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Autism study reveals a DNA tag (methylation) amenable to treatment

Story Summary: Autism Study Reveals a DNA Tag (Methylation) Amenable to Treatment A new discovery raises hope that autism may be more easily diagnosed and that its effects may be more reversible than previously thought. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal, scientists have identified a way to detect the disorder using blood and have discovered that drugs which affect the methylation state (DNA tagging) of genes could reverse autisms effects. This type of drug is already being used in some cancer treatments. The researchers then compared genes that showed changes in DNA tagging (methylation) with a list of genes that showed different levels of expression from these same individuals. This suggests that blocking the chemical tagging of these genes may reverse symptoms of the disorder and demonstrates the feasibility of using more easily accessible cells from blood (or other non-brain tissues) for diagnostic screening. For far too long, autism research has been side-tracked by the cranky notion that its caused by the MMR vaccine, said Gerald Weissmann, M. D. , Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. Journal Reference:AnhThu Nguyen, Tibor A. Rauch, Gerd P. Pfeifer, and Valerie W. Hu….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Virus outbreak causes 40 child deaths in China

Story Summary: Virus outbreak causes 40 child deaths in ChinaApril 10, 2010 (AP) — A top Chinese leader called for stepped-up research into vaccines and drugs for hand, foot and mouth disease after 40 children died from outbreaks last month, a state news agency said Saturday. The Ministry of Health reported 77,756 cases of the disease in March. The number of deaths increased sharply, up from 10 in February. Outbreaks were reported in southern Chinas Guangxi Autonomous Region as well as Guangdong, Henan, Hebei and Shandong provinces. It is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected people. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 21 hours ago | not rated yet | | (PhysOrg. com) — An analysis of vaccines undertaken by researchers from 5 institutions has found that 7 of the vaccines DNA content was pretty much as expected, but surprisingly, one also contained DNA of . . ….Read the Full Story

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  3. WHO: nearly 5,000 swine flu deaths worldwide


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Clostridium Difficile Infection Nears Zero: Intervention Drops Hospital Infection Rate By 1/3

Story Summary: The team had hoped to increase the time between hospital-acquired cases to more than 20 days between infections. When the study began, one units infection frequency was 61 per 10,000 patient days. Researchers concluded that this type of disinfection process was effective at reducing C. difficile infections on these units and should be instituted in other hospital units with high infection rates. The study was initiated, designed and financed by Mayo Clinic. Others on the research team were Leslie Fedraw, Kimberly Aronhalt, R. N. , and James McManus, all of Mayo Clinic. Source: Robert NellisMayo Clinic 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. 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: New Strain Of Drug-Resistant Bacteria Emerging In US Hospitals24 Dec 2009A new study reports a surge in drug-resistant strains of a dangerous type of bacteria in US hospitals: Acinetobacter strikes patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and others and often causes severe pneumonias or….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

MTF Announces 2010 Research Grant Recipients

Story Summary: D. , Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine-CWRU, Biocompatibility and Efficacy of Reinforced Fascia ECM for Augmentation of Rotator Cuff Repairs in a Canine Shoulder Model. David Sachs, M. D. , Massachusetts General Hospital, Induction of Tolerance to Composite Tissue Allografts. D. , Rush University Medical Center, Stem Cell Mobilization to Enhance Bone Regeneration. D. , Colorado State University, Effect of Systemically Injected Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells on Segmental Bone Allograft Osteointegration. PEER REVIEW – DERMAL TISSUE B. Todd Heniford, M. D. , Carolinas Medical Center, Evaluation of the Tissue Incorporation of Triclosan-Coated Human Dermal Grafts and Lysostaphin-Coated Human and Xenogenic Dermal Grafts and Their Effectiveness to Resist Infection with Staphylococcus Aureus. OREF (Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation) AWARD Quanjun Cui, M. D. , University of Virginia, Stem Cell-Based Angiogenic and Osteogenic Gene Therapy to Enhance Bone Defect Repair. CHARLES HERNDON RESIDENCY AWARDS Thomas Keller, M. D. , University of Virginia, A Novel Scaffold for Growth Factor Delivery – An Alternative Graft for Tendon Repair. About MTF The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation is a national consortium comprised of academic medical institutions, organ procurement organizations and tissue recovery organizations. About MTF The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation is a national consortium comprised of academic medical institutions, organ procurement organizations and tissue recovery organizations. Since our inception in 1987, MTF has received tissue from more than 80,000 donors and distributed more than 4 million grafts for transplantation. Since our inception in 1987, MTF has received tissue from more than 80,000 donors and distributed more than 4 million grafts for transplantation….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Variations on the genetic theme: Researchers present global map of human gene expression

Story Summary: Variations on the Genetic Theme: Researchers Present Global Map of Human Gene Expression Just like members of an orchestra are active at different times although playing the same piece of music, every cell in our body contains the same genetic sequence but expresses this differently to give rise to cells and tissues with specialised properties. By integrating gene expression data from an unprecedented variety of human tissue samples, Alvis Brazma and his team at the European Bioinformatics Institute, an outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and their collaborators have for the first time produced a global map of gene expression. The full analysis behind this unique view of the genetic activities determining our appearance, function and behaviour is published in Nature Biotechnology. This established the identity of the six groups: brain; muscle; hematopoietic (blood related); healthy and tumour solid tissues; cell lines derived from solid tissues; and partially differentiated cells. Story Source:Adapted from materials provided by . Journal Reference:Margus Lukk, Misha Kapushesky, Janne Nikkila, Helen Parkinson, Angela Goncalves, Wolfgang Huber, Esko Ukkonen, Alvis Brazma. 1038/nbt0410-322This image shows the 5,372 samples as dots colour-coded for the six major clusters identified by comparing gene expression profiles. The left and right panels of the figure are projections of the same three-dimensional shape viewed from two different perspectives….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Pneumococcal vaccine offers protection to HIV-infected African adults with low CD4 counts

Story Summary: The trials, conducted in Malawi and funded by the Wellcome Trust, studied the efficacy of a vaccine against infection with the Streptococcus pneumoniaebacteria. These bacteria are a primary cause of pneumonia and when they invade the bloodstream and brain so-called invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) they cause the serious and often fatal illnesses of septicaemia and meningitis. The vaccines efficacy at low CD4 counts is remarkable, says Dr French. The general view on the use of any vaccines in HIV is that low CD4 counts make the vaccine useless. Weve shown that conjugate technology overcomes the profound immune deficiency at these low counts. Dr French believes the study suggests that the conjugate pneumococcal vaccine may be applicable for use in other adults groups at risk of IPD. Since it works in patients with HIV infection, then by extension, it is likely to work in other adult groups, including the elderly and other at-risk groups, he says. ReferenceFrench N et al. A trial of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in HIV-infected adults….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

A Better Flu Vaccine, Add Second Strain Of Influenza B

Story Summary: Since in five of the last 10 years, the influenza B component in the vaccine has been the incorrect one, this seems like an obvious advance to me. Every spring, scientists predict which strain of influenza will be circulating in the community the following fall. However they had a vigorous antibody response when given a vaccine that contained both strains of influenza B. This showed that immunizing against one strain of influenza B does not appear to protect against the other strain and that a vaccine containing both influenza B strains is likely to offer greater protection from flu. Belshe has served as a consultant and as part of the speakers bureau for MedImmune and other study authors are MedImmune employees. Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. Source: Saint Louis 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

Resistance develops in 17% of patients starting HIV treatment in UK after 8 years

Story Summary: Resistance to at least one class of anti-HIV drugs was detected in 17% of patients. When considered against the background of a likely lifelong need for antiretroviral therapy, these levels of resistance emergence are of some concern, comment the investigators. As both are uncertain, UK investigators followed 7891 patients taking antiretroviral therapy, monitoring their viral load and testing those with viral breakthrough for resistance. Tests were performed for four types of resistance: TAMs, 1841V NRTI resistance, and resistance to protease inhibitors or NNRTIs. The study included patients who had started antiretroviral therapy after 1997, and individuals were followed for eight years. Most (82%) of patients started therapy with a regimen that included an NNRTI. However, the risk of resistance differed between classes of antiretrovirals. Treatment failure was significantly more likely to lead to resistance for patients taking an NNRTI than a boosted-protease inhibitor (p < 0. This finding remained unaltered when the investigators restricted their analysis to patients who were taking recommended NRTIs. Patients who took efavirenz (Sustiva) were less likely to develop resistance (p < 0. The investigators then restricted their analysis to the 33% of patients who had had a genotypic resistance test before starting HIV treatment. Once again, the risk of resistance differed between drug classes, and was detected in 15% of those taking an NNRTI compared to 6% of individuals who received a boosted protease inhibitor (p = 0. In patients starting currently recommended first-line regimens in routine clinical practice, the rates of virological failure and of resistance detection are appreciable, conclude the investigators, the rates are lower for those who started combination antiretroviral therapy with a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor. Long-term probability of detecting drug-resistant HIV in treatment-naive patients initiating combination antiretroviral therapy. Long-term probability of detecting drug-resistant HIV in treatment-naive patients initiating combination antiretroviral therapy. Harrigan RP….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Gene variants linked to Crohn disease have little effect, study finds

Story Summary: A genetic variant that once seemed almost guaranteed to cause Crohn disease actually has negligible effects in the general population, a study of more than 43,000 Danish people shows. The result could be a blow to personalized medicine, which seeks in part to estimate peoples risk of developing diseases by analyzing the genetic variants they carry. Previous studies comparing people with an inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn disease to healthy people have found that people with variations in a gene on chromosome 16 known as NOD2or CARD15had 17 times greater risk of developing the disease than people who did not carry the variants. Most did not carry any variants associated with Crohn disease. 5 percent of people who had a disease-elevating copy of NOD2on both chromosomes actually developed Crohn disease by the time they were 50, and 0. If a person is already sick, however, testing the NOD2/CARD15variants may help doctors distinguish Crohn disease from a similar inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis, Norestgaard says. The Danish studys results indicate the problem with extrapolating the risk seen in patient groups to the rest of the population, says Katherine Siminovitch, who heads the genomic medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. When you study a patient population, they have not just one, but probably many genes that allow the disease to develop, she says. But in the general population, many healthy people are likely to carry one disease-linked version of a gene but no other genetic risk factors for the disease. Were getting it in bits and pieces, but we dont know how these things work together, Siminovitch says. There are a lot of gaps, and this study shows us what needs to be done to fill in those gaps. 1503/cmaj. Go toYazdanyar, S. , et al. In press. Go toYazdanyar, S. , et al. In press. Canadian Medical Association Journal….Read the Full Story

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New Tool Developed For DNA Research

Story Summary: His scrutiny has shown that the function of DNA is unimpeded by the insertion of the molecular gauge. Measuring angles with lightIn brief FRET measurements are performed by forcing two luminescent markers to transfer light-energy from one to the other, and then measuring the efficiency of the transfer. When they are subjected to a lightpulse one marker (tCO) emits part of the energy to the other (tCnitro). Secrets from the centerKnowing distance and angle of the markers allows for calculations of distance and angle of all the natural base pairs in the DNA structure. And with that the researcher can put together a picture showing every twist and turn of the structure. Putting the markers on the gaugeFRET-measurements are not a new phenomenon. But even more important is the fact, that Mr Preus has used the facilities of the Molecular Engineering Group at University of Copenhagen to analyse every aspect of the energy-transfer between the two markers, because this allows future DNA-researchers to translate measurements to structure. Contact Our News EditorsFor any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form. Study Of Rwanda Genocide Survivors Suggests Yes26 Feb 2010A study of Rwandan Genocide survivors, some with and some without post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, suggests that genetic factors influence the relationship between a persons traumatic load, or the number of. You need to be consistent and exercise several times a week, if you are doing short workouts. Experts say you should work on the big muscle groups first, and do exercises that involve compound movements….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Vaccine works against type 1 diabetes in mouse experiments

Story Summary: New research shows that the nanovaccine causes weak T cells to stop the immune system from attacking insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Weakness can be a strength when it comes to keeping the immune system from attacking the bodys own cells, mouse experiments that use a new vaccine against type 1 diabetes reveal. This type of self-destructive behavior is also at the root of diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. But people with diabetes and other autoimmune disorders dont seem to dispel the false threat. The new study shows for the first time how a healthy immune system turns off the autoimmune attack. It brings together a lot of threads that have been going through autoimmunity research for the past 20 years, but had never been tied together, says Nikolai Petrovsky, director of endocrinology at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, Australia. Basically, the T cells were shooting the messengers before the hand-off of orders to exterminate the beta cells. Its as if youve taken one platoon of soldiers and turned them into pacifists, and they go and convince the rest of the army to stop firing, Petrovsky explains. Mice that are genetically predisposed to develop diabetes were protected from the disease if given the nanovaccine before becoming diabetic. Mice that were already diabetic when they got the nanovaccine were able to recover from the disease, the team reports. Nanovaccines against type 1 diabetes in humans may be ready for trials in two years, Santamaria says. Nanovaccines against type 1 diabetes in humans may be ready for trials in two years, Santamaria says. And the new insight the study gives into the immune system may lead to improved therapies for a number of other autoimmune diseases as well. And the new insight the study gives into the immune system may lead to improved therapies for a number of other autoimmune diseases as well. Reversal of Autoimmunity by Boosting Memory-like Autoregulatory T Cells….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

New detection technique used in analysis of vaccines

Story Summary: The array can detect or identify within a 24-hour period any of the approximately 60,000 viruses or 2,500 bacteria worldwide that have been sequenced. The paper is published Wednesday in the online Journal of Virology. The European Union has opted for continued Rotarix distribution, while Glaxo removed PCV1 from their vaccine production line. The three Livermore researchers – biologist Crystal Jaing, population biologist Shea Gardner and computer scientist Kevin McLoughlin – used a new LLNL detection technology, the Microbial Detection Array (MDA). With 388,000 probes that fit on a one-inch wide, three-inch long glass slide, the MDA can detect or identify within a 24-hour period any of the approximately 60,000 viruses or 2,500 bacteria worldwide that have been sequenced. We have been collaborating with Eric for more than a year, Jaing said. The Livermore microarray confirmed the presence of PCV-1 DNA in the vaccine. The MDA has 40 designed probes to detect the PCV-1 strain of the pig virus; 39 of them showed positive for the virus, almost a guarantee that the virus was present, according to Jaing. In their paper, the team wrote that while the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique is more sensitive than either metagenomic sequencing (where only a small sample is obtained of the total background DNA content of a complex mixture) or microarrays (such as the MDA) when screening for specific viruses, the sheer number of potential contaminating viruses limits the use of PCR to a small number of most commonly suspected viruses. No one expected to see PCV-1 in a vaccine, so it was not on the list to be tested. The use of viral metagenomics and microarrays tests therefore seems warranted for the surveillance of products that are derived from cell cultures, plasma pools, or other biological sources and which may contain and transmit adventitious viruses, the authors wrote. Besides the Blood Systems Research Institute and LLNL, other institutions that collaborated on the Journal of Virologyarticle include the Stanford Genome Technology Center, the David Grant U. S. Air Force Medical Center in Travis, Calif. and UC San Franciscos Department of Laboratory Medicine. In their research, Delwarts team analyzed eight live attenuated viral vaccines – oral poliovirus, rubella, measles, yellow fever, varicella-zoster, measles/mumps/rubella and two rotavirus vaccines, one produced by Glaxo and the other by Merck. Before rotavirus vaccinations started in the United States, about 55,000 children per year were hospitalized for rotavirus infections and several dozen died each year. Merck introduced its vaccine in 2006 and Glaxos came out in 2008. In their paper, the authors wrote that despite an extensive record of safety and efficacy, common misconceptions have continued about vaccine safety, leading to reduced childhood vaccinations and a resurgence of vaccine-preventable infections. Given that live attenuated viral vaccines are safe, effective and relatively inexpensive, their use against human and animal pathogens should be encouraged, the authors said….Read the Full Story

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New Honorary Doctors At Karolinska Institutet

Story Summary: This years honorary doctors will be formally appointed at a ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall on May 7, when they will receive their hat, diploma and ring as testimony to their new status. Andrew P. FeinbergAndrew P. Feinberg, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. He has also been a devoted contributor to the formation of Karolinska Institutets Epicenter, an epigenetic profiling platform at the Centre for Molecular Medicine. The Oshers have supported Karolinska Institutet for many years, and with their deep and extensive interest in science and culture they have made significant contributions to the universitys development. Anthony PawsonAnthony (Tony) Pawson, Distinguished Scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. He is one of the pioneers of cellular signal transduction, which describes how cellular activity is controlled by chemical signals – a process that causes disease when not functioning properly. Professor Pawson has held his leading position for many years, and even expanded it to other fields of science. For more than 15 years, professor Pawson has made invaluable contributions to Karolinska Institutets scientific endeavours as a member of several research groups and as a source of inspiration. In demonstrating his own belief in future opportunities and possessing a unique ability to see the person behind the achievements, he has helped to bring out the beneficial and creative sides of research. Irma ThesleffIrma Thesleff, professor at Helsinki University, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Thesleff has made unparalleled contributions to science and is a world-leading researcher in developmental biology, a field that concerns the growth and development of organisms. Professor Thesleff has served as a consultant and external evaluator at Karolinska Institutet and has been an initiator of the Nordic symposia, which have been particularly instrumental in enabling young scientists to develop. As faculty opponent she has demonstrated that scientific argumentation can be as captivating as it is enlightening. Peter Wallenberg Sr. Dr Peter Wallenberg, prominent industrialist and business leader, will be made honorary doctor of medicine. Aside from his successful career in the corporate sector, Peter Wallenberg has demonstrated a strong interest and deep understanding of the conditions and needs of research in many disciplines. 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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Researchers Harness Basic Survival Tactic to Fight Childhood Obesity

Story Summary: Laboratory-based experiments have shown that, compared to non-obese participants, obese persons are slower to reach that disinterest point, so they continue to eat and consume more calories. If the approach changes behavior, it would result in weight loss. Despite the consistent body of research showing that habituation is a mechanism that can influence energy intake, says Epstein, there has been no research designed to translate habituation theory to interventions for adult or pediatric obesity. Understanding how variety influences energy intake may be important in understanding how food variety is related to the increasing prevalence of obesity. One of these studies will test the effects of simultaneously reducing the variety of high-energy-density (high calorie, non-nutritious) foods while increasing the variety of low-energy-density (low calorie, healthy) foods. In years two and three, researchers will test these approaches with participants in their homes. If they are successful, during years four and five these findings will be translated into interventions pediatricians can use in their practices to treat childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is a prevalent problem that tracks over time, says Epstein. Obese youth are at increased risk of becoming obese adults. We think this research will provide new treatment strategies to interrupt this extremely unhealthy progression….Read the Full Story

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New insights into diabetic blindness

Story Summary: This disorder activates the growth of new leaky blood vesselsin the eye and is responsible for the death of photoreceptors, the neurons that send visual messages to our brain. Dr Kennedy and his team found that new blood vessels and the neuronal cell death in diabetic retinopathy can arise independently of each other. In addition, they identified that cone photoreceptor neurons, those involved in colour visionand which we use to see during daylight are most affected by the high glucose levels. The research team made their observations by successfully generating a zebrafish model of diabetes. This novel model of the disease resembles the early stages of diabetic retinopathy in humans. It is an exciting development for the Kennedy group who now hope to further extend their research and establish a model of late stage diabetic disease. Current treatment for diabetic retinopathy sufferers tries to prevent the growth of new blood vessels in the late stage of the disease. There are associated side effects and the treatments halt but do not cure the disease. This research suggests a need to also protect the neurons before the disease progresses to the late stage. Commenting on the research, Dr Kennedy said, By establishing a robust model for early and late stage diabetic retinopathy, we would hope to better understand the progression of the disease and pave the way for identifying new drug targets for its successful treatment….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Preexisting Patterns Guide Evolutionas Paintbrush

Story Summary: The new report is published in the April 7, 2010, issue of Nature. For the current study, though, Carroll and colleagues focused on Drosophila melanogasters prettier cousin, a polka-dotted fly species called Drosophila guttifera. Unlike the rather plain D. melanogaster, which has spotless wings, each D. guttifera fly boasts 16 black spots and four gray swatches on each wing. Carroll says the pattern likely evolved to help the flies attract mates or to provide camouflage from predators. Much of Carrolls research has explored the evolutionary role of these switches, finding that small changes in them can account for large differences in morphology and appearance. This discovery was a great hint, says Carroll, that a single molecule might act as an input that triggered the formation of all the spots. But the fact that there was one regulatory element made us think that there was one triggering molecule at play. Carroll and his team garnered another critical clue by observing their large colony of D. guttifera. Evolution is really painting the spots on top of a landscape that has already been determined, says Carroll. This observation fueled Carrolls speculation that a single input molecule – one also involved in the development of the wing structures, perhaps – might be at play in triggering the spots. The D. melanogaster flies did not develop spots, but the enhancer region produced a distinctive pattern in wings of the developing flies, showing up in the veins and along the edges of the wings. Carroll showed the pattern to two D. melanogaster experts, Seth Blair at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Ethan Bier at the University of California, San Diego. That is, the pattern closely matched the distribution in D. melanogaster of expression of a key developmental gene called wingless. It is winglesss job to place appendages in the right spot and ensure that wings develop in the proper location. Whereas Drosophila melanogaster deploys wingless in a certain pattern, D. guttifera deploys wingless in these new areas which correspond perfectly to the polka dots, says Carroll. One lesson here is that complexity can be generated in pretty simple ways, says Carroll. But its a pretty good example of a strategy that might be used in the generation of color pattern diversity in ladybug beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, and so on. He adds that his groups new Nature paper unravels an elegant evolutionary mechanism….Read the Full Story

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Protein folding: The dark side of proteins

Story Summary: The amylome, as Eisenberg calls it, is restricted because most proteins hide these sticky segments out of harms way or otherwise keep their stickiness under control. His results and other work suggest that evolution treats amyloids as a fundamental threat. Several laboratories are now trying to find ways to supplement or boost these protective mechanisms, in the hope of treating or preventing a host of amyloid-linked diseases. Fibrils aboundThe recent work on amyloids has partially confirmed a prediction made 75 years ago by the British biophysicist William Astbury. Astbury proposed that almost any globular protein could be made to form dysfunctional fibrils by damaging — or denaturing — it with heat or chemicals. By the 1980s, researchers had come to understand that these artificially induced fibrils had the same peculiar structure seen in disease-linked amyloids, such as the amyloid-b deposits in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease. Researchers were also linking more and more amyloid-forming proteins to disease, including tau proteins in Alzheimers disease, a-synuclein in Parkinsons disease, polyglutamine in Huntingtons disease, prion protein in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and amylin in type 2 diabetes3. Eisenberg and his colleagues studied such proteins using fibril-forming assays and X-ray diffraction techniques and found that their tendency to form amyloids came from specific segments within them4. These amyloidogenic segments, Eisenbergs team found, have a self-complementary steric zipper structure that lets them mesh very tightly with an identical segment exposed on another protein5. Segments stack atop one another to form sheets, two of which zip together to form the spine of the fibril. As it grows, the fibril is fringed by the remnants of the segments host proteins. Eventually, this sprouting fibril breaks to form two smaller fibrils, each of which will grow from both ends again — and so on. In their study1, Eisenbergs team used a computer algorithm to determine when any short protein segment has sufficient steric-zipper-forming potential, based on its predicted three-dimensional structure. It gives us a better idea of why some proteins have to partially unfold before they can start forming amyloids. Moreover, reports have started to emerge of proteins that function normally in the amyloid state, for example some pituitary hormones6. Thats why biology can use them and not suffer the consequences. Other systems are in place to recognize, sequester and destroy amyloids when they do form. So it may have been unnecessary for evolution to get rid of the segments outright. Some mutations and toxins, and the cellular wear and tear associated with ageing, can result in proteins that are less well folded and less protected by chaperoning and disposal mechanisms — and thus more liable to become amyloids. The 40 or 50 amyloid-associated diseases weve found so far are probably only the ones in which our proteins are the most vulnerable, says Dobson. If we could just enhance the natural protective mechanisms that stabilize a protein, says Dobson, we could take it back over to the side of the line where its soluble and stable. In Alzheimers disease, many scientists now believe that small and still-soluble forms of amyloid are the most toxic to brain cells. By contrast, the larger, insoluble fibrils might even be protective to the extent that they sequester more toxic forms, says Dobson. The general hope is that by preventing or slowing the initial cascade of amyloid formation, the true toxic species of amyloid will be stopped at its source. A third strategy is to boost the activity of these clearance mechanisms — which, according to work by Kellys lab, includes enzymes that specifically disaggregate amyloids7. Theres a group of 500-600 genes that protect us when were young, even if weve been so unlucky as to inherit, for example, a predisposing Parkinsons or Alzheimers mutation, he says. Remember our threads are for feedback and discussion – not for publishing papers, press releases or advertisements….Read the Full Story

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Controls for animalsa color designs revealed

Story Summary: The vivid colors and designs animals use to interact with their environments is one of natures wonders. But how they build those designs from scratch and deploy color has also been one of natures most closely held secrets. It acts by triggering responding cells to do things, in this case make color, Carroll explains. In Drosophila guttifera, the morphogen acts in proximity to existing physical landmarks such as the intersections of veins and cross veins on the wing. The positioning of the spots, in short, is dictated by these pre-existing patterns, notes Carroll: The Wingless molecule is deployed in this species at specific points in time and in specific places — the places where the spots are going to be. Complicating the project is the fact that Drosophila guttifera is little used in research and its genome has not been sequenced. However, by inserting the Wingless gene into different parts of the flys genome, the team was able to successfully manipulate the decoration of the flys wing, creating stripes instead of spots, and patterns not seen in nature. In short, says Carroll, the patterns found on the wings of Drosophila guttifera came about through the flys manipulation of the Wingless gene: It evolved by simply turning this gene on in places where it hadnt been on before. Although the study was conducted in a lowly fruit fly, the principles uncovered by Carrolls group, he argues, very likely apply to many animals, everything from butterflies to boa constrictors….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

A genetic gift for sushi eaters

Story Summary: The enzymes break down algal carbohydrates including one found in red algae of the genus , best known to sushi lovers as nori. Its only because of this exotic niche and the very rare specificity of this enzyme that we were able to pinpoint where it came from. You are what you eatMany of the microbes residing in the human gut are likely to be beneficial to their host. Some may give their host a calorific boost by breaking down ingested plant carbohydrates that human enzymes cannot touch. In the genome of the marine bacterium they found enzymes that were similar to those that degrade the algal compounds agarose and carrageenans. But the enzymes lacked a crucial region needed to recognize these polysaccharides. The team searched databases for related enzymes and found that they are all also made by marine microbes — except one found in the genome of a human gut bacterium called . The bacterium also contained an enzyme that breaks down agarose. And on the basis of the similarity in DNA sequence and the finding that the two genes appear near others in the genome that appear to come from marine bacteria, the researchers concluded that the genes had been transferred from a marine bacterium to microbes living in the human gut. Genetic richesThe results suggest that ingested bacteria may have provided a valuable genetic resource for gut microbes throughout human history, says Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University in California. Western sushi eaters are unlikely to harbour nori-digesting bacteria, says Michel. Gene-transfer events are extremely rare, and there would be little need for bacteria exposed to a Western diet to hang on to such genes, he adds. It is far higher than just eating sushi once a week. You can be controversial, but please dont get personal or offensive and do keep it brief. You can be controversial, but please dont get personal or offensive and do keep it brief….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Darwins finch and the evolution of smell

Story Summary: Today, exactly 150 years after Darwins famous book, finches can still teach us a lesson about evolution. A large, international group of researchers, among them Prof. Doron Lancet and Dr. Tsviya Olender of the Weizmann Institutes Molecular Genetics Department, recently produced the full genome of the zebra finch and analyzed it in detail. Significantly, the scientific team found that a large percentage of the genes expressed in the finch brain are devoted to vocal communication. Their findings revealed that while the finch has the same total number of smell genes, it possesses three times as many that are active: Around 200 of the finchs genes can potentially produce functional smell receptors. This figure supports the claim that some birds do rely on the sense of smell. A comparison of the zebra finch genome to those of other bird species sheds some light on how this sense evolved in the birds: Unlike mammals, in which all the different species share most of their smell receptor gene families, 95% of the receptors in the finches appeared to belong to families unique to them….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Pennsylvania Department of Health Announces Nearly (Dollor) 20 Million in Health Research Grant Awards

Story Summary: These competitive ants focus on specific research priorities established by the Health Research Advisory Committee. This years priorities are cancer vaccines and blindness and visual impairment. Wills Eye Health System, in partnership with and School of Medicine, will receive to study ways to reduce racial disparities in vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, a major cause of blindness. Drexel University, in association with University, Inovio Biomedical Corporation and the , will receive to conduct pre-clinical studies to test the safety and effect on the immune system of a vaccine that is designed to treat persons who are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and have not responded to currently available therapies. Persons with chronic HCV infection face an increased risk of developing hepatocellular cancer, a difficult-to-treat cancer with a poor prognosis. The , working in concert with Fox Chase Cancer Center and , will receive to develop and test cancer vaccines and therapies to boost the immune systems ability to attack cancer cells. Together, these cancers account for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths in . These grants are awarded as part of the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (CURE), which supports clinical, health services and biomedical research….Read the Full Story

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  2. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Awards 150 Projects, $75 Million to University of Pennsylvania Research
  3. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Awards 100 Projects, $30 Million to University of Pennsylvania Research


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Sand fly barcoding in Panama reveals Leishmania strain and its potential control

Story Summary: Two species carried Leishmania naiffi, a parasite that causes cutaneous leishmaniasis: persistent, itchy skin lesions. By characterising another gene fragment from the nucleus of Leishmania, we discovered which fly species carried this disease-causing trypanosome. Leishmaniasis is not new in central Panama – it poses a long-standing health risk to residents and visitors in the region. L. naiffi, the species carried by the flies in this survey, was previously known only to be in the Caribbean and the Amazon. Researchers hope that the presence of Wolbachia in the same species of flies that carry Leishmania may be useful in disease control. Wolbachia affects the flies ability to reproduce and has been proposed as a possible biological control of other insect pests. Source: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute– 29 July 2009A higher density of blood vessels and other unique physiological features in the flight muscles of bar-headed geese allow them to do what even the most elite of human athletes struggle. — full story– 27 July 2009Researchers have developed a new technique that allows them to make a movie of bacteria infecting their living host. — full story– 27 July 2009Researchers have developed a new technique that allows them to make a movie of bacteria infecting their living host….Read the Full Story

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  3. Butterfly vision, wing colours linked, UCI study finds


Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Toxoplasma gondii spreads in the habitat of the Iberian lynx

Story Summary: This latest study reveals that the parasite is widespread in areas where the wild Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) lives, and also in captive breeding centres. This is the case of the Iberian Lynx, the most endangered felid species in the world and the most endangered carnivore in Europe. While no cases of clinical toxoplasmosis have been reported in the Iberian Lynx, mortality associated to Toxoplasma gondii infection has been recorded in bobcats (Lynx rufus). Results reveal that Toxoplasma gondii are widespread among a large population of Iberian Lynx, the main author of the study and Animal Health researcher at the UCO Ignacio Garcia Bocanegra told SINC. This is not the first study to analyse the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in the Iberian Lynx, but it is the most complete. A Disease that Affects Warm-blooded SpeciesToxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease that above all affects warm-blooded species, including humans. The final hosts of this parasite are cats, the only animals capable of faecally excreting the parasites. Source: Plataforma SINC– 29 July 2009A higher density of blood vessels and other unique physiological features in the flight muscles of bar-headed geese allow them to do what even the most elite of human athletes struggle. Whilst most studies of bacterial infection are done after the death. — full story– 23 July 2009A small green beetle may have some interesting lessons to teach scientists about optics and liquid crystals – complex mechanisms the insect uses to create a shell so strikingly beautiful. — full story– 23 July 2009A small green beetle may have some interesting lessons to teach scientists about optics and liquid crystals – complex mechanisms the insect uses to create a shell so strikingly beautiful. — full story– 9 July 2009Although the fact that we generate new brain cells throughout life is no longer disputed, their purpose has been the topic of much debate. — full story– 9 July 2009Although the fact that we generate new brain cells throughout life is no longer disputed, their purpose has been the topic of much debate….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Clue to cause of motor neurone disease revealed in new genetic study

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. 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….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Illumina Introduces VeraCodeA(r) ADME Core Panel for Pharmaceutical Research

Story Summary: (NASDAQ:ILMN) today announced the launch of its VeraCode ADME Core Panel designed to help researchers study genetic predispositions for differential drug response and adverse events. The VeraCode ADME Core Panel offers the most complete representation of the key biomarkers associated with drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) as standardized by pharmaceutical industry experts in the PharmADME Core List. This database will be widely used to link genotypes to drug response phenotypes extracted from electronic health record data. aUnderstanding genetic variability associated with drug response and disposition is a key step toward the realization of personalized medicine, and the VeraCode ADME Core Panel will help enable this exciting transformation,a said Jay Flatley, president and CEO of Illumina. With its emphasis on rapid operation and high-quality data, the VeraCode ADME Core Panel can help bring safe and effective therapies to patients as quickly as possible. Using our proprietary technologies, we provide a comprehensive line of products and services that currently serve the sequencing, genotyping, and gene expression markets, and we expect to enter the market for molecular diagnostics. Our customers include leading genomic research centers, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, clinical research organizations, and biotechnology companies. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in any forward-looking statements include challenges inherent in new product development and manufacturing and the other factors detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, or in information disclosed in public conference calls, the date and time of which are released beforehand. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in any forward-looking statements include challenges inherent in new product development and manufacturing and the other factors detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, or in information disclosed in public conference calls, the date and time of which are released beforehand….Read the Full Story

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Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith


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