Biosingularity

Archive for December 2007

A forthcoming article in the British Journal of Nutrition, published online on December 6, 2007, reported the finding of Finnish researchers that an increased intake of coffee is associated with lower mortality over a 14.5 year period.

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Scientists from International Stem Cell (ISC) Corp. derived four unique embryonic stem cell lines that open the door for the creation of therapeutic cells that will not provoke an immune reaction in large segments of the population. The stem cell lines are “HLA-homozygous,” meaning that they have a simple genetic profile in the critical areas of the DNA that code for immune rejection. The lines could serve to create a stem cell bank as a renewable source of transplantable cells for use in cell therapy to replace damaged tissues or to treat genetic and degenerative diseases.

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In 2007, researchers were dazzled by the degree to which genomes differ from one human to another and began to understand the role of these variations in disease and personal traits. Science and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society, recognize “Human Genetic Variation” as the Breakthrough of the Year, and identify nine other of the year’s most significant scientific accomplishments in the 21 December issue.

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University of Michigan scientists and their colleagues have helped characterize a previously unknown link in the chain of biochemical reactions implicated in some forms of heart disease.

The finding provides a new target for future drug therapies.

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UC Irvine scientists have found a new way to sort stem cells that should be quicker, easier and more cost-effective than current methods. The technique could in the future expedite therapies for people with conditions ranging from brain and spinal cord damage to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

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Scientists have genetically engineered a mosquito to release a sea-cucumber protein into its gut which impairs the development of malaria parasites, according to research out today (21 December) in PLoS Pathogens. Researchers say this development is a step towards developing future methods of preventing the transmission of malaria.

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Researchers from the Universities of Warwick, Edinburgh, Dundee and the Czech Republic’s Institute of Biophysics have discovered a new light-activated platinum-based compound that is up to 80 times more powerful than other platinum-based anti-cancer drugs and which can use “light activation” to kill cancer cells in much more targeted way than similar treatments.

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Comparisons of the brains of young and old people have revealed that normal aging may cause cognitive decline due to deterioration of the connections among large-scale brain systems. The researchers linked the deterioration to a decrease in the integrity of the brain’s “white matter,” the tissue containing nerve cells that carry information. The researchers found that the disruption occurred even in the absence of pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

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Seeing proteins in their natural environment and interactions inside cells has been a long-standing goal. Using an advanced microscopy technique called cryo-electron tomography, researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL] have visualised proteins responsible for cell-cell contacts for the first time. In this week’s issue of Nature they publish the first 3D image of human skin at molecular resolution and reveal the molecular Velcro-like organisation that interlinks cells.

 

Caption: 3-D visualization of interacting cadherin molecules in their native arrangement. Known molecular structures of cadherins (grey and red ribbons) are fit into the electron tomogram (multicolour) of the complex.

Credit: Achilleas Frangakis, EMBL

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Researchers at Cornell are working to use the same energy that drives sperm to power nanoscale robots or to deliver chemo drugs or antibiotics, for example, to targeted sites within the body. The findings were presented at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 47th annual meeting, Dec. 3, in Washington, D.C.
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