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January 15, 2007, 5:04 AM CT

Gene That Regulates Adult Stem Cell Growth

Gene That Regulates Adult Stem Cell Growth Ying Liang, a University of Kentucky postdoctoral fellow, works in Van Zant's lab
Credit: Lee Thomas
A new discovery in stem cell research may mean big things for cancer patients in the future. Gary Van Zant, Ph.D., and a research team at the University of Kentucky published their findings today in Nature Genetics, an international scientific journal.

The scientists genetically mapped a stem cell gene and its protein product, Laxetin, and building on that effort, carried the investigation all the way through to the identification of the gene itself. This is the first time such a complete study on a stem cell gene has been carried out. This particular gene is important because it helps regulate the number of adult stem cells in the body, especially in bone marrow. Now that it has been identified, scientists hope the gene, along with its protein product Latexin, can be used clinically, such as for ramping up the stem cell count in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation.

The scientists agreed that this very process is not only interesting, but important because of its usefulness in a wide variety of future genetics studies.

"We're thinking about cancer in a big way," Van Zant said. "This is a great example of translational research - from the most basic type of genetic research all the way to possible therapys for patients."........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 12, 2007, 4:43 AM CT

Novel Radiation Technique To Treat Liver Cancer

Novel Radiation Technique To Treat Liver Cancer
Physicians at Mayo Clinic are now using tiny glass bubbles filled with radioactive material to deliver high doses of tumor-killing radiation directly to liver tumors. They say the procedure is better tolerated than other forms of intra-arterial liver cancer therapys, and may be the best option for some patients who aren't candidates for other therapys, including surgery or liver transplantation.

The technique, called either radioembolization or intra-arterial brachytherapy, uses the blood supply to send the little spheres, smaller in diameter than a human hair, into the newly formed, microscopic vessels that feed cancer. They eventually become lodged at the tumor sites where they deliver a high dose of radiation.

And because these liver tumors use a supply of blood that is largely separate from the blood that nourishes normal liver tissue, few of the microspheres end up in the healthy liver, Mayo clinicians say.

"The technique is a clever way of exploiting the differences in blood supply between the liver tumor and normal liver tissue," says Mayo Clinic interventional radiologist Ricardo Paz-Fumagalli, M.D. He, along with Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists, deliver the treatment to patients.

There are two primary blood vessels that bring blood to the liver. Normal liver tissue receives about three-fourths of its blood supply from the portal vein and only about one-fourth from the hepatic artery and its branches, explains Paz-Fumagalli. Liver tumors, conversely, get most of their life-sustaining blood supply from the hepatic artery and absorb a greater proportion of the radioactive microspheres. "So if you give a therapy through the arteries, it more specifically hits the tumor, and the normal liver is relatively spared," he says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 10, 2007, 8:25 PM CT

pivotal Nexavar kidney cancer study published in NEJM

pivotal Nexavar kidney cancer study published in NEJM
Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced that the New England Journal of Medicine has published their pivotal Phase III trial demonstrating that Nexavar (sorafenib) tablets doubled median progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), or kidney cancer. The data, as assessed by independent radiologic review, are from the Treatment Approaches in Renal Cancer Global Evaluation Trial (TARGET) – the largest randomized controlled trial ever conducted in advanced RCC.

"Historically, patients with kidney cancer have had limited treatment options and there has been a particularly critical need for new therapies to help patients with advanced disease," said co-principal investigator Ronald Bukowski, M.D., Director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program of The Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center in Cleveland, OH. "This landmark study demonstrated the efficacy, tolerability and clinical benefit of Nexavar, which has rapidly become a valuable weapon against this devastating disease."

Based on these data, Nexavar was granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of patients with advanced RCC, or kidney cancer, on December 20, 2005. Since then, Nexavar has been approved in nearly 50 countries. ........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 8, 2007, 9:14 PM CT

New Cancer Drugs

New Cancer Drugs
Combining synthetic chemistry techniques with a knowledge of the properties and actions of enzymes, researchers have been able to produce an exciting class of anti-cancer drugs originally isolated from blue-green algae.

This accomplishment is expected to make it possible to produce enough of the promising drugs for use in clinical trials.

In a study featured on the cover of the recent issue of the journal ACS Chemical Biology, a scientific team lead by University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute Research Professor David H. Sherman and researcher Zachary Q. Beck found the trick to turning the green gunk into gold-cancer fighting gold.

"It was simply too difficult to use the native blue-green algae for high-level production using traditional fermentation approaches," said Sherman. But the compound, called cryptophycin 1, held so much promise as an anti-cancer drug that organic chemists got busy trying to find ways to make a synthetic form of the compound in large enough quantities for clinical trials.

Developing an efficient synthetic route to natural product compounds and their analogs is often an essential step in drug development. With drugs such as penicillin and tetracycline, it can easily be done, but cryptophycins present more of a challenge. Sherman's team realized that with all cryptophycins, the most difficult step came very late in the synthesis, at the point at which a key part called an epoxide-a highly strained, three-membered ring oxygen-containing group, crucial for the drug's anti-cancer activity-becomes attached to the molecule.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 7, 2007, 9:32 PM CT

The Molecular Basis Of Memory

The Molecular Basis Of Memory
Phone numbers, the way to work, granny's birthday -- our brain with its finite number of nerve cells can store incredible amounts of information. At the bottom of memory lies a complex network of molecules. To understand how this network brings about one of the most remarkable capacities of our brain we need to identify its components and their interactions. Scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's (EMBL) Mouse Biology Unit in Monterotondo, Italy, and the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla, Spain, now for the first time investigate the molecular basis of memory in living mice. The study, which appears in the current issue of Learning and Memory, identified a molecule that is crucially involved in learning and singled out the signaling pathway through which it affects memory.

Our sense organs inform our brain about what happens around us and brain cells communicate this information between each other using electrical signals. These signals become stronger the more often a cell experiences the same stimulus allowing it to distinguish familiar information from news. In other words a cell remembers an event as an uncommonly strong and long-lasting signal. This phenomenon called long-term potentiation (LTP) is thought to underpin learning and memory and its molecular basis is being investigated intensively.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 28, 2006, 8:53 PM CT

Insights Into Learning

Insights Into Learning Leonid Moroz
Credit: Sarah Kiewel/UF HSC News
Researchers analyzing the genomics of a marine snail have gotten an unprecedented look at brain mechanisms, discovering that the neural processes in even a simple sea creature are far from sluggish.

At any given time within just a single brain cell of sea slug known as Aplysia, more than 10,000 genes are active, as per researchers writing in Friday's (Dec. 29, 2006) edition of the journal Cell. The findings suggest that acts of learning or the progression of brain disorders do not take place in isolation - large clusters of genes within an untold amount of cells contribute to major neural events.

"For the first time we provide a genomic dissection of the memory-forming network," said Leonid Moroz, a professor of neuroscience and zoology at the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience. "We took advantage of this powerful model of neurobiology and identified thousands of genes operating within a single neuron. Just during any simple event correlation to memory formation, we expect differences in gene expression for at least 200 to 400 genes".

Scientists studied gene expression in association with specific networks controlling feeding or defensive reflexes in the sea slug. To their surprise, they identified more than 100 genes similar to those linked to all major human neurological diseases and more than 600 genes controlling development, confirming that molecular and genomic events underlying key neuronal functions were developed in early animal ancestors and remained practically unchanged for more than 530 million years of independent evolution in the lineages leading to men or sea slugs.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 27, 2006, 5:01 AM CT

Super-stable Glass May Aid Drug Delivery

Super-stable Glass May Aid Drug Delivery A type of glass created by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Look at your window - not out it, but at it. Though the window glass looks clear, if you could peer inside the pane you would see a surprising molecular mess, with tiny particles jumbled together any which way.

Now, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new glass-making technique that eliminates some of that mess. With the new technology, described in a study in the Dec. 8 issue of Science, they created a novel glass that is stronger and more stable than glass made in traditional ways. Though not suitable to replace everyday products like window panes or eyeglasses, this new glass may allow pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to explore previously unusable drug compounds.

When considered at the molecular level, most solid materials can be described as either crystals or glasses, explains lead author Mark Ediger, a UW-Madison chemistry professor. The difference lies in the degree of internal organization of their constituent molecules.

"A crystal is like toy soldiers all lined up marching together," Ediger says. "A glass is a teenager's room, with stuff packed in everywhere".

Just as levels of messiness can range from cluttered to chaotic, levels of molecular disorder can vary between different types of glass. Glasses composed of more organized molecules are more stable and durable, while glasses with haphazard molecular assemblies are less stable and may degrade over time.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 26, 2006, 8:00 PM CT

Profiling Of Cancer Genes

Profiling Of Cancer Genes Dr. John Minna (left) and Deborah Moncrief Jr
Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center
A research team at UT Southwestern Medical Center has for the first time identified several genes whose expression is lost in four of the most common solid human cancers - lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer.

The findings, which scientists say could form the basis for a new early detection screen for certain cancers, are published recently in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine.

The expression of genes that inhibit cancer development, so-called tumor suppressor genes, is often lost in tumor cells. This can occur through a mutation in the gene's DNA sequence or through deletion of the gene. Loss of tumor suppression function also can occur in a process called methylation, where a chemical called a methyl group is attached to a DNA region near the gene and prevents it from being activated, essentially "silencing" the gene.

"These results show the power of studying tumors on a genome-wide basis, looking at a number of genes at the same time," said Dr. John Minna, the study's senior author and director of the W.A. "Tex" and Deborah Moncrief Jr. Center for Cancer Genetics and the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern.

In an effort to identify new tumor-suppressor genes that might be important to lung and breast cancer development, the UT Southwestern team examined which genes are active in those kinds of tumors and compared them to gene expression profiles from normal lung epithelial cells. The scientists then examined the gene expression profiles of these various cell types before and after therapy with a drug that inhibits methylation.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 23, 2006, 11:03 AM CT

Two Different Crystalline Forms Of Aspirin

Two Different Crystalline Forms Of Aspirin
I am sure that you don’t think of the crystalline structure of aspirin, when you have a headache and reach out for the aspirin bottle. At least that’s what I do. This aspirin pill might relieve your headache, but the same aspirin is causing lots of headaches for some researchers.

The question that is causing problem for researchers is: is there another form on top of the long-known one? A team of researchers from Denmark, Gera number of, and India seems to have solved this controversial puzzle: yes, there is a second structure-but it does not exist as a pure form. "The two crystalline forms of aspirin are so closely related," explains the research team of Andrew D. Bond, Roland Boese and Gautam R. Desiraju in Angewandte Chemie, "that they form structures containing domains of both crystal types".

In 2004, computer calculations had indicated that while the long-known crystal structure of aspirin (form I) is definitely one of the most stable forms, another version might exist that is just as stable, though it had still not been discovered-a clear challenge to scientists in the field. The difference between the proposed structures is slight: both have identical layers containing molecules grouped into pairs, but these layers are arranged differently in the two different structures. In 2005, scientists in the USA announced the discovery of the predicted structure (form II). But was this merely an artifact?........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 20, 2006, 9:58 PM CT

Biomarkers To Predict Risk Of Heart Disease

Biomarkers To Predict Risk Of Heart Disease
Don’t you think it would be nice if doctors could predict when a heart attack could happen to you? I think it might be possible in future. Researchers are paving the way for this. But we are not there yet.

In the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) researchers report findings from a long-term Framingham Heart Study. In this the investigators have identified multiple biomarkers that could predict when you might have your first heart attack.

A study of the use of biomarkers to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in an apparently healthy population has observed that, even though some measurements are linked to future cardiovascular events, their usefulness for predicting risk in individuals may be limited. The report from the Framingham Heart Study appears in the Dec. 21 New England Journal (NEJM).

"We observed that several contemporary biomarkers were linked to future cardiovascular disease or death, over and above what was indicated by established risk factors; but even in combination their utility for risk prediction was modest," says Thomas J. Wang, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Division of Cardiology, the report's lead author. "High biomarker levels can successfully identify groups of people who are at risk, but their ability to predict an individual person's risk - a goal of 'personalized medicine' - is still limited".........

Posted by: Daniel      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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