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Archives Of Research News Blog From Medicineworld.Org

October 9, 2006, 8:47 PM CT

Genome ID Method To Curb Cancer

Genome ID Method To Curb Cancer
A mathematical discovery has extended the reach of a novel genome mapping method to humans, potentially giving cancer biology a faster and more cost-effective tool than traditional DNA sequencing.

A student-led group from the laboratory of Michael Waterman, USC University Professor in molecular and computational biology, has developed an algorithm to handle the massive amounts of data created by a restriction mapping technology known as "optical mapping." Restriction maps provide coordinates on chromosomes analogous to mile markers on freeways.

Lead author Anton Valouev, a recent graduate of Waterman's lab and now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, said the algorithm makes it possible to optically map the human genome.

"It carries tremendous benefits for medical applications, specifically for finding genomic abnormalities," he said.

The algorithm appears in this week's PNAS Early Edition.

Optical mapping was developed at New York University in the late 1990s by David Schwartz, now a professor of chemistry and genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Schwartz and a collaborator at Wisconsin, Shiguo Zhou, co-authored the PNAS paper.

The power of optical mapping lies in its ability to reveal the size and large-scale structure of a genome. The method uses fluorescence microscopy to image individual DNA molecules that have been divided into orderly fragments by so-called restriction enzymes.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 9, 2006, 8:25 PM CT

Mechanism Of Cancer-drug Resistance

Mechanism Of Cancer-drug Resistance Dr. Michael Roth, professor of biochemistry, and assistant Iryna Zubovych
Using the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered a mechanism by which cancer cells become resistant to a specific class of drugs.

They observed that a mutation in a single protein in the worm renders a potential new cancer drug ineffective. The drug is a derivative of a compound called hemiasterlin. Because hemiasterlin compounds are being tested as a way to fight multi-drug resistance, this newly discovered resistance effect is problematic, the scientists said.

"A major problem for cancer treatment is that if cancer cells can survive long enough, they have a chance to undergo mutations that make them resistant to anticancer drugs," said Dr. Michael Roth, professor of biochemistry and senior author of a paper published this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

One way that cancer cells resist multiple drugs is through the action of the multi-drug resistance protein, which pumps most drugs out of the cell before they can have any effect.

However, hemiasterlin bypasses this pump altogether and kills cancer cells by preventing them from dividing.

Derivatives of hemiasterlin are being tested as anti-cancer therapies, with one already in clinical study. The drug works by interfering with tubulin, which forms the structure that separates chromosomes as cells divide.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 8, 2006, 5:56 PM CT

Devoting More Research To Webicillin

Devoting More Research To Webicillin
Could a dose of webicillin beat that stubborn infection? Could a cobweb bandage help soldiers and accident victims with bleeding wounds? Is a wrapping of spider silk the key to preventing the body from rejecting implants?

A review of research on spider silk concludes that researchers have largely overlooked such possible medical applications of this extraordinary natural material, which is stronger than steel. In a report in the current (Sept. 13) issue of the ACS monthly journal Chemical Reviews, Randolph V. Lewis, of the University of Wyoming, describes other scientific research on spider silk during the last 15 years.

"Very few studies of biological testing of spider silk have been done in a rigorous manner," Lewis states. "There is a large body of folklore concerning the antibiotic, wound-healing, and clot-inducing activity of spider silk. However, much of that lore has not been seriously tested." The lore dates to the first century A.D. when spider webs were prized as wound dressings. They even found a place in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream: "I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good master cobweb," the character "Bottom" said. "If I cut my finger, I shall make bold of you".

The scanty scientific evidence is tantalizing, Lewis notes. He cites, for instance, animal studies concluding that spider silks do not induce an immune response -- which causes rejection of implants.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

October 8, 2006, 5:10 PM CT

More Than Meets The Eye

More Than Meets The Eye
Ever watch a jittery video made with a hand-held camera that made you almost ill? With our eyes constantly darting back and forth and our body hardly ever holding still, that is exactly what our brain is faced with. Yet despite the shaky video stream, we commonly perceive our environment according tofectly stable.

Not only does the brain find a way to compensate for our constantly flickering gaze, but scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have observed that it actually turns the tables and relies on eye movements to recognize partially hidden or moving objects. Their findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature Neuroscience.

"You might expect that if you move your eyes, your perception of objects might get degraded," explains senior author Richard Krauzlis, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute. "The striking thing is that moving your eyes can actually help resolve ambiguous visual inputs."

Our eyes move all the time, whether to follow a moving object or to scan our surroundings. On average, our eyes move several times a second in fact, in a lifetime, our eyes move more often than our heart beats. "Nevertheless, you don't have the sense that the world has just swept across or rotated around you. You sense that the world is stable," says Krauzlis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

October 5, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

Tumor Suppressor Promoteing Cancer Cell Growth?

Tumor Suppressor Promoteing Cancer Cell Growth?
Scientists have shown that the tumor suppressor gene H-REV107-1 may actually stimulate tumor progression in some non-small cell lung carcinomas. The related report by Nazarenko et al., "H-REV107-1 stimulates growth in non-small cell lung carcinomas via the activation of mitogenic signaling," appears in the recent issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Tumor suppressor genes function by regulating normal cell growth and proliferation. When a tumor suppressor gene is turned off, by mutation, deletion, or blocked expression, cell growth can proceed without safeguards, contributing to cancer cell proliferation. However, this appears not to be the case in some non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC), in which a tumor suppressor (H-REV107-1) actually promotes cancer cell growth.

Nazarenko et al. found H-REV107-1 expression in a portion of human NSCLC samples examined. When they further characterized this expression in relation to normal lung tissue, H-REV107-1 was found in nonproliferating and proliferating cells in normal lung tissue, localized mainly to the nucleus. In cultured NSCLC cells, however, H-REV107-1 was found in either the cytoplasm or both the cytoplasm and nucleus.

The group then examined whether cellular localization of H-REV107-1 in NSCLC tumor samples is linked with tumor behavior. Strikingly, cytoplasmic localization correlated with decreased patient survival (24 months versus 41 months for nuclear localization). These data suggested that cytoplasmic H-REV107-1 stimulates cell growth. This was then confirmed by suppression of H-REV107-1 RNA, which inhibited cell proliferation, and overexpression of H-REV107-1 protein, which stimulated cell growth pathways and increased proliferation.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 9:56 PM CT

A Biocontrol Agent That Doesn't Trigger Antibiotic Resistance

A Biocontrol Agent That Doesn't Trigger Antibiotic Resistance
A failed experiment turned out to be anything but for bacteriologist Marcin Filutowicz.

As he was puzzling out why what should have been a routine procedure wouldn't work, he made a discovery that led to the creation of a new biological tool for destroying bacterial pathogens - one that doesn't appear to trigger antibiotic resistance.

The discovery also led to the startup of a promising new biotechnology firm that has already brought Wisconsin a dozen new, high-paying, highly skilled jobs. Filutowicz is a professor of bacteriology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

His inspiration came one morning in 1999 when he was puzzling over a failed experiment. A researcher in his lab had been trying to insert two different mutations into an ordinary bacterial plasmid - a routine task for the experienced scientist - but every attempt failed to produce a live bacterium.

Plasmids are circular DNA molecules that are different from chromosomal DNA, the genetic material that encodes the instructions for life in all cells. Plasmids are small, non-chromosomal DNA molecules. They are common in bacteria. The genes in plasmids often encode information that confers some selective advantage to their hosts - such as the ability to resist antibiotics.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 9:53 PM CT

New Drug To Blocks Influenza Virus And Bird Flu

New Drug To Blocks Influenza Virus And Bird Flu Image courtesy of Florida State University
Opening a new front in the war against flu, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have reported the discovery of a novel compound that confers broad protection against influenza viruses, including deadly avian influenza.

The new work, reported online this week in the Journal of Virology, describes the discovery of a peptide -- a small protein molecule -- that effectively blocks the influenza virus from attaching to and entering the cells of its host, thwarting its ability to replicate and infect more cells.

The new finding is important because it could make available a class of new antiviral drugs to prevent and treat influenza at a time when fear of a global pandemic is heightened and available antiviral drugs are losing their potency.

"This gives us another tool," says Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a UW-Madison professor of medical microbiology and immunology and the senior author of the new report. "We're quickly losing our antivirals".

The new drug, which was tested on cells in culture and in mice, conferred complete protection against infection and was highly effective in treating animals in the early stages of infection. Untreated infected animals typically died within a week. All of the infected animals treated with small doses of the drug at the onset of symptoms survived.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

October 3, 2006, 10:19 PM CT

Chemical Found In Curry May Help Immune System

Chemical Found In Curry May Help Immune System
Scientists observed that curcumin -- a chemical found in curry and turmeric -- may help the immune system clear the brain of amyloid beta, which form the plaques found in Alzheimer's disease.

Reported in the Oct. 9 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the early laboratory findings may lead to a new approach in treating Alzheimer's disease by enhancing the natural function of the immune system using curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

Using blood samples from six Alzheimer's disease patients and three healthy control patients, the scientists isolated cells called macrophages, which are the immune system's PacMen that travel through the brain and body, gobbling up waste products, including amyloid beta.

The team treated the macrophages with a drug derived from curcumin for 24 hours in a cell culture and then introduced amyloid beta. Treated macrophages from three out of six Alzheimer's disease patients showed improved uptake or ingestion of the waste product in comparison to the patients' macrophages not treated with curcumin. Macrophages from the healthy controls, which were already effectively clearing amyloid beta, showed no change when curcumin was added.

"Curcumin improved ingestion of amyloid beta by immune cells in 50 percent of patients with Alzheimer's disease. These initial findings demonstrate that curcumin may help boost the immune system of specific Alzheimer's disease patients," said Dr. Milan Fiala, study author and a researcher with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System. "We are hopeful that these positive results in a test tube may translate to clinical use, but more studies need to be done before curcumin can be recommended."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 3, 2006, 10:17 PM CT

Links Between Drugs And Human Disease

Links Between Drugs And Human Disease
A research team led by researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has developed a new kind of genetic "roadmap" that can connect human diseases with potential drugs to treat them, as well as predict how new drugs work in human cells.

Called the "Connectivity Map," the new tool and its uses are described in the Sept. 29 issue of Science and in separate papers in the Sept. 28 early edition of Cancer Cell.

The three papers show the map's ability to accurately predict the molecular actions of novel therapeutic compounds and to suggest new applications for existing drugs. Based on these initial results, the scientists propose a public project to expand the Connectivity Map--in the spirit of the Human Genome Project--to accelerate the search for new drugs to treat disease.

"The Connectivity Map works much like a Google search to discover connections among drugs and diseases," said senior author Todd Golub, the director of the Broad Institute's cancer program, an investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an associateprofessor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "These connections are notoriously difficult to find, in part because drugs and diseases are characterized in completely different scientific languages."........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

October 3, 2006, 5:07 AM CT

Progress In Pancreatic Cancer Research

Progress In Pancreatic Cancer Research
Scientists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the Brooklyn VA Hospital have observed that when a human protein, PNC-28, is administered to pancreatic tumor cells in animals, the tumors are destroyed. The research was published in the October 1st edition of the International Journal of Cancer.

Matthew R. Pincus, MD, PhD, professor of pathology at SUNY Downstate and chairman of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Brooklyn VA, said, "The results are very encouraging. PNC-28 may be an effective agent in treating cancers, particularly if delivered directly to the tumor".

PNC-28 is a p53 peptide, a naturally occurring human protein known to suppress tumor growth. The scientists previously observed that PNC-28 induces death of a variety of human tumor cell lines, including a pancreas cancer cell line, while not harming healthy cells.

The research team has now given PNC-28 to laboratory animals to test its ability to block the growth of pancreas cancer cells. When administered over a two-week period in the peritoneal cavities of mice containing simultaneously transplanted tumors, PNC-28 caused complete destruction of these tumors.

When delivered concurrently with tumor implantation, PNC-28 completely blocked tumor growth during the two-week period of administration and two weeks post-treatment, followed by weak tumor growth that leveled off at low tumor sizes.........

Posted by: Sue      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. Archives of research news blog

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