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Dangerous DNA: The truth about the warrior gene

Story Summary: In the following years, evidence poured in to bolster the connection between MAOAand aggression. Unravelling the interaction between genes and behaviour is one of the toughest tasks in biology. The publication of the entire human genetic code, a decade ago, dispelled any illusions that having the genetic blueprint of our species would give a clear insight into our nature. Instead, what became clear is that we have far fewer genes than anyone imagined, and that understanding how these shape us as individuals is going to be a colossal task. Working out the exact steps is devilishly difficult, and conveying the findings to those without a scientific background is just as problematic. It provides four key messages for anyone trying to get to grips with the interplay between genes and behaviour. It encodes a protein that breaks down some of the brains signalling molecules when they have outlived their usefulness – including serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine. If it slacks on the job, the build-up of these neurotransmitters leads to abnormal moods and behaviour. Like the defunct version of MAOAfound in the Dutch family, MAOA-L, is associated with violence and aggression. Headlines proclaimed that gang culture may be due to warrior gene and that boys who carry the gene are likely to be dangerous, violent and carry weapons. MAOA-Lis actually very common: a third of white people have this version and most of them have nothing to do with gangs. Besides, aggression is not the only behaviour associated with MAOAand, moreover, problem behaviours are not just associated with underactive versions of the gene. MAOA-Hhas been linked with risky financial choices, such as playing the lottery and not buying insurance. While some of the findings are questionable, MAOAs reach is likely to be extensive because the brain signalling molecules it helps break down have a wide range of roles. Other genes, including MAOBand COMT, affect the creation, use and breakdown of the same neurotransmitters. For example, one found that women with MAOA-Lare more likely to become depressed while pregnant, but only if they also carry a low-activity version of COMT. (56% of 46 men is significantly more than the 33% found in white people. And saying that another study found no link in non-white Americans between the allele and aggression doesnt mean anything unless we know what the study would have been capable of finding (the statistical power)….Read the Full Story

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  1. Warrior Gene Responsible for Gang Membership, Weapon Use
  2. Gene Expression: What domestication changes
  3. Combination of genes and prenatal exposure to smoking increases teens risk of disruptive behaviour – News


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Genome smuggling is step towards synthetic life

Story Summary: Non-recognitionThen they attempted to disguise the donor DNA in order to trick the recipient species into believing the genome had always belonged in the cell. Bacterial genomes are notoriously difficult to modify, and using transfer into yeast as an intermediate step allows scientists to use a much wider range of genetic tools for tweaking the genome. Jim Collins, a biomedical engineer from Boston University not involved in the study, is interested in how the research expands the capabilities of genetic engineering. Indeed Venter hopes this biological milestone will be possible in just a month or so. The advantage of synthetic DNA is that it allows even more radical changes than an engineered genome, says geneticist George Churchof Harvard Medical School. If you would like to reuse any contentfrom New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndicationdepartment first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing optionsavailable for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to. Intracellular defenses?So thats why we dont have inter-species gene jumping all the time. So this might mean the ecosystem is not well adapted to chimeras and combining genes from different species too much – especially in higher organisms. To eschew pleasure or desire in the here-and-now for the sake of eternal patterns is the same theme we see in religions of asceticism and sacrificing here-and-now pleasures and temptations for higher, etertnal truths. The use of technology, like the use of guns, can either be extremely moral or extremely immoral. We are messed up today on the nature of morality because of politics mainly. Really??I guess this depends on what you mean by science. If you mean the institute of modern science, I dunno about that. Science should follow where the evidence leads, however this is a moral stance and its a philosophical stance, rather than an empirical scientific one. You have to build bombs and refine the uranium, which requires huge industrial effort. Jeeze, just imagine even a beneficial microbe designed to produce petroleum fuel getting loose in the ocean! So why are you concerned about this biotechnology in this way?Not so sure about that:Global warming => in real bad case, 70% human population wipeout; there is about that many of us that consume oxygen for no good reason anyway (possibly, me included). This other thing escaping out of control => if things go real bad, we could devolve Earth back to a bacterial soup that we believe it was billions of years ago. 14:00 12 April 2010Some caterpillars warning signals may have evolved from walking – the best evidence yet that communication can evolve from routine behaviour13:56 12 April 2010MAOAis the gene that causes aggression. Here are four reasons why that statements wrong – like most generalisations about DNA and behaviour08:00 12 April 2010They recognise unfair distribution of food, even when it involves individuals other than themselves – this may be a simpler form of human justice00:01 12 April 2010Five kilometres beneath the Caribbean, a multicoloured spire spews superheated water – and there are creatures down there too 15:57 12 April 2010Hes defined the field of entomology and influenced generations of naturalists. But though his tale is seen through insect eyes, its really about us14:39 12 April 2010Noctilucent clouds wax and wane over a period of 27 days, which suggests that their formation is partly controlled by the rotation of the sun14:00 12 April 2010Some caterpillars warning signals may have evolved from walking – the best evidence yet that communication can evolve from routine behaviour13:56 12 April 2010MAOAis the gene that causes aggression….Read the Full Story

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  1. Japanese gut bacteria gain special powers from sushi
  2. Artificial Life One Step Closer: Scientists Clone And Engineer Bacterial Genomes In Yeast And Transplant Genomes Back Into Bacterial Cells
  3. Lousy little secret for blood suckers – Lice, mitochondrial DNA – Australian Life Scientist


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Chemical Safety Board Produces Safety Video For Teenagers

The chemical safety board is the federal government agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. So I was surprised to see them release a youtube video aimed at high school students earlier this week. Apparently, high school students have been getting themselves killed by going to abandoned oil production sites and exploding low grade crude oil filled tanks. In the past 27 years 36 teenagers and 6 young adults have died at these sites.

The video is shown through the eyes of friends and family of two recently deceased teenagers.

Press Release: CSB Releases Video “No Place to Hang Out” Focusing on Deaths of Teenagers in Oil Site Explosions

Update 1: Apparently also covered by CENtral Science – Exploding oil storage sites are “No Place To Hangout”

Mitch


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Experimental immune-boosting drug worsens TB in mice

Story Summary: The drug acts indirectly by drawing certain immune cells, in which Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) bacteria thrive, to the lungs. The findings may have potential implications for the care of people infected with TB, the authors note. Poly-ICLC also is being tested in multiple human clinical trials as a possible cancer treatment when combined with cancer vaccines. Earlier research into the effects of type I IFN on bacterial infections produced mixed results, notes Dr. Sher. Some studies showed that giving IFN to mice with non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections (Mycobacterium avium) lowered the amount of bacteria in their bodies. D. , dropped poly-ICLC into the noses of mice that had been infected with M. tb. Moreover, levels of M. tb in their lungs were 100 times greater than in M. tb-infected mice that did not receive poly-ICLC. Next, Dr. Antonelli performed a series of experiments to determine what kind of immune system cell was involved in hastening the disease in poly-ICLC-treated mice. In the treated group, the scientists found a fourfold increase in a specific subpopulation of immune cells called macrophages. But when type I IFN production was elevated by poly-ICLC treatment, the surge in macrophages to the M. tb-infected lung actually harmed the host, notes Dr. Sher. Dr. Sher and his colleagues are currently testing the relevance of these findings to humans by determining whether under certain conditions type I IFN promotes the growth of M. tb in human macrophages. Dr. Sher and his colleagues are currently testing the relevance of these findings to humans by determining whether under certain conditions type I IFN promotes the growth of M. tb in human macrophages. Dr. Sher and his colleagues are currently testing the relevance of these findings to humans by determining whether under certain conditions type I IFN promotes the growth of M. tb in human macrophages….Read the Full Story

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  1. Human immune cells a in mice
  2. Rejuvenating the old immune system
  3. Boosting Newborns Immune Responses


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Targeting the blood-brain barrier may delay progression of Alzheimers disease

Story Summary: An animal study supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, shows that by targeting the blood-brain barrier, researchers are able to slow the accumulation of a protein associated with the progression of the illness. The blood-brain barrier separates the brain from circulating blood, and it protects the brain by removing toxic metabolites and proteins formed in the brain and preventing entry of toxic chemicals from the blood. This protein clumps to form plaques that destroy neurons and lead to cognitive impairment and memory loss in Alzheimer patients. We now know that P-glycoprotein plays a pivotal role in clearing beta-amyloid from the brain. Secondly, we know P-glycoprotein levels are reduced in the blood-brain barrier, and that the Alzheimers mice treated with the chemical to activate PXR were able to reduce their beta-amyloid levels to that of mice without Alzheimers, said Bjorn Bauer, Ph. D. , assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and senior author on the paper. D. , lead author on the study, added that it is also likely that reduced P-glycoprotein expression at the blood-brain barrier may be an early indicator of Alzheimers disease, even before the cognitive symptoms appear. One of the challenges confronting the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimers is being able to clearly diagnose the disease process when brain damage is minimal, before any symptoms occur….Read the Full Story

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  2. Scientists have discovered a molecule that can prevent a toxic protein involved Alzheimers disease from building up in the brain
  3. Alzheimers: Destructive amyloid-beta protein may also be essential for normal brain function


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Harnessing the Web and supercomputers to track pathogens as they evolve

Story Summary: Developed by researchers that include scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Supramap (supramap. D. in evolutionary biology and computer science to understand the trajectory and transmission of a disease. With Supramap, users can submit raw genetic sequences and obtain a phylogenetic tree of strains of pathogens. The resulting tree is then projected onto the globe by Supramap and can be viewed with Google Earth. Each branch in the evolutionary tree is geo-located and time-stamped. The diversity of viral strains from birds and mammals in China, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe are represented as they spread westward over four years. But the raw genetic information still needs interpretation, and we are sharing our know-how and even our computers so that this can happen. We aim for our tools to inform decisions about potential global hotspots for the emergence of diseases from animals and areas of drug resistance. We aim for our tools to inform decisions about potential global hotspots for the emergence of diseases from animals and areas of drug resistance. Biogeography and phylogeny, or the study of evolutionary and geographic relationships among organisms, are the core areas of research in the Museum, says Wheeler. Our expertise is now being applied to a new, practical set of research questions, the spread of disease and human health. Our expertise is now being applied to a new, practical set of research questions, the spread of disease and human health….Read the Full Story

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  2. Harnessing gene expression to identify the genetic basis of drug resistance
  3. Scientists use microRNAs to track evolutionary history for first time


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Gene studies lead to kissing cousins

Story Summary: But put males of each species as far as six car-lengths away from females, and even in the darkness of midnight they easily find their way to mates from their own species while ignoring females from the other species. Today, the genes that keep the species sexually isolated are no longer a mystery, thanks to research from North Carolina State University and the University of Utah. Until now, scientists had a long list of potential genes and cellular molecules that could be responsible for each male finding only females of its own species. This has led some to assume that a new moth species could evolve only if genetic changes occurred in the male and female at the same instant in evolutionary time – which is highly unlikely. In the narrow sense, the research is about the evolution of sexual communication and speciation, Gould says. But in a broader sense, it is about the evolution of what are sometimes called characteristics with irreducible complexity. Gould and his colleagues hope that, armed with a new understanding of the male sexual communication genes plus knowledge of the female genes from previous studies, they may now be in a position to recreate the evolutionary events involved in moth speciation….Read the Full Story

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Scientists find key to gene that promotes cancer metastasis

Story Summary: The paper was published Sunday in Nature Cell Biologys advanced online publication. The discovery provides a target-rich environment for development of drugs to thwart expression of the RhoA gene, according to Hui-Kuan Lin, Ph. Researchers built their case with a series of laboratory experiments on cell lines, followed by confirmation in a mouse model of breast cancer metastasis and then analysis of 64 prostate cancer tumors that showed overexpression of RhoA or three of its transcription complex components were strongly correlated with metastatic disease. Skp2s E3 ligase activity is required for tumorigenesis, but not involved at all in metastasis, Lin said. Lin and colleagues also previously found that Skp2 blocks cellular senescence – a halt in cell division – in cancer cells. The research team then found that Skp2 recruits two other proteins, p300 and Miz1, to join Myc and form the complex that transcribes RhoA. Directly knocking down RhoA expression produced the same effect as blocking the Myc-Skp2-Miz1 complex. In this case, the tumor-suppressor cooperates with the oncogene to launch RhoA and promote metastasis. In this case, the tumor-suppressor cooperates with the oncogene to launch RhoA and promote metastasis. Right now, there are no small-molecule agents to inhibit any of these targets, Lin said. Right now, there are no small-molecule agents to inhibit any of these targets, Lin said. Right now, there are no small-molecule agents to inhibit any of these targets, Lin said….Read the Full Story

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  2. Inhibitory effects of adenovirus mediated tandem expression of RhoA and RhoC shRNAs in HCT116 cells – 7thSpace Interactive
  3. Breast cancer: Metastasis on the brain


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

NSF Reauthorization

The bill that will reauthorize the NSF had a markup by the subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Since what happens in the policy world can have repercussions in the science world here is a list of policy changes to NSF that caught my eye.

    The Bill: NSF Reauthorization 2010
  • 5% of the NSF research budget has to be used for high-risk high-reward proposals. (SEC. 201. SUPPORT FOR POTENTIALLY TRANSFORMATIVE RESEARCH)

The Amendments: NSF Reauthorization Amendments 2010

Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)

  • Wants NSF to give cash prizes to high-risk, high-reward research challenges. (SEC. 207. PRIZE REWARDS)
    • The prizes will range from 1 million to 3 million

I don’t care what the topic turns out to be, but for that much money Chemistry Blog will organize and field an open team for the competition. How the NSF goes about and implements these contests will be interesting to see.

The NSF Reauthorization will be wrapped into the America COMPETES Act and likely will be voted on by the full House of Representatives before May 31st. The America COMPETES Act shouldn’t suffer any major hurdles for passage.

Mitch


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Weak Kidneys Cause Weak Bones

by Jean-Claude Alix, Naturopath

No single area of the body stands alone, everything is linked up. This is why medical specialisation is one of the greatest mistakes that was ever

made.

Viewed from this angle, hardly any two areas are so closely and deeply intertwined as the renal metabolism and the bone metabolism. Thus, it is understandable that weakness in the kidneys must necessarily result in weakness in the bones. The discussion of these interrelations is the

theme of this treatise.

Significance of the kidney as the centre of bone formation:

– The kidney as regulator of the

electrolytes

– The kidney as regulator of the

acid-alkaline balance

– The kidney as the base of anxiety Read more…

Joint Mender for Joint Care

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

New Genetic Study Reveals Clue To Cause Of Motor Neurone Disease

Story Summary: Ultimately, the researchers hope that understanding what is causing motor neurone disease (MND) will lead to new avenues for treatment. MND is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones. Previous studies have found a similar association between genetic mutations linked to protein aggregation and MND. Children of a parent with familial MND have a one in two risk of inheriting the disease. In the study, all of the family members with motor neurone disease had the R199W mutation, whereas none of the individuals with parents unaffected by the disease carried it. Dr Brian Dickie, director of research development at the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said: Identifying definitive causes of motor neurone disease (MND), no matter how rare, is of vital importance. They looked at the genetic makeup of 1,002 individuals, 780 of whom had no history of motor neurone disease, 23 who had sporadic MND, and 199 who had familial MND, and found no incidences of the mutation. Source: Laura Gallagher Imperial College London Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to: These are the most read articles from this news category for the last 6 months: Possible New Underlying Cause Of MS Investigated By Neurologists26 Oct 2009Neurologists at the University at Buffalo are beginning a research study that could overturn the prevailing wisdom on the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS). Good health care, however, depends on an open dialogue between patients and doctors. Good health care, however, depends on an open dialogue between patients and doctors. Good health care, however, depends on an open dialogue between patients and doctors. Safeguards are in place because of a small risk in developing a serious brain infection….Read the Full Story

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  2. Motor neurone hero gene offers new hope to sufferers of devastating disease | Mail Online
  3. Motor Neurone Disease: New Stem Cell Research Could Make Lab Mice Redundant


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Early Menopause Can Result In Earlier Onset Dementia

Story Summary: Coppus: Women with Down Syndrome with an early onset of menopause also appear to suffer from dementia at an early age. The Epidemiology department of Erasmus MC has been studying more than 500 people with Down Syndrome, above the age of 45, since 2000. In particular, the factors affecting the onset of dementia and death are studied. The health development found within this group is in fact an accelerated version of the developments found in the general population. Down Syndromeis a chromosomal disorder in which there are three copies of chromosome 21. The most important of these is the gene that is responsible for the production of the protein amyloid. As it appears, not only can a relationship with the age of onset of dementia be determined but also a relationship between early onset of menopause and dying young. Coppus: As dementia itself also leads to a reduced life expectancy, I made calculations in which I corrected the results of the effect of dementia on death. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Microbicides, vaccines may need to repel HIV contact at mucosa

Story Summary: The findings suggest that microbicides and vaccines may have the greatest chance of success if they can limit or prevent completely contacts between HIVs gp120 surface protein and cells in the mucous membranes of the genital tract and the intestines. The events taking place when HIV comes into contact with mucous membranes and the immune reactions that occur within the mucosa are a critical area of research for scientists hoping to develop new methods of preventing HIV infection. Previously researchers into HIV transmission had thought that transmission was most likely to occur either when the mucous membrane was damaged (for example through trauma or ulceration) or when many activated immune cells were present (such as during a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhoea). Then, they began to study how HIV actually interacts with these cells. The electrical resistance in these cultures is used to monitor how well the epithelial cell cultures are growing and functioning. Aisha Nazli, a researcher in Kaushics laboratory, noticed every time she put HIV on epithelial cells their resistance went down significantly. The surface protein signals to the inside of the epithelial cells by binding to it, she said. Instead of trying to stop HIV from infecting the target cells underneath the epithelium, we need to think about ways to stop the virus from attaching to epithelial cells themselves, said Charu Kaushic. ReferenceNazli A et al. Exposure to HIV-1 directly impairs mucosal epithelial barrier integrity allowing microbial translocation….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Studies Show Significant Increases Of C. Difficile Infections (CDI)

Story Summary: Preliminary data collected from nursing homes and highlighted in a Supplementary Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory shows that almost 40 percent of gastrointestinal infections reported are CDIs. Our first look at infection data submitted from Pennsylvania nursing homes confirms what prior studies have found in hospitals — C. diffinfections are a real problem in healthcare institutions, Mike Doering, executive director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority said. It is the most common cause of healthcare-associated infectious diarrheain healthcare facilities. Doering said data from the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council (PHC4) also shows increases in CDI. Education is the key for fighting these infections, Doering said. Healthcare facilities and nursing homes need to implement infection prevention strategies and educate all staff, including housekeeping personnel, about effective C. diff prevention strategies that have been proven to work. The Authority began collecting infection data from nursing homes in June 2009. The preliminary data analyzed was collected from nursing homes July 1 through September 30, 2009. It can remain in place, in some cases for several weeks; therefore if it is not cleansed properly can be prone to infection. Infection can occur when bacteria grow in the line and spread into the bloodstream. These serious, sometimes deadly infections can often be successfully treated with antibiotics. Sometimes the only way to cure the infection is to remove the catheter. Doering said a March 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report estimates the cost of one CLABSI in 2007 U. S. dollars to be $29,156, which totals $2. In another study, it was found that 98,987 patient deaths caused by or associated with healthcare-associated infections in 2002, 31 percent of those cases were attributed to bloodstream infections. The Authority analyzed data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the system hospitals must report all healthcare-associated infections through since Act 52 2007. The Authority analysis (from July 2008 through March 2009) showed that Pennsylvania hospitals calculated average CLABSI rates at 1. The Authority analysis of data shows that while Pennsylvanias hospitals are doing better than the national average in preventing CLABSIs, in thirty-eight percent of the events reported they are unable to document compliance with evidence-based best practices for CLABSI prevention, Doering said. However, 38 percent of the CLABSI reports documented unknown compliance with these basic best practices, and 4. Many Pennsylvania hospitals are doing a good job in preventing these infections, but continued changes and vigilance are required to eliminate them once and for all. What Causes Glandular Fever?…Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

GSK And Isis Pharmaceuticals Collaborate On RNA Therapeutics For Rare And Infectious Diseases

Story Summary: (Nasdaq: ISIS) announced a new strategic alliance that will apply the Isis antisense drug discovery platform to seek out and develop new therapeutics against targets for rare and serious disease, including infectious diseases and some conditions causing blindness. Under the terms of the agreement, which covers up to six programs, Isis will receive an upfront $35 million payment from GSK and is eligible to receive on average up to $20 million in milestones per program up to Phase 2 proof-of-concept (PoC). As a platform, the Isis antisense approach offers us an exciting opportunity to target certain severe diseases in a way that has not previously been possible, said Dr. Patrick Vallance, Senior Vice-President and Head of Drug Discovery at GSK. We retain control of the discovery and early development of our drugs while working together with a very high-quality partner to maximize the value of the drugs in late-stage development and commercialization. About RNA-targeted therapeuticsRNA-targeted therapeutics, or antisense therapies such as oligonucleotides, represent an opportunity for a new drug class. Where most other medicines are small molecules or biologics that target a specific protein in a disease process, antisense therapies prevent protein synthesis by eliminating the mRNA – the template or pattern that guides the production of the protein. Isis drug development programs are focused on treating cardiovascular, metabolic, and severe neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. As an innovator in RNA-based drug discovery and development, Isis is the owner or exclusive licensee of over 1,600 issued patents worldwide. About GlaxoSmithKlineGlaxoSmithKline one of the worlds leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statementsUnder the safe harbor provisions of the U. S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect GSK s operations are described under Risk Factors in the Business Review in the company s Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2008. Any statement describing Isis goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement. Isis forward-looking statements also involve assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove correct, could cause its results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although Isis forward-looking statements reflect the good faith judgment of its management, these statements are based only on facts and factors currently known by Isis. Although Isis forward-looking statements reflect the good faith judgment of its management, these statements are based only on facts and factors currently known by Isis. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to: These are the most read articles from this news category for the last 6 months: What Is Glandular Fever? It can cause fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and glands. It can cause fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and glands….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Viral load testing: once a year proves adequate in lower-income Asia study

Story Summary: However, a 35% increased risk of severe symptomatic HIV disease and death was reported in sites with less than once-yearly viral load testing. Increased access to antiretrovirals in resource-poor settings has not led to a corresponding increase in access to diagnostic tests to monitor viral load and CD4 cell counts, which are important tools in managing disease progression. Little information on what effect the lack of diagnostics has had on patient health outcomes led the authors to look at this within the context of clinical resources (country income together with site-reported frequency of CD4 cell count and viral load tests). So the sample size included only those having started antiretroviral therapy, with any combination of three or more antiretrovirals since 2000 with at least one clinical visit or result recorded in the database following the start of ART. The seventeen clinical sites, representative of the region, were categorised based on the World Health Organization (WHO) critera (gross national income per person) into high (upper-middle and upper: more than US$ 37005 and low (lower-middle and lower: equal to or less than US$ 37005) income sites. There were three categories for viral load testing: at least three times a year, once or twice a year and less than once a year; and two categories for CD4 cell counts: at least three times a year and less than three times a year. Disease progression was described as an AIDS-defining illness or death, whichever came first. Surrogate endpoints included suppression of viral load to less than 400 copies/ml and change in CD4 cell count from baseline to 12 months after the start of ART. Less than annual viral load testing also showed reduced odds of viral suppression (OR 0. The authors believe this reflects an individual sites lack of capacity to identify for viral load testing those at high risk of disease progression, a challenge in resource-poor settings. 003), lower CD4 cell counts before starting ART as well as co-infection with hepatitis C virus (HR 1. 011) were also predictive of higher rates of disease progression, as other studies have also shown. The authors note that possible bias should be considered as only what has been measured is included. So missing baseline CD4 cell counts and viral load counts may have added bias to the estimates. Consequently they note there may be over-or under-estimation of the proportion of patients virologically suppressed. Or, clinicians see that a patient is failing clinically and choose not to perform viral load testing because of scarce resources and no other treatment options. The authors found that where less than annual viral load testing is available the risk of disease progression and death is the greatest. The authors conclude our findings emphasize the need to partner the expanded international access to antiretrovirals with appropriate levels of viral load diagnostic testing and to address the critical lack of second- and third-line treatment regimens in resource-limited settings….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Discovery Of New Approach For Identifying Smokers At Highest Risk For Developing Lung Cancer

Story Summary: The findings, which appear in the April 7th issue of Science Translational Medicine,will allow the researchers to use a genomic approach to prevent lung cancer in these individuals and to personalize cancerchemoprophylaxis and therapy. Cigarette smoke is the dominant cause of lung cancer in the United States, accounting for an estimated 90 percent of all cases. Although this biomarker is successful at diagnosing lung cancer, it does not identify the signaling pathways underlying these gene expression changes. Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health. Spira is one of the founders of Allegro Diagnostics Inc. , a molecular diagnostics company that plans to market the gene expression biomarker. Source: Gina DiGravioBoston University Medical Center Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Science & the Public: Trafficas soot elevates blood pressure

Story Summary: Scientists now have linked airborne concentrations of tiny black-carbonparticles — soot — with increasing blood pressure in older men. Once a change occurs, it can be inherited by all of an individuals descendants. The change also might alter the function of that snippet of DNA. And thats what the researchers looked for: correlations between specific SNPs within these men — which varied across the group — and how their blood-pressure responded to increases in airborne soot. Their role, much of which is still being teased out, seems to be a silencing or suppression of the activity of other genes. The pollution-responsive SNPs, she says, play a role in assembling the building blocks of microRNAs into mature regulatory elements. In most cases, the unusual SNPs identified in some of the men here are thought to down-regulate the production and maturation of certain microRNAs. In an upcoming paper in Environmental Health Perspectives, published online ahead of print, Wilkers group linked four SNPs (located in the genes DICER, GEMIN4, DGCR8 AND GEMIN3) with perturbations in the mens responsiveness to soot. The general expectation is that any processes normally controlled by the SNP-affected microRNAs would not be dampened appropriately. Indeed, she and her coauthors note in their paper, one SNP that was linked with a reduced soot-triggered elevation in blood pressure has been associated with higher bladder cancer rates. Bottom line: How good or bad a SNP appears to be may depend upon which of its several functions we focus on. Indeed, she says, The SNPs identified in this study could play a role contributing to the many biological and environmental factors that influence the way an individual responds to air-pollution exposures . . and may have implications for individual-level interventions as well as future policy recommendations aimed at regulating specific emission levels. People are already talking about one day being able to screen people for various SNPs, identifying those who may face a higher-than-normal risk from particular diseases or environmental exposures. Not to scare them, of course, but to find those who might benefit from counseling on lifestyle changes to reduce that risk. For instance, people with some of the SNPs highlighted in the new paper might be cautioned not to buy a home along a major roadway or to take a job as a toll-road fee collector. They might even be cautioned to drive in ways that limit the infiltration of traffic-generated pollutants. It shows that shutting off access to outdoor air when traffic is congested and pollutant loadings high, can dramatically lower in-car concentrations of potentially toxic ultrafine particles….Read the Full Story

Related posts:

  1. New Genes Implicated in High Blood Pressure- 5/10/09
  2. Genetic Clues To Blood Pressure Uncovered, Blood Pressure
  3. Baltimore Science News Examiner: New set of genes linked to high blood pressure


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Gene Provides A Link Between Lower Birth Weight And Type 2 Diabetes

Story Summary: One of the variants, in a gene called ADCY5, has recently been linked with susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. This is a key finding because it has long been known that lower weight babies are more at risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood, but it was not clear why. The combined effects of the two identified gene regions are quite substantial. This effect is equivalent to the birth weight reduction caused by a mother smoking four to five cigarettes per day in pregnancy. These discoveries provide important clues to the mechanisms responsible for the control of growth in early life and may lead us to a better understanding of how to manage growth problems during pregnancy. Dorret Boomsma, Professor in the Department of Biological Psychology at Vrije University, Amsterdam, commented: These findings illustrate that genetic research can help resolve the complex chain of causality underlying the association between early life course and later health outcomes. Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at leading health charity Diabetes UK, said: This research adds exciting further evidence supporting the idea that low birth weight and Type 2 diabetes are linked in some cases and will no doubt provide important clues about the development of Type 2 diabetes in the future. It is another excellent example of the importance of genetic studies in helping us understand complex scientific issues and hopefully produce new methods to prevent conditions like Type 2 diabetes developing. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to: These are the most read articles from this news category for the last 6 months: Sugar Sweetened Carbonated Drinks Linked To Pancreatic Cancer08 Feb 2010A new study found that people who consumed two or more soft drinks (defined as sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages) a week, had a nearly two-fold higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer; the researchers suggested. Treating Diabetic HypertensionIts long been known that diabetes often goes hand-in-hand with high blood pressure. But many of the 11 million Americans that have both conditions dont get the treatment they need. Keeping a Personal Medical RecordMedical information is usually scattered in many different places. Keeping a Personal Medical RecordMedical information is usually scattered in many different places….Read the Full Story

Related posts:

  1. Gene links lower birth weight and type 2 diabetes
  2. Diabetes Gene Raises Odds of Lower Birth Weight
  3. Inflammation link to low birth weight diseases – Healthcare Republic News


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Indiana University Biochemistry Major Commits Suicide with Hydrogen Sulfide

Almost exactly one month ago, I posted on a recent duo of suicides in my area by hydrogen sulfide (MSDS) – a toxic gas generated by mixing together certain easy-to-obtain household chemicals.

Today, I saw a story out of my home state of Indiana that a 21 year old junior biochemistry major from Indiana Univeristy has taken his life using this same hydrogen sulfide method.  Gregory Willoughby apparently worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

In this instance, Gregory Willoughby barricaded himself in the closet of his dorm room on or about April 4.  He left notes on the closet door warning first responders that hydrogen sulfide gas was present.  Several days later, his suitemate began notifying physical plant of a strange odor in the area, and it took several visits by various facilities management groups over several days before they decided to enter Willoughby’s room.  Police had to break down the door as it was barricaded from the inside by tape and furniture.  By this time, the gas had thoroughly dissipated and no first responders complained of injuries as a result of residual hydrogen sulfide.

I’ve talked about the dangers of hydrogen sulfide before.  Perhaps its most dangerous symptom is olfactory fatigue.  Low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide smell like rotten eggs.  Prolonged exposure leads to olfactory fatigue – you lose the ability to detect the odor of hydrogen sulfide.  You no longer smell rotten eggs, so you think the threat has passed.  Instead, you are still inhaling potentially lethal levels of the toxic gas.  High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide can lead to instantaneous unconsciousness and near immediate death.

Hydrogen sulfide suicide is also potentially dangerous to first responders and innocent bystanders.  In several instances in several countries, first responders have been hospitalized for hydrogen sulfide inhalation after trying to rescue victims who do not leave notes warning the first responders of the danger.  Additionally, one story notes a Japanese teen who used hydrogen sulfide in an apartment building and sickened almost 100 other residents as the gas spread throughout the complex.  It is very fortunate that did not happen here, given the close living quarters of the typical college dorm.

I talked last time about the thin line between responsible and irresponsible use of chemicals found both around the house and especially in the chemistry lab.  We don’t – and probably won’t – know if this student made use of his chemistry knowledge in making his final decisions.  All we can do at this point is remind readers – chemists and non-chemists alike – to take seriously the responsibility inherent in handling chemicals.  It’s all too easy for bad things to happen (unintentional as well as intentional) when playing with chemicals.

Again, I want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide – especially anyone who came to this page today for that reason – to call 911, your local emergency response number, or any of the numerous national and local suicide hotlines available.  Do it now.  I will also post the same disclaimer as last time: the comments of this post will be closely monitored.  Anyone attempting to post recipes for the generation of hydrogen sulfide gas will have their comments removed immediately.

Previous at Chemistry-Blog:

Helpful information for first responders and health care providers:

  • Very detailed CDC bulletin on hydrogen sulfide with sections for on-site medical care as well as information for long-term care
  • St. Louis University bulletin on the dangers of and treatment for hydrogen sulfide inhalation
  • Shelby County (KY) EMS presentation on hydrogen sulfide

Stories about the IU suicide:


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Rosetta Genomics to Present Multiple Posters at the American Association of Cancer Researchas (AACR) 101st Annual Meeting

Story Summary: (NASDAQ: ROSG), a leading developer and provider of microRNA-based molecular diagnostic tests, announced today it will present multiple posters at the upcoming American Association of Cancer Researchs (AACR) 101stAnnual Meeting to be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D. C. from April 17-21, 2010. microRNAs as a powerful diagnostic tool for the differential diagnosis of kidney tumorsThe posters will include data on Rosetta Genomics unique microRNA-based technologies and how they may be applied to develop objective and standardized diagnostic tests for cancer. It has been suggested that their small size (19-21 nucleotides) enables them to remain intact in FFPE blocks, as opposed to messenger RNA (mRNA), which tends to degrade rapidly. miRview squamousaccurately identifies the squamous subtype of NSCLC, which carries an increased risk of severe or fatal internal bleeding and poor response to treatment for certain targeted therapies. This test can be used to rule out mesothelioma in patients diagnosed with a tumor in the lung or pleura, who may have been exposed to asbestos in the past. miRview tests are designed to provide objective diagnostic data; it is the treating physicians responsibility to diagnose and administer the appropriate treatment. The companys tests are now being offered through distributors around the globe. The companys first three microRNA-based tests, miRview squamous, miRview mets and miRview meso, are commercially available through its Philadelphia-based CAP accredited, CLIA-certified lab. Rosetta Genomics is the 2008 winner of the Wall Street Journals Technology Innovation Awards in the medical/biotech category. To learn more, please visit www. rosettagenomics. Various statements in this release concerning Rosettas future expectations, plans and prospects, including without limitation, statements relating to the role of microRNAs in human physiology and disease, and the potential of microRNAs in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Various statements in this release concerning Rosettas future expectations, plans and prospects, including without limitation, statements relating to the role of microRNAs in human physiology and disease, and the potential of microRNAs in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Rosettas views only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Rosettas views only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date….Read the Full Story

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  1. Rosetta Genomics to Give Oral Presentation on Colon Cancer Screening Diagnostic at AACR Annual Meeting
  2. Rosetta Genomics Announces Publication of the Development and Validation Process of miRviewaC/ mets in Modern Pathology
  3. Rosetta Genomics Strengthens MicroRNA Intellectual Property Position with Receipt of Additional Patent


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

RXi Pharmaceuticals Announces Formation of microRNA Research Collaboration with Mirna Therapeutics

Story Summary: RXi Pharmaceuticals Announces Formation of microRNA Research Collaboration with Mirna TherapeuticsWORCESTER, Mass. –(BUSINESS WIRE)–RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nasdaq: RXII), a biopharmaceutical company pursuing the development and commercialization of proprietary therapeutics based on RNA interference (RNAi), announced today that it has entered into a research collaboration with Mirna Therapeutics (Austin, TX), to determine the utility of combining RXis proprietary rxRNA technology with Mirnas microRNA mimics as potential therapeutics in oncology. The parties will each contribute technology and resources to the collaboration to generate and evaluate novel microRNA compounds. Misregulation of microRNAs has been recently demonstrated to be associated with various human disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular, inflammation and metabolic diseases. These include rxRNAori, rxRNAsolo, and sd-rxRNA (or self delivering RNA), which are distinct from, and potentially convey significant advantages over classic siRNAs. The Company has a substantial body of pending intellectual property around miRNAs developed by its own scientists as well as in-licensed from other institutions. Mirnas IP portfolio contains >300 miRNAs with applications in oncology and other diseases. Oncology-directed miRNAs include those that are key tumor suppressors in cancer, such as miR-34 and let-7 that have proven to block tumor growth in a number of different pre-clinical animal studies. Forward-Looking StatementsThis press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by these forward-looking statements….Read the Full Story

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  2. Mirna Therapeutics Announces Dr. Frank Slack as Scientific Advisor
  3. Mirna Therapeutics Announces $5 Million Award from Texas Emerging Technology Fund


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

New probe technology illuminates the activation of light-sensing cells

Story Summary: Scientists designed genetically encoded probes to examine the workings of the visual pigment rhodopsin (pictured above) with infrared spectroscopy. The probes revealed that light causes changes in the protein much faster than previously believed. Ultimately, Charles Darwins endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful can be boiled down to a scant 20 or so amino acids, the basic building blocks of life. The experiments in Nature yield new findings about rhodopsin, the light sensitive cell receptorthat is crucial to dim-light vision, showing that light causes changes in the structure of the protein much faster than previously believed on the order of tens of microseconds rather than milliseconds. Thomas P. Sakmar, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and postdoctoral associate Shixin Ye, worked with colleagues in Germany, England, Spain and Switzerland, to combine a variety of genetic engineering techniques to introduce an amino acid, azidoF, a relative of phenylalanine, into several points on rhodopsin. The long-term goal is to label receptors in live cells and do single molecule fluorescent studies, says Sakmar, who is Richard M. and Isabel P. Furlaud Professor. Similar approaches have been successfully used in bacteria, but last year, the researchers first showed that their method could be applied to mammalian cells with such specificity and efficiency, the scientists say. Extensive genetic screening allowed the team to target the azido probes efficiently. They then confirmed the presence of azido with fourier transform infrared (FTIR) difference spectroscopy, which measures stretching frequencies of the atoms in the amino acids that make up a protein. What you want is a probe that doesnt perturb the protein and one that can tell you something about its structure and function, Sakmar says. The scientists looked at regions of the GPCR, in this case rhodopsin, which are broadly shared or conserved among related receptors. We have found that the activation process that begins moving the helices apart the earliest stage of signal transduction is faster than predicted, maybe an order of magnitude faster, Sakmar says. He hopes to use the technique to identify the mechanical components of the switch machinery that activate the receptors, he says, which are involved in a wide range of diseases and are the targets of many pharmaceuticals. com) — To say our genes are resourceful is a gross understatement. Researchers at Rockefeller University have now created a tiny tool, more than 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human . . . com) — Scientists have detailed the active form of a protein which they hope will enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of vision, and advance drug design. In your opinion, what is the most difficult activity, or concept in the book to learn. Buffer solutionsApr 09, 2010 First off how exactly do weak acid strong base reactions work. When an inert gas is added to an equilibrium reaction of gases. Not everyone gets these diseases, because the body has multiple . . ….Read the Full Story

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  1. New tag could enable more detailed structural studies of mammalian proteins
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  3. Brain protein critical to movement, memory, and learning deciphered at the Advanced Light Source


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Parkinson Vaccination, Good Start To The Spring For AFFiRiS AG

Story Summary: The vaccine, known as PD01, has undergone numerous preclinical tests which have confirmed its principle of action (Proof of Concept). The company is now starting to prepare for clinical trials of the vaccine which are planned to commence at the beginning of 2011. Referring to the successful completion of the preclinical development phase, Dr Walter Schmidt, director and co-founder of AFFiRiS AG stated: We have had PD01 evaluated in various preclinical systems. However, it must be remembered that alpha-syn is an endogenous protein belonging to a family of proteins whose members have extensive sequence homologies. For example, as a so-called neuroprotective factor, the member of this protein family known as beta-syn is important for a healthy body. A vaccination aimed at reducing alpha-syn must therefore ensure that the triggered antibody immune response exclusively addresses alpha-syn, but leaves beta-syn untouched. On the basis of this technology AFFiRiS AG has already announced the development of two vaccines for Alzheimers, one for atherosclerosis and as recently published a vaccine against hypertension; that is to say conditions that affect hundreds of millions of people. The contract envisages ( milestone-dependent) payments of up to 430 million Euros. A payment of 10 million Euros was made in October 2009 as a result of the positive completion of two clinical phase I studies. A payment of 10 million Euros was made in October 2009 as a result of the positive completion of two clinical phase I studies. AFFiRiS currently employs 65 highly-qualified staff at the St Marx campus premises in Vienna, AustriaSource: AFFiRiS AG Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

News: Nature News Special: The Human Genome at Ten

Story Summary: In this special, asks whether the sequence has delivered the insights that were anticipated, and what lessons have been learned from the first post-genome decade. Human genetics in 2010 looks infinitely more complex, and questions about how to make sense of the explosion in biological data are only becoming more pressing. Erika Check Hayden asks if theres a way to make life simpler. 31 March 2010Bursting the genomics bubbleThe Human Genome Project attracted investment beyond what a rational analysis would have predicted. There are pros and cons to that, says Philip Ball. 31 March 2010Books & ArtsA reality check for personalized medicineBringing genetic information into health care is welcome but its utility in the clinic needs to be rigorously reviewed, caution Muin J. Khoury, James Evans and Wylie Burke. Listen in to the Podcast as researcher Jan Ellenberg discusses his time-lapse video survey of over 20,000 genes. Elsewhere in NatureHuman genomics: The genome finishersDedicated scientists are working hard to close the gaps, fix the errors and finally complete the human genome sequence. Personal genomes: The case of the missing heritabilityWhen scientists opened up the human genome, they expected to find the genetic components of common traits and diseases….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith


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