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November 19, 2006, 9:07 PM CT

Virtual Biopsies Of Internal Surfaces

Virtual Biopsies Of Internal Surfaces OFDI image of the stented coronary artery of a pig
A new optical imaging technique, developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), can provide three-dimensional microscopic views of the inner surfaces of blood vessels and gastrointestinal organs. In their report in the journal Nature Medicine, receiving early online release today, the MGH-Wellman scientists describe using optical frequency-domain imaging (OFDI) to visualize broad areas of the esophagus and coronary arteries of living pigs. The technique is an advance over optical coherence tomography (OCT) another noninvasive MGH-developed technology that details much smaller areas and could be useful for identifying premalignant lesions and dangerous deposits of plaque in the coronary arteries.

"For diagnosing early-stage disease, the physician has been basically looking for a needle in a haystack; so sampling only a few microscopic points of an organ, as we could with OCT, is clearly not sufficient," says Brett Bouma, PhD, of the MGH-Wellman Center, the report's senior author. "With OFDI, we can now perform microscopy throughout very large volumes of tissue without missing any locations."

While OCT can examine surfaces one point at a time, OFDI is able to look at over 1,000 points simultaneously by using a new type of laser developed at MGH-Wellman. Inside the fiberoptic catheter probe, a constantly rotating laser tip emits a light beam with an ever-changing wavelength. Measuring how each wavelength is reflected back, as the probe moves through the structure to be imaged, allows rapid acquisition of the data mandatory to create the detailed microscopic images.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 16, 2006, 4:45 AM CT

A Gene That Enhances Muscle Performance

A Gene That Enhances Muscle Performance Dartmouth researchers (l-r) Lee Witters, Christine Richardson, and Laura Barré. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69
A team of researchers, led by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth College, have identified and tested a gene that dramatically alters both muscle metabolism and performance. The scientists say that this finding could someday lead to therapy for muscle diseases, including helping the elderly who suffer from muscle deterioration and improving muscle performance in endurance athletes.

The scientists report that the enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (or AMPK) is directly involved in optimizing muscle activity. The team bred a mouse that genetically expressed AMPK in an activated state. Like a trained athlete, this mouse enjoyed increased capacity to exercise, manifested by its ability to run three times longer than a normal mouse before exhaustion. One especially striking feature of the finding was the accumulation of muscle glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrates, a condition that a number of athletes seek by "carbo-loading" before an event or game. The study appears in the Nov. 14 online issue of the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

"Our genetically altered mouse appears to have already been an exercise program," says Lee Witters, the Eugene W. Leonard 1921 Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Dartmouth Medical School and professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth College. "In other words, without a previous exercise regimen, the mouse developed a number of of the muscle features that would only be observed after a period of exercise training".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 16, 2006, 4:41 AM CT

New Treatment Strategy For Thyroid Cancer

New Treatment Strategy For Thyroid Cancer Dr. Lois Mulligan and PhD student Taranjit S. Gujral (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) used a three-dimensional model of a protein to chart its particular molecular mechanisms.
The actions of a mutated protein in cells associated with thyroid cancer have been uncovered by scientists at Queen's University. The discovery paves the way for the future development of drugs to more effectively target, treat and possibly even prevent both inherited and non-inherited thyroid cancers.

"We now know why this gene causes these tumours and can start looking at how best to target the mutant proteins so that the cells expressing them can be killed or stopped from growing," says Lois Mulligan, professor of pathology and molecular medicine with the Division of Cancer Biology and Genetics of the Queen's Cancer Research Institute. She is senior author of a study would be published November 15 in the journal Cancer Research.

Taranjit S. Gujral, a Ph D student in Queen's Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and lead author on the paper, developed three-dimensional models of the mutated RET protein implicated in a condition causing malignant thyroid tumours. The model allowed him to predict and compare the protein's molecular actions and to see that the protein was ten times more active than normal in cells linked to Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia 2B (MEN 2B) syndrome, an inherited cancer syndrome. Co-authors on the study include Vinay K. Singh and Zongchao Jia of Queen's Biochemistry Department.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

NSAID and Liver Damage

NSAID and Liver Damage
Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency isn't a term that rolls right off the tongue. But people diagnosed with this genetic disorder learn its potential effects well. They know they shouldn't smoke or be around smokers because they are at increased risk for developing emphysema at a young age. In addition, some patients with alpha-1-antitrypsin (AT) deficiency can develop serious liver disease. But predicting which of them are at risk for liver disease is still not possible.

Now research performed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis sheds light on the mechanisms that contribute to liver disease in alpha-1-AT deficiency patients. Using an experimental mouse model of the disorder, the scientists investigated the effects of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) on liver injury. An estimated 15 to 20 million people in the United States take NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen on a long-term basis.

The findings, reported in the recent issue of the journal Hepatology, show that the NSAID indomethacin (Indocin), administered at doses typically nontoxic to mice, significantly increased liver damage in the experimental mice.

The mice carried a mutated form of the human alpha-1-AT gene (called the alpha-1-ATZ gene), the most common form of the gene linked to the development of liver disease in people with alpha-1-AT deficiency. Greater expression of the mutant alpha-1-ATZ gene and increased amounts of alpha-1-ATZ protein in the liver accompanied the increase in liver injury in the experimental mice given the NSAID.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 9:31 PM CT

New Way To Manipulate DNA

New Way To Manipulate DNA
Polymers, large molecules comprised of chains of repeating structures, are used in everything from the coatings on walls of ships and pipes to reduce flow drag to gene treatment.

But long polymer chains are subject to breakage, called scission, and a new study by the University of Michigan shows that as it turns out, much of what researchers previously thought about why polymers break when subjected to strong flows, such as waves crashing against a ship's bow, was wrong.

This is important for a few reasons, said Michael Solomon, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Macromolecular Science and Engineering Program. Broken polymers don't function as intended, and if researchers don't know what causes them to break, they can't keep them from breaking, nor can they design them to break in specific places.

For the past 40 years, researchers have not understood exactly which forces caused scission, said Solomon, who is the co-author on a paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, "Universal scaling for polymer chain scission in turbulence," defines which flow forces and at what levels those forces cause polymers to break in turbulence.

"This paper understands how they are breaking in a new way that resolves some issues that have been present for 40 years," Solomon said.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 5:10 AM CT

No Link Found Between Viagra and HIV

No Link Found Between Viagra and HIV
Erectile dysfunction (ED) medications known as Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors have been used by millions of men as safe and effective management options linked to high rates of patient and partner satisfaction. Recent reports have appeared, however, that some individuals have misused this class of drug, combining them with narcotics such as methamphetamines. These reports further note that such individuals may be, in particular, at an increased risk for HIV. If such claims of a large and expanding use of PDE-5 inhibitors are correct, this would signify an important public health concern.

A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary conference funded by the National Institutes of Health sought to determine whether the drug class of PDE-5 inhibitors was contributing to an overall increase in HIV infection. The results of this conference appear in the latest issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Convincing evidence was not found to support the conclusion that PDE-5 inhibitor use is a risk factor for HIV infection. For the large majority of men, PDE-5 inhibitor use is conducted in a stable, committed partner relationship. Under such circumstances, the risk of HIV infection is relatively small. Clinicians and educators did emphasize, however, the importance of safe sex practices for those engaging in risky sexual relations.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 4:51 AM CT

Vascular Targeting Agent Halts Bone Metastasis

Vascular Targeting Agent Halts Bone Metastasis
A novel vascular targeting agent completely prevented the development of bone tumors in 50 percent of the mice tested in a preclinical study, providing early evidence that it could treat, or thwart, growth of tumors in bone, a common destination for many cancers when they start to spread.

Scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center published in the journal Cancer Research that this "Trojan Horse" agent, VEGF121/rGel, stopped specialized cells within the bone from chewing up other bone material to make room for the implanted tumor to grow.

Eventhough this study tested the ability of VEGF121/rGel to halt the growth of human prostate cancer cells in the bones of mice, researchers say it likely could help prevent the growth of other cancers in bones such as breast, multiple myeloma, lung and renal cell.

"A number of tumors invade bone in the same way, so these findings suggest it may be possible to shut down this process regardless of the tumor type," says the study's lead author, Michael G. Rosenblum, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. "If that could be done - and we are a long way from determining if it is possible - we may be able to offer the first therapy that specifically targets bone metastasis".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 4:43 AM CT

Nanoparticles To Target Brain Cancer

Nanoparticles To Target Brain Cancer
Tiny particles one-billionth of a meter in size can be loaded with high concentrations of drugs designed to kill brain cancer. What's more, these nanoparticles can be used to image and track tumors as well as destroy them, as per scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Scientists incorporated a drug called Photofrin along with iron oxide into nanoparticles that would target malignant brain tumors. Photofrin is a type of photodynamic treatment, in which the drug is drawn through the blood stream to tumor cells; a special type of laser light activates the drug to attack the tumor. Iron oxide is a contrast agent used to enhance magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.

"Photofrin goes into tumor blood vessels and collapses the vasculature, which then starves the tumor of the blood flow needed to survive. The problem with free photofrin treatment is that it can cause damage to healthy tissue. In our study, the nanoparticle becomes a vehicle to deliver the drug directly to the tumor," says study author Brian Ross, Ph.D., professor of radiology at the U-M Medical School and co-director of Molecular Imaging at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Photofrin has been used to treat several types of cancer, including esophageal, bladder and skin cancers. It works by traveling through blood vessels until it reaches the vessels supplying blood to the tumor. When activated by light, the Photofrin collapses these blood vessels, starving the tumor of the blood it needs to survive.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 4:31 AM CT

Vaccine Against Colorectal Cancer

Vaccine Against Colorectal Cancer
British scientists have developed a vaccine that stimulates colorectal cancer patients' immune systems to fight malignant cells.

In a clinical trial of 67 patients, scientists at the University of Nottingham found that when the vaccines were administered before and after surgery to remove malignant tumors, they helped stimulated immune cell production in up to 70 percent of patients. These results are reported in the November 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

"This is the first vaccine shown to stimulate TNF-alpha an immune-system protein that is very effective at killing cancer cells," said Lindy Durrant, senior author of the study and professor of cancer immunotherapy at the university.

The vaccine works by stimulating the patients' immune response to generate infection-fighting white blood cells called T cells, which in turn produce immune system proteins called cytokines that destroy cancer cells. The antibody contained in the vaccine, called 105AD7, was cloned from a patient who survived seven years with liver metastases from colorectal cancer, Durrant explained.

"This is very unusual as most patients die within one year of getting liver metastases," she said. "I thought if this antibody had helped this patient, if we could clone it, it might help others".........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 8:38 AM CT

Genes offer researchers a 'crystal ball'

Genes offer researchers a 'crystal ball'
The science of cancer prevention has advanced to the point where scientists now say they can detect "cancer genes" in the breath of smokers, and can test the presence of two proteins in men they say will predict development of prostate cancer a decade in advance. All of these novel findings need much more examination, of course, but researchers at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting, say these examples illustrate how it is becoming increasingly possible to use genes and their protein products to help predict and diagnose cancer, as well as choose treatment that offers the most potential for a good result. These scientists will also discuss a test that can pick out patients who have pancreas cancer - an advance that offers hope the disease can be treated at earlier stages than it is now - and how several unique genes can predict which prostate cancer or patients with lung cancer will develop aggressive tumors that need additional therapy. Cancer is a disease of genes, they say, so genes can be employed as a crystal ball to thwart the disease.

Lung carcinogenesis tracked by DNA methylation mapping in exhaled breath.

For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to detect DNA methylation in the breath of smokers and patients with lung cancer, suggesting that, in theory, it may be possible to use this technique to identify people who have undiagnosed lung cancer or are at high risk of developing the disease.........

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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