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July 1, 2008, 8:50 PM CT

A step towards better diabetes treatment

A step towards better diabetes treatment
In today's issue of the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism Uppsala researchers are presenting new findings that shed light on the processes that determine the release of the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. The discovery is based on the development of image analysis methods that make possible the detailed study of events immediately inside the plasma membrane of the insulin-secreting cells.

Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a universal messenger molecule that controls many different functions inside the cell. For example, it plays a role in the release of insulin from the beta cells in the pancreas (see Facts). It is well-known that the production of cAMP explains how certain hormones can amplify insulin secretion. Conversely, it has been unclear to what extent cAMP also contributes to the major release of insulin triggered by an increase in blood sugar (glucose).

Anders Tengholms research team at Uppsala University has developed methods that make it possible for the first time to measure both the secretion of insulin and the cAMP concentration in individual beta cells. The results show that ATP, the energy-rich molecule that is produced when glucose is metabolized, causes an increase in cAMP concentration right at the cell membrane where the release of insulin takes place. This increase varies rhythmically and coincides with similarly regular variations in another stimulant messenger, the calcium ion, resulting in pulsatile secretion of insulin.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 8:43 PM CT

15 human genomes each week

15 human genomes each week
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has sequenced the equivalent of 300 human genomes in just over six months. The Institute has just reached the staggering total of 1,000,000,000,000 letters of genetic code that will be read by scientists worldwide, helping them to understand the role of genes in health and disease. Researchers will be able to answer questions unthinkable even a few years ago and human medical genetics will be transformed.

The amount of data is remarkable: every two minutes, the Institute produces as much sequence as was deposited in the first five years of the international DNA sequence databases, which started in 1982. It is a global milestone.

"I am delighted that our rapid adoption of next-generation sequencing technologies has been so successful in driving forward our biomedical research," says Dr Harold Swerdlow, Head of Sequencing Technology at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Our internal projects, our work with external collaborators and our participation in major international programmes are all benefiting from our success. ".

The Institute has major roles in projects such as The 1000 Genomes Project, The International Cancer Genome Consortium and the second round of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, all of which will depend on DNA sequence to uncover genetics variants that are important for human disease. Next-generation sequencing is also enabling the Institute's own research portfolio.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 25, 2008, 10:23 PM CT

Feeling powerless leads to expensive purchases

Feeling powerless leads to expensive purchases
Feeling powerless can trigger strong desires to purchase products that convey high status, as per new research in the Journal of Consumer Research

In a study that may explain why so a number of Americans who are deeply in debt still spend beyond their means, authors Derek D. Rucker and Adam D. Galinsky (both Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University) observed that research subjects who were asked to recall times when someone else had power over them were willing to pay higher prices for status-symbol items.

"This increased willingness to pay for status-related objects stems from the belief that obtaining such objects will indeed restore a lost sense of power," write the authors.

In three experiments, the authors asked participants to either describe a situation where they had power over another person or one in which someone had power over them. Then the scientists showed them items and asked how much they would be willing to pay.

After recalling situations where they were powerless, participants were willing to pay more for items that signal status, like silk ties and fur coats, but not products like minivans and dryers. They also agreed to pay more for a framed picture of their university if it was portrayed as rare and exclusive.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 25, 2008, 10:19 PM CT

Risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease

Risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease
Scientists have discovered the second, strong genetic risk factor for developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease, as per a new report in the June 27th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication.

The newly discovered gene, which previously had no known function, is predominantly active in a region of the brain that is hit early in the disease, where it acts as a channel for calcium, they show. Called calcium homeostasis modulator 1 (CALHM1), their evidence shows that different variants of the gene also influence the levels of amyloid- peptides. Those peptides make up the plaques that form in the brains of those with Alzheimer's.

" We are very excited about the idea that CALHM1 could be an important target for anti-amyloid treatment in Alzheimer's disease," said Philippe Marambaud of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. CALHM1's presence at the cell surface should ease the process of drug design, he explained. And because its activity is restricted to the brain, drugs aimed at CALHM1 are less likely to have peripheral side effects.

The possibility for side effects is a "big question mark" for other drugs now under clinical study, Marambaud said. Those drugs primarily target enzymes responsible for producing amyloid- peptides, he noted, but those enzymes are also found in other parts of the body.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 23, 2008, 7:10 PM CT

Idle Computers Offer Hope

Idle Computers Offer Hope
A biomedical engineering professor at The University of Texas at Austin is using a concept called "grid computing" to allow the average person to donate idle computer time in a global effort to fight cancer.

Muhammad Zaman, assistant professor in biomedical engineering, recently introduced Cellular Environment in Living Systems @Home or CELS@Home for short. The program already has more than 1,000 computer users worldwide contributing to the project. And the numbers keep growing.

The idea is based on what is called grid computing. Instead of using local computing resources, which are almost always limited, grid computing allows Internet users worldwide to contribute their idle computer time, creating a "virtual" supercomputer to solve a difficult problem. In this case, the grid computing program is calculating cellular interactions in different environments to help understand the principles of cell migration and cancer cell metastasis, or the spread of cancer from the original tumor to other parts of the body.

"We have launched a global effort to recreate the in vivo (live) environment of cancer cells in a computer model. This allows us to perform virtual experiments and study processes that are too costly or technically very difficult to study," says Zaman, who also directs the Laboratory for Molecular and Cellular Dynamics. "By recreating this whole 'system of processes inside a cancer cell' we will be in a position to fully comprehend the problem and hopefully identify targets that will one day translate into anti-cancer drugs".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 17, 2008, 8:57 PM CT

Red grape seeds in treatment of Alzheimer's disease

Red grape seeds in treatment of Alzheimer's disease
Mount Sinai scientists have discovered that polyphenolics derived from red grape seeds may be useful agents to prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease (AD). The new study entitled, "Grape derived polyphenolics prevent A oligomerization and attenuate cognitive deterioration in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease," was published in The Journal of Neuroscience This new study explored the possibility of developing 'wine mimetic pills' that would replace the recommended beneficial glass of red wine a day for AD prevention.

"Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive impairments in memory and cognition," said Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, senior author and Director of the NCCAM-NIH funded Center of Excellence for Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Alzheimer's Disease at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "The study used a naturally derived grape seed polyphenolic extract and demonstrated its efficacy to reduce AD-type A neuropathology as well as cognitive deterioration in the Tg2576 AD mouse model. This natural compound is immediately available to be tested in AD clinical settings to prevent or treat AD".

Over the past few years scientists at Mount Sinai's Center of Excellence set out to determine whether the FDA's recommended daily servings of red wine (approximately one glass for women and two glasses for men), might have the same positive health effect that studies and surveys of populations had shown in the past. They are currently investigating nearly 5000 compounds contained in red wine.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 16, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Why some don't respond to cholesterol-lowering drugs

Why some don't respond to cholesterol-lowering drugs
A variation in the way the body processes a single protein may explain why some people don't respond well to drugs that lower "bad" cholesterol, as per a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association

The gene variation, called alternative splicing, explained 9 percent of the drugs' decreased power to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in study participants in comparison to people with the standard processing pathway.

The study is the first to show that a change in a biological process contributes substantially to the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

"Nine percent is a large number," said Ronald Krauss, M.D., senior author of the study and director of atherosclerosis research at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California. "When we look at individual variations in genes affecting cholesterol metabolism, we can commonly explain only a few percent of the variability in statin response."

The discovery could lead to improved cholesterol therapy and new treatment for other chronic ailments.

"The implications could go well beyond the efficacy of statins by helping us to understand the differences among individuals in how cholesterol is metabolized," Krauss said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 5, 2008, 10:15 PM CT

How best to treat chronic pain?

How best to treat chronic pain?
How best to alleviate chronic pain, a leading cause of disability and employee absenteeism, continues to perplex both patients and their doctors.

A review of recent studies on pain medicine appearing in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine reports that while various approaches and combinations of therapies to treat pain have advantages and disadvantages, scientists don't yet know how to determine which is best for individual patients.

Among the approaches to pain management studied were those relying on the prescription of opioids (drugs such as morphine, Percocet and Vicodin), surgery, and alternative medicine (acupuncture, herbal remedies).

"We conducted this review of pain management strategies because doctors, particularly primary care doctors who manage the bulk of patients with chronic pain, are frustrated and want to know how to better alleviate what is often debilitating pain. A number of of these physicians have not been well trained in pain management. And while a number of are paying more attention to pain than ever before, particularly given JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) and Veteran Affairs mandates that pain be regarded as the --fifth vital sign,-- they don't know what therapy will work for a given patient. They want guidance and we found very limited information," said the paper's senior author, Matthew J. Bair, M.D. Dr. Bair is an assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, a research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and an investigator at the Roudebush VA Center of Excellence for Implementing Evidence Based Practice.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 4, 2008, 10:56 PM CT

Public funding and human embryonic stem cell research

Public funding and human embryonic stem cell research
embryonic stem cell
Bolstered by supportive policies and public research dollars, the United Kingdom, Israel, China, Singapore and Australia are producing uncommonly large shares of human embryonic stem cell research, as per a report from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the June 2008 issue Cell Stem Cell. Aaron Levine, assistant professor of public policy and author of the book Cloning: A Beginner's Guide, studied how countries output of research papers correlation to human embryonic stem cell research in comparison to their output in less contentious fields. He observed that even though the United States still puts out far more research in this field than any other single country, when one compares the amount of research in human embryonic stem cells to other forms of research in molecular biology and genetics, the U.S. lags behind.

"The U.S. is still the largest producer of research in this field, but in comparison to other similar fields, our share is smaller," said Levine, assistant professor in Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. "You have to ask yourself, are we happy producing this relatively small share?".

In comparison, the study showed that the U.K. and Israel were producing substantially more research in this area than in other fields. As per the study, the U.K. produced 5.3 percent more research correlation to human embryonic stem cells than research performed in other areas of molecular biology and genetics, while Israel produced 4.6 percent more research. Levine attributed that to the long-held public and political support of human embryonic stem cell research in those countries.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 3, 2008, 10:10 PM CT

Researchers find human virus in chimpanzees

Researchers find human virus in chimpanzees
Jatinder Singh, a member of Taranjit kaur's research team, is engaged in field observations.
After studying chimpanzees in the wilds of Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park for the past year as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Taranjit Kaur and her team have produced powerful scientific evidence that chimpanzees are becoming sick from viral infectious diseases they have likely contracted from humans.

In an article would be reported in the August issue (available on-line in June) of the American Journal of Primatology featuring a special section on "Disease Transmission, Ecosystems Health and Great Apes Research," Dr. Kaur, an assistant professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at Virginia Tech, will report the results of extensive field studies conducted in the jungles of Africa.

The journal article will present data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.

The work complements and validates work published in a recent edition of Current Biology by researchers from European research institutes that describes evidence of human viruses in deceased chimpanzees found in West Africa's Ta Forest.........

Posted by: Mark      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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