Biosingularity

Archive for May 2007

Scientists working in Switzerland, Vietnam and the United States say they have isolated antibodies that they hope could offer protection against several different strains of the virus simultaneously. Antibodies are used by our immune system to neutralise bacteria and viruses – in this case, the scientists have isolated antibodies that bird flu survivors in Vietnam produced to fight off the disease. Professor Antonio Lanzavecchia, at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Switzerland, says the antibodies have already proven effective in the lab and in mice and he is confident that they could be used in humans.

Read rest of the story at BBC News site.

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People looking to shed body fat might want to follow their workouts with a few capsules of fish oil, if preliminary research is correct.

In a study of overweight adults, Australian researchers found that a combination of exercise and fish oil supplements was effective at reducing body fat and improving cholesterol levels and blood vessel function.

Study participants who took fish oil, alone or with exercise, saw their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol go up, while their triglycerides (an unhealthy form of blood fat) took a dip. Meanwhile, both exercise and fish oil seemed to cut body fat.

Read rest of the story at Yahoo News

University of Florida researchers used gene therapy to restore sight in mice with a form of hereditary blindness, a finding that has bearing on many of the most common blinding diseases.

Writing online in today’s (May 21) edition of Nature Medicine, scientists describe how they used a harmless virus to deliver corrective genes to mice with a genetic impairment that robs them of vision.

The discovery shows that it is possible to target and rescue cone cells — the most important cells for visual sharpness and color vision in people.
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Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that hair follicles in adult mice regenerate by re-awakening genes once active only in developing embryos. These findings provide unequivocal evidence for the first time that, like other animals such as newts and salamanders, mammals have the power to regenerate. These findings are published in the May 17 issue of Nature.

A better understanding of this process could lead to novel treatments for hair loss, other skin and hair disorders, and wounds.

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Over 30% of our genes are under the control of small molecules called microRNAs. They prevent specific genes from being turned into protein and regulate many crucial processes like cell division and development, but how they do so has remained unclear. Now researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have developed a new method that uncovered the mode of action of microRNAs in a test tube. The study, which is published in the current online issue of Nature, reveals that microRNAs block the initiation of translation, the earliest step in the process that turns genetic information stored on messenger RNAs into proteins.
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Researchers said today they have identified the mechanism of action of lipoic acid, a remarkable compound that in animal experiments appears to slow down the process of aging, improve blood flow, enhance immune function and perform many other functions.
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Individuals who have higher dietary intake of foods with omega-3 fatty acids and higher fish consumption have a reduced risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration, while those with higher serum levels of vitamin D may have a reduced risk of the early stages of the disease, according to two reports in the May issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
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Hugh Herr has spent the past decade building better prosthetic limbs, but this week was the first time he was able to demonstrate one of his own devices. A double amputee since he was in a rock-climbing accident in 1982, Herr unveiled his latest design at an MIT conference on Wednesday: a novel prosthesis modeled on the human ankle.

Read rest of the story at Technology Review site.

Using an innovative method to control the movement of Escherichia coli in a chemical environment, Emory University scientists have opened the door to powerful new opportunities in drug delivery, environmental cleanup and synthetic biology. Their findings are published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and will be published in a future print issue.
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Scientists reported for the first time that hemangioblast precursor cells derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells can be used to achieve vascular repair.

The research, which appears today online (ahead of print) in the journal Nature Methods, by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) and its collaborators, describes an efficient method for generating large numbers of bipotential progenitors–known as hemangioblasts–from hES cells that are capable of differentiating into blood vessels, as well as into all blood and immune cell lineages.
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Research teams at Yale University and the University of Rhode Island have demonstrated a new way to target and potentially treat tumors using a short piece of protein that acts like a nanosyringe to deliver “tags” or therapy to cells, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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pHLIP accumulation in a mouse breast tumor grown on the right flank of a mouse. (Credit: Engelman/Reshtnyak)
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Losing money may be intrinsically linked with fear and pain in the brain, scientists have discovered. In a Wellcome Trust study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers have shown that during a gambling task, losing money activated an area of the brain involved in responding to fear and pain.
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People whose cholesterol improved after one month on cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins reduced their risk of stroke and heart attack, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 — May 5, 2007.
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Imagine taking a vitamin for longevity! Not yet, but a Dartmouth discovery that a cousin of niacin prolongs lifespan in yeast brings the tantalizing possibility a step closer.

The research, reported in the May 4 issue of Cell, shows how a new vitamin extends lifespan in yeast cells, much like calorie restriction does in animals. It could pave the way for developing supplements to benefit humans.
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Coffee is among the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and that the preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption (3-5 cups per day) may be associated with reduced risk of certain disease conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. Some research in neuropharamacology suggests that one cup of coffee can halve the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Other studies have found it reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, kidney stones, gallstones, depression and even suicide.
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