Biosingularity

Archive for March 2007

Autistic children are able to interpret the mental state of others by looking at their eyes, contrary to previous research, a new University of Nottingham study has found.

In findings that contradict previous studies, psychologists found that autistic children can ‘read’ a stranger’s mental state based on that person’s eyes. Autistic children have long been thought to be poor at interpreting people’s mental states based on facial expressions, especially expressions around the eyes.
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Researchers at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) announced they have identified a critical genetic factor in the control of many aspects of heart form and function. As reported in the journal Cell, scientists in the lab of Deepak Srivastava, MD, have successfully deleted a genetic factor, called a microRNA, in animal models to understand the role it plays in cardiovascular differentiation and development.
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DNA-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) shorter than about 200 nanometers readily enter into human lung cells and so may pose an increased risk to health, according to scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

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Nanotube length threshold: NIST experiments using human lung cells demonstrate that DNA-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes longer than about 200 nanometers are excluded from cells, while shorter lengths are able to penetrate the cell interior (dark lines in the fluorescence image above).Credit: NIST
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Investigators reported today that torcetrapib, a drug that substantially raises high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or HDL (the “good” cholesterol), did not slow the progression of plaque buildup in the coronary arteries as measured using an ultrasound probe (IVUS). All development of this drug was terminated on December 2, 2006 after the safety board monitoring a separate large clinical outcomes trial reported that torcetrapib increased the risk of death and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
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I feel the future of biological research in the U.S. is now in grave danger. NIH has been the jewel of American innovation in medicine and biological research. The health of most people are affected by the research done through NIH grants. Rapid advance in medical research is also the best way to save the trillions of dollars spent every year on health care. If current trends of stagnant NIH funding is not reversed soon, the U.S. will begin not only to lose its lead in biomedical research but this will also cost countless lives that will not be saved on time.

Read this news article in the recent of issue of the Scientist: “The “stagnated” budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), now entering its 4th straight year of flat-funding, is creating a “looming crisis” that is forcing scientists to downsize labs and abandon innovative work, and alienating the next generation of young researchers, a panel of university officials and senior researchers told Congress yesterday (March 19). “

Another brief commentary is at the Scientific American site.

A compound found in blueberries shows promise of preventing colon cancer in animals, according to a joint study by scientists at Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The compound, pterostilbene, is a potent antioxidant that could be developed into a pill with the potential for fewer side effects than some commercial drugs that are currently used to prevent the disease. Colon cancer is considered the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, the researchers say.
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Some 40 years after the release of the classic science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, researchers in the NanoRobotics Laboratory of École Polytechnique de Montréal’s Department of Computer Engineering and Institute of Biomedical Engineering have achieved a major technological breakthrough in the field of medical robotics. They have succeeded for the first time in guiding, in vivo and via computer control, a microdevice inside an artery, at a speed of 10 centimetres a second.
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