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April 17, 2008, 8:14 PM CT

How dietary restriction slows down aging

How dietary restriction slows down aging
Ribosome
University of Washington researchers have uncovered details about the mechanisms through which dietary restriction slows the aging process. Working in yeast cells, the scientists have linked ribosomes, the protein-making factories in living cells, and Gcn4, a specialized protein that aids in the expression of genetic information, to the pathways correlation to dietary response and aging. The study, which was led by UW faculty members Brian Kennedy and Matt Kaeberlein, appears in the April 18 issue of the journal Cell.

Prior research has shown that the lifespan-extending properties of dietary restriction are mediated in part by reduced signaling through TOR, an enzyme involved in a number of vital operations in a cell. When an organism has less TOR signaling in response to dietary restriction, one side effect is that the organism also decreases the rate at which it makes new proteins, a process called translation.

In this project, the UW scientists studied a number of different strains of yeast cells that had lower protein production. They observed that mutations to the ribosome, the cell's protein factory, sometimes led to increased life span. Ribosomes are made up of two parts -- the large and small subunits -- and the scientists tried to isolate the life-span-related mutation to one of those parts.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 8:09 PM CT

Ovarian cancer stem cells identified

Ovarian cancer stem cells identified
Scientists at Yale School of Medicine have identified, characterized and cloned ovary cancer stem cells and have shown that these stem cells may be the source of ovary cancers recurrence and its resistance to chemotherapy.

These results bring us closer to more effective and targeted therapy for epithelial ovary cancer, one of the most lethal forms of cancer, said Gil Mor, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

Mor presented his findings recently at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Meeting in San Diego, California.

Malignant tumors are made up of cells that are both malignant and non-malignant. Within malignant cells, there is a further subclass referred to as cancer stem cells, which can replicate indefinitely.

Present chemotherapy modalities eliminate the bulk of the tumor cells, but cannot eliminate a core of these cancer stem cells that have a high capacity for renewal, said Mor, who is also a member of the Yale Cancer Center. Identification of these cells, as we have done here, is the first step in the development of therapeutic modalities.

Mor and his colleagues isolated cells from 80 human samples of either peritoneal fluid or solid tumors. The cancer stem cells that were identified were positive for traditional cancer stem cell markers including CD44 and MyD88. These cells also showed a high capacity for repair and self-renewal.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 8:48 PM CT

A genetic cause for iron deficiency

A genetic cause for iron deficiency
The discovery of a gene for a rare form of inherited iron deficiency may provide clues to iron deficiency in the general population especially iron deficiency that doesnt respond to iron supplements - and suggests a new therapy approach. The finding was published online by the journal Nature Genetics on April 13.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States.(1) Most cases are easily reversed with oral iron supplements, but over the years, Mark Fleming, MD, DPhil, interim Pathologist-in-Chief at Childrens Hospital Boston, and pediatric hematologist Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD, formerly of Childrens and now Dean of Duke University School of Medicine, had been referred many children with iron deficiency anemia who didnt respond to oral supplements, and only poorly to intravenous iron.

The cause of their condition termed iron-refractory iron-deficiency anemia (IRIDA) was a mystery. The children all had good diets, and none had any condition that might interfere with iron absorption or cause chronic blood loss, the most common causes of iron deficiency. All had evidence of anemia from a very early age, and a number of also had siblings with iron deficiency anemia. Seeing reports of several similarly afflicted families in the medical literature, Fleming and Andrews were convinced that genetics was a factor.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 1, 2008, 9:02 PM CT

Novel biomarkers for cancer

Novel biomarkers for cancer
Biotechnology companies are focusing on the development of novel biomarkers to overcome the limitations of current diagnostic tests for cancer, reports Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN). To effectively move cancer treatment forward, a much stronger and targeted emphasis on diagnosis will be required, as per an article in the April 1 issue of GEN (http://www.genengnews.com/articles/chitem.aspx?aid=2428).

"Therapeutic protocols can involve hundreds of thousands of dollars per cancer patient," notes John Sterling, Editor-in-Chief of GEN (www.genengnews). "Coming up with effective and validated biomarkers that detect cancer while still in its early stages seems like an extremely worthwhile effort on which to spend R&D funds now to cut down on costs of therapy in the future".

A team led by Edouard Nice, Ph.D., at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, is one example of a group hard at work trying to develop early detection tools for malignancies. Dr. Nice and colleagues are using multidimensional high-performance liquid chromatography to trace enrich low-level components such as growth factors in tumor material previous to analysis by mass spectrometry.

At Wayne State University School of Medicine, a research program run by Michael Tainsky, Ph.D., harnesses antibodies in patients' serum for the detection of cancer-specific epitopes using peptides selected for IgG binding from phage-display cDNA libraries.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 27, 2008, 9:50 PM CT

Key culprit in stroke brain cell damage

Key culprit in stroke brain cell damage
Scientists have identified a key player in the killing of brain cells after a stroke or a seizure. The protein asparagine endopeptidase (AEP) unleashes enzymes that break down brain cells' DNA, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found.

The results are reported in the March 28 issue of the journal Molecular Cell.

Finding drugs that block AEP may help doctors limit permanent brain damage following strokes or seizures, says senior author Keqiang Ye, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory.

When a stroke obstructs blood flow to part of the brain, the lack of oxygen causes a buildup of lactic acid, the same chemical that appears in the muscles during intense exercise. In addition, a flood of chemicals that brain cells commonly use to communicate with each other over-excites the cells. Epileptic seizures can have similar effects.

While some brain cells die directly because of lack of oxygen, others undergo programmed cell death, a normal developmental process where cells actively destroy their own DNA.

"The mystery was: how do the acidic conditions trigger DNA damage?" Ye says. "This was a very surprising result because previously we had no idea that AEP was involved in this process".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 25, 2008, 8:04 PM CT

Ant guts could pave the way for better drugs

Ant guts could pave the way for better drugs
Researchers have discovered two key proteins that guide one of the two groups of pathogenic bacteria to make their hardy outer shells -- their defense against the world.

The work, they said, could allow scientists to create new antibiotics against gram-negative bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella, that would destroy these bacteria by disabling the mechanism that produces their protective coating.

"A long-term goal is to find inhibitors of these proteins we have discovered," said Natividad Ruiz, a research molecular biologist at Princeton University and the lead author on the paper describing the work. "Small molecule inhibitors could become antibiotics that subvert the outer membrane".

This research, which was conducted by Ruiz, Thomas Silhavy, Princeton's Warner-Lambert Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology, and others from Harvard University, is described in the online edition of the April 8 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team discovered the proteins through an extended process of elimination. The researchers looked at microbes in the guts of carpenter ants. The bacteria, which have lived there for millions of years -- passed on over a number of generations -- have lost a number of of the traits necessary for survival in the outer world. As a result, their collection of genes, known as a genome, is far smaller and simpler than the genome of E. coli.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:57 PM CT

Vegan Diet Promotes Atheroprotective Antibodies

Vegan Diet Promotes Atheroprotective Antibodies
A gluten-free vegan diet may improve the health of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, as per new research from Karolinska Institutet. The diet has a beneficial effect on several risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and cardiovascular diseases. The underlying causes are unknown, but scientists suspect that the disturbed balance of blood fats seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be part of the explanation.

A research team at Karolinska Institutet has shown in a new study that a gluten-free vegan diet has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors in people with rheumatoid arthritis. The effect was seen when a group of patients who kept to a gluten-free vegan diet for a year were compared with a control group which had followed ordinary dietary advice.

Vegan food had a positive effect on symptoms of the disease, which were more pronounced in the control group. Blood levels of oxidised LDL-cholesterol, a risk factor for atherosclerosis, were also lower in the group which kept to the vegan diet. The vegan group also had higher levels of anti-PC, a type of antibody that the scientists believe has a protective effect against atherosclerosis.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:40 PM CT

Scientists successfully awaken sleeping stem cells

Scientists successfully awaken sleeping stem cells
Researchers at Schepens Eye Research Institute have discovered what chemical in the eye triggers the dormant capacity of certain non-neuronal cells to transform into progenitor cells, a stem-like cell that can generate new retinal cells. The discovery, reported in the recent issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS), offers new hope to victims of diseases that harm the retina, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

This study is very significant. It means it might be possible to turn on the eyes own resources to regenerate damaged retinas, without the need for transplanting outside retinal tissue or stem cells, says Dr. Dong Feng Chen, associate scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School, and the principal investigator of the study. If our next steps work in animal disease models, we think that clinical testing could happen fairly quickly.

Researchers have long been aware of Mller cells (which exist in great abundance in the eye) and have generally assumed that they were responsible for keeping retinal tissue protected and clear of debris. In recent years, however, scientists have reported that these cells sometimes exhibit progenitor cell behavior and re-enter the cell cycle (dividing and differentiating into other type of cells). Progenitor cells are similar to stem cells but are more mature and are more limited in the number of cells types they can become.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 16, 2008, 9:25 PM CT

Second depth-perception method in brain

Second depth-perception method in brain
Its common knowledge that humans and other animals are able to visually judge depth because we have two eyes and the brain compares the images from each. But we can also judge depth with only one eye, and researchers have been searching for how the brain accomplishes that feat.

Now, a team led by a scientist at the University of Rochester believes it has discovered the answer in a small part of the brain that processes both the image from a single eye and also with the motion of our bodies.

The team of researchers, led by Greg DeAngelis, professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, has published the findings in the March 20 online issue of the journal Nature.

It looks as though in this area of the brain, the neurons are combining visual cues and non-visual cues to come up with a unique way to determine depth, says DeAngelis.

DeAngelis says that means the brain uses a whole array of methods to gauge depth. In addition to two-eyed binocular disparity, the brain has neurons that specifically measure our motion, perspective, and how objects pass in front of or behind each other to create an approximation of the three-dimensional world in our minds.

The scientists say the findings may help instruct children who were born with misalignment of the eyes to restore more normal functions of binocular vision in the brain. The discovery could also help construct more compelling virtual reality environments someday, says DeAngelis, since we have to know exactly how our brains construct three-dimensional perception to make virtual reality as convincing as possible.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 13, 2008, 8:24 PM CT

Pain Receptor in Brain and Memory

Pain Receptor in Brain and Memory
Researchers have long known that the nervous system receptor known as TRPV1 can affect sensations of pain in the body. Now a group of Brown University researchers has observed that these receptors - a darling of drug developers - also may play a role in learning and memory in the brain.

In surprising new research, reported in the journal Neuron, Julie Kauer and her team show that activation of TPRV1 receptors can trigger long-term depression, a phenomenon that creates lasting changes in the connections between neurons. These changes in the brain - and the related process of neural reorganization known as long-term potentiation - are thought to bethe cellular basis for memory making.

"We've known that TRPV1 receptors are in the brain, but this is some of the first evidence of what they actually do there," Kauer said. "And the functional role we uncovered is unexpected. No one has previously linked these pain receptors to a cellular mechanism underlying memory. So we may have found a whole new player in brain plasticity".

The study findings have implications for drug development, Kauer said.

The research points out potentially effective new targets for drugs that could prevent memory loss or could possibly treat neural disorders such as epilepsy, Kauer said. The other implication may be cautionary. Drug makers already sell drugs - such as the weight-loss pill rimonabant, which is sold in Europe under the name Acomplia - that can block TRPV1 receptors. Other drugs aimed at reducing pain and inflammation by blocking or activating TRPV1 receptors are in the research pipeline. But drugs that bind to TRPV1 receptors in the central nervous system are likely to influence more than just pain-related functions, Kauer said.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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