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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

Viewpoint
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

Viewpoint
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.

Identifying cancer driver genes from functional genomics screens

Original article
Togar T, Desai S, Mishra R, Terwadkar P, Ramteke M, Ranjan M, Kawle D, Sahoo B, Pal A, Upadhyay P, Dutt A
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20195

Cancer cells are dependent on a few driver genes for the constitutive activation of the signalling pathways which aid cellular proliferation. Targeting oncogenic-dependent genes has met with success, as demonstrated in several cancer types.

Importance of osteocyte-mediated regulation of bone remodelling in inflammatory bone disease

Review article: Biomedical intelligence
Intemann J, De Gorter DJJ, Naylor AJ, Dankbar B, Wehmeyer C
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20187

Continuous bone remodelling is required to replace old bone tissue and to repair bone micro-cracks. In adults it has been estimated that 10% of bone is replaced every year and that this is crucial for maintenance of a healthy skeleton.

Neuregulin-4 is associated with plasma glucose and increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Original article
Kocak MZ, Aktas G, Erkus E, Yis OM, Duman TT, Atak BM, Savli H
Swiss Med Wkly. 2019;149:w20139

Neuregulin-4 is a cytokine with many functions primarily produced by fat tissue. It is associated with body fat mass, insulin resistance, impaired glucose metabolism, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.

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