Biosingularity

Archive for December 2009

An international team of scientists led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute has developed a straightforward technique to determine the ethnic origin of stem cells.

The Scripps Research scientists initiated the study—published in the January 2010 edition of the prestigious journal Nature Methods—because the availability of genetically diverse cell lines for cell replacement therapy and drug development could have important medical consequences. Research has shown that discordance between the ethnic origin of organ donors and recipients can influence medical outcomes for tissue transplantation, and that the safety and effectiveness of specific drugs can vary widely depending on ethnic background.

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For years, practitioners of alternative medicine have been touting the benefits of ginkgo, especially for maintaining brain health, but a new study finds that the centuries-old nostrum does little to slow the cognitive decline of aging.

Researchers at six universities across the U.S., led by Dr. Steven DeKosky at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, report that elderly people taking ginkgo supplements showed no notable differences in scores on brain-function tests from people taking placebo pills. The team, which published its results Tuesday, Dec. 29, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tested volunteers on a range of tasks, including memory, attention, language, and visual and spatial constructions, and found that the extract from the ancient tree did little to slow the decline of these functions

via Study: Ginkgo Does Not Slow Cognitive Decline of Aging – TIME.

The link between obesity and death from heart disease may be even worse than previously thought, but health problems associated with being underweight  may have been exaggerated, a new study shows.

Previous studies have shown that a higher than normal body mass index (BMI), a barometer of unhealthy weight levels, is associated with higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease. Studies also have shown a link between being underweight, or having a low BMI, with increased mortality from such problems as respiratory disease and lung cancer.

But scientists at the University of Bristol in the U.K. and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden now say they’ve found that the risks of death from cardiovascular disease for people who are overweight or obese may have been understated, and the adverse consequences of having a low BMI have been overstated.

via Heart Risk of Obesity Greater Than Thought.

Two newly discovered genes may act as master control switches in the progression of the most aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.Researchers say the two genes are active in about 60% of all glioblastoma patients and identifying these genes could help identify those with this type of aggressive brain tumor.Glioblastoma is among the most lethal types of brain cancer because it rapidly spreads throughout the brain and creates inoperable brain tumors. Senator Edward Kennedy died of glioblastoma only 16 months after he was diagnosed with the disease.

via Genes Linked to Aggressive Brain Cancer.

The human brain works at a far higher level of complexity than previously thought. What has been given little attention up to now in the information processing of neuronal circuits has been the time factor. “Liquid computing” — a new theory about how these complex networks of nerve cells actually work from computer scientists at Graz University of Technology — has just passed its first test.

An interdisciplinary co-operation with neuroscientists from the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Brain Research in Frankfurt managed to show that early processing stages in the brain pool information over a longer period. For the evaluation of the experiments, the researchers also had to crack the neuronal code. Read the rest of this entry »

A new type of gene therapy may help stop the progression of emphysema in young people who have an inherited form of the deadly disease.

Researchers say previous attempts to correct the gene mutation that predisposes young people to emphysema have failed to achieve lasting results.

But a new study shows a different approach that targets cells known as alveolar macrophages to deliver the gene therapy to the lungs of mice with this form of inherited emphysema was successful in treating the condition for two years.

via Gene Therapy May Stall Inherited Emphysema.


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