Transplanted Fecal Microbes Stick Around

Donor bacteria coexist with a recipient’s own for three months after a fecal transplant

New research casts some light on what happens to a patient’s gut microbiome after a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and their colleagues sequenced the DNA of bacterial strains in patients with metabolic syndrome who each received an FMT, finding that donor strains persisted in the recipients’ guts for up to three months following the procedure. In their paper, published today (April 28) in Science, the researchers also examined FMT donor-recipient compatibility.

“It was a well-done study,” Vincent Young, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist. Previous studies have shown that certain species of donor bacteria persist after a FMT. What’s new here, Young said, “is the method they used to analyze metagenomics at the strain level.”

FMTs, in which stool microbes from a healthy donor are transplanted into a recipient, have been shown to be a successful treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, and are being investigated for a number of other gastrointestinal disorders. But the procedure is usually preceded by an antibiotic blitz, which wipes out any existing microbial communities in the recipient’s gut, making it difficult to assess a patient’s microbiome before and after FMT.


Read at TheScientist


Omega Fish Oils And Vitamin D Might Boost Antidepressants’ Effects, University of Melbourne Study

Nutrient Supplements Can Give Antidepressants A Boost

An international evidence review has found that certain nutritional supplements can increase the effectiveness of antidepressants for people with clinical depression.

Omega 3 fish oils, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)*, methylfolate (bioactive form of folate) and Vitamin D, were all found to boost the effects of medication.

University of Melbourne and Harvard researchers examined 40 clinical trials worldwide, alongside a systematic review of the evidence for using nutrient supplements (known as nutraceuticals) to treat clinical depression in tandem with antidepressants such as SSRIs**, SNRIs^ and tricyclics^^.

Head of the ARCADIA Mental Health Research Group at the University of Melbourne, Dr Jerome Sarris, led the meta-analysis, published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“The strongest finding from our review was that Omega 3 fish oil – in combination with antidepressants – had a statistically significant effect over a placebo,” Dr Sarris said.


Read at BioSpace

The Two Faces of Fish Oil

The discovery of a tumor-protecting role for a fatty acid found in fish oil has sparked debate about the product’s safety.


Emile Voest, a professor of medical oncology and medical director of The Netherlands Cancer Institute, has spent his career studying the tumor microenvironment—cancer’s cellular backdrop, implicated in everything from a tumor’s structural support to its protection from the immune system and its resistance to cancer-treating drugs.

But it came as some surprise, Voest says, when, in the mid-2000s, he and his colleagues identified two obscure polyunsaturated fatty acids—16:4(n-3) and KHT—that seemed to induce chemoresistance in tumor-bearing mice. “It was not what I was expecting at all,” says Voest. “We had no clue what fatty acids were [or] how they worked.”

The researchers found that human mesenchymal stem cells (multipotent stromal cells already implicated in drug resistance) injected into tumor-bearing mice began secreting these fatty acids when the animals were administered cisplatin—a platinum-based drug used to treat various types of cancer. These platinum-induced fatty acids (PIFAs) had no effect on tumor growth, but neutralized the cytotoxic effects of cisplatin on tumor cells, hinting at a possible mechanism of chemoresistance in human patients receiving platinum-based therapies.


Read at The Scientist

Body’s defenses against common viruses may mess up neurons, spark depression

Getting sick is definitely a bummer. But besides feeling icky and being stuck in bed, viral infections may cause us to actually be depressed. While scientists have been clued into this connection for a while, there was little data on how everyday viral infections, like the flu, might mess with our moods.

Now, data from a new mouse study shows that common viruses may spur sadness by causing the cells that line the blood-brain barrier to release signals that hush the chatter between neurons in the area of the brain responsible for mood. The findings, published this week in the journal Immunity, may finally explain the link between infections and mental health problems, and it could point researchers towards new strategies for treating depression and other mood disorders.

Researchers have been collecting hints of the connection between mental health and infections for years. Though it was first dismissed as people simply being blue about getting sick, doctors now accept that there is a condition called “sickness behavior.” This condition is marked by cognitive deficits, drowsiness, general malaise, and other depression-like symptoms in those with an infection. Moreover, in a 2013 Danish study, researchers found that people who had been treated for a severe infection were 62 percent more likely to suffer from mood disorders. Perhaps related, those that had an autoimmune disease were 45 percent more likely to have such a mental health issue.


Read at ArsTechnica

Barbara Osband, Chairwoman and CEO, Announces Addition of Dr Thomas Burnell to Cambridge Biomedical Advisory Board

Cambridge Biomedical announces the addition of Dr. Thomas W. Burnell to the Cambridge Biomedical Advisory Board.


“We welcome the addition of Dr. Burnell to our Advisory Board” said Barbara Osband, Chairwoman and CEO “ his extensive experience in the CRO and diagnostic laboratory market will greatly assist as we continue to expand or capabilities and client base”


Dr Burnell


Dr. Burnell, is an Operating Partner with Ampersand Capital Partners.  In this capacity, he has served as President and CEO of Nutramed, Inc., and its successor corporation, Elite One Source Nutritional Services, Inc.  Currently, he serves as Exec Chair of Elite One and formerly Accuratus Lab Services, Inc. Prior to this, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Viracor-IBT Laboratories, Inc.  He has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of the The Nebraska Heart Institute, P.C. and Nebraska Heart Hospital, LLC. Dr. Burnell previously served as the Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman for Eurofins Scientific, Inc.  Dr. Burnell has served as a Director of numerous privately-held corporations and non-profit philanthropic organizations.  He has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare, biotechnology, laboratory sciences, manufacturing and international business development. Dr. Burnell received his BS and Master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska and holds a PhD in Nutrition with emphasis in Statistics and Biochemistry from the University of Kentucky.




About Cambridge Biomedical


Cambridge Biomedical, based in Boston, Massachusetts, supports sponsors by developing customized assays for small and large molecules, biomarkers, and other critical analytes, along with validation and sample testing in our CLIA certified and CAP accredited, GLP/GCLP compliant facilities,


The Company has extensive expertise in technology transfer, assay development, optimization and validation. It also offers specific services in analytical support for PK/PD studies, biomarker development, clinical assay development, assay validation, specimen analysis, and testing services in support of clinical trial and drug or device development.


Our personalized project methodology, along with a focus on delivering quality results and regulatory submission ready documentation and rapid turnaround times, ensures we meet our client’s product development timelines.

The Robot Vacuum Ate My Pancreas!

“A Roomba ate my pancreas!” It sounds like the plot of a weird sci-fi comedy. But in Dana Lewis’s life, this is just a normal day.

Lewis is one of the first people in America to create her own mechanical pancreas in an attempt to better manage her type 1 diabetes. (Her robotic vacuum cleaner keeps slurping up and choking on the system’s many cables.)

Type 1 diabetes is, at its simplest, a broken pancreas. Sometimes called juvenile diabetes, the autoimmune disease disables the pancreas from producing insulin, a key component for controlling blood sugar. People with Type 1 diabetes often have to use glucose monitors and insulin pumps to allow their bodies to function.


Read and listen at WNYC

E-skin ‘can monitor body’s oxygen level’

Scientists say they have developed ultra-thin electronic “skin” that can measure oxygen levels when stuck to the body.

The goal is to develop such “skin” to monitor oxygen levels in organs during surgery, say researchers in Japan.

Tests on volunteers found the “skin” provided stable measurements of oxygen concentration in blood.

The device contains micro-electronic components that light up in red, blue and green on the surface of the body.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo are working on ways to display numbers and letters on the skin for health monitoring purposes.


Read at BBC News

It’s Not Cancer: Doctors Reclassify a Thyroid Tumor

An international panel of doctors has decided that a type of tumor that was classified as a cancer is not a cancer at all.

As a result, they have officially downgraded the condition and thousands of patients will be spared removal of their thyroid, treatment with radioactive iodine and regular checkups for the rest of their lives, all to protect against a tumor that was never a threat.

Their conclusion — and the data that led to it — are reported Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology. The change is expected to affect about 10,000 of the nearly 65,000 thyroid cancer patients a year in the United States. It may also offer grist to those who have been arguing for the reclassification of some other forms of cancer, including certain lesions in the breast and prostate.

Read at The New York Times

Branching Out Researchers create a new tree of life, largely composed of mystery bacteria.

Scientists have created a new tree of life showing the relationships among all known living things, which taxonomists typically classify into one of three domains: eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea. One of this new tree’s largest branches consists of bacteria that are essentially new to science, according to a study published today (April 11) inNature Microbiology.

“The significant feature [of the tree] is so many of the major lineages have no isolated representatives”—that is, that none of their species been cultured individually in the laboratory, saidJillian Banfield of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the work. “Much of the world around us is populated by organisms we know nothing about,” she added.

“It’s a great step forward,” said the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Doug Soltis


Read at The Scientist


Sweet drug clears cholesterol, reverses heart disease—and was found by parents

Here’s how parents of kids with rare disease found what may be blockbuster drug.


Two parents’ quest to save their twin daughters’ lives from a rare, degenerative genetic disorder may end up saving and improving the lives of millions.

After digging through medical literature and fitting pieces of data together, the non-medically trained couple contacted German researchers and suggested that a chemical called cyclodextrin may be able to treat atherosclerosis—the hardening of arteries with cholesterol-rich plaques, which is a precursor to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

The researchers, Eicke Latz at the University of Bonn and colleagues, followed up on the parents’ hypothesis and found that in mice, cyclodextrin indeed blocked plaque formation, melted away plaques that had already formed in arteries, reduced atherosclerosis-associated inflammation, and revved up cholesterol metabolism—even in rodents fed cholesterol-rich diets. In petri dish-based tests, the researchers found that the drug seemed to have the same effects on human cells and plaques.

The findings, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, suggest that cyclodextrin—a drug already approved for use in humans by the US Food and Drug Administration—may be highly effective at treating and preventing heart disease.


Read at ArsTechnica