because these re-newed embryonic cells, or stem cells, originally came from adult cells they came up with a new name, induced pluripotent stem cell. Broken down, induced pluripotent stem cells means that the cell was induced to become pluripotent pluri meaning several, like plural, and potent meaning very powerful (and stem meaning to have the ability to turn into any cell in the body).

These induced pluripotent cells were thought to be very powerful indeed and scientists across the globe were excited by this great discovery. They had visions of taking a persons skin or blood, forming them into induced pluripotent cells, and then using them to grow a new liver or new parts of the brain. Laboratories across the world confirmed the results by repeating the experiment.

Human stem cells Just repeating the experiments in mice, or frogs, was not enough. They needed to begin making induced pluripotent stem cells from humans. Enter scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The lead scientist, James Thomson was already well known for deriving primate embryonic cells from rhesus monkeys in 1995 and the first human embryonic cell line in 1998. In fact, Thomsons accomplishment of isolating embryonic cells from monkeys was the first sound evidence that it was possible to do the same for humans. Such discoveries placed him on the forefront in ethical considerations for research using human embryos and the most obvious scientist to lead the path toward making induced pluripotent stem cells from humans.

Thomsons team made the first human derived induced pluripotent stem cells from adult skin, with Yamanaka as a co-scientist. They followed the same general principles set by Yamanaka, who did the procedure with mouse skin cells. Importantly to Thomson, this discovery helped to relieve some ethical controversy with using human embryos to make human stem cells. By being able to induce adult human skin to become pluripotent stem cells, much research on human stem cells could be done without human embryos albeit research with human embryos remains necessary.

Yet more important to the discussion at hand, the ability to induce human skin to become pluripotent stem cells placed us on the edge of a breakthrough. With some clinical trials in humans, the fantasy of growing a new liver, heart, or eye was more a reality than ever before.

The start of human trials In 2012, around the time both Gurdon and Yamanaka were presented with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their work leading to induced pluripotent stem cells, human clinical trials were beginning in Japan. The first clinical trial was for age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition leading to blindness. Unfortunately, this trial was quickly terminated when Yamanaka and his team identified small gene mutations in the transplanted induced pluripotent stem cells from the first patient. Although the procedure did cure the patient of macular degeneration, these small gene mutations worried the scientists because they could lead to tumor development.

But recently with the introduction of an inducible suicide gene that can signal cells with abnormal growth to die, human trials are starting up again. In October of 2018, Japanese scientists began trials with Parkinsons disease, a brain disease related to a shortage of neurons producing dopamine. Scientists took cells from the patients, made them into induced pluripotent stem cells, guided them to develop into dopamine producing cells, and then deposited them in the dopamine centers of the brain through surgery. The outcome is promising since similar procedures in monkeys have been successful.

Other trials in Japan have also started, including spinal cord injury and one for replacing the cornea of the eye. Early results replacing damaged corneas with induced pluripotent stem cells, thereby correcting blurry vision, were just announced at the end of August. Although it will take more patients and safety checks before all humans can get induced pluripotent cells to correct their damaged eyes, malfunctioning brains, or broken spinal cords, Takahashi the post-doctoral scientist working with Yamanaka thinks it might happen as early as 2023. So, it looks like that in our lifetime we just might be able to stay young and enjoy retirement because of great breakthroughs in animal research.Note, EuroStemCell is a great resource for learning more about the ethics and research currently being done with stem cells derived from human embryos.

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Abuse in cell banking services a global problem – Bioprocess Insider – BioProcess Insider

The International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT) has formed a consortium to tackle what it says is a rising number of unscrupulous and unproven cell banking players.

With the rise of interest in the cell and gene therapy sector, industry and the market have been plagued with unproven products and services from rogue actors looking to profit from ill-informed and sometimes desperate patients.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laid down a framework to tackle unapproved stem cell clinics, for example, and has issued warning letters,seized productsand instigated legal action to crack down on unscrupulous actors who often co-opt scientific terms and offer tokens of scientific legitimacy without backing from scientific studies and clinical evidence.

Image: iStock/Vitezslav Vylicil

Beyond stem cell clinics deceiving patients, with the approval of more cell and gene therapies, we see these profiteers moving to cell banking marketed to healthy people as well as patients, Laertis Ikonomou, co-chair off the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Use of Unproven Cellular Therapies, told Bioprocess Insider.

There is potential for abuse in that the banking services may refer to direct-to-consumer unproven and unethical cell-based interventions will use cells from such cell banks. With global marketing and point of service kits, this is a borderless problem for all.

As such, the ISCT has formed a global consortium of professional and education societies to help combat the rise in the number of unproven commercial cell banking services. The consortium includes: The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT), American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT), European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT), Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), Joint Accreditation Committee ISCT-EBMT (JACIE) and the Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine (FIRM).

We do not currently have detailed statistics specifically on the number of cell banking services per region. It appears most are concentrated in the US, United Kingdom, and India, said Laertis Ikonomou.

Nevertheless, we consider such services to be part of a global market for unproven cellular therapies. This market has been estimated to be worth as much as $2.4 billion (2.13 billion). It is also estimated that currently approximately 60,000 patients every year globally are treated with unproven cellular therapies and charges for individual treatments can be as much as $40,000 (35,500) per treatment.

The initiative looks to protect legitimate cell-based product development and patients in various ways, Ikonomou said.

Any questionable offer of unproven cell-based products and services hurts the field of regenerative medicine. It erodes the publics trust and it gives the false impression that it is acceptable to offer products that have not been proven safe and effective.

Our collaborative effort aims to highlight these issues. We also want to demonstrate to patients the gap between the real clinical potential of such a service which is unclear at the moment and the overblown advertising claims of businesses offering commercial cell banking services.

While industry-led efforts such as this are necessary, he added increased regulatory enforcement such as the FDAs recent injunctions against unproven tissue-based clinics can rein in businesses that offer questionable cell-related services or products.

Exaggerated and misleading claims of future clinical use for banked cells may also fall under the purview of the US Federal Trade Commission. ISCT is in ongoing communication with regulatory and professional societies around the world, through the ISCT led Cell Therapy Liaison Meetings with FDA, Health Canada, and additional channels.

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Is Stem Cell Therapy for Hip Arthritis Safe and Effective? – The African Exponent

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the raw cells of the body. Essentially, this means that the stem cells are the cells from which all other specialized cells are derived. The specialty of stem cells is that they are able to become any cell in the body. The cells of the heart, the cells of the liver, the cells of the kidney all come from the basic stem cells. Any cell that has been derived from a stem cell is called a daughter cell. Stem cells can be made to develop and divide into daughter cells in the right laboratory conditions. In recent years, there have been a lot of research about stem cell transplant for arthritis.

Is stem cell therapy safe?

Stem cell therapy is considered much safer than traditional procedures that may involve implantations. The reason for this increased safety is because of the bodys immune system. The bodys immune system is always on high alert to intercept and destroy any foreign particle in the body. Because in an implant, you are placing a foreign object in the body, there are chances that there will be rejection or high wear and tear of these objects. The success rate of stem cell therapy for hips is very high because stem cells are a part of our own body. They have our DNA, and because of that, they are not considered as foreign particles.

How do stem cells help in managing and curing arthritis?

When they are applied to an arthritic joint, the stem cells might start becoming cartilage cells that are required in the hip joint. The main reason for extreme pain in the hip joints of a person with arthritis is the degeneration of cartilage. The cartilage is a tissue that is similar to bone and helps keep the bones intact, and the hip to move freely.

The cartilage cells often become hard and brittle because of old age and start wearing out with passing time. Stem cell transplant for arthritis works by considering that the stem cells can become any specialized cell in the human body, doctors think that the stem cells will either become new cartilage cells and replace the old ones. Or the stem cells will help in slowing down the aging of the cartilage by releasing certain proteins (called cytokines). This slowing down will help reduce the pain of arthritis in the patient. When it comes to stem cell therapy vs. hip replacement surgery, It looks like stem cell therapy has a smaller number of complications that are associated with it.

The only risk of complication with using stem cell therapy for hip arthritis is swelling and infection. Infection and swelling are also major risks of having traditional hip replacement surgery. Swelling can be controlled with a few drugs that help in blood flow and will not hamper the healing of the patient. Infection, on the other hand, may pose a bigger problem and threat later on for the health. In stem cell therapy, the infection could happen if the wrong types of stem cells, for example. Pluripotent stem cells are used instead of adult stem cells. When it comes to traditional hip replacement surgery, the infection can be because of the implantation of an infected hip joint or because of the entry of any foreign particle through the cuts that have been made for the implant surgery. Considering all these factors, stem cell transplant for arthritis looks like a safer and better option.

Am I eligible for stem cell therapy for hip arthritis?

Firstly, there are not many centers around the world that have mastered the art of treating hip arthritis with stem cell therapy. There are a few surgeons and doctors who have performed stem cell therapy successfully for hip arthritis with satisfactory results. You should try and approach doctors who have already done this treatment first and have performed them with ease.

There are a lot of serious conditions that have been met with the patient who wants to take the option for stem cell transplant for arthritis. Firstly, the patient must be stable enough to undergo stem cell therapy. The stem cells have to be harvested first for this treatment to work. Harvesting may not be possible in all patients, and the patient may not be able at times to take this route of treatment for curing hip arthritis.

Is there any research going on for stem cell therapy for hip-related conditions?

There is a lot of research that is going on to identify diseases that can be cured by stem cell therapy. One of the hotly researched topics is stem cell transplant for arthritis. It will not be a very long time before stem cell therapy will become the go-to option to cure people of hip-related arteritis and other related conditions. Extensive research is happening in all major universities as well as pharmaceutical companies regarding stem cell transplant for arthritis.

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ISSCA Conference at University of Miami Attracts Regenerative Medicine Experts and Physicians from across the Globe – PRUnderground

The International Society for Stem Cell Application (ISSCA), in collaboration with SISDET, held a highly successful three-day medical conference on the University of Miami campus on October 24-26. The conference featured a host of international experts in regenerative medicine and introduced new standards in regenerative medicine protocols to those in attendance. The Miami conference is part of the ISSCAs growing commitment to increasing the awareness and practice of regenerative medicine across the globe in an effort to help alleviate suffering for those diagnosed with degenerative diseases.

Around 200 physicians, scientists, and researchers interested in regenerative medicine traveled to the University of Miami campus for the event. The conference focused on providing attendees with information on todays most successful stem cells treatment protocols and the latest advances in regenerative medicine. Attendees heard from more than 20 expert speakers within the stem cells field, with lecturers from Europe, the US, and Latin America on the conference agenda.

This three-day event included recognized keynote speakers, as well as aspiring young physicians discussing the latest advances in stem cell biology in an informal and collaborative setting, said Benito Novas, Vice President of Public Relations for ISSCA. Our goal with all of our events is to strengthen the cooperative and dynamic spirit in this research area. We would also like to thank the University of Miami for hosting this event, as it was a great honor partnering with such a prestigious university.

ISSCA is a global leader in stem cells research, applications, and education, partnering with major global institutions and locations worldwide to host its independent medical congresses. To learn more about the ISSCA and its all of its past and upcoming events, visit http://www.issca.us

About International Society for Stem Cells Applications

The International Society for Stem Cells Applications (ISSCA) is a multidisciplinary community of scientists and physicians, all of whom aspire to treat diseases and lessen human suffering through advances in science, technology, and the practice of regenerative medicine. Incorporated under the Republic of Korea as a non-profit entity, the ISSCA is focused on promoting excellence and standards in the field of regenerative medicine.

ISSCA bridges the gaps between scientists and practitioners in Regenerative Medicine. Their code of ethics emphasizes principles of morals and ethical conducts.

At ISSCA, their vision is to take a leadership position in promoting excellence and setting standards in the regenerative medicine fields of publication, research, education, training, and certification. ISSCA serves its members through advancements made to the specialty of regenerative medicine. They aim to encourage more physicians to practice regenerativemedicine and make it available to benefit patients both nationally and globally.

For more information, please visit https://www.issca.us/ or send an email to info@stemcellsgroup.com

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‘Dr. Death’ and ‘Bad Batch’ Host Laura Beil on the Future of Podcasts – ELLE.com

Laura Beil was skeptical when Wondery called her two years ago. The sensationalistic podcast hitmaker behind Dirty John needed a host for its new series about Christopher Duntsch, the infamous Dallas neurosurgeon accused of maiming his patients. Beil, a veteran Dallas Morning News medical reporter, hadn't listened to a true crime podcast in full, let alone reported one. She'd certainly never heard of Wondery. "I said, 'I'm a print journalist,'" she tells ELLE.com. "Why are you calling me?" With some hesitation, she agreed to do it. Today, she's grateful she did.

Since airing last September, Dr. Death has been downloaded more than 50 million times and ordered as a television series. On the heels of its massive success, Wondery greenlit a second Beil-led podcast, Bad Batch, now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. In the six-part investigative series, she takes listeners through the crazy, complicated world of stem cell medical treatment. Like Dr. Death, there's a narrative arc (corrupt system, suspicious CEO, unsuspecting victims); unlike Dr. Death, she says, it serves a real purpose. "The chances of you coming across a horrible neurosurgeon are pretty slim," she says, "but the chances of you or someone you love wanting to spend a bunch of money on stem cells because you're promised a miracle cure? That's much higher. This has a greater chance of having an impact on listeners."

Bad Batch has already garnered 3 million listeners since it debuted three weeks ago, and is now the fourth most popular show on Apple podcasts, ahead of rival My Favorite Murder.

On the phone, Beil and I discuss her transition to audio from print journalism, the future of true crime content in a frenetic digital age, and her secret sauce to producing a hit podcast.

Apparently a Dirty John listener had emailed Wondery saying, "Hey, have you heard of Christopher Duntsch?" They wanted a journalist who had knowledge of the healthcare system in Dallas, where Duntsch practiced, to look into him, and that's a pretty short list. When they called, I hadn't even heard of Wondery. But I decided to take a chance on it.

Journalism is journalism. There are some things I had to get used to, of course. For example, in print journalism, if you need something else, you can go back and get it from a source. You'll email or you'll text somebody to follow up as you find out you need more details. With audio, you just have one shot. It's a lot harder to go back and reinterview someone. You have to make the one interview really count, and that means asking the same question over and over again in a different way, to get details that draw people out. It's something that I'm still learning how to do, frankly.

The feedback about my voice has been all over the place. I didn't get so much with Dr. Death, but for Bad Batch I am. Listeners will say, "Oh, the narrator's too dramatic." And then someone else will say, "Oh, the narrator's too robotic." It's all conflicting. My favorite bit of feedback was from a listener who said they preferred the host of Dr. Death to Bad Batch.

I don't see true crime being dethroned anytime soon. It will always dominate, because people love it. That said, Bad Batch doesn't necessarily fit in the true crime box. There wasn't really a crime, and nobody died. What you need, just like in a print piece, is a good central narrative to hang your story off. The stem cell story is complicated, because you can't just say it's all a big con job. There's legitimate stem cell research going on. The business is growing so much and most of the information about it is coming from people trying to sell it. There's a lot to explore and explain.

In this business, so much is contracting, like newspapers, so it's nice to see one aspect of journalism that's expanding. To see more demand for audio journalism is heartening. It's reviving a lot of the long-form storytelling that's been cut in other places. Dr. Death had 50 million downloads. The same story was told in print on ProPublica, which is a hugely popular website, and yet the response from our audio was so much greater. A lot of things that we're told people want nowadaysshorter stories that are more clickable and scannablewell, you can't do that with a podcast. I can't explain it, but people can't get enough of podcasts.

I do enjoy doing the audio stuff, but I have to say, in my heart of hearts, I'm still a print writer. If I had to give up one or the other, I'd give up the audio.

[Laughs] With two number one podcasts out in a row, Wondery is like, "Do you have anything else?" After Dr. Death, I had so many emails from people saying, "Here's another horrible doctor to look into." It was depressing. I don't want to do another bad doctor story, I want to do something completely different. I want it to be the right story. It'll be something medical of course.

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The final frontier? Studying stem cells on the International Space Station – Scope

It's not often I get to write about astronauts and space travel. In fact, it's happened exactly... never. But now, thanks to a high-flying collaboration of Stanford researchers past and present, I get to write about something that's really out of this world.

Since 2006, iPS cells (short for induced pluripotent stem cells) have been at the forefront of groundbreaking research in biology and medicine. The cells' ability to become nearly any tissue in the body makes them an invaluable resource for physicians wishing to study the effect of drugs on specific, hard-to-obtain tissues or for researchers wanting to delve into the molecular missteps that lead to all manner of diseases.

Now iPS-derived human heart muscle cells called cardiomyocytes have found their way into space, as part of a study by cardiologist and stem cell researcher Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, graduate student Alexa Wnorowski and former Stanford graduate student Arun Sharma, PhD. With the help of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, PhD, (also a former Stanford graduate student!), Wnorowski and Sharma studied the effect of the low gravity of the International Space Station on the heart cells' structure and function.

They published their findings today in Stem Cell Reports.

As Sharma, now a senior research fellow at Cedars-Sinai, explained in an email:

This project represented an opportunity for biomedical researchers to collaborate with astronauts and engineers in order to learn more about how a very unique environment, microgravity, affects the cells of the human heart.

Sharma, Wnorowski and Wu found that the cardiomyocytes cultured on the space station exhibited different patterns of gene expression than did their counterparts grown back here on Earth. They also displayed changes in the way they handled calcium -- an important regulator of contraction rate and strength.

Interestingly (and perhaps reassuringly for astronauts like Rubins), the cells appeared to return to normal when their five-and-a-half week jaunt into low Earth orbit ended.

"Working with the cells that launched to and returned from the International Space Station was an incredible opportunity," Wnorowski said. "Our study was the first conducted on the station that used human iPS technology, and demonstrated that it is possible to conduct long-term, human cell-based experiments in space."

All in all, the researchers were interested to see how nimbly the cells adjusted to their new, free floating life.

"We were surprised by how quickly human heart cells adapted to microgravity," Sharma said. "These results parallel known organ-level adaptations that happen to the heart during spaceflight."

Photos of Kate Rubins by NASA

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Oct4, Considered Vital for Creating iPSCs, Actually Isnt Needed – The Scientist

Since 2006, when Shinya Yamanaka, now the director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University, discovered a method that could guide fully differentiated cells back to their pluripotent state, scientist have been using his recipe to produce induced pluripotent stem cells. The protocol relies on overexpressing the so-called Yamanaka factors, which are four transcription factors: Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and cMyc (OSKM). While the technique reliably creates iPS cells, it can cause unintended effects, some of which can lead to cells to become cancerous. So researchers have worked to adjust the cocktail and understand the function of each factor.

No one had succeeded in creating iPS cells without forcing the overexpression of Oct4. It was thought that this was the most crucial factor of the four. At least until now.

If this works in adult human cells, it will be a huge advantage for the clinical applications of iPS cells.

Shinya Yamanaka, Kyoto University

Four years ago, Sergiy Velychko, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Hans Schlers lab, and his team were studying the role of Oct4 in creating iPS cells from mouse embryonic fibroblasts. He used vectors to introduce various mutations of the gene coding for Oct4 to the cells he was studying, along with a negative controlone that didnt deliver any Oct4. He was shocked to discover that even using his negative control, he was able to generate iPS cells.

Velychkos experiment was suggesting that it is possible to develop iPS cells with only SKM.

We just wanted to publish this observation, Velychko tells The Scientist, but he knew hed need to replicate it first because reviewers wouldnt believe it.

He and his colleagues, including Guangming Wu, a senior scientist in the lab, repeated the experiment several times, engineering vectors with different combinations of the four factors. SKMthe combination that didnt include Oct4was able to induce pluripotency in the cells with about 30 percent of the efficiency of OSKM, but the cells were of higher quality, meaning that the researchers didnt see evidence of common off-target epigenetic effects. They reported their results yesterday (November 7) in Cell Stem Cell.

Efficiency is not important. Efficiency means how many colonies do you get, explains Yossi Buganim, a stem cell researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was not involved in the study. If the colony is of low quality, the chances that eventually the differentiated cells will become cancerous is very high.

Finally, the team employed the ultimate test, the tetraploid complementation assay, in which iPS cells are aggregated with early embryos that otherwise would not have been able to form a fully functional embryo on their own. These embryos grew into mouse pups, meaning that the iPS cells the team created were capable of maturing into every type of cell in the animal.

Whats more is they found that the SKM iPS cells could develop into normal mouse pups 20 times more often than the OSKM iPS cells, suggesting that the pluripotency of iPS cells can be greatly improved by omitting Oct4 from the reprogramming factor cocktail.

The results will need to be verified in human cells, Buganim cautions. His team has developed methods for creating iPSCs that worked well in mouse cells only to be completely ineffective in humans.

Yamanaka himself was enthusiastic about the results, telling The Scientist in an email that his team would definitely try the method in other cell types, especially adult human blood cells and skin fibroblasts. If this works in adult human cells, it will be a huge advantage for the clinical applications of iPS cells.

S.Velychkoet al.,Excluding Oct4 from Yamanaka cocktail unleashes the developmental potential of iPSCs,Cell Stem Cell,doi:10.1016/j.stem.2019.10.002,2019.

Emma Yasinski is a Florida-based freelance reporter. Follow her on Twitter@EmmaYas24.

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Novel Molecule Reduces the Aggressiveness of Pediatric Cancer – Technology Networks

In Brazil, scientists affiliated with the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL) at the University of So Paulo (USP) have identified a molecule capable of reducing the aggressiveness of embryonal central nervous system tumors. These are malignant tumors that start in fetal cells in the brain and mainly affect children up to four years old.

The results arepublishedin the journalMolecular Oncology.HUG-CELLis one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) supported by So Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP. Its principal investigator isMayana Zatz, Professor of Human and Medical Genetics at USP's Institute of Biosciences (IB).

The approach proposed by the group can be classified as a type of microRNA-based therapy. A microRNA is a small RNA molecule that does not encode protein but plays a regulatory role in the genome. In this study, researchers used a synthetic version of an inhibitor of microRNA-367 (miR-367) with anti-tumor activity.

"We demonstrated in an animal model of a central nervous system tumor that treatment with a microRNA inhibitor attenuates properties of tumor stem cells and prolongs survival," saidOswaldo Keith Okamoto, a professor at IB-USP and the principal investigator for the study.

Okamoto explained that embryonal central nervous system tumors such as medulloblastomas and atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RTs) tend to contain cells with characteristics similar to those of stem cells, which boosts their tumorigenic potential and capacity to invade tissue while also making them more resistant to cell death.

These tumors are caused by genetic or epigenetic aberrations in stem cells and neural progenitors when the nervous system is being formed during embryonic development. The neural stem cells that undergo these alterations later give rise to tumor cells. They form aggressive, fast-growing tumors that may appear shortly after birth, in later childhood or in adolescence.

In a previous study, the group tested an approach that used the Zika virus to destroy tumor stem cells (read more atagencia.fapesp.br/27677).

Expression and inhibition

A more recent study was led byCarolini Kaid, a postdoctoral researcher at IB-USP with a scholarship fromFAPESP.

Previous research has already shown that OCT4A, one of the genes that encode pluripotency factors, is overexpressed in aggressive medulloblastomas and that this overexpression is associated with an unfavorable prognosis. During hermaster's research, Kaid detected the expression of miR-367, a gene that promotes stem-like traits in tumor cells, in parallel with overexpression of OCT4A (read more atagencia.fapesp.br/21959).

The researchers then tested a specific synthetic inhibitor of miR-367 containing minor chemical alterations that make it more stable in cells. A patent application has been filed for the invention.

After inducing the formation of central nervous system tumors in mice using three different strains of tumor cells, the researchers injected the miR-367 inhibitor into the brain's right lateral ventricle, a pathway to the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. From there, the miR-367 inhibitor was able to access the tumor cells.

Tumor size was reduced considerably, and survival improved in all groups of mice. The results confirmed what had previously been observed in cell cultures.

In this model, the researchers noted that when the synthetic molecule interacted with miR-367 in tumor cells, it prevented this microRNA from affecting the levels of proteins it normally regulates, such as ITGAV and SUZ12.

The latter is known to be involved in silencing pluripotency-related genes in embryonic stem cells.

While the role of ITGAV in embryonal central nervous system tumors is not fully understood, ITGAV is known to participate in the renewal of both normal and tumor stem cells.

"When miR-367 is inhibited in cancer cells, it stops regulating several proteins. This molecular alteration eventually affects the properties of these cells, resulting in an attenuation of the tumor's aggressiveness. This is what makes the strategy interesting," Kaid said.

The researchers believe that in humans, the synthetic molecule alone may be capable of at least containing the development of these tumors and improving survival. Even so, they are testing combinations of the molecule with drugs currently used to treat the tumors. They want to find out whether the approaches could be combined using lower doses of chemotherapy drugs.

Before clinical trials can be performed, however, pharmacology and toxicity studies will be necessary, as will pharmacokinetic testing to show how the molecule is metabolized and how long it stays in the organism (its half-life).

When embryonal central nervous system tumors are conventionally treated with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, morbidity and mortality rates for these patients are high. These tumors correspond to 10% of all central nervous system cancer cases in children.

Even patients who survive longer than most may suffer from permanent treatment-related sequelae that impair their quality of life, such as problems with development, cognition, locomotion and speech.

Reference: Kaid et al. 2019.miR367 as a therapeutic target in stemlike cells from embryonal central nervous system tumors. Molecular Oncology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/1878-0261.12562.

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