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A potential novel therapeutic target for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, could tissue damage caused by a heart attack be reduced by 30%, and bioluminescence as an ecological trait in the deep sea benthos

By 16th October 2019 February 10th, 2020 No Comments

One of the key comorbidities of type-2-diabetes is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – a disease that is increasing worldwide and for which there are no treatment options available today. It can lead to more severe liver damage such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. A group of researchers including the Institute for Diabetes and Cancer at Helmholtz Zentrum München has discovered a potential novel therapeutic target for treating NAFLD: Rab24. The paper is published in Nature Metabolism.

The French members of the team are from C3M at the Université Côte d’Azur.

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Liver mitochondria – the metabolic powerhouse © Anja Zeigerer, Institute for Diabetes and Cancer (IDC)

Heart attacks kill almost 10 million people in the world each year and more than six million die from stroke. A heart attack is caused by a clot that blocks the artery blood flow. Unirrigated tissues are deprived from the oxygen that is carried by the blood. Under these conditions, the affected tissues undergo rapid necrosis. Scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), the University of Lyon and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm) say they have now discovered that the synthesis of a lipid, called deoxydihydroceramide, provokes the necrosis. This lipid accumulates in the absence of oxygen and blocks cellular functions. By inhibiting its synthesis in a mouse suffering a heart attack, the biologists were able to reduce the tissue damage by 30%. These results, published in Nature Metabolism, suggest a new model of treatment for victims of a heart attack or stroke.

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Immuno-staining of mouse heart cells under anoxia. Healthy striated heart muscle (lower left) gradually shows more and more signs of deterioration due to oxygen deprivation leading to fully necrotic cells (upper right).© UNIGE

Finally, researchers at the Institut de la mer de Villefranche (IMEV – Sorbonne Université / CNRS), MBARI in California and the Laboratoire de biologie marine de l’université catholique de Louvain-La-Neuve say they have identified and quantified the phenomenon of bioluminescence in so-called benthic marine organisms – that is, those living near the sediment. Compared to a previous study on pelagic organisms (living on the water column), the new results, published in Scientific Reports, highlight a major ecological difference between these two types of habitats.

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Umbellula (cnidaire) © Dr. J. Mallefet – FNRS, université catholique de Louvain-La-Neuve