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March 13, 2011, 11:12 AM CT

Is genius might be a result of hormonal influences

Is genius might be a result of hormonal influences
A longstanding debate as to whether genius is a byproduct of good genes or good environment has an upstart challenger that may take the discussion in an entirely new direction. University of Alberta researcher Marty Mrazik says being bright appears to be due to an excess level of a natural hormone.

Mrazik, a professor in the Faculty of Education's educational psychology department, and a colleague from Rider University in the U.S., have published a paper in Roeper Review linking giftedness (having an IQ score of 130 or higher) to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone. Mrazik hypothesizes that, in the same way that physical and cognitive deficiencies can be developed in utero, so, too, could similar exposure to this naturally occurring chemical result in giftedness.

"There seems to be some evidence that excessive prenatal exposure to testosterone facilitates increased connections in the brain, particularly in the right prefrontal cortex," said Mrazik. "That's why we see some intellectually gifted people with distinct personality characteristics that you don't see in the normal population".

Mrazik's notion came from observations made during clinical evaluations of gifted individuals. He and his fellow researcher observed some specific traits among the subjects. This finding stimulated a conversation on the role of early development in setting the foundation for giftedness.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 7, 2011, 7:08 AM CT

Gene responsible for severe osteoporosis

Gene responsible for severe osteoporosis
Researchers have identified a single mutated gene that causes Hajdu-Cheney syndrome, a disorder of the bones causing progressive bone loss and osteoporosis (fragile bones). The study, published in Nature Genetics today, gives vital insight into possible causes of osteoporosis and highlights the gene as a potential target for treating the condition.

There are only 50 reported cases of Hajdu-Cheney syndrome (HCS), of which severe osteoporosis is one of the major feature. Osteoporosis is a condition leading to reduction in bone strength and susceptibility to fractures. It is the most common bone disease, with one in two women and one in five men over 50 in the UK fracturing a bone because of the condition. This represents a major public health problem yet, until this study, possible genetic causes of osteoporosis were poorly understood.

The team of scientists, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', set out to investigate the genetic cause of HCS in order to detect clues to the role genes might play in triggering osteoporosis.

Using a cutting edge technique for identifying disease-causing genes, known as exome sequencing, the team were able to identify NOTCH2 as the causative gene using DNA from just three unrelated HCS patients. The team then confirmed their findings in an additional 12 affected families, 11 of whom had an alteration in the identical portion of the same gene.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 21, 2011, 7:38 AM CT

Blood pressure measurement method to revolutionize

Blood pressure measurement method to revolutionize
CASPro blood pressure measurement device.

Credit: University of Leicester

In a major scientific breakthrough, a new blood pressure measurement device is set to revolutionise the way patients' blood pressure is measured.

The new approach, invented by researchers at the University of Leicester and in Singapore, has the potential to enable doctors to treat their patients more effectively because it gives a more accurate reading than the current method used. It does this by measuring the pressure close to the heart � the central aortic systolic pressure or CASP.

Blood pressure is currently measured in the arm because it is convenient however this may not always accurately reflect what the pressure is in the larger arteries close to the heart.

The new technology uses a sensor on the wrist to record the pulse wave and then, using computerised mathematical modelling of the pulse wave, researchers are able to accurately read the pressure close to the heart. Patients who have tested the new device found it easier and more comfortable, as it can be worn like a watch.

Being able to measure blood pressure in the aorta which is closer to the heart and brain is important because this is where hypertension can cause damage. In addition, the pressure in the aorta can be quite different from that traditionally measured in the arm. The new technology will hopefully lead to better identification of those who will most likely benefit from therapy by identifying those who have a high central aortic systolic pressure value. This will be particularly important for younger people in whom the pressure measured in the arm can sometimes be quite exaggerated in comparison to the pressure in the aorta.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 17, 2011, 7:11 AM CT

Regrowing hair

Regrowing hair
The CRF1/CRF2 receptor antagonist, astressin-B, injected intraperitoneally (ip) in CRF-OE mice with fully developed alopecia induces hair growth and pigmentation. Photographs: Row A: Male CRF-OE mice (4 months old) injected ip once daily for 5 consecutive days with saline at 3 days after the last injection and Row B: astressin-B (5 mg/mouse) at 3 days after the last ip injection, and Row C: the same mice as in the middle panel Row B at 4 weeks after the last ip injection.

Credit: UCLA/VA

It has been long known that stress plays a part not just in the graying of hair but in hair loss as well. Over the years, numerous hair-restoration remedies have emerged, ranging from hucksters' "miracle solvents" to legitimate medications such as minoxidil. But even the best of these have shown limited effectiveness.

Now, a team led by scientists from UCLA and the Veterans Administration that was investigating how stress affects gastrointestinal function may have found a chemical compound that induces hair growth by blocking a stress-related hormone linked to hair loss � entirely by accident.

The serendipitous discovery is described in an article reported in the online journal PLoS One

"Our findings show that a short-duration therapy with this compound causes an astounding long-term hair regrowth in chronically stressed mutant mice," said Million Mulugeta, an adjunct professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a corresponding author of the research. "This could open new venues to treat hair loss in humans through the modulation of the stress hormone receptors, especially hair loss correlation to chronic stress and aging." .

The research team, which was originally studying brain�gut interactions, included Mulugeta, Lixin Wang, Noah Craft and Yvette Tach� from UCLA; Jean Rivier and Catherine Rivier from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.; and Mary Stenzel-Poore from the Oregon Health and Sciences University.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


February 17, 2011, 7:00 AM CT

Tau-induced memory loss in Alzheimer's mice

Tau-induced memory loss in Alzheimer's mice
To test their capacity to learn, the mice are trained to find an underwater platform which is not visible to them from the edge of a water basin. The swimming path is marked in red. Normal mice learn to find the path after just a few training sessions; they remember it and swim straight to the platform (left) when tested. A mouse with too much aggregated tau protein in its neurons finds it difficult to learn and swims aimlessly around the basin (centre) for extended periods. If the gene for the toxic tau protein in this mouse is switched off for a few weeks using a genetic trick, the mouse is able to learn normally again and quickly finds its way to the platform (right). © Max-Planck-ASMB/Mandelkow
Amyloid-beta and tau protein deposits in the brain are characteristic features of Alzheimer disease. The effect on the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays a central role in learning and memory, is especially severe. However, it appears that the toxic effect of tau protein is largely eliminated when the corresponding tau gene is switched off. Scientists from the Max Planck Research Unit for Structural Molecular Biology at DESY in Hamburg have succeeded in demonstrating that once the gene is deactivated, mice with a human tau gene, which previously presented symptoms of dementia, regain their ability to learn and remember, and that the synapses of the mice also reappear in part. The researchers are now testing active substances to prevent the formation of tau deposits in mice. This may help to reverse memory loss in the early stages of Alzheimer disease - in part, at least.

Whereas aggregated amyloid-beta protein forms insoluble clumps between the neurons, the tau protein accumulates inside them. Tau protein stabilises the tube-shaped fibers of the cytoskeleton, known as microtubules, which provide the "rails" for cellular transport. In Alzheimer disease, excess phosphate groups cause the tau protein to malfunction and form clumps (the 'neurofibrillary tangles'). As a result, nutrient transport breaks down and the neurons and their synapses die off. This process is accompanied by the initial stage of memory loss.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 14, 2011, 7:39 AM CT

Reduced levels of neurotransmitter in MS

Reduced levels of neurotransmitter in MS
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have demonstrated for the first time that damage to a particular area of the brain and a consequent reduction in noradrenaline are linked to multiple sclerosis.

The study is available online in the journal Brain

The pathological processes in MS are not well understood, but an important contributor to its progression is the infiltration of white blood cells involved in immune defense through the blood-brain barrier.

Douglas Feinstein, research professor in anesthesiology at the UIC College of Medicine, and colleagues previously showed that the neurotransmitter noradrenaline plays an important role as an immunosuppressant in the brain, preventing inflammation and stress to neurons. Noradrenaline is also known to help to preserve the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

Because the major source of noradrenaline is neurons in an area of the brain called the locus coeruleus, the UIC scientists hypothesized that damage to the LC was responsible for lowered levels of noradrenaline in the brains of MS patients.

"There's a lot of evidence of damage to the LC in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, but this is the first time that it has been demonstrated that there is stress involved to the neurons in the LC of MS patients, and that there is a reduction in brain noradrenaline levels," said Paul Polak, research specialist in the health sciences in anesthesiology and first author on the paper.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 7, 2011, 8:03 AM CT

Chocolate is a antioxidant

Chocolate is a antioxidant
It is widely known that fruit contains antioxidants which appears to be beneficial to health. New research reported in the open access journal Chemistry Central Journal demonstrates that chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and contains more polyphenols and flavanols than fruit juice.

When scientists at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition� compared the antioxidant activity in cocoa powder and fruit powders they observed that, gram per gram, there was more antioxidant capacity, and a greater total flavanol content, in the cocoa powder.

Similarly when they compared the amount of antioxidants, per serving, of dark chocolate, cocoa, hot chocolate mix and fruit juices they observed that both dark chocolate and cocoa had a greater antioxidant capacity and a greater total flavanol, and polyphenol, content than the fruit juices. However hot chocolate, due to processing (alkalization) of the chocolate, contained little of any.

Dr Debra Miller, the senior author of the paper, says that, "Cacao seeds are a "Super Fruit" providing nutritive value beyond that of their macronutrient composition". Which is great news for chocolate lovers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 7, 2011, 8:00 AM CT

Nnerves glow in surgery

Nnerves glow in surgery
Quyen T. Nguyen, MD, PhD is a researcher at University of California - San Diego.

Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine

Accidental damage to thin or buried nerves during surgery can have severe consequences, from chronic pain to permanent paralysis. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine may have found a remedy: injectable fluorescent peptides that cause hard-to-see peripheral nerves to glow, alerting surgeons to their location even before the nerves are encountered.

The findings appear in the Feb. 6 advance online edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology

Nerve preservation is important in almost every kind of surgery, but it can be challenging, said Quyen T. Nguyen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Head and Neck Surgery and the study's corresponding author. "For example, if the nerves are invaded by a tumor. Or, if surgery is mandatory in the setting of trauma or infection, the affected nerves might not look as they normally would, or their location appears to be distorted".

Nguyen and his colleagues at the Moores Cancer Center developed and injected a systemic, fluorescently labeled peptide (a protein fragment consisting of amino acids) into mice. The peptide preferentially binds to peripheral nerve tissue, creating a distinct contrast (up to tenfold) from adjacent non-nerve tissues. The effect occurs within two hours and lasts for six to eight hours, with no observable effect upon the activity of the fluorescent nerves or behavior of the animals.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 2, 2011, 10:55 PM CT

New nanoparticles make blood clots visible

New nanoparticles make blood clots visible
Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
A blood vessel (top) with ruptured atherosclerotic plaque, shown in yellow, is developing a blood clot. The nanoparticles, shown in blue and black, are targeted to a protein in the blood clot called fibrin, shown in light blue. A traditional CT image (bottom left) shows no difference between the blood clot and the calcium in the plaque, making it unclear whether this image shows a clot that should be treated. A spectral CT image (bottom right) "sees" the bismuth nanoparticles targeted to fibrin in green, differentiating it from calcium, still shown in white, in the plaque.
For almost two decades, heart specialists have searched for ways to see dangerous blood clots before they cause heart attacks.

Now, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report that they have designed nanoparticles that find clots and make them visible to a new kind of X-ray technology.

As per Gregory Lanza, MD, PhD, a Washington University heart specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, these nanoparticles will take the guesswork out of deciding whether a person coming to the hospital with chest pain is actually having a heart attack.

"Every year, millions of people come to the emergency room with chest pain. For some of them, we know it's not their heart. But for most, we're not sure," says Lanza, a professor of medicine. When there is any doubt, the patient must be admitted to the hospital and undergo tests to rule out or confirm a heart attack.

"Those tests cost money and they take time," Lanza says.

Rather than an overnight stay to make sure the patient is stable, this new technology could reveal the location of a blood clot in a matter of hours.

Spectral CT.

The nanoparticles are designed to be used with a new type of Computerized axial tomography scanner that is capable of "seeing" metals in color. The new technology, called spectral CT, uses the full spectrum of the X-ray beam to differentiate objects that would be indistinguishable with a regular Computerized axial tomography scanner that sees only black and white.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 2, 2011, 7:49 AM CT

Targeted particle fools brain's guardian to reach tumors

Targeted particle fools brain's guardian to reach tumors
Wadih Arap, M.D., Ph.D. and Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D., of University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Credit: MD Anderson

A targeted delivery combination selectively crosses the tight barrier that protects the brain from the bloodstream to home in on and bind to brain tumors, a research team led by researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center published in the recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation

In experiments with mice, the scientists demonstrated that the targeted particles guide payloads to image tumors, treat tumors, or can potentially do both to monitor therapy as it occurs. Their findings open a new research avenue for detecting and treating brain tumors in human patients.

"We've identified an iron-mimic peptide that can hitch a ride on a protein complex that transports iron across the blood-brain barrier," said co-senior author Wadih Arap, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the David H. Koch Center at MD Anderson. "Employing the iron transport system selectively opens the blood-brain barrier for tumor imaging and therapy while keeping it otherwise intact to play its protective role".

The barrier thwarts drug delivery because its tight layering of blood vessel cells and certain types of brain cells forms a nearly impenetrable wall against most blood-borne compounds, which can harm the brain. The iron-transporting transferrin protein and receptor complex is a potential path to therapy, the authors noted, because its receptor gene is the most overexpressed in human glioblastomas.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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