Immunotherapeutic clearance of beta-amyloid is the preferred regenerative medicine approach to the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease (AD), but existing attempts to develop such therapies have been fraught with side-effects and limited efficacy, as well as concerns about clinical translatability. A new approach using DNA vaccines is showing great promise, and has the potential to be safe and cheap enough for deployment in pre-clinical AD - before any irreversible memory loss can occur.
Biomedical research has traditionally focused on identifying and correcting the abnormalities in metabolic pathways that lead to disease states. However, this approach suffers numerous side-effects due to the complexity of metabolism. It is also inappropriate to treating many age-related diseases, which arise as a result of damage accumulated over decades of normal function. Regenerative engineering, by focusing instead on the removal of this damage, largely avoids both of these chronic problems.
In addition to telomerase, some cancer cells become immortalised via the phenomenon known as ALT ("Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres"). A new paper published in Nature suggests that Zscan4, a gene essential for telomere maintenance in embryonic stem cells, may be the driver of the ALT mechanism.