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September 1, 2011, 6:08 PM CT

New half-match bone marrow transplant

New half-match bone marrow transplant
Neal Flomenberg, M.D., Chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Credit: TJUH

Half-matched bone marrow or stem cell transplants for blood cancer patients have typically been linked to disappointing clinical outcomes. However, a clinical trial conducted at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson testing its unique, two-step half-match procedure has produced some promising results: the probability of overall survival was 45 percent in all patients after three years and 75 percent in patients who were in remission at the time of the transplant.

Reporting in the journal Blood in a published-ahead-of-print article dated August 25, Neal Flomenberg, M.D., Chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Dolores Grosso, DNP, Co-Principal Investigator and main author of the article, and his colleagues discuss the results of 27 patients treated on this phase I/II trial who had diagnoses that included leukemia, lymphoma and myelodysplasia.

The patients received their transplant in two steps. First, after receiving radiation treatment to further treat their disease, the patients were given a specified dose of T cells (a type of immune cell that fights infection) from their half-matched family donor. The donors were parents, siblings or children of the patient. The patients next received the drug cyclophosphamide to help the newly infused donor T cells to be more tolerant to the patient's body. The second step of the transplant occurred when the patients received a dose of their donors' stem cells to help their blood counts return to normal and further strengthen their new immune system.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 8, 2011, 11:00 PM CT

'Good' prion-like proteins boost immune response

'Good' prion-like proteins boost immune response
Dr. Zhijian "James" Chen, professor of molecular biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and senior author of the study in the Aug. 5 print edition of the journal Cell.

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

A person's ability to battle viruses at the cellular level remarkably resembles the way deadly infectious agents called prions misfold and cluster native proteins to cause disease, UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists report.

This study marks the first discovery of so-called "good" prion-like proteins in human cells and the first to find such proteins involved in innate immunity: the way the body recognizes and responds to threats from viruses or other external agents, said Dr. Zhijian "James" Chen, professor of molecular biology and senior author of the study in the Aug. 5 print edition of the journal Cell

"An understanding of how cells maintain good prion-like proteins called MAVS [mitochondrial antiviral signaling] protein may help us understand how some prions turn bad," said Dr. Chen, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern. Moreover, the research may also deepen our knowledge of innate immunity and host defense, he said.

Prions are misfolded, self-perpetuating proteins responsible for fatal brain infections such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy � so-called mad cow disease � in cattle and the extremely rare variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in some people who eat beef from infected cattle. Currently all prion-related diseases are untreatable and are fatal.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 13, 2011, 7:58 AM CT

We are all mutants

We are all mutants
Each one of us receives approximately 60 new mutations in our genome from our parents.

This striking value is published in the first-ever direct measure of new mutations coming from mother and father in whole human genomes published recently.

For the first time, scientists have been able to answer the questions: how a number of new mutations does a child have and did most of them come from mum or dad? The scientists measured directly the numbers of mutations in two families, using whole genome sequences from the 1000 Genomes Project. The results also reveal that human genomes, like all genomes, are changed by the forces of mutation: our DNA is altered by differences in its code from that of our parents. Mutations that occur in sperm or egg cells will be 'new' mutations not seen in our parents.

Eventhough most of our variety comes from reshuffling of genes from our parents, new mutations are the ultimate source from which new variation is drawn. Finding new mutations is extremely technically challenging as, on average, only 1 in every 100 million letters of DNA is altered each generation.

Prior measures of the mutation rate in humans has either averaged across both sexes or measured over several generations. There has been no measure of the new mutations passed from a specific parent to a child among multiple individuals or families.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 13, 2011, 7:51 AM CT

Finding genetic mistakes that fuel cancer

Finding genetic mistakes that fuel cancer
A dramatically better computer tool for finding the genetic missteps that fuel cancer has been developed by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital � Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project investigators. Scientists are using the new algorithm to help identify the chromosomal rearrangements and DNA insertions or deletions unique to cancer.

The new computational method is known as CREST, short for Clipping Reveals Structure. Using CREST, scientists identified 89 new structural differences in the cancer genomes of five St. Jude patients with a subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) known as T-lineage ALL. CREST revealed complex chromosomal rearrangements, including one that involved four chromosomes. Investigators also used the tool to find 50 new variations in melanoma cells. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. The study appears in the June 12 advance online edition of the scientific journal Nature Methods.

"CREST is significantly more accurate and sensitive than existing methods of finding structural variations in next-generation sequencing data. It finds differences between a patient's normal and cancer genomes other tools cannot find," said Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Computational Biology. She is the study's senior author. "Similar tools miss up to 60 to 70 percent of these structural rearrangements in tumors. CREST ensures that researchers will be able to find important structural variations that play critical roles in tumor formation".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 5, 2011, 8:59 PM CT

New generation asthma drug could improve metabolism

New generation asthma drug could improve metabolism
Formoterol, a new generation asthma medication, shows great promise for improving fat and protein metabolism, say Australian researchers, who have tested this effect in a small sample of men. The scientists presented their results on Saturday 4 June 2011 at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.

The research team comprises members of Professor Ken Ho's lab from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research as well as Professor Ric Day, a clinical pharmacologist from St. Vincent's Hospital.

Study leader, endocrinologist Dr Paul Lee, focused his PhD research on how various hormones affect metabolism. Of central importance is a class of hormones called catecholamines, which regulate heart rate, metabolism and breathing.

Formoterol is a synthetic catecholamine, the metabolic effects of which have not previously been studied in people. Therapy doses given to animals, however, have shown that it stimulates metabolism without affecting the heart.

"We have known for a long time that catecholamine influences the way the body handles nutrients, in particular fat and protein," said Lee.

"The generation of drugs before formoterol was exploited in the livestock industry around 20 years ago � to reduce the fat and increase the protein content of meat. Unfortunately, these older drugs also caused a faster heart rate".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 2, 2011, 8:00 AM CT

Source of key brain function

Source of key brain function
Researchers at the University of Southern California have pinned down the region of the brain responsible for a key survival trait: our ability to comprehend a scene�even one never previously encountered�in a fraction of a second.

The key is to process the interacting objects that comprise a scene more quickly than unrelated objects, as per corresponding author Irving Biederman, professor of psychology and computer science in the USC Dornsife College and the Harold W. Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience.

The study appears in the June 1 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience

The brain's ability to understand a whole scene on the fly "gives us an enormous edge on an organism that would have to look at objects one by one and slowly add them up," Biederman said. What's more, the interaction of objects in a scene actually allows the brain to identify those objects faster than if they were not interacting.

While prior research had already established the existence of this "scene-facilitation effect," the location of the part of the brain responsible for the effect remained a mystery. That's what Biederman and main author Jiye G. Kim, a graduate doctoral student in Biederman's lab, set out to uncover with Chi-Hung Juan of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Central University in Taiwan.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 29, 2011, 2:14 PM CT

What is a laboratory mouse?

What is a laboratory mouse?
Mice and humans share about 95 percent of their genes, and mice are recognized around the world as the leading experimental model for studying human biology and disease. But, says Jackson Laboratory Professor Gary Churchill, Ph.D., scientists can learn even more "now that we really know what a laboratory mouse is, genetically speaking."

Churchill and Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, leading an international research team, created a genome-wide, high-resolution map of most of the inbred mouse strains used today. Their conclusion, published in Nature Genetics: Most of the mice in use today represent only limited genetic diversity, which could be significantly expanded with the addition of more wild mouse populations.

The current array of laboratory mouse strains is the result of more than 100 years of selective breeding. In the early 20th century, America's first mammalian geneticists, including Jackson Laboratory founder Clarence Cook Little, sought to understand the genetic processes that lead to cancer and other diseases. Mice were the natural experimental choice as they breed quickly and prolifically and are small and easy to keep.

Lacking the tools of molecular genetics, those early researchers started by tracking the inheritance of physical traits such as coat color. A valuable source of diverse-looking mouse populations were breeders of "fancy mice," a popular hobby in Victorian and Edwardian England and America as well as for centuries in Asia.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


May 19, 2011, 8:56 AM CT

Snapshots of Huntington's disease protein

Snapshots of Huntington's disease protein
Transmission electron microscopy demonstrates the fibrillar nature of huntingtin aggregates.

Credit: ORNL

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee have for the first time successfully characterized the earliest structural formation of the disease type of the protein that causes Huntington's disease. The incurable, hereditary neurological disorder is always fatal and affects one in 10,000 Americans.

Huntington's disease is caused by a renegade protein "huntingtin" that destroys neurons in areas of the brain concerned with the emotions, intellect and movement. All humans have the normal huntingtin protein, which is known to be essential to human life, eventhough its true biological functions remain unclear.

Christopher Stanley, a Shull Fellow in the Neutron Scattering Science Division at ORNL, and Valerie Berthelier, a UT Graduate School of Medicine researcher who studies protein folding and misfolding in Huntington's, have used a small-angle neutron scattering instrument, called Bio-SANS, at ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor to explore the earliest aggregate species of the protein that are thought to bethe most toxic.

Stanley and Berthelier, in research published recently in Biophysical Journal, were able to determine the size and mass of the mutant protein structures―from the earliest small, spherical precursor species composed of two (dimers) and three (trimers) peptides―along the aggregation pathway to the development of the resulting, later-stage fibrils. They were also able to see inside the later-stage fibrils and determine their internal structure, which provides additional insight into how the peptides aggregate.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 19, 2011, 8:41 AM CT

A better mouse model to study depression

A better mouse model to study depression
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have developed a mouse model of major depressive disorder (MDD) that is based on a rare genetic mutation that appears to cause MDD in the majority of people who inherit it. The findings, which were published online today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics EarlyView, could help to clarify the brain events that lead to MDD, and contribute to the development of new and better means of therapy and prevention. This report also illustrates an advance in the design of recombinant mouse models that should be applicable to a number of human diseases.

"Major depressive disorder is a leading cause of suffering, disability and premature death from all causes including suicide. While the cause currently is unknown, twin and adoption studies indicate that genetic factors account for 40 to 70 percent of the risk for developing this common disorder," explained main author George Zubenko, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.

"In this report, we describe how we constructed a laboratory mouse strain that mimics the brain mechanism that leads to major depression in humans, rather than symptoms," he said. "Nonetheless, in our initial characterization, the mutant mice exhibited several features that were reminiscent of the human disorder, including alterations of brain anatomy, gene expression, behavior, as well as increased infant mortality."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 18, 2011, 7:03 AM CT

First look at the mechanics of membrane proteins

First look at the mechanics of membrane proteins
University of Illinois biophysics professor Klaus Schulten (right) and postdoctoral researcher James Gumbart used cryo-EM images as well as detailed structural information about the ribosome and other molecules to construct an atom-by-atom model of the system that threads a growing protein into the cellular membrane.

Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

In two new studies, scientists provide the first detailed view of the elaborate chemical and mechanical interactions that allow the ribosome � the cell's protein-building machinery � to insert a growing protein into the cellular membrane.

The first study, in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, gives an atom-by-atom snapshot of a pivotal stage in the insertion process: the moment just after the ribosome docks to a channel in the membrane and the newly forming protein winds its way into the membrane where it will reside.

A collaboration between computational theoretical researchers at the University of Illinois and experimental researchers at University of Munich made this work possible. Using cryo-electron microscopy to image one moment in the insertion process, the scientists in Munich were able to get a rough picture of how the a number of individual players � the ribosome, membrane, membrane channel and newly forming protein � come together to get the job done. Each of these structures had been analyzed individually, but no prior studies had succeeded in imaging all of their interactions at once.

"The computational methodology contributed by the Illinois group was crucial in interpreting the new cryo-EM reconstruction in terms of an atomic level structure, and testing the interpretation through simulation," said co-author Roland Beckmann at the University of Munich. "Our joint study is unique in so closely and successfully combining experimental and computational approaches".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 7, 2011, 8:45 AM CT

Molecular probe to study disease

Molecular probe to study disease
This shows enhanced detection of endogenous protease activity.

Credit: Abeer Jabaiah

Chemical engineers at UC Santa Barbara expect that their new process to create molecular probes may eventually result in the development of new drugs to treat cancer and other illnesses.

Their work, published in the journal Chemistry & Biology, published by Cell Press, describes a new strategy to build molecular probes to visualize, measure, and learn about the activities of enzymes, called proteases, on the surface of cancer cells.

Patrick Daugherty, senior author and professor of chemical engineering at UCSB, explained that the probes are effective at understanding proteases involved in tumor metastasis.

"Tumor metastasis is widely regarded as the cause of death for cancer patients," said Daugherty. "It's not commonly the primary tumor that causes death. Metastasis is mediated by proteases, like the one we are studying here. These proteases can enable tumor cells to separate and degrade surrounding tissue, and then migrate to sites distant from the primary tumor. The tumor doesn't just fall apart. There are a number of events that must occur for a tumor to release malignant cells into the blood stream that can circulate and end up in other tissues such as liver or bone".

The probes allowed the researchers, for the first time, to measure directly the activity of a protease involved in metastasis. They did this by adding their probe into a dish of tumor cells. They then measured the activity of this protease that breaks down collagen �� the single most abundant protein (by mass) in the human body.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 4, 2011, 7:07 AM CT

Nurturing newborn neurons

Nurturing newborn neurons
More newborn neurons (light green blotches near orange areas) are visible in part of the hippocampus of an adult mouse in which neurogenesis was genetically enhanced (right) than in a control mouse (left) .

Credit: Amar Sahay, Ph.D., Columbia University

Adult mice engineered to have more newborn neurons in their brain memory hub excelled at accurately discriminating between similar experiences � an ability that declines with normal aging and in some anxiety disorders. Boosting such neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus also produced antidepressant-like effects when combined with exercise, in the study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers, for the first time, pinpointed the effects of enhanced adult neurogenesis by creating mice lacking a gene mandatory for programmed cell death of newborn neurons in the adult hippocampus.

"These mice with more young neurons were better at recognizing patterns � tasks that become more challenging as we age," explained Rene Hen Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City. "A deficit in this ability can also contribute to anxiety, as over-generalization sometimes leads to mistaking ambiguous cues as threatening. Our study demonstrates that the stimulation of adult neurogenesis is sufficient to improve such pattern recognition behavior, but, while necessary, not sufficient to lift depression-like behavior."

Hen and Amar Sahay, Ph.D., grantees of the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and his colleagues, report on their discovery online April 3, 2011, in the journal Nature........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 4, 2011, 7:05 AM CT

4 new genes identified for Alzheimer's

4 new genes identified for Alzheimer's
Mount Sinai School of Medicine scientists are part of a consortium that has identified four new genes that when present increase the risk of a person developing Alzheimer's disease during the later part of life. The findings are reported in the current issue of Nature Genetics. The consortium also contributed to the identification of a fifth gene reported by other groups of researchers from the United States and Europe.

"Mount Sinai has unique resources that we contributed to the study, having one of the largest brain banks for Alzheimer samples in the world," said lead Mount Sinai scientist, Joseph Buxbaum, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Follow up studies of the genes identified, to determine how they affect brain biochemistry, are now possible in our samples, and this can help us understand how the genes contribute to Alzheimer's disease".

The study, conducted by the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium, consisting of researchers from 44 universities and research institutions in the United States, and led by Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, at Penn, with primary analysis sites at Miami, led by Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, PhD, and Boston, led by Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD,.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 3, 2011, 9:47 AM CT

DNA of 50 breast cancer patients decoded

DNA of 50 breast cancer patients decoded
In the single largest cancer genomics investigation reported to date, researchers have sequenced the whole genomes of tumors from 50 patients with breast cancer and compared them to the matched DNA of the same patients' healthy cells. This comparison allowed scientists to find mutations that only occurred in the cancer cells.

They uncovered incredible complexity in the cancer genomes, but also got a glimpse of new routes toward personalized medicine. The work was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting 2011.

In all, the tumors had more than 1,700 mutations, most of which were unique to the individual, says Matthew J. Ellis, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a lead investigator on the project.

"Cancer genomes are extraordinarily complicated," Ellis says. "This explains our difficulty in predicting outcomes and finding new therapys".

To undertake the massive task, Washington University oncologists and pathologists at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine collaborated with the university's Genome Institute to sequence more than 10 trillion chemical bases of DNA � repeating the sequencing of each patient's tumor and healthy DNA about 30 times to ensure accurate data.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 1, 2011, 7:30 AM CT

Promising target for AIDS vaccine

Promising target for AIDS vaccine
A section of the AIDS virus's protein envelope once considered an improbable target for a vaccine now may be one of the most promising, new research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers indicates.

The section, a twisting strand of protein known as the V3 loop, is an attractive vaccine target because immune system antibodies aimed at the loop may offer protection against multiple genetic subtypes of HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. This is a key prerequisite of any AIDS vaccine because the viruses mutate rapidly and by now comprise millions of different strains that are grouped into different genetic subtypes, or "clades." The researchers' findings are published online in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One. .

In the study, researchers injected a monoclonal antibody -- a preparation of millions of identical antibodies that fight viral infection -- into Asian monkeys known as macaques. The antibody came from a person infected with a specific clade of HIV-1. The macaques were then exposed to virus of a different clade. Investigators knew the antibody would latch onto a portion of the virus's V3 loop, potentially barring the virus from invading nearby cells, but they didn't know whether it would prevent infection from a separate subtype of the virus.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 28, 2011, 7:04 AM CT

'Spicing' up your love life possible

'Spicing' up your love life possible
Looking to spice up your sex life? Try adding ginseng and saffron to your diet. Both are proven performance boosters, as per a new scientific review of natural aphrodisiacs conducted by University of Guelph researchers.

Indulge in wine and chocolate, too, but know that their amorous effects are likely all in your head. Stay away from the more obscure Spanish fly and Bufo toad. While purported to be sexually enhancing, they produced the opposite result and can even be toxic.

Those are among the findings of the study by Massimo Marcone, a professor in Guelph's Department of Food Science, and master's student John Melnyk. The results will appear in the journal Food Research International but are available online now.

"Aphrodisiacs have been used for thousands of years all around the world, but the science behind the claims has never been well understood or clearly reported," Marcone said.

"Ours is the most thorough scientific review to date. Nothing has been done on this level of detail before now." .

There is a need for natural products that enhance sex without negative side effects, Melnyk added. Currently, conditions such as erectile dysfunction are treated with synthetic drugs, including sildenafil (usually sold as Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 22, 2011, 10:28 PM CT

Discovery in liver cancer cells

Discovery in liver cancer cells
Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) have discovered a novel mechanism in gene regulation that contributes to the development of a form of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Currently, there is virtually no effective therapy for HCC, and this breakthrough identifies a promising new target for therapeutic intervention.

In the journal Hepatology, Devanand Sarkar, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., Harrison Endowed Scholar in Cancer Research at VCU Massey Cancer Center, a Blick scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics and a member of the VIMM at VCU School of Medicine, describes for the first time how RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) contributes to the development of liver cancer.

RISC is an important factor in post-transcriptional gene regulation, which occurs between transcription (where DNA is converted to RNA) and translation (where RNA is converted to protein). These processes regulate functions such as cellular growth, division and death. Sarkar and his team identified the proteins AEG-1 and SND1 as factors that increase RISC activity and lead to the development of liver cancer.

For years, Sarkar has been studying the role of AEG-1 in cancer with his collaborator on this research, Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., Thelma Newmeyer Corman Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at VCU Massey, professor and chair of the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics and director of the VIMM.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:22 PM CT

Brain research could hold key to alcohol problems

Brain research could hold key to alcohol problems
Scientists are using an innovative technique that combines brain stimulation and the measure of brain activity to investigate difficulties linked to giving up alcohol, with the hope of developing more effective therapies for alcohol dependence.

Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, in collaboration with Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, has developed a new non-invasive technique, which it hopes will directly measure activity in the frontal brain regions.

Frontal brain regions are important for making decisions and for stopping behaviours that cause us harm.

Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre Director, Professor Dan Lubman, said it was important to learn as much as possible about the brain so effective therapies for the therapy of alcohol dependence could be developed.

"Alcohol is a significant health issue in our community and a better understanding of the brain will lead to improved screening and therapy programs," Professor Lubman said.

Until recently, directly investigating activity in the frontal brain region and the relationship between the brain and a person's ability to stop drinking has been extremely difficult.

However, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre has developed a new technique which allows scientists to directly stimulate and measure frontal brain activity in patients with alcohol problems.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:10 PM CT

New blood analysis chip

New blood analysis chip
Schematic of the tether-free SIMBAS chip that shows some of the functional elements, such as the blood loading area, the plasma separation microtrenches, detection sites and the suction flow structures. (Ivan Dimov image)

A major milestone in microfluidics could soon lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes. The device, developed by an international team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components.

The scientists have dubbed the device SIMBAS, which stands for Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System. SIMBAS appeared as the cover story March 7 in the peer-evaluated journal Lab on a Chip.

"The dream of a true lab-on-a-chip has been around for a while, but most systems developed thus far have not been truly autonomous," said Ivan Dimov, UC Berkeley post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering and co-main author of the study. "By the time you add tubing and sample prep setup components mandatory to make prior chips function, they lose their characteristic of being small, portable and cheap. In our device, there are no external connections or tubing required, so this can truly become a point-of-care system".

Dimov works in the lab of the study's principal investigator, Luke Lee, UC Berkeley professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2011, 10:04 PM CT

New Clues in Quest to Slow Aging

New Clues in Quest to Slow Aging
DNA contains all of the genetic instructions that make us who we are, and maintaining the integrity of our DNA over the course of a lifetime is a critical, yet complex part of the aging process. In an important, albeit early step forward, researchers have discovered how DNOne of the majortenance is regulated, opening the door to interventions that may enhance the body's natural preservation of genetic information.

The new findings may help scientists delay the onset of aging and aging-related diseases by curbing the loss or damage of our genetic makeup, which makes us more susceptible to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's. Keeping our DNA intact longer into our later years could help eliminate the sickness and suffering that often goes hand-in-hand with old age.

"Our research is in the very early stages, but there is great potential here, with the capacity to change the human experience," said Robert Bambara, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and leader of the research. "Just the very notion is inspiring".

In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Bambara and his colleagues report that a process called acetylation regulates the maintenance of our DNA. The team has discovered that acetylation determines the degree of fidelity of both DNA replication and repair.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 15, 2011, 10:52 PM CT

Better Images of Bacteria

Better Images of Bacteria
It's a cloak that surpasses all others: a microscopic carbon cloak made of graphene that could change the way bacteria and other cells are imaged.

Vikas Berry, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State University, and his research team are wrapping bacteria with graphene to address current challenges with imaging bacteria under electron microscopes. Berry's method creates a carbon cloak that protects the bacteria, allowing them to be imaged at their natural size and increasing the image's resolution.

Graphene is a form of carbon that is only one atom thick, giving it several important properties: it's impermeable, it's the strongest nanomaterial, it's optically transparent and it has high thermal conductance.

"Graphene is the next-generation material," Berry said. "Eventhough only an atom thick, graphene does not allow even the smallest of molecules to pass through. Furthermore, it's strong and highly flexible so it can conform to any shape".

Berry's team has been researching graphene for three years, and Berry recently saw a correlation between graphene and cell imaging research. Because graphene is impermeable, he decided to use the material to preserve the size of bacterial cells imaged under high-vacuum electron microscopes.........

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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