Neurodegeneration in different forms has been an increasing health concern worldwide as the population ages and hence it has been attracting the attention of many researchers. Examples of neurodegenerative disorders include Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), etc. along with retinal neurodegenerations like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. AD is irreversible brain disorder occurring due to amyloid plaque formation that is characterized by gradual loss of memory and thinking ability, while PD is a motor system affecting disease involving neuronal death due to Lewy bodies’ formation. AMD involves gradual loss of central vision due to death of macular cells of the retina while glaucoma the infamous ‘Silent thief of vision’, involves increase in the intra-ocular pressure leading to slowly progressing, permanent blindness that begins from the peripheral vision loss. The underlying causes of all these diseases are quite similar like age, oxidative stress, genetic predisposition etc. They all seem quite related to each other with common mechanism of pathogenesis, however, complete understanding of these diseases is still under research. For instance, it is quite well known fact that AD involves β-Amyloid aggregates (plaques) which is the main causative protein in its pathology but role of this protein in ocular disorders like glaucoma is still elusive. β-Amyloid has however, been suggested to be playing an important role in pathogenesis of this ocular disorder by many scientific groups.
Research discoveries at Baylor College of Medicine can potentially reach the point where they evolve into practical applications that improve the quality of life. After more than 20 years of research, discoveries of Dr. Mary Estes’ lab have reached that point; they successfully resulted in a vaccine against rotavirus, triggered the interest of an industry partner, ImmuCell, and were ultimately developed into a final product that has been approved and is available for use in the U.S.
Envision the following possible future clinical scenario: a patient in a hospital develops an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection that is untreatable or only treatable with the most toxic of antibiotics. During the 48 hours it takes to identify the bacterial species and strain, physicians and scientists also screen a library of bacterium-killing viruses at hand, select those that are effective against this antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain and mix a personalized cocktail of phages to successfully treat the patient.
The increased awareness of consumers about the link between health and nutrition has driven research (and food industry) to explore the beneficial effects of functional foods (which promote health or prevent diseases). Although it can be affirmed that food contains “functional nutrients”, nevertheless, for some of them, dietary indications have changed a lot in the last years. This is the case of milk fat consumption that has been associated, for a long time, with increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases, dyslipidemia or obesity. However, in some recent studies, it was evidenced that milk and cheese intake reduced the cardiovascular risk, diseased mortality and the strongest protective effects were observed in consumers of whole dairy products (Dehghan, M.et al., Lancet. 2018). Among the beneficial components of milk fats, conjugated linoleic acid, owing to its prevailing healthy effects for humans, has been considered a functional ingredient (Kim, J.H. et al., Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2016). Although its beneficial effects have been first demonstrated more than thirty years ago, there is still much interest in investigating its protective efficacy and in understanding the mechanisms underlying its biological activities.
With the rapid increase in our understanding of disease biology, it is quite evident that treatment outcomes are dependent on patient molecular profiles. The focus is now to get the right treatment to the right patient allowing for greater safety and efficacy. The authors have shed light on a molecular biomarker that could potentially be used in this new treatment paradigm.