Biosingularity

Archive for November 2007

Vase or face” When presented with the well known optical illusion in which we see either a vase or the faces of two people, what we observe depends on the patterns of neural activity going on in our brains.

“In this example, whether you see faces or vases depends entirely on changes that occur in your brain, since the image always stays exactly the same,” said John Serences, a UC Irvine cognitive neuroscientist.
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According to a new study published in Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, regular participation in sports reduces the risk of developing blood clots by 39 percent in women and 22 percent in men.
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Acclaimed stem cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, has reported that he and his Kyoto University colleagues have successfully reprogrammed human adult cells to function like pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells. Because it circumvents much of the controversy and restrictions regarding generation of ES cells from human embryos, this breakthrough, reported in the journal Cell, should accelerate the pace of stem cell research.

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A team of physicists at the University of California, San Diego and biologists at Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. has shown that a tiny viral motor generates twice as much power, relative to its size, as an automobile engine. The finding explains why even very large viruses can self-assemble so rapidly.

In the study, published October 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers used laser tweezers to measure the forces generated by a nanoscale motor that packs DNA into a virus during the assembly of an infectious virus particle. They discovered that the motor is considerably stronger than any known molecular motors, including those responsible for muscle contraction. The researchers say this power allows the virus to reel in its long genome with remarkable speed Read the rest of this entry »

MIT researchers have devised a novel way to create tiny colonies of living human liver cells that model the full-sized organ. The work could allow better screening of new drugs that are potentially harmful to the liver and reduce the costs associated with their development.
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Junk food junkies take notice. What you eat does more than influence your gut. It also may affect your brain. Increasing evidence shows that mom was right: You should eat your vegetables, and your blueberries and walnuts, too.

Scientists are confirming that this age-old adage is worth following. And new studies show that diet may have implications for those who suffer from certain brain ailments.

Diets containing two percent, six percent, or nine percent walnuts, when given to old rats, were found to reverse several parameters of brain aging, as well as age-related motor and cognitive deficits, says James Joseph, PhD, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston.
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Neuroscientists have significantly advanced brain-machine interface (BMI) technology to the point where severely handicapped people who cannot contract even one leg or arm muscle now can independently compose and send e-mails and operate a TV in their homes. They are using only their thoughts to execute these actions.

Thanks to the rapid pace of research on the BMI, one day these and other individuals may be able to feed themselves with a robotic arm and hand that moves according to their mental commands.
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Commissioned by Wall to Wall Television for Channel 4, the Discovery Channel and ITEL, Body Story is a series of programmes that takes the audience on six thrilling journeys inside the human body.

Bolstering disintegrating neural connections may help boost brainpower in Alzheimer’s disease patients, MIT researchers and colleagues will report in the Nov. 8 issue of Neuron.

The researchers zeroed in on the enzymes that manipulate a key scaffolding protein for synapses, the connections through which brain cells communicate. Synapses are weakened and lost in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
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Scientists at The University of Arizona have added another piece of the puzzle of how the brain processes memory.

Bruce McNaughton, a professor of psychology and physiology, and his colleague David Euston have shown that, during sleep, the reactivated memories of real-time experiences are processed within the brain at a higher rate of speed. That rate can be as much as six or seven times faster, and what McNaughton calls “thought speed.”
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A discovery in mice of immune cells that promote the formation of new blood vessels could lead to new treatments for endometriosis, a painful condition associated with infertility that affects up to 15 percent of women of reproductive age. The new research in vascular biology may point the way to treating endometriosis nonsurgically — by inhibiting angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth) so that lesions remain small and harmless.
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A diet rich in leafy vegetables may minimize the tissue damage caused by heart attacks, according to researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their findings, published in the November 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the chemical nitrite, found in many vegetables, could be the secret ingredient in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

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A new study has identified what may be a pivotal first step towards the regeneration of nerve cells following spinal cord injury, using the body’s own stem cells.

This seminal study, published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, identifies key elements in the body’s reaction to spinal injury, critical information that could lead to novel therapies for repairing previously irreversible nerve damage in the injured spinal cord.

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To get more out of your next cup of tea, just add juice.

A study found that citrus juices enable more of green tea’s unique antioxidants to remain after simulated digestion, making the pairing even healthier than previously thought.

The study compared the effect of various beverage additives on catechins, naturally occurring antioxidants found in tea. Results suggest that complementing green tea with either citrus juices or vitamin C likely increases the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb.

 

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When ancient retroviruses slipped bits of their DNA into the primate genome millions of years ago, they successfully preserved their own genetic legacy. Today an estimated 8 percent of the human genetic code consists of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs)–the DNA remnants from these so-called “selfish parasites.”

Surprisingly, the infected hosts and their primate descendants also appear to have benefited from this genetic invasion, new evidence suggests. The ancient retroviruses–distant relatives of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–helped a gene called p53 become an important “master gene regulator” in primates, according to a study published this week in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Cancer cells treated with carbon nanotubes can be destroyed by non-invasive radio waves that heat up the nanotubes while sparing untreated tissue, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University has shown in preclinical experiments.

In a paper posted online ahead of December publication in the journal Cancer, researchers show that the technique completely destroyed liver cancer tumors in rabbits. There were no side effects noted. However, some healthy liver tissue within 2-5 millimeters of the tumors sustained heat damage due to nanotube leakage from the tumor.
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Scientists in Taiwan are reporting new insights into why diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of obesity. Their study focuses on healthful natural antioxidant compounds called flavonoids and phenolic acids.  Read the rest of this entry »

A team of researchers from the St Vincent’s Campus in Sydney have developed a novel way to control the extreme weight loss, common in late stage cancer, which often speeds death. Read the rest of this entry »


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