CoQ10 & Smart LEGO | SciByte 97

CoQ10 & Smart LEGO | SciByte 97

We take a look at CoQ10 and your heart, a new Multiple Sclerosis treatment, smart LEGO, exoplanets, Curiosity news, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Coenzyme Q10 and Your Heart

  • Recent results from a multicentre randomised double blind trial shows that Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half
  • Making it the first drug to improve heart failure mortality in over a decade
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) occurs naturally in the body and is essential to survival
  • It works as an electron carrier in the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells, to produce energy and is also a powerful antioxidant
  • CoQ10 levels are decreased in the heart muscle of patients with heart failure, with the deficiency becoming more pronounced as heart failure severity worsens
  • Double Blind Trial
  • Double blind controlled trials have shown that CoQ10 improves symptoms, functional capacity and quality of life in patients with heart failure with no side effects
  • Until now, no trials have been statistically powered to address effects on survival
  • The study randomised 420 patients with severe heart failure, into two groups with CoQ10 or placebo and followed them for 2 years
  • The primary endpoint was time to first major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE), unplanned hospitalisation due to worsening of heart failure, cardiovascular death, urgent cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support
  • CoQ10 halved the risk of MACE, with 29 (14%) patients in the CoQ10 group reaching the primary endpoint compared to 55 (25%) patients in the placebo group
  • CoQ10 also halved the risk of dying from all causes, which occurred in 18 (9%) patients in the CoQ10 group compared to 36 (17%) patients in the placebo group
  • The CoQ10 treated patients also had significantly lower cardiovascular mortality and had a lower occurrence of hospitalisations for heart failure
  • There were fewer adverse events in the CoQ10 group compared to the placebo group
  • CoQ10 is the first medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure since ACE inhibitors and beta blockers more than a decade ago
  • Other heart failure medications block rather than enhance cellular processes and may have side effects
  • It\’s a Natural Substance
  • CoQ10 is a natural and safe substance, corrects a deficiency in the body and blocks the vicious metabolic cycle in chronic heart failure called the energy starved heart
  • It is present in food, including red meat, plants and fish, but levels are insufficient to impact on heart failure
  • It is currently sold over the counter as a food supplement but food supplements can influence the effect of other medications including anticoagulants, so patients should seek advice from their doctor before taking them`
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • First drug to improve heart failure mortality in over a decade |


Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

  • A phase 1 clinical trial for the first treatment to reset the immune system of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients showed the therapy was safe and dramatically reduced patients\’ immune systems\’ reactivity to myelin by 50 to 75 percent
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • In MS, the immune system attacks and destroys myelin, the insulating layer that forms around nerves in the spinal cord, brain and optic nerve
  • When the insulation is destroyed, electrical signals can\’t be effectively conducted, resulting in symptoms that range from mild limb numbness to paralysis or blindness
  • The New Therapy
  • Current therapies for MS suppress the entire immune system, making patients more susceptible to everyday infections and higher rates of cancer
  • The new stops autoimmune responses that are already activated and prevents the activation of new autoimmune cells
  • The Trial
  • The MS patients\’ own specially processed white blood cells were used to stealthily deliver billions of myelin antigens into their bodies so their immune systems would recognize them as harmless and develop tolerance to them
  • While the trial\’s nine patients were too few to statistically determine the treatment, the study did show patients who received the highest dose of white blood cells had the greatest reduction in myelin reactivity
  • The primary aim of the study was to demonstrate the treatment\’s safety and tolerability
  • The intravenous injection of up to 3 billion white blood cells with myelin antigens caused no adverse effects in MS patients
  • The treatment did not reactivate the patients\’ disease and did not affect their healthy immunity to real pathogens
  • Researchers also tested patients\’ immunity to tetanus because all had received tetanus shots in their lifetime
  • One month after the treatment, their immune responses to tetanus remained strong, showing the treatment\’s immune effect was specific only to myelin
  • Phase 2 Trials
  • Human safety study sets the stage for a phase 2 trial to see if the new treatment can prevent the progression of MS in humans
  • The trial, which has already been approved in Switzerland
  • In the phase 2 trial researchers want to treat patients as early as possible in the disease before they have paralysis due to myelin damage
  • What Does It Do?
  • The patients\’ white blood cells are filtered out, specially processed and coupled with myelin antigens by a complex GMP manufacturing process
  • Then billions of these dead cells secretly carrying the myelin antigens were injected intravenously into the patients
  • The cells entered the spleen, which filters the blood and helps the body dispose of aging and dying blood cells
  • During this process, the immune cells start to recognize myelin as a harmless and immune tolerance quickly develops
  • This process may be useful for treating not only MS but also a host of other autoimmune and allergic diseases simply by switching the antigens attached to the cells
  • Another Possible Carrier
  • This therapy, recently published research in mice in which he used nanoparticles-rather than a patient\’s white blood cells-to deliver the myelin antigen
  • Using a patient\’s white blood cells is a costly and labor-intensive procedure
  • This new study showed the nanoparticles, which are potentially cheaper and more accessible to a general population, could be as effective as the white blood cells as delivery vehicles
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Multiple Sclerosis | AsapSCIENCE
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Multiple sclerosis breakthrough: Trial safely resets patients\’ immune systems and reduces attack on myelin protein | MedicalXPress


Smart and Awesome LEGO

  • The Low Down
  • A recent tour of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Tokyo, found LEGO with cameras, motors and some rudimentary AI
  • Seen there was a motorized Lego platform controlled by a computer squared off against a platform controlled by a human with a PlayStation controller
  • The project is still in the experimental phase, so it will be awhile before it reaches the commercial level
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Sony and Lego ponder next-gen toys in Tokyo
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • These Artificially Intelligent Legos Look Awesome | Popular Science

Exoplanet Found By Small Telescopes

  • The Low Down
  • Tiny telescopes in Arizona and South Africa have spotted a Saturn-like planet in orbit around a star about 700 light-years from Earth.
  • The Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) and other ground-based tools spied the alien planet as it passed in front of its star
  • The planet, KELT-6b, can be seen from the surface of Earth for five hours as it transits
  • It has a year lasts only about 7.8 days, has no rings, and has a mass and size resemble the planet Saturn
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Saturn-Like Alien Planet Found by Little Telescope | KELT-6b |

— Updates —

Exoplanet Heft

  • A new study suggests that a large number of worlds found by NASA\’s Kepler alien planet-hunting space telescope are probably significantly larger than scientists previously estimated
  • What’s Going On
  • The Kepler Space Telescope has spotted more than 2,700 potential
  • Now researchers have made detailed follow-up observations of 300 of the stars Kepler found likely to be harboring exoplanets
  • One of the main findings of this initial work is that our observations indicate that most of the stars we observed are slightly larger than previously thought and one quarter of them are at least 35 percent larger
  • This also mean that any planets orbiting these stars must be larger and hotter as well, which could reduce the number of candidate Earth-size planet analogues detected by Kepler
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Planets Found by Kepler Spacecraft Likely Larger Than Thought |


  • Curiosity will soon shift to a distance-driving mode headed for an area about 8 km / 5 mi away, at the base of Mount Sharp
  • The Mission Objective
  • The mission has also already accomplished its main science objective.
  • Analysis of rock powder from the first drilled rock target, \”John Klein,\” provided evidence that an ancient environment in Gale Crater had favorable conditions for microbial life
  • The rover team chose a similar rock, \”Cumberland,\” as the second drilling target to provide a check for the findings at John Klein
  • Scientists are currently analyzing laboratory-instrument results from portions of the Cumberland sample
  • Event
  • To reach the first area of investigation, Glenelg where it is now, the rover drove east about a 500 m / 0.3 mi from the landing site
  • No additional rock drilling or soil scooping is planned in the Glenelg area
  • To reach the next destination, Mount Sharp, Curiosity will drive toward the southwest for many months.
  • Although just because our end goal is Mount Sharp doesn\’t mean the team will not investigate interesting features along the way
  • Capabilities
  • One new capability being used is to drive away while still holding rock powder in Curiosity\’s sample-handling device to supply additional material to instruments later if desired by the science team
  • For the drilling at Cumberland, steps that each took a day or more at John Klein could be combined into a single day\’s sequence of commands far more efficiently
  • The team used the experience and lessons from our first drilling campaign, as well as new cached sample capabilities, to do the second drill
  • In addition, they increased the use of the rover\’s autonomous self-protection. This allowed more activities to be strung together before the ground team had to check in on the rover
  • Before the Road Trip Starts
  • The science team has chosen three targets for brief observations before Curiosity leaves the Glenelg area
  • The boundary between bedrock areas of mudstone and sandstone, a layered outcrop called \”Shaler\” which might be a river deposit.
  • And a pitted outcrop called \”Point Lake\” which might be volcanic or sedimentary.
  • A closer look at them could give us better understanding of how the rocks we sampled with the drill fit into the history of how the environment changed
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Curiosity Rover Report (June 7, 2013): Rover Ready to Switch Gears | JPLnews
  • Image Galleries at JPL and Curiosity Mulimedia
  • Social Media
  • Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity
  • Further Reading / In the News


Looking back

  • June 13, 1983 : 30 years ago : Pioneer 10 : Space probe vehicle Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Neptune and became the first manmade object to leave our Solar System. It was launched 2 Mar 1972. It is moving in a straight line away from the Sun at a constant velocity of about 12 km/sec. Some 30 years after its launch, on 27 Apr 2002, NASA made successful contact with telemetry received from Pioneer 10 when it was at a distance from Earth of 7.57 billion miles, and the round-trip time for the signal (at the speed of light) was 22-hr 35-min. The probe sent information from the one scientific instrument that was still working, the Geiger Tube Telescope. The spacecraft is heading generally towards the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of Taurus (The Bull)
  • Voyager 1 launched on Sept 5, 1977 and overtook Pioneer 10 on Nov 17, 1998. It remains the most distant man-made object
  • Voyager 2 launched on Aug 20, 1977

Looking up this week

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