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July 19, 2006, 9:45 PM CT

Spinal Cord Stem Cell Transplantation is Safe

Spinal Cord Stem Cell Transplantation is Safe Hans Keirstead
Transplanting human embryonic stem cells does not cause harm and can be used as a therapeutic strategy for the therapy of acute spinal cord injury, as per a recent study by UC Irvine researchers.

UCI neurobiologist Hans Keirstead and his colleagues at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center observed that rats with either mild or severe spinal cord injuries that were transplanted with a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells suffered no visible injury or ill effects as a result of the therapy itself. Furthermore, the study confirmed prior findings by Keirstead's lab - since replicated by four other laboratories around the world - that replacing a cell type lost after injury improves the outcome after spinal cord injury in rodents. The findings appear in the current issue of Regenerative Medicine.

"Establishing the safety of implanted embryonic stem cells is crucial before we can move forward with testing these therapys in clinical trials," said Keirstead, an associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology and co-director of UCI's Stem Cell Research Center. "We must always remember that a human clinical trial is an experiment and, going into it, we need to assure ourselves as best as we can that the therapy will not cause harm. This study is an important step in that direction".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 18, 2006, 6:04 AM CT

Communication Signal For Tissue Development

Communication Signal For Tissue Development Photo by Rensselaer/Glasheen
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered a communication signal between cells that plays an important role in cell adhesion and detachment. The finding provides new information about how cells and tissues determine when to let go from surfaces during new growth, as per the researchers.

Our discovery of this new signaling pathway adds to fundamental information about how cells work together during the remodeling of tissues and organs," said Andrea Page-McCaw, assistant professor of biology at Rensselaer. "This finding also may provide clues about the basic mechanisms of inflammation and wound healing in vertebrates".

Page-McCaw's laboratory studies the fruit fly as a model system to better understand a group of genetic enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Fruit flies have two distinct MMPs, in comparison to 22 such enzymes found in humans and mice. In prior work, Page-McCaw observed that both MMPs present in fruit flies are critical to their survival.

"Eventhough MMP enzymes have been associated with disease progression, their normal function is to help in tissue growth and wound healing," Page-McCaw said. "MMP research eventually could lead to therapeutics for a range of illnesses, including cancer and arthritis".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


July 17, 2006, 9:01 PM CT

Protein-coated Dental Implants

Protein-coated Dental Implants
Titanium dental implants coated with proteins that induce bone formation may be a key advancement in treating tooth loss due to gum disease, scientists say.

In laboratory tests, MCG scientists applied a protein onto implants that directs endogenous stem cells to become bone-forming cells. The result was a nearly complete regeneration of lost tissue, says Dr. Ulf Wikesjo, a professor of periodontics in MCG's School of Dentistry.

Loss of teeth and bone is a common and devastating result of gum disease.

Dr. Wikesjo, who came to MCG this year from Temple University in Philadelphia, is researching wound-healing and tissue regeneration with a $1.4 million grant from Nobel Biocare, a leading manufacturer of dental implants and equipment.

Finding the key to improved regeneration is like piecing together a puzzle, Dr. Wikesjo says.

"For the past 20 years, there has been a quest to regenerate tissues around teeth that are lost due to periodontal disease," he says. "I've looked at multiple approaches to achieve regeneration, including bone grafts, root conditioning and membrane devices for directed tissue growth, all resulting in some regeneration. Where we had to look was at the commonalities among these therapys".

Dr. Wikesjo and colleagues observed that any regeneration requires two characteristics: a stable wound and space for the regenerated tissue to grow during the initial stages of healing.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


July 17, 2006, 4:47 AM CT

New Strategy Identifies Cancer Targets

New Strategy Identifies Cancer Targets
In a step toward personalized medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Brian J. Druker and his colleagues have developed a new technique to identify previously unknown genetic mutations that can trigger malignant growth. By analyzing the proteins - instead of the genes - inside acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, the scientists have dramatically reduced the time it takes to zero in on molecular abnormalities that might be vulnerable to specific drug therapys.

"This approach gives us a way to figure out what's driving the growth of a cancer in an individual patient and ultimately match that patient with the right drug," said Druker, who is based at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Druker's team collaborated on the research, which was reported in the July 17, 2006, issue of the journal Cancer Cell, with researchers in the lab of D. Gary Gilliland, an HHMI investigator at Brigham and Women's Hospital, as well as scientists at the Portland VA Medical Center, Cell Signaling Technology, the University of Chicago, and Yale University.

Traditionally, cancer-gene hunters have scanned the genome looking for mutations that trigger out-of-control cell growth. Druker tried this approach, but found it wanting. "We were doing some high-throughput DNA sequencing, and we weren't really finding much," he said.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 14, 2006, 5:14 AM CT

High-tech Medical Devices

High-tech Medical Devices
The International Modern Hospital Show 2006 is being held from July 12 to 14 in Tokyo (Tokyo Big Sight), where nearly 400 companies have gathered to showcase the latest in healthcare-related technology. The theme of the show is "Reliable Health, Medical Treatment, and Care - Aiming for High Quality Service," a theme whose success evidently depends on high technology. Below are photos (via Impress Watch) and explanations of a few of the devices appearing at the show. Despite appearances, these fellows are here to help.

The first photo shows a patient simulator developed by IMI Corporation and Paramount Bed Co., Ltd., a system consisting of a monitor connected to a sensor-laden mannequin whose physiology changes realistically as per the therapy it receives. Great for training future medical professionals. Great for your haunted house, too.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


July 13, 2006, 8:37 PM CT

Dna To Direct Nanowire Assembly

Dna To Direct Nanowire Assembly Engineers in the lab of Jimmy Xu used DNA to grow zinc oxide nanowires like this one on the tips of carbon nanotubes
A research team led by Brown University engineers has harnessed the coding power of DNA to create zinc oxide nanowires on top of carbon nanotube tips. The feat, detailed in the journal Nanotechnology, marks the first time that DNA has been used to direct the assembly and growth of complex nanowires.

The tiny new structures can create and detect light and, with mechanical pressure, generate electricity. The wires' optical and electrical properties would allow for a range of applications, from medical diagnostics and security sensors to fiber optical networks and computer circuits.

"The use of DNA to assemble nanomaterials is one of the first steps toward using biological molecules as a manufacturing tool," said Adam Lazareck, a graduate student in Brown's Division of Engineering. "If you want to make something, turn to Mother Nature. From skin to sea shells, remarkable structures are engineered using DNA".

Lazareck, who works in the laboratory Jimmy Xu, professor of engineering and physics, led the research. The work is an example of "bottom up" nanoengineering. Instead of molding or etching materials into smaller components, such as computer circuits, engineers are experimenting with ways to get biological molecules to do their own assembly work. Under the right chemical conditions, molecular design and machinery - such as light-sensing proteins or viral motors - can be used to create miniscule devices and materials.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


July 12, 2006, 9:50 PM CT

Brain-computer Helps Paralyzed Patients

Brain-computer Helps Paralyzed Patients
How can we make a paralyzed person perform actions that he or she wants to do? Technology is now coming to aid people who were paralyzed for long time.

People with long-standing, severe paralysis can generate signals in the area of the brain responsible for voluntary movements. These signals can be detected, recorded, routed out of the brain to a computer and converted into actions, enabling a paralyzed patient to perform basic tasks.

The results of the clinical trial evaluating this possibility are reported in the latest issued of Nature. In this study, the first patient, Matthew Nagle, a 25-year-old Massachusetts man with a severe spinal cord injury, has been paralyzed from the neck down since 2001. After having the BrainGate sensor implanted on the surface of his brain at Rhode Island Hospital in June 2004, he learned to control a computer cursor simply by thinking about moving it.

During 57 sessions, from July 2004 to April 2005, at New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, Nagle learned to open simulated e-mail, draw circular shapes using a paint program on the computer and play a simple video game, "neural Pong," using only his thoughts. He could change the channel and adjust the volume on a television, even while conversing. He was ultimately able to open and close the fingers of a prosthetic hand and use a robotic limb to grasp and move objects. Despite a decline in neural signals after 6.5 months, Nagle remained an active participant in the trial and continued to aid the clinical team in producing valuable feedback concerning the BrainGate technology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 7:36 AM CT

light on cystic fibrosis-related diabetes

light on cystic fibrosis-related diabetes
A growing number of cystic fibrosis patients are battling a second, often deadly complication: a unique form of diabetes that shares characteristics of the type 1 and type 2 versions that strike a number of Americans.

A number of of these patients are teens who take enzymes to help digest their food and undergo daily physical treatment to loosen the thick, sticky mucus that clogs their lungs. But despite therapys that are helping thousands to live decades longer than ever before, when diabetes strikes, their life expectancy plummets -- on average by two years for men and an astounding 16 for women.

Now a University of Florida study in animals suggests diabetes in cystic fibrosis patients is not caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas -- as is often the case in patients with the traditional form of type 1 diabetes -- but by differences in how these cells function. The findings were published this month in the American Diabetes Association's journal Diabetes.

Cystic fibrosis patients with diabetes produce some insulin on their own, but they require daily injections to boost their levels when eating so they can properly use sugar and other food nutrients for energy. At times they also become very resistant to the insulin they do make, similar to people with type 2 diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 6:52 AM CT

New sleep gene discovery

New sleep gene discovery
Proteins that regulate sleep and biological timing in the body work much differently than previously thought, meaning drug makers must change their approach to making drugs for sleep disorders and depression and other timing-related illnesses.

The surprise finding is an about-face from prior research, said Daniel Forger, assistant professor of math at the University of Michigan. Forger and his collaborators from the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute have written a paper on the topic, which will appear on in the July 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It will appear the week of July 3 on line, at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0604511103.

Researchers studied two proteins (one called CKIe and another called PERIOD) that help regulate timing in the body, and looked at how those proteins function in cells, said Forger. One of the proteins causes the other protein to degrade, and the body knows what time it is by how much or how little PERIOD protein is present at any one time in the body. The body's clock is called a circadian rhythm.

Drug makers spend billions to develop drugs to help people with sleep disorders, and other disorders impacted by our biological clocks. Drugs to restore a healthy circadian rhythm by manipulating the levels of PERIOD proteins are currently under development.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


June 22, 2006, 7:03 AM CT

Understanding Breast-cancer Migration

Understanding Breast-cancer Migration
Understanding mechanisms behind the spread of cancer to distant organs (metastasis) is a very important topic in cancer research. In a never stopping attempt to defeat breast cancer researchers have moved a step closer to understanding how breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, thanks to research published this week. Recently scientists from the University of Manchester have discovered a protein potentially involved in the spread or "metastatic progression" of tumors.

These scientists say that their findings could lead to new approaches to treating breast cancer as blocking the protein's actions has the potential to stop malignant cells migrating. "What we have identified is a new role for a protein called LPP," explained Professor Andrew Sharrocks, who headed the research team.

"Until now, this protein was only thought to function at the cell periphery but we have shown that it works in conjunction with another protein - PEA3 - in the cell nucleus."

"PEA3 has already been implicated in the spread of breast cancer but we have found that the LPP molecule is essential for the correct function of PEA3."

"If we can target the LPP protein and stop it from working in malignant cells, we have a possible new route to treatment."

This research report that was reported in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biology, may have significant implications for other cancer systems.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         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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