Biosingularity

Archive for June 2012

After years of hearing that we should consume more calcium and supplement our diets with calcium pills, a new study questions that advice and suggests that calcium supplements may increase the risk of having a heart attack.

Calcium supplements have been widely accepted by physicians and the public as a safe and natural way to prevent osteoporosis. Is it time to take a second look at this philosophy?

Dietary calcium is absorbed in low doses throughout the day while calcium supplements cause a spike in blood calcium levels which may ultimately deposit too much of the mineral in the body at one time, causing harm.

via Health – Beth Fontenot – Calcium: Good; Calcium Supplements: Not So Much – The Atlantic.

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Pathological rage can be blocked in mice, researchers have found, suggesting potential new treatments for severe aggression, a widespread trait characterized by sudden violence, explosive outbursts and hostile overreactions to stress.

In a study appearing today in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Southern California and Italy identify a critical neurological factor in aggression: a brain receptor that malfunctions in overly hostile mice. When the researchers shut down the brain receptor, which also exists in humans, the excess aggression completely disappeared. Read the rest of this entry »

In testosterone-deficient men, major weight loss was an added benefit of testosterone replacement therapy for most of the patients who participated in a new study. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

“The substantial weight loss found in our study—an average of 36 pounds—was a surprise,” said the study’s lead author, Farid Saad, PhD, of Berlin-headquartered Bayer Pharma. Read the rest of this entry »

Blocking a protein that regulates the activity of certain genes slowed the aging process in a mouse model of premature aging, as well as in healthy mice, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings, published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to drugs that prevent cellular damage due not only to growing old, but also to cancer and diseases caused by abnormal DNA repair activity.

Aging is thought to be the result of accumulated cellular damage, including DNA damage, but the biological mechanisms that drive aging in response to damage are not understood, said senior author Paul Robbins, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Pitt’s School of Medicine.  His team studied NF-kappa B, a protein involved in turning certain gene activity on and off in response to inflammation, stress and cellular damage. Read the rest of this entry »

A protein famous for slowing aging and increasing life span also acts as a metronome, helping coordinate metabolism and the body’s daily rhythms.

SIRT1, one of a group of proteins called sirtuins, plays roles in many cellular processes, including aging. Researchers hope that activating the protein with drugs such as resveratrol can extend life span and improve health for people, as it does in animal studies.

Now, researchers at MIT have evidence that SIRT1 may not only help determine long-term health and longevity, but it also has a hand in setting the body’s daily or “circadian” clock. The finding, reported May 31 at the Metabolism, Diet and Disease meeting, could be important for understanding how metabolism and life span are linked. Read the rest of this entry »

For the first time, scientists have deciphered the genome of a fetus using only DNA from the unborn child’s parents. The advance represents a significant step forward in the effort to create noninvasive genetic tests that could assess a wide array of genetic diseases.

A small percentage of the DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood comes from her fetus, a fact that scientists have begun exploiting to create prenatal genetic tests that don’t require invasive sampling of fluid from the uterus. So far, tests have been limited to specific measures such as the genetic aberration that leads to Down syndrome; but the ability to sequence the entire fetal genome suggests that parents could someday get a much broader picture of their baby’s disease risk before birth.

via Using Parents’ Blood to Decode the Genome of a Fetus – Technology Review.

A new drug for advanced prostate cancer patients has proved so effective that researchers stopped the clinical trial early to give all patients a chance to receive the life-extending medication, according to a UCSF-led study released Saturday.

The hormone treatment, Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga, when added to a standard steroid therapy doubled the time it takes for the disease to progress in patients treated with the standard therapy alone, said the lead researcher, Dr. Charles Ryan, associate professor of clinical medicine at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

via Prostate cancer drug so effective trial stopped.

Why is it that some obese people are healthier than others? This was one of the main questions Dr. Chaodong Wu of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — Texas A&M University System — and a group of researchers tried to answer in a recent study.

The study, which will appear in a July issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, used genetically modified mice to investigate the genetic aspects of why some obese people do not develop certain medical problems typically associated with obesity, especially Type 2 diabetes.

Wu noted that Xin Guo, a Ph.D. candidate in the college’s department of nutrition and food sciences, contributed significantly to the study. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientists have unlocked the secrets of the zebra fish’s ability to heal its spinal cord after injury, in research that could deliver therapy for paraplegics and quadriplegics in the future.

A team from Monash University’s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI), led by Dr Yona Goldshmit and Professor Peter Currie, discovered the role of a protein in the remarkable self-healing ability of the fish.

The findings, detailed in The Journal of Neuroscience, could eventually lead to ways to stimulate spinal cord regeneration in humans.

Marrabbio2_wikimedia_commons_-_zebrafish2

The research team discovered the role of a protein (fgf) in the remarkable self-healing ability of the fish.

via How the zebra fish heals itself (Science Alert).


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