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Patrick Cramer receives the 2021 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

The director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry is honored for his pioneering work in the field of

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The director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry is honored for his pioneering work in the field of gene transcription

The award is one of the most prestigious in Europe and endowed with 500,000 Swiss francs. With this prize the Louis-Jeantet Foundation honors the director at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry for his pioneering work in the field of gene transcription. Transcription is a copying process enabling living cells to produce transcripts of their genes that then serve as blueprints for making proteins. Cramer’s research focuses on the molecular machines, called RNA polymerases, that control this fundamental process of life.

“Patrick Cramer has visualized the structures of many of these cellular copying machines in atomic detail for the first time. He demonstrated how RNA polymerases translate genetic information and how they work as a team with other protein complexes. His ground-breaking research provides deep insights into gene transcription with unprecedented detail. It is highly deserved that his outstanding achievements are now being honored with the Louis Jeantet Prize,” says Marina Rodnina, Managing Director at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry.

With his research, Patrick Cramer also wants to understand how the cellular copying machines are controlled. After all, the genetic information is identical in all cells, but read out only on demand. It is through this precise control of transcription that a complex organism with specialized cells as diverse as skin, nerve or liver cells can develop. To understand transcription and gene regulation at the molecular and cellular levels, the molecular biologist combines a wide variety of methods in his research group, from biochemistry and electron microscopy to functional genomics and bioinformatics. “It is a special honor to receive the Louis-Jeantet Prize. I am very grateful to the many coworkers who have contributed over the years with their outstanding research. I hope that soon we will all be vaccinated and can celebrate this success,” says Cramer.

The molecular biologist plans to use the prize money for his research on the new coronavirus, among other things. Shortly after the pandemic started, Cramer’s group filmed how the coronavirus duplicates its genetic material and which three-dimensional structure the pathogen’s polymerase adopts during copying. Recently, Cramer’s group also visualized how the drug remdesivir interferes with this copying process. Remdesivir was the first drug to be approved in Europe and the United States to treat Covid-19 infections. Cramer’s team described how remdesivir impairs copying of the viral genome, and that it does not block this process completely. “Our results can explain, at least in part, why the drug is not as effective as had been expected,” Cramer says. “It is now an important goal to develop molecules that can inhibit the corona polymerase more efficiently.”

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About Patrick Cramer

Patrick Cramer studied chemistry in Stuttgart, Heidelberg, as well as Bristol and Cambridge (England). After completing his PhD at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Grenoble (France), he worked as a postdoctoral researcher with future Nobel laureate Roger Kornberg at Stanford University in California (USA) from 1999 to 2001. He was then appointed as professor of biochemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where he also headed the Gene Center from 2004 to 2013. Since 2014, Cramer has been director at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen heading the Department of Molecular Biology. Cramer has received many awards, including the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the Otto Warburg Medal, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

About the Louis-Jeantet Prizes

The Swiss Louis-Jeantet Foundation awards up to three Prizes annually to scientists conducting research in the field of biomedicine and working in one of the member states of the European Council. Patrick Cramer is already the fourth scientist at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry to be recognized with this award, following Bert Sakmann, Peter Gruss, and Herbert Jäckle.

https://www.mpg.de/16336063/0125-bich-patrickcramerlouisjeantetprize2021-152115-x

Source: https://bioengineer.org/patrick-cramer-receives-the-2021-louis-jeantet-prize-for-medicine/

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Healing skin ischemia-reperfusion injuries with interleukin-36 receptor antagonists

Ischemia, which in modern Latin means, “staunching of blood,” is a medical condition in which the blood supply is cut

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Ischemia, which in modern Latin means, “staunching of blood,” is a medical condition in which the blood supply is cut off to different parts of the body. In patients who are bed-ridden, ischemia can manifest as pressure ulcers. Else, it could be the Raynaud’s phenomenon in someone under severe stress. This condition can be rescued by blood reperfusion to the affected areas. However, the latter carries the risk of injuries known medically as ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injuries.

Ischemia, which in modern Latin means, “staunching of blood,” is a medical condition in which the blood supply is cut off to different parts of the body. In patients who are bed-ridden, ischemia can manifest as pressure ulcers. Else, it could be the Raynaud’s phenomenon in someone under severe stress. This condition can be rescued by blood reperfusion to the affected areas. However, the latter carries the risk of injuries known medically as ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injuries.

Skin-based I/R injuries can be exacerbated by inherited immunological mechanisms, for instance in patients who are otherwise showing signs of slow wound healing. To understand the immunological mechanisms underlying the development of this condition better, scientists from Japan, building on previous studies, decided to narrow down their investigation to interleukin-36 receptor antagonist (IL-36Ra), a protein that plays a pivotal immunomodulatory role in wound healing.

Speaking about the motivation behind their research, Mr. Yoshihito Tanaka from Fujita Health University School of Medicine, Japan, who led the team of scientists in the investigation, explains, “We wanted to understand the immunological mechanisms involved in the healing of wounds from cutaneous ischemia-reperfusion injuries, such as pressure ulcers and Raynaud’s phenomenon, to narrow down possible therapeutic targets. Drawing from experience, IL-36Ra appeared to be a promising candidate for kickstarting our investigation.”

Accordingly, Mr. Tanaka worked with his team to understand how deficiency of IL-36Ra affects wound healing in cutaneous I/R injuries. For this, the scientists used mice knocked out for the receptor. Also, they induced cutaneous I/R injuries in knockout and wildtype control mice. Subsequently, they studied corresponding immunological responses in both groups of animals, including the time required for wound healing, infiltration of neutrophils/macrophages (key immune cells) to the site of the wounds, apoptotic skin cells, and activation of other unwanted immunological defense mechanisms. Their findings have been published as a research article in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

The team, comprising Dr. Kazumitsu Sugiura and Dr. Yohei Iwata from Fujita Health University School of Medicine, among others, was able to pinpoint important results. The scientists found that the absence of IL-36Ra, indeed, significantly slows down wound healing in cutaneous I/R injuries, through increased apoptosis, or ‘suicide’ of useful skins cells, excessive recruitment of inflammatory cells, and employment of unnecessary proinflammatory mechanisms. Additionally, they demonstrated the role of Cl-amidine, a protein-arginine deiminase inhibitor as effective in normalizing exacerbated I/R injury in IL-36Ra mice. Based on these observations, the scientists assert their findings are the first conclusive report of the involvement of IL-36Ra in cutaneous I/R injury.

The scientists are positive that they have identified a stalwart therapeutic candidate against cutaneous I/R injuries in IL-36Ra. As Mr. Tanaka optimistically adds, “Our research may lead to the development of therapeutic agents for wound healing of various other refractory skin diseases too.”

The quest for novel therapeutic targets in skin wound healing might just have been empowered by these findings of the team and the future indeed looks brighter for alleviating the painful burden of cutaneous I/R injuries.

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Reference

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.17767

About Fujita Health University

Fujita Health University is a private university situated in Toyoake, Aichi, Japan. It was founded in 1964 and houses one of the largest teaching university hospitals in Japan in terms of the number of beds. With over 900 faculty members, the university is committed to providing various academic opportunities to students internationally. Fujita Health University has been ranked eighth among all universities and second among all private universities in Japan in the 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. THE University Impact Rankings 2019 visualized university initiatives for sustainable development goals (SDGs). For the “good health and well-being” SDG, Fujita Health University was ranked second among all universities and number one among private universities in Japan. The university will also be the first Japanese university to host the “THE Asia Universities Summit” in June 2021. The university’s founding philosophy is “Our creativity for the people (DOKUSOU-ICHIRI),” which reflects the belief that, as with the university’s alumni and alumnae, current students also unlock their future by leveraging their creativity.

Website: https://www.fujita-hu.ac.jp/en/index.html

About Mr. Yoshihito Tanaka from Fujita Health University

Mr. Yoshihito Tanaka is a graduate student at the Department of Dermatology of Fujita Health University School of Medicine. Mr. Tanaka extensively studies the immunological mechanisms behind dermatological conditions, specifically with animal models. He has over 11 publications to his credit, in reputed international journals, with over 16 citations.

Journal

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology

Method of Research

Experimental study

Subject of Research

Animals

Article Title

Cutaneous ischemia-reperfusion injury is exacerbated by IL-36 receptor antagonist deficiency

Article Publication Date

26-Oct-2021

COI Statement

The authors declare none.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/healing-skin-ischemia-reperfusion-injuries-with-interleukin-36-receptor-antagonists/

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Social inequities perpetuate breastfeeding disparities for Black women

Philadelphia, November 8, 2021 – As Black women continue to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the

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Philadelphia, November 8, 2021 – As Black women continue to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the United States, researchers examined factors associated with breastfeeding disparities and inequities through the lens of critical race theory and the social-ecological model in a new Perspective in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier.

Philadelphia, November 8, 2021 – As Black women continue to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the United States, researchers examined factors associated with breastfeeding disparities and inequities through the lens of critical race theory and the social-ecological model in a new Perspective in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier.

In the United States, there has been a heightened recognition of the health and social disparities that continuously impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Among these health disparities is the low rate of breastfeeding among Black mothers, despite the association between positive health outcomes and breastfeeding. A general lack of acceptance about breastfeeding within the Black American culture and American culture; lack of neighborhood resources like primary care, social cohesion, and safety; and experiences of racism and implicit bias by healthcare providers have been identified as contributing factors to the low breastfeeding rates among Black women.

“The reality is that right now the breastfeeding rates in the United States are not improving, and [Black women] have the lowest rates of breastfeeding for any race or ethnicity in the US. Unfortunately, the breastfeeding rates between Black infants and White infants are widening, so what we’re doing right now is not working,” said Melissa Petit, MN PH, BA, RN, IBCLC, College of Nursing, Washington State University, Spokane, WA, USA.

This Perspective encourages healthcare providers and nurses to address breastfeeding disparities among Black women in the US from the individual level to the societal level.

“In clinical practice, we need to examine the roadblocks or barriers to fostering inclusion and equity in healthcare for all women. We need to identify our own assumptions about race, understand and acknowledge our own biases and perceptions, and challenge our own thoughts to identify our own microaggressions by reading about microinequities and microaggressions. We need to be active practitioners of trauma informed care. We need to realize trauma impacts patients and recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma whether it be historical or structural or personal, and we need to respond by implementing care structures for all women by acknowledging our shared humanity and challenges in that shared humanity,” commented coauthor Denise Smart, DrPH, MPH, BSN, RN, College of Nursing, Washington State University, Spokane, WA, USA.

Journal

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

DOI

10.1016/j.jneb.2021.08.013

Subject of Research

People

Article Title

Examination of Factors That Contribute to Breastfeeding Disparities and Inequities for Black Women in the US

Article Publication Date

8-Nov-2021

Source: https://bioengineer.org/social-inequities-perpetuate-breastfeeding-disparities-for-black-women/

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SNMMI Image of the Year: PET imaging measures cognitive impairment in COVID-19 patients

Credit: G Blazhenets et al., Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of

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Credit: G Blazhenets et al., Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg.

Reston, VA–The effects of COVID-19 on the brain can be accurately measured with positron emission tomography (PET), according to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) 2021 Annual Meeting. In the study, newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, who required inpatient treatment and underwent PET brain scans, were found to have deficits in neuronal function and accompanying cognitive impairment, and in some, this impairment continued six months after their diagnosis. The detailed depiction of areas of cognitive impairment, neurological symptoms and comparison of impairment over a six-month time frame has been selected as SNMMI’s 2021 Image of the Year.

Each year, SNMMI chooses an image that best exemplifies the most promising advances in the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. The state-of-the-art technologies captured in these images demonstrate the capacity to improve patient care by detecting disease, aiding diagnosis, improving clinical confidence, and providing a means of selecting appropriate treatments. This year, the SNMMI Henry N. Wagner, Jr., Image of the Year was chosen from more than 1,280 abstracts submitted to the meeting and voted on by reviewers and the society leadership.

“As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic proceeds, it has become increasingly clear that neurocognitive long-term consequences occur not only in severe COVID-19 cases, but in mild and moderate cases as well. Neurocognitive deficits like impaired memory, disturbed concentration and cognitive problems may persist well beyond the acute phase of the disease,” said Ganna Blazhenets, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher in Medical Imaging at the University Medical Center Freiburg, in Freiburg, Germany.

To study cognitive impairment associated with COVID-19, researchers carried out a prospective study on recently diagnosed COVID-19 patients who required inpatient treatment for non-neurological complaints. A cognitive assessment was performed, followed by imaging with 18F-FDG PET if at least two new neurological symptoms were present. By comparing COVID-19 patients to controls, the Freiburg group established a COVID-19-related covariance pattern of brain metabolism with most prominent decreases in cortical regions. Across patients, the expression of this pattern showed a very high correlation with the patients’ cognitive performance.

Follow-up PET imaging was performed six months after the initial COVID-19 diagnosis. Imaging results showed a significant improvement in the neurocognitive deficits in most patients, accompanied by an almost complete normalization of the brain metabolism.

“We can clearly state that a significant recovery of regional neuronal function and cognition occurs for most COVID-19 patients based on the results of this study. However, it is important to recognize the evidence of longer-lasting deficits in neuronal function and accompanying cognitive deficits is still measurable in some patients six months after manifestation of disease,” noted Blazhenets. “As a result, post-COVID-19 patients with persistent cognitive complaints should be presented to a neurologist and possibly allocated to cognitive rehabilitation programs.”

“18F-FDG PET is an established biomarker of neuronal function and neuronal injury,” stated SNMMI’s Scientific Program Committee chair, Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD. “As shown the Image of the Year, it can be applied to unravel neuronal correlates of the cognitive decline in patients after COVID-19. Since 18F-FDG PET is widely available, it may therefore aid in the diagnostic work-up and follow-up in patients with persistent cognitive impairment after COVID-19.”

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Abstract 41. “Altered regional cerebral function and its association with cognitive impairment in COVID 19: A prospective FDG PET study.” Ganna Blazhenets, Johannes Thurow, Lars Frings and Philipp Meyer, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany; Nils Schroeter, Tobias Bormann, Cornelius Weiller, Andrea Dressing and Jonas Hosp; Department of Neurology and Clinical Neuroscience, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany; and Dirk Wagner, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.

All 2021 SNMMI Annual Meeting abstracts can be found online at https://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/62/supplement_1.

About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, vital elements of precision medicine that allow diagnosis and treatment to be tailored to individual patients in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

SNMMI’s members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit http://www.snmmi.org.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/snmmi-image-of-the-year-pet-imaging-measures-cognitive-impairment-in-covid-19-patients/

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