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January 31, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

Space Technology And Medical Community

Space Technology And Medical Community The Ambulatory Raynaud's Monitor
A small group of APL researchers, in collaboration with physicians from the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center in Baltimore, developed and recently completed initial trials for a miniature device to help physicians characterize Raynaud's disease and measure therapy effectiveness.

"The Ambulatory Raynaud's Monitor is a tiny, Band-Aid-like device that enables physicians to objectively characterize a patient's condition, determine its severity and measure symptoms in real time," says Dr. Frederick Wigley, director of the Hopkins Scleroderma Center and one of the country's leading scleroderma experts, who asked the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., to develop the device after reading about APL's work developing miniature devices for spacecraft. "Until now, Raynaud's research has been crippled without such a device".

The small, low-cost monitor wraps around a patient's finger and is secured with a bandage or medical tape. It contains two sensors that alternately record skin and ambient temperatures - indicators of surface blood flow - every 36 seconds. Interactive controls permit a patient to record the date and time of a suspected Raynaud's attack. A week's data is held by the monitor's electronics and is retained even if the device's power is unexpectedly interrupted.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 31, 2007, 8:30 PM CT

Promise In Halting HIV Spread

Promise In Halting HIV Spread
A new compound has shown promise in halting the spread of HIV by preventing the virus from replicating. Developed by Temple University researchers, 2-5AN6B could someday work as an effective therapy for HIV particularly in conjunction with current drug therapys. Their work is reported in the recent issue of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses.

A nucleic acid, 2-5AN6B inhibited HIV replication in white blood cells from a group of 18 HIV infected patients by up to 80 percent, regardless of the patients' therapy regimens.

"A cure for HIV infection remains an elusive goal despite the significant impact of current therapys because of the virus' ability to adapt to and resist those therapys, and bypass the immune system's natural defenses," said Robert J. Suhadolnik, Ph.D., prinicipal investigator and professor of biochemistry at Temple University School of Medicine. "This compound prompts the body to restore its natural antiviral defense systems against the invading virus."

Current drugs for HIV work by blocking one of the steps toward virus replication.

"This new anti-HIV compound works by a very different mechanism, and would appear to offer the promise of someday being combined with existing anti-viral therapies for a much more effective therapy. It is also very important that this compound is much less likely to be defeated by the ability of the virus to mutate, a problem often encountered with existing anti-viral drugs," said Thomas Rogers, Ph.D., co-author and professor of pharmacology at Temple.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 30, 2007, 6:11 PM CT

Safety Impacts Of Nanotechnology

Safety Impacts Of Nanotechnology
University of Florida engineering student Maria Palazuelos is working on nanotechnology, but she's not seeking a better sunscreen, tougher golf club or other product - the focus of a number of engineers in the field.

Instead, Palazuelos, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, is probing the potentially harmful effects of nanotechnology by testing how ultra-small particles may adversely affect living cells, organisms and the environment. But this is no scene from a Michael Crichton's novel "Prey" about nanotechnology run amok. Rather, this is a real-world endeavor grounded in solid science.

"We don't want to look back in 50 years if something bad has happened and say, 'why didn't we ask these questions?'" Palazuelos said.

Palazuelos is a member of a small interdisciplinary group of UF faculty members and students, the UF Nanotoxicology Group, whose work is rapidly becoming more timely as manufacturers increasingly turn to the super-small tubes, cylinders and other nanoparticles at the heart of nanotechnology.

There are already more than 400 companies worldwide that tap nanoparticles and other forms of nanotechnology, and regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration are closely examining whether new regulations are needed to guard against potentially harmful but currently unknown effects, said Kevin Powers, associate director of UF's National Science Foundation Particle Engineering Research Center. These agencies are turning to university scientists for help in making those kinds of determinations, he said.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 30, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

Romantic Relationships From Your Genes

Romantic Relationships From Your Genes
New research suggests that choosing a mate may be partially determined by your genes. A study published in Psychological Science has found a link between a set of genes involved with immune function and partner selection in humans.

Vertebrate species and humans are inclined to prefer mates who have dissimilar MHC (major histocompatibility complex) genotypes, rather than similar ones. This preference may help avoid inbreeding between partners, as well as strengthen the immune systems of their offspring through exposure to a wider variety of pathogens.

The study investigated whether MHC similarity among romantically involved couples predicted aspects of their sexual relationship. "As the proportion of the couple's shared genotypes increased, womens' sexual responsivity to their partners decreased, their number of extra-pair sexual partners increased and their attraction to men other than their primary partners increased, especially during the fertile phase of their cycles," says Christine Garver-Apgar, author of the study.

This study offers some understanding of the basis for romantic chemistry, and is the first to show that compatible genes can influence the sexual relationships of romantic couples.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 26, 2007, 4:51 AM CT

Mri Contrast Agent Linked To Rare Disease

Mri Contrast Agent Linked To Rare Disease
New research has shown a possible association between a popular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent and the occurence rate of a rare disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) in patients with kidney disease, as per an editorial appearing in the recent issue of Radiology.

"We recommend avoiding the use of gadodiamide in patients with any degree of renal disease," said Phillip H. Kuo, M.D., Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of diagnostic radiology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "At this point, the data clearly show the vast majority of NSF cases are linked to the use of gadodiamide".

NSF, an emerging systemic disorder characterized by widespread tissue fibrosis, has been diagnosed in patients who were previously administered gadodiamide (Omniscan) and other gadolinium-based MRI contrast agents. While the precise cause of NSF is unknown, the disorder has only been observed in patients with kidney disease, particularly those requiring dialysis.

"So far, NSF has only been reported in patients with renal failure," Dr. Kuo said. "Gadolinium contrast agents do not appear to cause NSF in patients with normal kidney function."

Patients with NSF experience an increase of collagen in the tissues, causing thickening and hardening of the skin of the extremities and often resulting in immobility and tightening or deformity of the joints. NSF can develop rapidly and may result in patients becoming wheelchair-bound within just a few weeks. In some cases, there is involvement of other tissues, including the lungs, heart, diaphragm, esophagus and skeletal muscle. No consistently effective treatment exists.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 25, 2007, 9:35 PM CT

When Smokers 'Forget' To Smoke

When Smokers 'Forget' To Smoke
Preliminary research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health, has observed that some smokers with damage to a part of the brain called the insula may have their addiction to nicotine practically eliminated. The study is reported in the January 26, 2007 issue of the journal Science.

"The scientists observed that smokers with insula lesions were 136 times more likely to have their addiction to nicotine erased than smokers with other brain injuries," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. "Research that identifies a way to alter the function of this area could have major implications for smokers and addiction therapy in general".

Dr. Antoine Bechara of the University of Southern California and colleagues identified 19 smokers who had experienced some degree of brain damage, resulting in lesions on the insula. Of these, 13 quit smoking. The researchers also identified 50 smokers whose brain injuries did not include damage to the insula. Of these, 19 quit smoking.

The researchers recognized that individuals from both groups-those with damage to the insula or damage to other brain regions-were able to quit smoking. However, some smokers experienced a greater ease in quitting. The researchers developed four behavioral criteria for determining who fell into this group; those who reported: (1) quitting smoking less than one day after the brain injury; (2) their difficulty of quitting was less than three on a scale of one to seven; (3) that they did not smoke again after quitting; and (4) no urge to smoke since quitting.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 24, 2007, 6:34 PM CT

Gene That May Predispose To Schizophrenia

Gene That May Predispose To Schizophrenia
In a new study from The American Journal of Human Genetics, a research team lead by Xinzhi Zhao and Ruqi Tang (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) present evidence that genetic variation may indicate predisposition to schizophrenia. Specifically, their findings identify the chitinase 3-like 1 gene as a potential schizophrenia-susceptibility gene and suggest that the genes involved in biological response to adverse conditions are likely associated with schizophrenia.

Analyzing two separate cohorts of Chinese patients with schizophrenia, the scientists observed a positive association between schizophrenia and genetic variations in the promoter region of the chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) gene, an association that was significant in both population-based and family-based investigations.

The CHI3L1 gene acts as a survival factor in response to adverse environments, countering various types of physiological stress, such as inflammation, nutrient deprivation, and oxygen deficiency, all of which may induce high expression of CHI3L1. The gene is located on chromosome 1q32.1, a region that has been previously shown to have a weak related to schizophrenia.

Many environmental factors, including prenatal exposure to disease, have been reported as risk factors of schizophrenia. However, the scientists argue that sensitivity to environmental stressors varies widely among individuals, and "at least part of this variation may be genetic in origin and/or involve gene-environment factors," they write.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 15, 2007, 9:33 PM CT

Common Gut Microbes May Contribute To Obesity

Common Gut Microbes May Contribute To Obesity
A link between obesity and the microbial communities living in our guts is suggested by new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The findings indicate that our gut microbes are biomarkers, mediators and potential therapeutic targets in the war against the worldwide obesity epidemic.

In two studies published this week in the journal Nature, the researchers report that the relative abundance of two of the most common groups of gut bacteria is altered in both obese humans and mice. By sequencing the genes present in gut microbial communities of obese and lean mice, and by observing the effects of transplanting these communities into germ-free mice, the scientists showed that the obese microbial community has an increased capacity to harvest calories from the diet.

"The amount of calories you consume by eating, and the amount of calories you expend by exercising are key determinants of your tendency to be obese or lean," says lead investigator Jeffrey Gordon, M.D., director of the Center for Genome Sciences and the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor. "Our studies imply that differences in our gut microbial ecology may determine how a number of calories we are able to extract and absorb from our diet and deposit in our fat cells."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 15, 2007, 9:21 PM CT

Programmed Cell Death

Programmed Cell Death Neutrophil granulocytes have trapped Shigella bacteria in NETs.
Image: Dr. Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biolog
They are the largest group of white blood cells: neutrophil granulocytes kill microorganisms. Neutrophils catch microbes with extracellular structures nicknamed Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) that are composed of nucleic acid and aggressive enzymes. A group of researchers lead by Arturo Zychlinsky at the Max-Planck-Institute for Infectious Biology in Berlin, Gera number of discovered, how the neutrophils form this snaring network (Journal of Cell Biology, online, January 8, 2007). Once triggered, the cells undergo a novel program leading to their death. While they perish, the cells release the content of their nuclei. The nucleic acid, mingled with bactericidal enzymes, forms a lethal network outside the cell. Invading bacteria and pathogenic fungi get caught and killed in the NETs.

Every minute, several million neutrophils leave the bone marrow and are ready to defend the body of invading germs. They are the immune system's first line of defence against harmful bacteria and migrate into the tissue at the site of infection to combat pathogens. For more than hundred years it was known that neutrophil granulocytes kill bacteria very efficiently by devouring them. After eating the germs neutrophils kill tehm with antimicrobial proteins.

The group of researchers lead by Arturo Zychlinsky at the Max-Planck-Institute for Infectious Biology discovered a second killing mechanism: neutrophil granulocytes can form web-like structures outside the cells composed of nucleic acid and enzymes which catch bacteria and kill them. The researchers were able to generate impressive micrographs of these nets. But it remained a mystery how the granulocytes could mobilise the contents of their nuclei and catapult it out of the cells.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 15, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

New Genetic Clue To Cause Of Alzheimer's Disease

New Genetic Clue To Cause Of Alzheimer's Disease Tangles Alzheimer's
Variations in a gene known as SORL1 may be a factor in the development of late onset Alzheimer's disease, an international team of scientists has discovered. The genetic clue, which could lead to a better understanding of one cause of Alzheimer's, is reported in Nature Genetics online, Jan. 14, 2007, and was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The scientists suggest that faulty versions of the SORL1 gene contribute to formation of amyloid plaques, a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's in the brains of people with the disease. They identified 29 variants that mark relatively short segments of DNA where disease-causing changes could lie. The study did not, however, identify specific genetic changes that result in Alzheimer's.

Richard Mayeux, M.D., of Columbia University, Lindsay Farrer, Ph.D., of Boston University, and Peter St. George-Hyslop, M.D., of the University of Toronto, led the study, which involved 14 collaborating institutions in North America, Europe and Asia, and 6,000 individuals who donated blood for genetic typing. The work was funded by NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA) and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), as well as by 18 other international public and private organizations.

"We do not fully understand what causes Alzheimer's disease, but we know that genetic factors can play a role," says NIA director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "Researchers have previously identified three genes, variants of which can cause early onset Alzheimer's, and one that increases risk for the late onset form. This discovery provides a completely new genetic clue about the late onset forms of this very complex disease. We are eager to investigate the role of this gene further".........

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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