Biosingularity

Archive for April 2012

Scientists have discovered that they can dramatically increase the life span of mice with progeria (premature aging disease) and heart disease (caused by Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy) by reducing levels of a protein called SUN1. This research was done by A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) in collaboration with their partners at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States and the Institute of Cellular and System Medicine in Taiwan. Their findings were published in the scientific journal, Cell, on 27th April 2012 and provide an exciting lead into developing new methods to treat premature aging and heart disease.
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Aggressive pancreatic tumours may be treatable with a new class of drugs, according to Cancer Research UK

Less than one in five people with this form of cancer are still alive a year after being diagnosed.

A study, published in the journal Nature, showed that a gene was being switched off in the cancerous cells.

The reseachers said drugs were already being tested which had the potential to turn the gene back on, to stop the spread of the cancer.

Pancreatic tumour

via BBC News – ‘Brake gene’ turned off in pancreatic cancer.

Blueberries and strawberries, which are high in flavonoids, appear to reduce cognitive decline in older adults according to a new study published today in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society. The study results suggest that cognitive aging could be delayed by up to 2.5 years in elderly who consume greater amounts of the flavonoid-rich berries.

Flavonoids are compounds found in plants that generally have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Experts believe that stress and inflammation contribute to cognitive impairment and that increasing consumption of flavonoids could mitigate the harmful effects. Previous studies of the positive effects of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanidins, are limited to animal models or very small trials in older persons, but have shown greater consumption of foods with these compounds improve cognitive function. Read the rest of this entry »

UC Santa Barbara researchers have discovered Salmonella bacteria that are up to 100 times more capable of causing disease. Their findings may help prevent food poisoning outbreaks that continue to plague public health and the food industry.

These “hypervirulent” bugs can override vaccines and pose a risk to food safety –– and mitigation efforts are currently under way.

Previous strategies to find the more dangerous bugs were unsuccessful since they behave like a “Trojan Horse”— exposing their weapons only when causing disease — but looking much like their less-virulent cousins in the environment.

Now that scientists know what to look for, they are developing methods to discriminate them from their less-virulent cousins. The researchers have been successful in forcing the bacteria to reveal their weapons in the laboratory –– the first step in combating them

via UCSB Press Release: “UCSB Researchers Discover Particularly Dangerous Salmonella “.

Every year, millions of people are born with debilitating genetic disorders, a result of inheriting just one faulty gene from their parents. They may have been dealt a dud genetic hand, but they do not have to stick with it. With the power of modern genetics, scientists are developing ways of editing these genetic errors and reversing the course of many hard-to-treat diseases.

These gene therapies exploit the abilities of viruses – biological machines that are already superb at penetrating cells and importing genes. By removing their ability to reproduce, and loading them with the genes of our choice, we can transform viruses from causes of disease into vectors for cures.

After a few shaky starts, some of these approaches are beginning to hit their stride. Thirteen children with SCID, an immune disorder that leaves people fatally vulnerable to infections, now have working immune systems. Several British patients with haemophilia, which prevents their blood from clotting properly, can now produce a clotting protein called factor IX, which they once had to inject. A British man and three Americans with inherited forms of progressive blindness can see again.

via Will we ever correct diseases before birth? | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine.

Specialized compounds that naturally reduce inflammation in mice also help clear bacterial infections. A combination of these inflammation-resolving factors and antibiotics lowers the antibiotic dose needed to clear E. coli and Staphylococcus, according to a new paper in Nature.

The finding suggests it would be possible to stimulate a person’s own defenses to enhance the effects of antibiotics—a potentially valuable weapon in the fight against increasing rates of antibiotic resistance.

“This paper bridges two seemingly different and distant areas of research—antimicrobial resistance and the resolution of inflammation,” said Alberto Mantovani, an immunologist at the University of Milan in Italy who was not involved in the research. “It’s an unexpected perspective.”

S. aureus bacteria being attacked by human white blood cells.NIAID/RML

S. aureus bacteria being attacked by human white blood cells.

NIAID/RML

via Anti-inflammatory Factors Fight Bugs | The Scientist.

Traumatic experiences in early life can leave emotional scars. But a new study suggests that violence in childhood may leave a genetic mark as well. Researchers have found that children who are physically abused and bullied tend to have shorter telomeres—structures at the tips of chromosomes whose shrinkage has been linked to aging and disease.

Telomeres prevent DNA strands from unravelling, much like the plastic aglets on a shoelace. When cells divide, these structures grow shorter, limiting the number of times a cell can reproduce. For this reason, telomeres may reflect biological age. Research has found associations between stress and accelerated telomere loss, and shortened telomeres correlate with several health problems, including diabetes, dementia, and fatigue.

sn-telomeres.jpg

Early damage. Telomeres (red) are shorter in children who have been abused.
Credit: Pasleka/Photo Researchers Inc.

via Childhood Stress Leaves Genetic Scars – ScienceNOW.


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