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Links between biodiversity and human infectious and non-communicable diseases: a review

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Crump L, Martinoli D, Zinsstag J
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w20485

Biodiversity has intrinsic value and a fundamental role in human health. The relationship between them is complex, and the specific sustaining processes are still not well understood. In view of the rapidly evolving landscape, this literature review investigated scientific evidence for specific links between biodiversity and human infectious and non-communicable diseases to characterise identifiable relationships.

Role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in hormone-dependent cancers

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Mukherjee S, Elia AR, Calcinotto A
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w20483

The main feature of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) is their ability to suppress T-cell activation and function, which leads to immunosuppressive activity in the tumour microenvironment. Higher numbers of circulating and tumour-infiltrating MDSCs have been observed in a large number of patients with various types of tumour, and are linked to poor prognosis, especially in hormone-driven tumours. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the recruitment of MDSCs in prostate cancer confers resistance to canonical endocrine therapies, opening a new approach to the treatment of hormone-driven cancer patients.

Expert recommendation from the Swiss Amyloidosis Network (SAN) for systemic AL-amyloidosis

Review article: Medical guidelines
Schwotzer R, Flammer AJ, Gerull S, Pabst T, Arosio P, Averaimo M, Bacher VU, Bode P, Cavalli A, Concoluci A, Dirnhofer S, Djerbi N, Dobner SW, Fehr T, Garofalo M, Gaspert A, Heimgartner R, Hübers A, Jung HH, Kessler C, Knöpfel R, Laptseva N, Manka R, Mazzucchelli L, Meyer M, Mihaylova V, Monney P, Mylonas A, Nkoulou R, Pazhenkottil A, Pfister O, Rüfer A, Schmidt A, Seeger H, Stämpfli SF, Stirnimann G, Suter T, Théaudin M, Treglia G, Tzankov A, Vetter F, Zweier M, Gerber B
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20364

These are the Swiss Amyloidosis Network recommendations which focus on diagnostic work-up and treatment of AL-amyloidosis. One aim of this meeting was to establish a consensus guideline regarding the diagnostic work-up and the treatment recommendations for systemic amyloidosis tailored to the Swiss health care system.

Understanding the mechanisms of placebo and nocebo effects

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Frisaldi E, Shaibani A, Benedetti F
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20340

The placebo effect represents an elegant model to understand how the brain works. It is worth knowing that there is not a single but many placebo effects, with different mechanisms across different systems, medical conditions and therapeutic interventions.

When a T cell engages a B cell: novel insights in multiple sclerosis

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Jelcic I, Sospedra M, Martin R
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20330

This short review summarises important new insights into the interaction between these two cell populations and outlines recent observations regarding how memory B cells activate brain-homing autoreactive T cells in multiple sclerosis.

DNA methyltransferases hitchhiking on chromatin

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Karemaker ID, Baubec T
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20329

DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification that plays a central regulatory role in various biological processes. Elucidating the crosstalk between different histone modifications and DNA methylation, and their combined effect on the genome-wide epigenetic landscape, is of particular interest.

A pitfall in estimating the effective reproductive number Rt for COVID-19

Petermann M, Wyler D
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20307

The effective reproductive number Rt of COVID-19 is determined indirectly from data that are only incompletely known. Approaches based on reconstructing these data by sampling time lags from suitable distributions introduce noise effects that can result in distorted estimates of Rt. This, in turn, may lead to misleading interpretations of the efficacy of the various measures taken to limit COVID-19 transmission.

Unexpected liaisons between old cytokines and new deadly virus

Beretta A
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20315

Researchers in Italy have not only identified new unexpected liaisons between old cytokines and the new coronavirus that open the way to the use in COVID-19 of drugs already approved for other diseases, but they have also provided valuable indications on how to better prepare ourselves to face a possible second wave of infection.

Insulin under the influence of light

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Ursino G, Coppari R
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20273

Recent evidence suggests that photic inputs regulate diurnal variations in the insulin sensitivity of metabolically relevant tissues via a previously unrecognised mechanism involving the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms underlying photic control of insulin action is of paramount medical importance.

The cellular prion protein beyond prion diseases

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Manni G, Lewis V, Senesi M, Spagnolli G, Fallarino F, Collins SJ, Mouillet-Richard S, Biasini E
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20222

The cellular prion protein (PrPC), a cell surface glycoprotein originally identified for its central role in prion diseases, has recently been implicated in the pathogenesis of other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. This article provides an overview of what is known about the role of PrPC beyond prion disorders and discusses the potential implications of targeting this protein in different diseases.

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