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February 1, 2011, 7:01 AM CT

Key to understanding cause of lupus

Key to understanding cause of lupus
S. Ansar Ahmed (left), immunolgy professor and head of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, and Rujuan Dai, a research scientist at the veterinary college, published research that can potentially impact future diagnosis and treatment of lupus, an immune illness affecting more than five million people worldwide.

Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

Potentially impacting future diagnosis and therapy of lupus, an immune illness affecting more than 5 million people worldwide, scientists at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have likely uncovered where the breakdown in the body's lymphocyte molecular regulatory machinery is occurring.

Rujuan Dai, research scientist, and her colleagues in the veterinary college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, have discovered a "common set of dysregulated miRNAs in murine lupus models." The research, which appears in the Dec. 13, 2010, issue of the scientific journal PLoS One, was funded in part by the Lupus Foundation of America.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease of connective tissue that causes the body's immune system to become hyperactive and attack normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and possible damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, or lungs.

In an effort to better understand epigenetic factors in the causes of lupus, scientists at the veterinary college focused on microRNA (miRNA), seeking to determine potential impairments of genetic regulation. These small RNAs control gene expression by directly regulating specific target messenger RNAs via inhibition of their translation or inducing their degradation.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 26, 2011, 7:31 AM CT

Major roadblock in regenerative medicine eliminated

Major roadblock in regenerative medicine eliminated
Human embryonic stem cells in culture created by UCLA researchers
In regenerative medicine, large supplies of safe and reliable human embryonic stem (hES) cells are needed for implantation into patients, but the field has faced challenges in developing cultures that can consistently grow and maintain clinical-grade stem cells.

Standard culture systems use mouse "feeder" cells and media containing bovine sera to cultivate and maintain hES cells, but such animal product-based media can contaminate the cells. And because of difficulties in precise quality control, each batch of the medium can introduce new and unwanted variations.

Now, a team of stem cell biologists and engineers from UCLA has identified an optimal combination and concentration of small-molecule inhibitors to support the long-term quality and maintenance of hES cells in feeder-free and serum-free conditions. The scientists used a feedback system control (FSC) scheme to innovatively and efficiently select the small-molecule inhibitors from a very large pool of possibilities.

The research findings, published recently in the journal Nature Communications, represent a major advance in the quest to broadly transition regenerative medicine from the benchtop to the clinic.

"What is significant about this work is that we've been able to very rapidly develop a chemically defined culture medium to replace serum and feeders for cultivating clinical-grade hES cells, thereby removing a major roadblock in the area of regenerative medicine," said Chih-Ming Ho, the Ben Rich-Lockheed Martin Professor at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 25, 2011, 7:48 AM CT

Unrealistic optimism common in early cancer trials

Unrealistic optimism common in early cancer trials
Can optimism be ethically problematic? Yes, as per a newly released study, which found unrealistic optimism prevalent among participants in early-phase cancer trials and suggested that it may compromise informed consent.

A number of cancer scientists and ethicists assume that hope and optimism in the research context are "always ethically benign, without considering the possibility that they reflect a bias," write the authors of the study, which appears in IRB: Ethics & Human Research "Others have claimed that unrealistic expectations for benefit are a result of misunderstanding and that the proper response to them is to provide patient-subjects with more information�" But the study cast doubt on both assumptions.

The study included 72 patients with cancer who were enrolled in early-phase oncology trials in the New York metropolitan area between August 2008 and October 2009. Questionnaires assessed signs of unrealistic optimism, as well as participants' understanding of the trials' purpose. Unrealistic optimism, which social psychology experts define as being specific to a situation and consider a form of bias, is distinct from "dispositional optimism," which is a general outlook on life and is neither realistic nor unrealistic. Individuals can have one form of optimism without the other.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 25, 2011, 7:24 AM CT

'Engineered organ' model for breast cancer research

'Engineered organ' model for breast cancer research
Purdue researchers' new model for breast cancer research, called "breast on-a-chip," mimics the branching mammary duct system. (Purdue University/Leary laboratory - Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry)
Purdue University scientists have reproduced portions of the female breast in a tiny slide-sized model dubbed "breast on-a-chip" that will be used to test nanomedical approaches for the detection and therapy of breast cancer.

The model mimics the branching mammary duct system, where most breast cancers begin, and will serve as an "engineered organ" to study the use of nanoparticles to detect and target tumor cells within the ducts.

Sophie Lelièvre, associate professor of basic medical sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine, and James Leary, SVM Professor of Nanomedicine and professor of basic medical sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine and professor of biomedical engineering in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, led the team.

Purdue team creates 'engineered organ' model for breast cancer research.

Januarty 20, 2011 Print Version.

Purdue researchers' new model for breast cancer research, called "breast on-a-chip," mimics the branching mammary duct system. (Purdue University/Leary laboratory - Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry).

Download image.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University scientists have reproduced portions of the female breast in a tiny slide-sized model dubbed "breast on-a-chip" that will be used to test nanomedical approaches for the detection and therapy of breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 16, 2011, 8:57 PM CT

Smoking causes genetic damage within minutes

Smoking causes genetic damage within minutes
In research described as "a stark warning" to those tempted to start smoking, researchers are reporting that cigarette smoke begins to cause genetic damage within minutes � not years � after inhalation into the lungs.

Their report, the first human study to detail the way certain substances in tobacco cause DNA damage associated with cancer, appears in Chemical Research in Toxicology, one of 38 peer-evaluated scientific journals published by the American Chemical Society.

Stephen S. Hecht, Ph.D., and his colleagues point out in the report that lung cancer claims a global toll of 3,000 lives each day, largely as a result of cigarette smoking. Smoking also is associated with at least 18 other types of cancer. Evidence indicates that harmful substances in tobacco smoke termed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are one of the culprits in causing lung cancer. Until now, however, researchers had not detailed the specific way in which the PAHs in cigarette smoke cause DNA damage in humans.

The researchers added a labeled PAH, phenanthrene, to cigarettes and tracked its fate in 12 volunteers who smoked the cigarettes. They observed that phenanthrene quickly forms a toxic substance in the blood known to trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer. The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers: Just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking. Scientists said the effect is so fast that it's equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 12, 2011, 6:41 PM CT

Robotic surgery of 'tremendous benefit' to patients

Robotic surgery of 'tremendous benefit'  to patients
Robot-assisted surgery dramatically improves outcomes in patients with uterine, endometrial, and cervical cancer, said scientists at the Jewish General Hospital's Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research in Montreal. Moreover, because of fewer post-operative complications and shorter hospital stays, robotic procedures also cost less.

These results were published in late 2010 in a series of studies in The Journal of Robotic Surgery and The International Journal of Gynecological Cancer

To date, adoption of robotic surgery has been slowed by fears that it will raise overall healthcare costs. In Canada, robotic procedures are still not covered by any provincial healthcare plan.

"To the contrary, robotic surgery definitely benefits patients and society," said Dr. Walter H. Gotlieb, Head of Gynecologic Oncology at the JGH Segal Cancer Centre. "Patient quality of life is dramatically improved, their hospital stays are much shorter and they use far less narcotic pain medication. The majority of our patients need nothing stronger than Tylenol".

In a robot-assisted operating room, the doctor sits at a computer console and manipulates multiple robot arms, rather than working directly on the patient. The technology was developed to overcome the limitations of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), including such notoriously difficult procedures as laparoscopy for cancer.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 10, 2011, 10:17 PM CT

Nuclear receptors against cancer, obesity

Nuclear receptors against cancer, obesity
Dr. Jan-Åke Gustafsson recently published two articles in a pair of high-impact journals on research with significant implications in the treatment and intervention of cancer and obesity.

Credit: Thomas Campbell

Research with significant implications in the therapy and intervention of cancer and obesity has been published recently in two prestigious journals by University of Houston (UH) biochemist Dr. Jan-�ke Gustafsson.

In an invited review in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the most-cited biomedical research journal in the world, Gustafsson and his team summarize the most recent results pertaining to the function of a nuclear receptor called estrogen receptor beta, or ERbeta, the biological and medical importance of which Gustafsson and his associates discovered in 1995. In the article, titled "Estrogen Signaling via Estrogen Receptor Beta," the group observed that this regulatory molecule prevents what is called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, or EMT, in the prostate gland. EMT is believed to have an essential role in prostate tumor development. ERbeta also has a growth-suppressive effect in colon cancer cells.

All of this, added to new insights gained by the scientists regarding ERbeta's interaction with certain genetic materials, suggests that this molecule is potentially an interesting pharmaceutical target in a number of diseases, including cancer.

A second article by Gustafsson and his group appeared in a recent issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Titled "Both liver-X receptor (LXR) isoforms control energy expenditure by regulating Brown Adipose Tissue activity," the research shows that two specific nuclear receptors � LXRalfa and LXRbeta � act in such a way as to indicate they have a crucial role in regulating energy homeostasis, which is important to maintain the stability of normal biological states during adjustments to environmental changes. Gustafsson suggests, then, that these molecules should be considered as targets in pharmaceutical intervention against obesity.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 10, 2011, 6:49 AM CT

Grape ingredient resveratrol

Grape ingredient resveratrol
Resveratrol, a compound in grapes, displays antioxidant and other positive properties. As per a research findings published this week, scientists at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio describe a novel way in which resveratrol exerts these beneficial health effects.

Resveratrol stimulates the expression of adiponectin, a hormone derived from cells that manufacture and store fat, the team found. Adiponectin has a wide range of beneficial effects on obesity-related medical complications, said senior author Feng Liu, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and member of the Barshop Institute of Longevity and Aging Studies at the Health Science Center.

Both adiponectin and resveratrol display anti-obesity, anti-insulin resistance and anti-aging properties.

"Results from these studies should be of interest to those who are obese, diabetic and growing older," Dr. Liu said. "The findings should also provide important information on the development of novel therapeutic drugs for the therapy of these diseases".

The scientists confirmed the finding in cells and animal models. The study is in the Jan. 7 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Prior studies

In July 2009 in the journal Nature, the Barshop Institute and collaborators reported that the compound rapamycin extended life in mice. Rapamycin, like resveratrol, is under scrutiny for its beneficial health.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 8, 2011, 11:38 PM CT

What causes brain cell death in Parkinson's patients

What causes brain cell death in Parkinson's patients
Just 5 percent of Parkinson's disease cases can be explained by genetic mutation, while the rest have no known cause. But a new discovery by scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center appears to begin to explain why the vast majority of Parkinson's patients develop the progressive neurodegenerative disease.

This week in The Journal of Neuroscience, the scientists demystified a process that leads to the death of brain cells - or neurons - in Parkinson's patients. When scientists blocked the process, the neurons survived.

The findings could lead to an effective therapy to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease, rather than simply address symptoms that include tremors, slowed movement, muscle stiffness and impaired balance. Further studies could lead to a diagnostic test that could screen for Parkinson's years before symptoms develop, said Syed Z. Imam, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor at the UT Health Science Center.

Parkinson's disease, which commonly is not diagnosed until age 60 or later, affects an estimated half-million people in the United States.

Dr. Imam joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the research was conducted. Co-authors are from the Health Science Center's Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies; the South Texas Veterans Health Care System; and the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen, Gera number of.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 8, 2011, 11:27 PM CT

Promise for New Drug to Treat Fragile X

Promise for New Drug to Treat Fragile X
The first drug to treat the underlying disorder instead of the symptoms of Fragile X, the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability, shows some promise as per a newly released study reported in the recent issue of Science Translational Medicine. Scientists from Rush University Medical Center helped design the study and are now participating in the larger follow-up clinical trial.

The data from the early trial of 30 Fragile X patients, found the drug, called AFQ056, made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, helped improve symptoms in some patients. Patients who had the best response have a kind of "fingerprint" in their DNA that could act as a marker to determine who should get therapy.

"This is an exciting development. It is the first time we have a therapy targeted to the underlying disorder, as opposed to supportive therapy of the behavioral symptoms, in a developmental brain disorder causing intellectual disability. This drug could be a model for therapy of other disorders such as autism," said pediatric neurologist Dr. Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, a study author and director of the Fragile X Clinic and Research Program and the Fragile X-Associated Disorders Program at Rush.

The drug is designed to block the activity of mGluR5, a receptor protein on brain cells that is involved in most aspects of normal brain function, including regulation of the strength of brain connections, a key process mandatory for learning and memory. Fragile X patients have a mutation in a single gene, known as Fragile X Mental Retardation-1 or FMR1. The mutation prevents FMR1 from making its protein, called FMRP, such that FMRP is missing in the brain. FMRP normally acts as a blocker or "brake" for brain cell pathways activated by mGluR5. When FMRP is missing, mGluR5 pathways are overactive resulting in abnormal connections in the brain and the behavioral and cognitive impairments linked to Fragile X.........

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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