Biosingularity

Archive for August 2007

A new red fluorescent protein—derived from a brilliant red sea anemone purchased in a Moscow pet shop—can reveal body tissues more vividly than other fluorescent proteins in use today. The Russian researchers who developed the new protein said it can render cancers and other target tissues easily visible in living animals, making them glow like Christmas bulbs.

redprotein20070826_287.jpg
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An extensive swedish study from the Sahlgrenska Academy has established that surgery reduces premature death in patients with severe obesity. A long-term follow up has shown that mortality is significantly lower among patients who undergo surgery than among those who do not.

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A new study by NYU Medical Center researchers shows for the first time that the immune system can combat the pathological form of tau protein, a key protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers, led by Einar Sigurdsson Ph.D. at New York University School of Medicine, created a vaccine in mice that suppresses aggregates of tau. The protein accumulates into harmful tangles in the memory center of the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

The vaccine successfully slowed the deterioration of motor abilities produced by excessive amounts of tau in the central nervous system of mice, according to the study published in the August 22, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Dr. Sigurdsson plans to conduct follow-up studies using mice that slowly develop tangles and cognitive impairments without movement problems.

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In the timeless quest for healthier, younger looking skin, scientists from the University of Cincinnati and Tokyo Medical University have made an important discovery toward manipulating skin tone and color. The implications of this research range from helping doctors develop more natural looking bioengineered skin grafts to helping cosmetics companies develop new products for achieving the “perfect” sunless tan.

 The research study, published in the September print issue of The FASEB Journal, shows for the first time how to manipulate skin color and tone using cells previously thought to play no significant role in this function.

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Reduce, recycle and rebuild is as important to the most basic component of the human body, the cell, as it is to the environment. And a University of Florida study shows just how much the body benefits when it “goes green,” at least if you’re a rat: Cutting calories helps rodents live longer by boosting cells’ ability to recycle damaged parts so they can maintain efficient energy production.

“Caloric restriction is a way to extend life in animals. If you give them less food, the stress of this healthy habit actually makes them live longer,” said Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, chief of the division of biology of aging in UF’s Institute on Aging. Understanding how the process works at the cellular level in rodents could help scientists develop drugs that mimic the process in humans, Leeuwenburgh added.
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Experts have found a way to trigger an out-of-body experience in volunteers. The experiments, described in the Science journal, offer a scientific explanation for a phenomenon experienced by one in 10 people.

Two teams used virtual reality goggles to con the brain into thinking the body was located elsewhere.The visual illusion plus the feel of their real bodies being touched made volunteers sense that they had moved outside of their physical bodies. 

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In some ways, certain tumors resemble bee colonies, says pathologist Tan Ince. Each cancer cell in the tumor plays a specific role, and just a fraction of the cells serve as “queens,” possessing the unique ability to maintain themselves in an unspecialized state and seed new tumors. These cells can also divide and produce the “worker” cells that form the bulk of the tumor.

These “queens” are cancer stem cells. Now the lab of Whitehead Member Robert Weinberg has created such cells in a Petri dish by isolating and transforming a particular population of cells from human breast tissue. After being injected with just 100 of these transformed cells, mice developed tumors that metastasized (spread to distant tissues).

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