September 14, 2006, 8:57 PM CT
Coordinating Complex Activity
UCSF neurosurgeons place 64-electrode grids on the surface of the brain's temporal and frontal lobes
While it is widely accepted that the output of nerve cells carries information between regions of the brain, it's a big mystery how widely separated regions of the cortex involving billions of cells are associated withgether to coordinate complex activity.
A new study by neuroresearchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and neurosurgeons and neurologists at UC San Francisco (UCSF) is beginning to answer that question.
"One of the most important questions in neuroscience is: How do areas of the brain communicate?" said Dr. Robert Knight, professor of psychology, Evan Rauch Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. "A simple activity like responding to a question involves areas all over the brain that hear the sound, analyze it, extract the relevant information, formulate a response, and then coordinate your lips and mouth to speak. We have no idea how information moves between these areas."
By measuring electrical activity in the brains of pre-surgical epilepsy patients, the scientists have found the first evidence that slow brain oscillations, or theta waves, "tune in" the fast brain oscillations called high-gamma waves that signal the transmission of information between different areas of the brain. In this way, the scientists argue, areas like the auditory cortex and frontal cortex, separated by several inches in the cerebral cortex, can coordinate activity.........
Posted by: Daniel Permalink Source
September 14, 2006, 8:28 PM CT
Existing vaccine facilities can handle flu pandemic
The most cost effective and quickest way to respond to a flu pandemic within the next five years is to use existing facilities to make vaccines from cell cultures, new research suggests.
In a study led by University of Michigan professor of chemical and biomedical engineering Henry Wang and doctoral student Lyle Lash, scientists examined the economics of producing egg versus cell culture vaccines in the event of a flu pandemic. They observed that training personnel to make cell culture vaccines in existing facilities is the only way to make enough doses to cover the United States in a short time without requiring huge capital investments to build new dedicated flu vaccine cell culture facilities.
The study builds upon research presented last year at the American Chemical Society National Meeting. This research will be also be presented at ACS in the "Economics of Biopharmaceutical Processes" session at 2 p.m. on Sept. 14. The research presented last year focused on how the use of existing cell culture facilities and other vaccine development and manufacturing changes can cut down the time to respond to a pandemic.
Currently, flu vaccines are made from hen eggs, but in light of a possible pandemic and ongoing shortages even during normal flu season, the government and private corporations have been scrambling for new and faster ways to make a flu vaccine. Some options include building new and bigger facilities or to retrofit existing facilities.........
Posted by: Mark Permalink Source
September 14, 2006, 7:27 PM CT
Are the Dangers of Food Allergies in Children Exaggerated?
Since I started writing this blog, I have encountered reports of increasing incidences of food allergies innumerable times. It is alarming and intriguing. Conversely, to some extent, it is comforting knowing that my son who had, and still has, many food allergies, is not an isolated case. There are a number of of us, and I believe in the strength of numbers.
But Dr. Allan Colver, a professor of community child health at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, says that the dangers of childhood food allergies are over-estimated, and that prescribing adrenaline-injecting EpiPens to children with food allergies may only be fuelling anxiety in parents unnecessarily.
Jonathan Hourihane, a professor of pediatrics and child health at University College Cork in Ireland, however, disagrees, and maintains that autoinjectors are justified as part of an integrated care plan.
Read about their debate in the CBC News, or the full article reported in the British Medical Journal. You may also want to read a comment left by Jonathan Shaw, Director of The Allergy Show, who disagrees with Dr. Colver:........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 14, 2006, 7:24 PM CT
Tree Pollens and Allergies
Eventhough ragweed is the main culprit for most hay fever cases in summer, some trees also contribute considerably to the pollen in the air. Here are some of the top "problem" trees for people with allergic rhinitis or pollen allergies:
Grey Alder: Cross-reactivity may also occur between this and birch or oak.
White Elm: A major source of pollen and is a favorite avenue tree in cities and parks.
Olive: There are 10 allergenic components identified it its pollen, and cross-reactivity between olive and Ash has been observed.
London Plane: An allergenic glycoprotein compound has been isolated from the pollen extract.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 14, 2006, 5:57 PM CT
Predicting Spread Of Eye Cancer To Liver
This is a map of several class 2 tumors showing the simultaneous expression of many genes
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a method to predict whether melanoma of the eye will spread to the liver, where it quickly turns deadly. They also believe the molecular screening test may one day help determine the prognosis of patients with some types of skin melanoma.
J. William Harbour, M.D., the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and associate professor of cell biology and molecular oncology, reported on the screening test today at the American Academy of Cancer Research meeting in Chicago.
"About half of patients with ocular melanoma develop metastasis in the liver," says Harbour, who directs the ocular oncology service at the School of Medicine. "Ocular melanoma has a strong propensity to spread to the liver, and when it does, it commonly leads to death within a very short time."
Doctors have known for a number of years that patient age, tumor size and location and shape of tumor cells all could help predict whether ocular melanoma was likely to spread. But none of those factors were accurate enough to influence therapy decisions in individual patients.
Now Harbour and his colleagues have observed that a particular molecular signature - that is, the pattern of activation of a group of genes in the tumor cells - accurately predicts risk for metastasis. Rather than analyzing a single protein or molecular factor, the test looks at how several factors work together.........
Posted by: Mike Permalink Source
September 14, 2006, 5:02 AM CT
Transplant Cures Rat's Type 2 Diabetes
An approach proven to cure a rat model of type 1 or juvenile-onset diabetes also works in a rat model of type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, as per a new report from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
"Finding that we can cure type 2 diabetes in the same way is very significant because in humans type 2 diabetes is almost 20 times more prevalent than type 1 diabetes," says senior author Marc R. Hammerman, M.D., the Chromalloy Professor of Renal Diseases in Medicine. "There are about 200 million type 2 diabetics worldwide, and the incidence is rapidly increasing."
The therapy approach transplants precursors of the pancreas from embryonic pigs. In a prior study, Hammerman and co-developer Sharon A. Rogers, research instructor in medicine, showed that they could transplant the cells in a way that lets them grow into insulin producers without triggering attacks by the rats' immune systems. This cured the rats' diabetes without the risky immune suppression drugs mandatory to prevent rejection in other transplant-based therapys.
The results appear online and will be published in Transplant Immunology.
Hammerman and Rogers are leaders in the emerging field of organogenesis, which focuses on growing organs from stem cells and other embryonic cell clusters known as organ primordia. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which can become virtually any cell type, primordia are locked into becoming cells of a particular organ.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 14, 2006, 4:58 AM CT
Anemia Body And The Mind
For elderly adults, anemia's trademark loss of oxygen-toting red blood cells has long been associated with fatigue, muscle weakness and other physical ailments. Now scientists at Johns Hopkins have found a relationship between anemia and impaired thinking, too.
"Our work supports the notion that mild anemia may be an independent risk factor for so-called executive-function impairment in elderly adults," says Paulo Chaves, M.D., P.h.D., an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the lead author of the study. "If further studies confirm that's true, this could mean that correction of anemia in these patients might offer a chance to prevent such a cognitive decline".
Reporting on the research in the recent issue of The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the Hopkins researchers went looking for such an effect because prior studies showed that age-related declines in the brain's so-called executive function - problem solving, planning, assessing dangers, following up on important activities - lead to declines in self-sufficiency.
"Executive function impairment, which happens often before memory loss occurs, may happen early on in the process of becoming unable to carry on with instrumental day-to-day living activities, such as shopping, cooking, taking medications, paying bills, walking, etc.," says Chaves.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 13, 2006, 9:56 PM CT
Viruses Switch Grip To Gain Upper Hand
Mavis Agbandje-McKenna (left), a structural biologist at the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute, and UF research scientist Hyun-Joo
Carbohydrates can be attractive, particularly when they come packaged in candy bars or never-ending bowls of pasta.
Even viruses - those bits of occasionally harmful genetic material enclosed in shells of protein and fat - crave carbs. Except viruses aren't seeking a taste treat. They want to latch onto the carbohydrates that protrude from the surface of our cells and mount an invasion.
By changing which carbohydrates they attach to, viruses are able to infect cells more efficiently - a finding that may prove valuable to researchers seeking ways to fight cancer or brain diseases, say University of Florida scientists writing in the current Journal of Biological Chemistry. The discovery also helps explain how flu and other viruses are able to stay a step ahead of the body's own versatile immune system.
"If you think about the flu virus, a few simple amino acid changes can be the difference between a virus your body can defend against and one that will make you sick," said Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D., an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UF College of Medicine and senior author of the paper. "It seems structural juxtapositions of amino acids play a role in determining how viruses recognize cells and whether the viruses are harmful".........
Posted by: Scott Permalink Source
September 13, 2006, 9:43 PM CT
Origin Of Deadly Fever Outbreak
Bats or other cave dwelling animals may have been responsible for the deadly 19982000 outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever among gold miners in the.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, as per an article in the Aug. 31, 2006, issue of the New.
England Journal of Medicine.
Daniel G. Bausch, associate professor of Tropical Medicine at Tulane University School.
of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and an international team of scientists identified.
multiple genetic variants of the virus in the outbreak, meaning the fever may have been spread directly to humans by the host animals.
Marburg hemorrhagic fever, a severe filovirus-caused disease correlation to Ebola, was first identified in European research facilities in 1967 after outbreaks traced to infected monkeys.
imported from Uganda. Only a few sporadic cases were reported until the 19982000 outbreak.
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The team recorded a fatality rate of 83 percent for that outbreak. Young male miners comprised 52 percent of the cases, suggesting that exposure in underground mines was a factor in the spread of the disease. The discovery of multiple different genetic variants of the virus indicates that the two-year outbreak was fueled by repeated new introductions of the virus into humans from the primary reservoir, rather than simply a single introduction followed by person-to-person spread.........
Posted by: Mark Permalink Source
September 13, 2006, 9:38 PM CT
Diabetics And Lower Limb Amputations
A number of people suffering foot and leg pain falsely attribute their aches to temporary discomfort or simply "growing old," when something far more serious and often preventable is frequently taking place.
People that neglect foot and leg pain especially the 20.8 million people in the U.S. with diabetes can be at risk for amputation. This neglect has contributed to a sharp rise in amputations, with the Centers for Disease Control finding the number of diabetes-related lower limb amputations to have increased by 227 percent between 1980 (33,000) and 2003 (75,000).
Diabetics are prone to amputation as the condition often causes blood vessels in the foot and leg to narrow, causing poor circulation. This makes diabetics susceptible to infection, making it difficult for these wounds to heal. In fact, nine out of 10 non-traumatic lower extremity amputations are instigated by an infection, as per a research studyled by Texas A&M University. The American Diabetes Association says that diabetes is the most frequent cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations.
The unfortunate result of these trends is that each year, 75,000 people lose their foot, leg or toe due to diabetes, and 85 percent of these losses could have been avoided, as per the International Diabetes Federation.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source