Posts tagged with "Nature Communications"

Prostate cancer illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Battle Against Prostate Cancer

New Insights into Hormone’s Action Could Help in Battle Against Prostate Cancer

Discovery Sheds Light on How Cancer Cells Use Androgen

Researchers at UVA Cancer Center have unveiled important new insights into how hormones known as androgens act on our cells – and the discovery could boost efforts to develop better treatments for prostate, ovarian and breast cancers.

The findings shed light on how androgens interact with their receptors inside cells to affect gene activity. This process is important in both healthy cells and certain cancers. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer, for example, aims to reduce the amount of androgen in the body, or to stop it from fueling the cancer cells. However, the approach does not work for some men, and for others it eventually fails. So, scientists are eager to better understand how our cells – and cancer – interact with androgen.

“Our study reveals a new mechanism for how androgen regulates communication within prostate cancer cells,” said Bryce M. Paschal, PhD, of the UVA School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. “Anti-androgen therapies continue to be the cornerstone for prostate cancer therapy. The better we understand how androgens work, the better clinicians will be positioned to understand why it fails, and how even better therapies can be designed.”

Androgen and Cancer

In a new paper in the scientific journal Nature Communications, Paschal and his colleagues describe how a complex signaling system regulates androgen receptor activity. The system, they found, uses a “writer” and a “reader” to modify cellular proteins – sort of like how a computer reads and writes information.

Scientists have appreciated the importance of these modified proteins but understanding just how they influence the androgen receptors has been difficult. One key to the regulation process, found by Paschal and his SOM team, is an enzyme, Parp7, produced by the PARP7 gene. Parp7 is part of a family of enzymes involved in important cellular functions including DNA repair.

Certain cancer drugs already target certain Parp enzymes; these drugs are used to treat prostate, ovarian and breast cancers in patients who have mutations in DNA-repair genes. And while androgens are usually discussed in the context of prostate cancer, androgens may be important in ovarian and breast cancer as well.

Paschal’s new findings offer fresh insights into these Parp drugs and could lead to improved treatments that help patients get the best outcomes. Further, Paschal and his team found lower levels of Parp7 in prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body than in the initial tumors. That may suggest that a reduction in Parp7 is associated with the progression of the disease, the researchers say.

With their new androgen insights, Paschal and his colleagues have provided scientists with important new directions to explore in the battle against prostate and other cancers.

“Our next steps will be to use pre-clinical models to determine the role this pathway plays in prostate cancer progression, and whether inhibition of the pathways slows disease,” Paschal said. “We are very excited by what we have learned thus far. Our study emphasizes there is still so much to be learned, and that basic science plays a critical role in defining the molecular context for enzyme and drug action. “

About the Research

The research team consisted of Chun-Song Yang, Kasey Jividen, Teddy Kamata, Natalia Dworak, Luke Oostdyk, Bartlomiej Remlein, Yasin Pourfarjam, In-Kwon Kim, Kang-Ping Du, Tarek Abbas, Nicholas E. Sherman, David Wotton and Paschal.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, grant CA214872.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog.

Miami Florida illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Clean Cities Clean Future campaign

Investing in Digital Twins can prevent US cities from under-reporting their carbon emissions.

Cities across the United States are underreporting their carbon emissions by an average of 18.3% according to Nature Communications, the journal for research across the natural sciences.

It has reported huge discrepancies in measurement, with some cities under-reporting emissions by as much as 145.5%, and the total amount of potentially unreported carbon equating to 129 million metric tons. But, a Clean Cities – Clean Future campaign launched by leading Digital Twin provider Cityzenith has offered to help them address this.

Kevin Gurney of Northern Arizona University said the cities’ problem is not so much that they are deliberately under-reporting carbon emissions, but the fact that they simply do not have the technology to measure them.

Gurney and his team have developed ‘Vulcan’, an automated measurement system that can estimate fossil-fuel emissions at specific geographic points and across large areas.

The team compared Vulcan’s estimates of greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2015 with those reported in 48 city inventories, which discovered that many US cities were not measuring their emissions accurately.

Gurney used measuring heating emissions as an example: “Heating oil statistics are difficult to get. Cities will often just not include the heating oil in their total building estimates.”

He added that cities are also using different methods to measure emissions from various sources, such as airborne, on-road, and marine:

“The analysis highlights the need for a systematic, consistent approach to accounting for carbon emissions across the US, because inaccurate estimates make it difficult to assess how effective emissions reduction efforts are.”

The World Economic Forum says cities are crucial for the journey to net-zero emissions. Despite only covering 3% of the Earth’s land surface, urban areas are responsible for more than 70% of global carbon emissions.

Emily Tan, City Solutions General Manager at Shell Renewable and Climate Solutions also called for a consistent approach to the problem: “Integrated solutions need to be innovated and delivered. This will require unprecedented collaboration between the government, industry, and society.

“But the urgency has never been greater. After all, making cities sustainable places to live and work for future generations will be imperative if the world is to meet the broader goals of the Paris Agreement and move closer to a net-zero emissions world.”

Cityzenith CEO Michael Jansen is adamant that the solution to effective measurement and management of carbon emissions within urban areas is Digital Twin technology:

“This report should be a real eye-opener to everyone working to address the 2016 Paris Agreement and push back against Climate Change.

“We already knew that urban emissions were by far the biggest contributor to the greenhouse gases, causing our world to heat up and threaten human life and prosperity, but it now seems that some of the parameters must change through this inadvertent under-reporting.

“Fortunately, Digital Twin 3D modelling through a powerful platform like our SmartWorldOS software can aggregate all new data, and then use AI to develop lasting solutions to the problems highlighted by Nature Communications and the Vulcan team.

“We are raising $15 million through Regulation A+ crowdfunding and as part of our Clean Cities – Clean Future’ campaign, we are donating our SmartWorldOS technology platform to one city at a time for every $1m raised to help create carbon neutral cities.

“And the great news is we have already raised more than $2 million from more than 1,000 new shareholders since launching our investment platform on our website at the end of last year, which will allow the first cities to benefit to be announced in the second quarter of 2021.”