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Novel stroke treatment receives new US patent



A new twist on a drug used to treat alcohol use disorder could double up as a treatment for stroke.

Carb – short for Carbamathione – is a new formulation designed to treat ischemic stroke, protect brain tissue against injury and minimise the size of localised brain damage.

About 87% of all strokes are caused by a sudden disruption of blood supply to the brain. Whilst significant strides have been made in recent years in stroke research and care, effective treatments are still few and far between.

Now Jang-Yen (John) Wu, a professor of biomedical science in Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine and the inventor of the Carb therapy, has received a new US patent for his work related to Carbamathione, that will open the door to the novel drug being commercialised.

According to the World Health Organisation, 15 million people a year globally suffer a stroke. Of these, five million die and another five million are left permanently disabled. The chance of suffering a stroke doubles every 10 years after the age of 55 with the most common age being 71.4 in men and 76.9 years in women.

The potential promise of Dr Wu’s discovery has enticed CHS Pharma Inc, a South Florida biotechnology company, to make the stroke treatment a reality. The firm has acquired this patent and four others related to neurological disorders and traumatic brain injury. 

It is CHS’s intention to move forward with the Carb discovery through commercialisation.

Dr Wu said: “One of the novel aspects of using Carbamathione, or Carb therapy, to treat stroke is its safety. Carb is an active metabolite of disulfiram or DSF, which has been used to treat alcohol use disorder for more than six decades and has been found to be safe with minimal adverse effects.

Jang-Yen (John) Wu, inventor of ‘Carb’ therapy

“Once we are able to demonstrate the efficacy of Carb therapy in treating stroke, we will be able to use it on patients.”

Strides have been made in the field of brain injury brought on by inadequate blood supply (ischemia) and lack of oxygen (hypoxia), a major pathophysiology of stroke.

However, despite extensive research to develop medicines for stroke based on the known mechanisms, these efforts have largely failed to fulfil expectations.

Dr Wu said: “Attempts to develop medicines to treat stroke have been disappointing, partially because the underpinning mechanism of stroke-induced neuronal injury is multi-factorial and therefore needs a therapeutic intervention that addresses the multi-factorial nature of the disease.”

It is generally believed excitotoxicity caused by excessive release of excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate plays an important role in ischemia/reperfusion induced neuronal death.

Carb works by protecting ischemia-induced brain injury through its action as a glutamate receptor partial antagonist. This unique property could provide neuronal protection through its ability to block excessive glutamate-induced neuronal excitation while allowing the basal glutamate neurotransmission to continue.    

Dr Wu said a pharmaceutically formulated version of Carb could be administered as an injection to treat patients diagnosed with an ischemic stroke.

“Unlike tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), which has a window of opportunity of only four hours, Carb could be administered within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms of ischemic stroke,” he explained.

Carb therapy also holds the promise to treat other diseases in the future as glutamate-induced excitotocixity is thought to be involved in many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and others. 



Tai chi outperforms conventional exercise for seniors



New findings from 12 studies involving 2,901 participants have demonstrated that tai chi outperforms conventional exercise in improving mobility and balance in seniors.

While tai chi is understood to be beneficial for functional mobility and balance in older adults, such benefits are not well understood due to large variance in research study protocols and observations.

This new review and analysis has now shown that tai chi can induce greater improvement in functional mobility and balance in relatively healthy older adults compared to conventional exercise.

The findings showed the following performance results:

  • The time to complete 50-foot walking was 1.84 seconds faster. 
  • The time to maintain a one-leg stance was 6 seconds longer when eyes were open and 1.65 seconds longer when eyes were closed. 
  • Individuals improved their timed-up-and-go test performance by 0.18 points, indicating quicker standing, walking, and sitting.
  • Individuals taking the functional reach test showed significant improvement with a standardised mean difference of 0.7, suggesting a noteworthy positive impact on the ability to reach and perform daily activities.

Secondary analyses revealed that the use of tai chi with relatively short duration of less than 20 weeks, low total time of less than 24 total hours, and/or focusing on the Yang-style of this ancient form of Chinese martial arts were particularly beneficial for functional mobility and balance as compared to conventional exercise.

“This systematic literature review and meta-analysis are exciting because they provide strong evidence that tai chi is a more efficient strategy to improve functional mobility and balance in relatively healthy older adults, as compared to conventional exercise,” said Brad Manor, Ph.D., director of the Mobility and Falls Program at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, and associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“This research suggests that tai chi should be carefully considered in future studies and routines of rehabilitative programs for balance and mobility in older adults,” said Bao Dapeng, professor at Beijing Sport University.

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New standards for biomarkers of ageing



A paper has put forward a new framework for standardising the development and validation of biomarkers of ageing to better predict longevity and quality of life.

Led by Harvard researchers, the team has zeroed in on biomarkers of ageing using omic data from population-based studies. 

The team included ageing and longevity expert Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, founder and CEO of AI-driven drug discovery company Insilico Medicine, and the findings appeared in Nature Medicine

Ageing is associated with a number of biological changes including increased molecular and cellular damage, however, researchers do not yet have a standardised means to evaluate and validate biomarkers related to ageing. 

In order to create those standards as well as actionable clinical tools, the team analysed population-based cohort studies built on omic data (data related to biological molecules which can include proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics, and epigenomics) of blood-based biomarkers of ageing. The researchers then compared the predictive strength of different biomarkers, including study design and data collection approaches, and looked at how these biomarkers presented in different populations. 

In order to better assess the impact of ageing using biomarkers, the researchers found that clinicians needed to expand their focus to consider not only mortality as an outcome, but also how biomarkers of aging are associated with numerous other health outcomes, including functional decline, frailty, chronic disease, and disability. They also call for the standardisation of omic data to improve reliability. 

“Omics and biomarkers harmonisation efforts, such as the Biolearn project, are instrumental in validation of biomarkers of aging” said co-first author Mahdi Moqri, PhD, of the Division of Genetics. 

Biolearn is an open-source project for biomarkers of aging and is helping to harmonise existing ageing biomarkers, unify public datasets, and provide computational methodologies.

The team also emphasised the importance of continued collaborations among research groups on “large-scale, longitudinal studies that can track long-term physiological changes and responses to therapeutics in diverse populations”, and that further work is required to understand how implementation of biomarker evaluation in clinical trials might improve patient quality of life and survival.

“If we hope to have clinical trials for interventions that extend healthy lifespan in humans, we need reliable, validated biomarkers of ageing,” said co-first author Jesse Poganik, PhD, of the Division of Genetics. 

“We hope that our framework will help prioritise the most promising biomarkers and provide health care providers with clinically valuable and actionable tools.”

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Healthy aging research to receive $115 million



Global non-profit Hevolution Foundation has announced $115 million in funding that makes up 49 new awards under its Geroscience Research Opportunities (HF-GRO) programme.  

As part of Hevolution’s mission to catalyse the healthspan scientific ecosystem and drive transformative breakthroughs in healthy aging, HF-GRO is funding promising pre-clinical research in aging biology and geroscience. 

Through this first wave of HF-GRO awards, Hevolution will invest up to $115 million in this first cohort of 49 selected projects over the next five years. Its second call for proposals under HF-GRO will be announced later this year, offering an additional $115 million to address the significant funding gaps in aging research.  

Dr. Felipe Sierra, Hevolution’s Chief Scientific Officer stated: “These 49 important research projects represent a significant step forward in deepening our understanding of healthy aging. Hevolution’s prime objective is to mobilise greater investment around uncovering the foundational mechanisms behind biological aging. 

“We are steadfast in our belief that by examining the root causes of aging, rather than solely focusing on its associated diseases, we can usher in a brighter future for humanity.” 

HF-GRO awardees include researchers at prestigious institutions across the United States, Canada, and Europe, including the U.S. National Institute on Aging, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Buck Institute, the Mayo Clinic, New York University, and the University of California San Francisco, among many others. 

The American Federation for Aging Research is providing programmatic support for the HF-GRO program, with grantees selected through a rigorous two-stage peer-review process involving 100 experts in aging biology and geroscience. 

Dr Berenice Benayoun, an HF-GRO grant recipient at the University of Southern California, stated: “I am extremely honored and excited that Hevolution selected our project for funding. This is a project close to my heart, which aims at understanding why and how the female and male innate immune aging differs. 

“This funding will support us as we start laying the foundation for a lasting improvement of women’s health throughout aging.” 

To date, Hevolution has committed approximately $250 million to transform the healthy aging sector, including the $40 million for specialised research and development in healthspan science recently announced at Hevolution’s Global Healthspan Summit. 

Hevolution is ramping up its investments to enable healthier aging for all and is now the second largest funder of aging biology research worldwide.  

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