Daily Archives: December 28, 2019

Scientists discover that loose RNA molecules restructure the skin

Particular RNA molecules can be used to restructure the cellular damage of the epidermis and therefore, in a future perspective, also to rejuvenate the skin: it is the discovery made by a group of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University medical school.

The study, published in Nature Communications, speaks of free RNA fragments, called non-coding double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) that can stimulate a particular regeneration of hair follicles after a wound. This is a type of regeneration already known and used by rodents when they need to regenerate their skin after damage.

According to the authors of this new study, dsRNA is released from the damaged cells at the site of the injury. To arrive at this discovery, the researchers performed biopsies on 17 female patients on whom laser therapies were performed for rejuvenation or skin modeling, for example to clear sun spots or wrinkles. The treatments were performed on the face and arms and the average age of the patients was 55 years.

By analyzing the expression levels of genes in the samples collected, the researchers discovered the important role of dsRNA and the genes involved in the production of natural retinoic acid. After laser treatments, the expressions of these genes had much higher levels. By treating skin cells isolated in the laboratory directly with the dissolved dsRNA, the researchers imitated the effect of the lasers by increasing retinoic acid in the cells themselves.

Among other things, the latter is already available in some commercial products to treat acne and other skin defects.

This means that these treatments and the same retinoic acid “are really working in the same molecular pathways and no one knew it until now,” as specified by Luis Garza, professor of dermatology and one of the authors of the study.

These results could help in the implementation of new therapies or strategies to reduce skin defects such as wrinkles or burn scars by directly using retinoic acid in new ways.

One kilometer asteroid discovered with the shortest year

Caltech astronomers have identified an asteroid that runs around the Sun every 151 days, which makes this asteroid the one with the shortest year among those identified. 2019 LF6 has a diameter of about one mile and travels with an orbit that is just above Venus, oscillating slightly beyond it and approaching Mercury.

It is an Atira-type asteroid (a group that includes all the asteroids whose orbit is located entirely within the terrestrial one). This is an interesting discovery also because it is a fairly large asteroid, as specified by Quanzhi Ye, the student at Caltech who made the discovery, who admits that finding such asteroids today has become quite rare as the largest orbiting near almost all have been identified in the Sun.

The orbit of LF6, according to the scholar, is also very unusual, which explains the fact that it was never identified despite its rather bulky size. The researchers used the Palomar Observatory which has a special state-of-the-art camera, the Zwicky Transient Facility, which scans the skies every night to find these objects as well as other phenomena such as explosions and particular stars. 2019 LF6 joins 2019 AQ3, another Atira asteroid from the very short year that orbits the Sun every 165 days.

Both asteroids orbit far outside the plane of the solar system, something that suggests that they have somehow been “thrown out” gravitationally because they are too close to Mercury or Venus, as recalled by Tom Prince, professor of physics Caltech, another author of the research together with George Helou, executive director of the IPAC.