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December 22, 2008, 5:33 AM CT

Role of cardiovascular proteins in Alzheimer's

Role of cardiovascular proteins in Alzheimer's
Scientists have observed that two proteins which work in tandem in the brain's blood vessels present a double whammy in Alzheimer's disease. Not only do the proteins lessen blood flow in the brain, but they also reduce the rate at which the brain is able to remove amyloid beta, the protein that builds up in toxic quantities in the brains of patients with the disease.

The work, described in a paper published online Dec. 21 in the journal Nature Cell Biology, provides hard evidence directly linking two processes believed to be at play in Alzheimer's disease: reduction in blood flow and the buildup of toxic amyloid beta. The research makes the interaction between the two proteins a seductive target for scientists seeking to address both issues.

Researchers were surprised at the finding, which puts two proteins known for their role in the cardiovascular system front and center in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"This is quite unexpected," said Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., a neuroscientist and a senior author of the study. "Conversely, both of these processes are mediated by the smooth muscle cells along blood vessel walls, and we know that those are seriously compromised in patients with Alzheimer's disease, so perhaps we shouldn't be completely surprised".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 5:27 AM CT

Predicting metastasis from colon cancer

Predicting metastasis from colon cancer
Cancer Scientists at the Max Delbrck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charit Universitts Medizin Berlin (Gera number of) have identified a gene which enables them to predict for the first time with high probability if colon cancer is going to metastasize. Assistant Professor Dr. Ulrike Stein, Professor Peter M. Schlag, and Professor Walter Birchmeier were able to demonstrate that the gene MACC1 (Metastasis-Associated in Colon Cancer 1) not only promotes tumor growth but also the development of metastasis.When MACC1 gene activity is low, the life expectancy of colon cancer patients is longer compared to patients with high MACC1 levels. (Nature Medicine, doi: 10.1038/nm.1889)*.

As per the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, more than 108,000 people developed colon cancer in the US in 2008. Despite surgery, chemo- and radiotherapy, only 50 percent of patients can be cured because 20 percent of the patients have already developed metastasis by the time their colon cancer is diagnosed. In addition, one-third of patients whose therapy of the original colon cancer was successful will, nevertheless, go on to develop metastasis.

The MDC and Charit scientists are convinced that the identification of the MACC1 gene will aid medical doctors in identifying those patients as early as possible who are at high risk of developing life-threatening metastasis in the liver and the lungs. As a result, more intensive therapy and follow-up care could be offered to high risk patients.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 5:22 AM CT

Genes that may cause lung cancer

Genes that may cause lung cancer
Individuals with particular variants of certain genes involved in metabolizing the most potent carcinogen found in cigarette smoke have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. That is the conclusion of a new study reported in the February 1, 2009 issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society. The study's results may help shed light on how lung cancer develops and could have important implications for preventing smoking-related cancers.

Tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) is a component of cigarette smoke that has been shown to cause lung cancer in rodents. Certain enzymes act to protect the body from this type of chemical by turning it into nontoxic forms or by transporting it from cells. For example, ATP-binding cassette transporters encoded by genes known as ABCB1 and ABCC1 are involved in eliminating carcinogens from the lungs, protecting them against inhaled toxins.

Scientists suspect that individuals with alterations in these genes might have an increased susceptibility to develop lung cancer. Recently, a team of researchers led by Dr. Daru Lu and Dr. Haijian Wang of the Fudan University in Shanghai identified common variants at the beginning and end of the ABC1 and ABCC1 genes. They then analyzed these variants in 500 lung cancer patients and 517 cancer-free controls in a Chinese population.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 9:12 PM CT

Esophagus Stem Cells Grow Into Transplantable Tissue

Esophagus Stem Cells Grow Into Transplantable Tissue
Mouse esophagus stem cells have the capacity to contribute to the repair of esophageal epithelium after induction of injury.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered stem cells in the esophagus of mice that were able to grow into tissue-like structures and when placed into immune-deficient mice were able to form parts of an esophagus lining. The researchers report their findings online this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

"The immediate implication is that we'll have a better understanding of the role of these stem cells in normal biology, as well as in regenerative and cancer biology," says senior author Anil K. Rustgi, MD, the T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and Genetics and Chief of Gastroenterology. "Down the road, we will develop a panel of markers that will define these stem cells and use them in replacement treatment for diseases like gastroesophogeal reflux disease [GERD] and also to understand Barrett's esophagus, a precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma and how to reverse that before it becomes cancer".

Diseases of the esophagus are very common in the United States and worldwide. "Non-cancerous forms include GERD and millions are affected," notes Rustgi.

GERD can sometimes lead to inflammation of the esophagus, called esophagitis. "In some of these cases esophagitis can lead to a swapping of the normal lining of the esophagus with a lining that looks more like the intestinal lining and that's called Barrett's esophagus," explains Rustgi. "This can lead to cancer of the esophagus, which is the fastest rising cancer in the US, increasing by 7 to 8 percent a year."........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 5:28 AM CT

Obesity is in your head, not your gut

Obesity is in your head, not your gut
New research suggests that genes that predispose people to obesity act in the brain and that perhaps some people are simply hardwired to overeat.

An international research team co-led by the University of Michigan found six new genes that help explain body mass index and obesity, and all but one of the genes are tied to the brain rather than to metabolic functions, such as fat storage and sugar metabolism.

In addition to the six new genes, the study also confirmed the role of two other genes previously linked to obesity, said co-principal investigator Goncalo Abecasis, an associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health. The study will appear online Dec. 14 in advance of print publication in the journal Nature Genetics

It's significant that five of the six new genes also impact brain function, because the findings suggest people could simply be programmed to overeat, said U-M postdoctoral researcher Cristen Willer, first author on the study. The brain, she said, has two main functions correlation to weight: appetite control and the regulation of one's total energy balance (whether you burn more calories or conserve more energy).

"This research tells you a little about what kinds of drugs you want to develop and where you want them to act," Abecasis said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 5:21 AM CT

Exciting discovery could 'stop cancer from killing people'

Exciting discovery could 'stop cancer from killing people'
Metastasis is the ability of cancer cells to spread from a primary site, to form tumours at distant sites. It is a complex process in which cell motility and invasion play a fundamental role. Essential to our understanding of how metastasis develops is identification of the molecules, and characterisation of the mechanisms that regulate cell motility. Hitherto, these mechanisms have been poorly understood. Now, a team of scientists lead by Professor Marco Falasca at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry has shown not only that the enzyme phospholipase Cγ1 (PLCγ1) plays a crucial role in metastasis formation, but that down regulation of PLCγ1 expression is able to revert metastasis progression.

The team investigated the role of PLCγ1 in cell invasion and metastasis using different approaches to modulate its expression in highly invasive cancer cell lines. Their results showed that PLCγ1 is mandatory for breast cancer cell invasion and activation of the protein Rac1. They revealed a functional link between PLCγ1 and Rac1 that provides insight into processes regulating cell invasion.

Professor Falasca explained: "Consistent with these data we detected an increase in PLC1 expression in metastases in comparison to primary tumours in patients with breast cancer. Therefore PLCγ1 is critical for metastasis formation, and development and inhibition of this enzyme has a therapeutic potential in the therapy of metastasis dissemination".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 10:24 PM CT

Capture and kill cancer cells in the bloodstream

Capture and kill cancer cells in the bloodstream
A schematic of the two-receptor cancer neutralization concept. Cancer cells present in blood stick and roll on the selectins on the surface of the device. While rolling they bind to TRAIL and accumulate the self-destruct signal. Once they detach from the surface and leave the device, they will die 1-2 days later.

Kuldeep Rana

In a new tactic in the fight against cancer, Cornell researcher Michael King has developed what he calls a lethal "lint brush" for the blood -- a tiny, implantable device that captures and kills cancer cells in the bloodstream before they spread through the body.

The strategy, which takes advantage of the body's natural mechanism for fighting infection, could lead to new therapys for a variety of cancers, said King, who is an associate professor of biomedical engineering.

In research conducted at the University of Rochester and would be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, King showed that two naturally occurring proteins can work together to attract and kill as a number of as 30 percent of tumor cells in the bloodstream -- without harming healthy cells.

King's approach uses a tiny tubelike device coated with the proteins that could hypothetically be implanted in a peripheral blood vessel to filter out and destroy free-flowing cancer cells in the bloodstream.

To capture the tumor cells in the blood, King used selectin molecules -- proteins that move to the surface of blood vessels in response to infection or injury. Selectin molecules normally recruit white blood cells (leukocytes) which "roll" along their surfaces and create an inflammatory response -- but they also attract cancer cells, which can mimic the adhesion and rolling process.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 10:18 PM CT

What you give, might not always be received

What you give, might not always be received
A fundamental process in the transmission of genes from mother to child has been identified by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University. The new study reported in the recent issue of the journal Nature Genetics identifies a mechanism that plays a key role in how mutations are transmitted from one generation to the next, providing unprecedented insight into metabolic diseases.

DNA that is only passed on from mothers to their children is stored in mitochondria, a compartment of cells which functions to supply energy to the body. Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are important causes of over 40 known types of diseases and disorders which primarily affect brain and muscle function, some of which are severely debilitating, with symptoms including stroke, epilepsy, deafness and blindness. One very common mutation in Quebec causes maternally inherited blindness which has now been traced back to a Fille du Roi sent by the king of France in the 1600s to rectify the imbalance of gender in the newly colonized country.

MNI scientists have located a genetic bottleneck that determines the proportion of mutated mtDNA that mothers transmit to their offspring. This is important because there are a number of copies of mitochondria in cells and their distribution in tissues has a role in the severity and symptoms of the disease. Therefore knowing how mtDNA is transmitted is essential for the understanding and therapy of a range of maternally inherited diseases, and provides an opportunity for genetic counselling and therapy.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 9, 2008, 10:10 PM CT

Genetic markers identified for alcohol response

Genetic markers identified for alcohol response
Researchers at the UCSF Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center have identified a region on the human genome that appears to determine how strongly drinkers feel the effects of alcohol and thus how prone they are to alcohol abuse.

The researchers found that a DNA sequence variation, known as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), on chromosome 15 is significantly associated with the level of response to alcohol and could signal the genetic factors that affect alcohol abuse, according to findings published in the Dec. 8 online edition of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".

The research investigated two sentinel SNP markers - RS1051730 and RS8034191 -that previously had been associated with nicotine dependence and lung cancer and found a strong association with the first marker, according to Raymond L. White, PhD, director of the Gallo Center and senior author on the paper.

"We know that the level of response to alcohol is heritable and think there are genetic factors behind 40 to 60 percent of alcohol dependence, but until now, the chromosomal locations of these factors have not been clear for the most common forms of alcohol use disorders," White said. "By understanding which portion of our genetic makeup influences our response to alcohol, we can begin to understand what type of treatments might be most successful in helping reduce alcohol use disorders".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 9, 2008, 9:56 PM CT

Causes of death on Mount Everest

Causes of death on Mount Everest
An international research team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has conducted the first detailed analysis of deaths during expeditions to the summit of Mt. Everest. They observed that most deaths occur during descents from the summit in the so-called "death zone" above 8,000 meters and also identified factors that appear to be linked to a greater risk of death, especially symptoms of high-altitude cerebral edema. The report, which will appear the December 20/27 issue of the British Medical Journal has been released online.

"We know that climbing Everest is dangerous, but exactly how and why people have died had not been studied," says Paul Firth, MB, ChB, of the MGH Department of Anesthesia, who led the study "It had been assumed that avalanches and falling ice especially in the Khumbu Icefall on the Nepal route were the leading causes of death and that high-altitude pulmonary edema would be a common problem at such extreme altitude. But our results do not support either assumption."

Thousands of climbers have attempted to reach the summit of 8,850-meter (29,000-foot) Mount Everest since the 1920s. In order to examine the circumstances surrounding all deaths on Everest expeditions, the research team which included researchers from three British hospitals and the University of Toronto evaluated available expedition records including the Himalayan Database, a compilation of information from all expeditions to 300 major peaks in the world's highest range. Of a total of reported 212 deaths on Everest from 1921 to 2006, 192 occurred above Base Camp, the last encampment before technical (roped) climbing begins.........

Posted by: Scott      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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