Biosingularity

Archive for February 2006

In a giant step towards understanding prostate disease, a study published in the March edition of Nature Methods describes how human embryonic stem cells were developed into human prostate tissue equivalent to that found in a young man, in just 12 weeks.
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Discoveries made during the first large-scale analysis of interactions between proteins in our cells hold promise for identifying new genes involved in genetic diseases, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and the Institute of Bioinformatics (IOB) in Bangalore.

The findings, reported in the March issue of Nature Genetics, were made using a database of more than 25,000 protein-protein interactions compiled by the Hopkins-IOB team. The result is believed to be the most detailed human “interactome” yet describing the interplay of proteins that occur in cells during health and disease.
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A team of investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital has developed a nanoparticle that signals when cells are undergoing apoptosis, the kind of cell death triggered by cancer therapies. The new nanoparticles could finally provide oncologists with a rapid assay that could tell them that a given therapy is working. This groundbreaking work was published in the journal Nano Letters.
Nanoparticles.jpg

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For the first time, researchers have linked mutations in a gene that regulates how potassium enters cells to a neurodegenerative disease and to another disorder that causes mental retardation and coordination problems. The findings may lead to new ways of treating a broad range of disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

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A recent study shows that hundreds of genes contribute to cell growth and cell division. For the first time these genes, many of which are potential contributors to cancer, have been mapped in a single systematic study.
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In a significant advance for regenerative medicine, researchers at Rice University have discovered a new way to culture adult stem cells from bone marrow such that the cells themselves produce a growth matrix that is rich in important biochemical growth factors.

The research, which appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is notable because of the science – researchers found they could coax bone cells into produce up to 75 times more calcium.
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Of all of the materials that make up our bodies, nothing is more ubiquitous than collagen. It is the most important structural protein in the body, reinforcing connective tissue, bones and teeth, and forming long, fibrous cables to strengthen tendons. Collagen forms sheets of tissue that support the skin and every internal organ. There is nothing in the body, in fact, that does not depend in some way on collagen.

In medicine, collagen from animals, principally cows, is used to rebuild tissue destroyed by burns and wounds. Commonly, it is employed in plastic surgery to augment the lips and cheeks of starlets and others seeking perpetual youth. Catgut, the biodegradable sutures made from cow or horse intestines and used in surgery to minimize scarring, is also a form of collagen.
But for such a commonplace and useful protein, collagen has defied the efforts of biomedical researchers who have tried mightily to synthesize it for use in applications ranging from new wound-healing technologies to alleviating arthritis. The reason: Scientists were unable to synthesize the human protein because they had no way to link the easily made short snippets of collagen into the long, fibrous molecules necessary to mimic the real thing.

But now a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writing this week (Feb. 13, 2006) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reports the discovery of a method for making human collagen in the lab.
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