Since the pioneer experiments conducted by Friedrich Miescher in l861, extraordinary advances have been achieved in the field of DNA handling. Today nucleic acids can be extracted from any type of biological material such as tissues, cells and viruses. Moreover, increasing knowledge of human genome is paving the way to an effective employment of pharmacogenomics and genetic-based predictive tests in medicine. In this context, the recovery of DNA from different sources of biological samples (e.g. archived formalin-fixed autopsy tissues, dried blood spots, frozen serum or plasma, long-term stored whole blood) is also an emerging field in genetic epidemiology studies. Thus, given the crucial role played by DNA in bio-medical research and in its related applications, here we review the main relevant issued patents and recently published advances in the field of DNA extraction and purification from human specimens.
Gene therapy is a medical technique intended for treatment of disorders caused by defective, missing, or overexpressing genes. Efficient delivery vectors are necessary in order to transport genetic material to the target cells. Such vectors include viral and non-viral carriers. Viral vectors transfect cells efficiently, however risks associated with their use have limited their clinical applications. Nonviral delivery systems are safer, easier to prepare, more versatile and cost effective. However, their transfection efficiency still falls behind that of the viral vectors. Considerable research into nonviral gene delivery has been conducted in the last two decades on synthetic soft materials such as cationic lipids, polymers, surfactants, and dendrimers as prospective nucleotide carriers for gene delivery. So far, cationic lipids are the most widely used constituents of nonviral gene carriers, with multiple strategies employed to improve their in vitro and in vivo transfection. Efforts in synthesizing new cationic lipids were not fully successful in closing the gap between the efficiency of the viral vectors and that of binary cationic lipid/DNA complexes. Current efforts for improving lipofection efficiency are focused on the development of multicomponent carriers including cationic lipids as key constituents. This review summarizes the recent patents on new cationic lipids as well as on multicomponent formulations enhancing their efficiency as nucleotide carriers.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most malignant forms of cancer. Due to numerous defects of the apoptosis machinery this tumor shows a high resistance towards conventional oncological therapies.
On the level of the extrinsic pathway, signal transduction is flawed by over-expression of decoy receptors but also by a dysfunctional death inducing signaling complex (DISC). The mitochondrial pathway, normally stimulated by cell stress and toxic agents is impeded by over-expression of anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 protein family and the so-called inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs).
To overcome the dysfunction of the apoptosis pathway, new therapeutics focus on molecular targets within the apoptosis pathway. Recently, many new treatment modalities have been reported like recombinant ligands of the cell death receptors or inhibitors of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 members. Furthermore, various substances for the direct activation of the caspase cascade were patented and the over-expression of IAPs could be treated by binding inhibitors or using RNA interference techniques. The present review aims at giving an overview on these new treatment modalities.
Bacteriorhodopsin (BR) is an integral membrane protein found in “purple membrane” (the Archaea cell membrane) mainly in Halobacteria. This protein absorbs green light (wavelength 500-650 nm, with the absorption maximum at 568 nm) and converts it into an electrochemical gradient. This gradient in turn is used for ATP production. The ability of BR to convert light energy into chemical energy or sunlight into electricity has been used in different applications mainly optical appliances but also for therapeutic/medical applications and research. This review surveys some of these applications that have been patented in the last five years.
The human P2X7 receptor is a trimeric ligand-gated cation channel coded by the P2XR7 gene located at chromosome position 12q24. P2X7 is expressed in a wide variety of normal and disease-associated cell types. Activation of this receptor by extracellular adenosine 5'-triphosphate results in numerous downstream events including the release of pro-inflammatory mediators, cell proliferation or death, and killing of intracellular pathogens. As a result, P2X7 plays important roles in inflammation, immunity, bone homeostasis, neurological function and neoplasia. The P2XR7 gene encodes a P2X7 subunit 595 amino acids in length, however splice isoforms that can alter receptor expression and function, and modify the signaling properties downstream of receptor activation also exist. Moreover, the relative amount of P2X7 function varies between human individuals due to numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms resulting in either loss- or gain-of-function. Combinations of these polymorphisms give rise to various haplotypes that can also modify P2X7 function. Collectively, P2X7, and its splice and polymorphic variants are attracting considerable interest in relation to human health and disease, including the development and publication of a number of patents.
The study of human growth hormone isoforms has conduced to the elaboration of patents related to very important items: codifying and regulatory sequences, production of the protein at large-scale, modifications to prolong half-life as monomer, dimer and fusion protein for treatments directed to growth-associated diseases. The designed methodologies directed to the identification and quantification of hGH are beside the formers establishing very important basis of patented sources that can be used for a specific and opportune diagnosis and treatment of biological abnormalities or undesirable effects when these growth hormones are involved.