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Light-activated Neurons from Stem Cells Restore Function to Paralyzed Muscles

April 4, 2014 2:08 pm | News | Comments

Scientists developed a new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralyzed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury. The technique involves transplanting specially-designed motor neurons created from stem cells into injured nerve branches. These motor neurons are designed to react to pulses of blue light.

Positive, Negative Thinkers’ Brains Revealed

April 4, 2014 1:50 pm | News | Comments

The ability to stay positive when times get tough—and, conversely, of being negative—may be hardwired in the brain, finds new research led by a Michigan State University psychologist. The study provides biological evidence validating the idea that there are, in fact, positive and negative people in the world.

Chemists’ Work with Small Peptide Chains May Revolutionize Study of Enzymes

April 4, 2014 1:27 pm | News | Comments

Chemists in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University have created enzyme-like activity using peptides that are only seven amino acids long. Their breakthrough may revolutionize the study of modern-day enzymes, whose chains of amino acids usually number in the hundreds, and of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, which are usually characterized by small clumps of misshapen proteins called amyloids.

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Versatile Nanosponges Now Aimed at MRSA Toxins

April 3, 2014 2:16 pm | by Skip Derra | Articles | Comments

In successful research, any one path can quickly lead to new paths of even more promising results. This branching out of a research project couldn’t be more true than for a team of researchers at the UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering. UCSD researchers have developed “nanosponges” that were initially designed as a platform for cancer drug delivery and now are being developed to soak up the dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA.

Nanoparticles Cause Cancer to Self-destruct

April 3, 2014 1:59 pm | Videos | Comments

Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumor cells to ‘self-destruct’ sounds like science fiction, but could be a future part of cancer treatment, according to research from Lund University in Sweden. The new technique is much more targeted than trying to kill cancer cells with techniques such as chemotherapy.

Sleep Apnea Linked with Blood Sugar Levels

April 3, 2014 1:39 pm | News | Comments

Sleep apnea has been linked with elevated blood sugar levels, suggesting people with the condition could be at an increased risk of cardiovascular illness and mortality. The findings of a new study add to a growing body of evidence that suggests that sleep apnea is linked with diabetes.

Atlas Details Gene Activity of the Prenatal Human Brain, Offers Clues to Psychiatric Disorders

April 3, 2014 1:30 pm | News | Comments

A comprehensive three-dimensional atlas of the developing human brain that incorporates gene activity along with anatomical reference atlases and neuroimaging data has released its first major report. This NIH-funded resource, freely available to the public, enables researchers to answer questions related to the early roots of brain-based disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

A Brain Region for Resisting Alcohol's Allure

April 3, 2014 1:14 pm | News | Comments

University of Utah neuroscientists report that when a region of the brain called the lateral habenula is chronically inactivated in rats, they repeatedly drink to excess and are less able to learn from the experience. The study has implications for understanding behaviors that drive alcohol addiction.

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Watermelon Could Lower Blood Pressure

April 3, 2014 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Be sure to pick up a watermelon—or two—at your local grocery store. It could save your life. A new study found that watermelon could significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals both at rest and while under stress.

Immune Cell ‘Defenders’ Could Beat Invading Bacteria

April 3, 2014 11:51 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists has identified the precise biochemical key that wakes up the body’s immune cells and sends them into action against invading bacteria and fungi. The patented work provides the starting point to understanding our first line of defense, and what happens when it goes wrong. It will lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcers and even TB.

Likely Culprit in Spread of Colon Cancer Identified

April 2, 2014 2:39 pm | News | Comments

New research has implicated a poorly understood protein called PLAC8 in the spread of colon cancer. While elevated PLAC8 levels were known to be associated with colon cancer, the researchers now have shown that the protein plays an active role in shifting normal cells lining the colon into a state that encourages metastasis.

Protein in Nerves Determines Which Brain Connections Stay, Which Go

April 2, 2014 2:31 pm | News | Comments

Researchers recently found a protein that is essential for the brain to remove those excess connections. The team specifically showed a role for the protein in the developing visual system in mice, but their findings appear to apply broadly across the developing brain.

Study Finds Link Between Child's Obesity and Cognitive Function

April 2, 2014 2:21 pm | News | Comments

A new University of Illinois study finds that obese children are slower than healthy-weight children to recognize when they have made an error and correct it. The research is the first to show that weight status not only affects how quickly children react to stimuli but also impacts the level of activity that occurs in the cerebral cortex during action monitoring.

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Key Chocolate Ingredients Could Help Prevent Obesity, Diabetes

April 2, 2014 1:55 pm | News | Comments

Improved thinking. Decreased appetite. Lowered blood pressure. The potential health benefits of dark chocolate keep piling up, and scientists are now homing in on what ingredients in chocolate might help prevent obesity, as well as type-2 diabetes. They found that one particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels.

Noisy Brain Signals: How the Schizophrenic Brain Misinterprets the World

April 2, 2014 1:34 pm | News | Comments

People with schizophrenia often misinterpret what they see and experience in the world. New research provides insight into the brain mechanisms that might be responsible for this misinterpretation. The study reveals that certain errors in visual perception in people with schizophrenia are consistent with interference or ‘noise’ in a brain signal known as a corollary discharge.

New Discovery Gives Hope that Nerves Could be Repaired after Spinal Cord Injury

April 1, 2014 1:51 pm | News | Comments

A new discovery suggests it could one day be possible to chemically reprogram and repair damaged nerves after spinal cord injury or brain trauma. Researchers have identified a possible mechanism for re-growing damaged nerve fibers in the central nervous system. This damage is currently irreparable, often leaving those who suffer spinal cord injury, stroke, or brain trauma with serious impairments.

Early Cardiac Risks Linked to Worse Cognitive Function in Middle Age

April 1, 2014 1:39 pm | News | Comments

Young adults with such cardiac risk factors as high blood pressure and elevated glucose levels have significantly worse cognitive function in middle age, according to a new study by dementia researchers at UC San Francisco. The findings bolster the view that diseases like Alzheimer’s develop over an individual’s lifespan and may be set in motion early in life.

Team Finds a Better Way to Grow Motor Neurons from Stem Cells

April 1, 2014 1:30 pm | News | Comments

Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

New Human Trial Shows Stem Cells are Effective for Failing Hearts

March 31, 2014 2:55 pm | News | Comments

Patients with severe ischemic heart disease and heart failure can benefit from a new treatment in which stem cells found in bone marrow are injected directly into the heart muscle, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

Tamiflu-resistant Influenza: Parsing the Genome for the Culprits

March 31, 2014 2:43 pm | News | Comments

It doesn’t take long for the flu virus to outsmart Tamiflu. EPFL scientists have developed a tool that reveals the mutations that make the virus resistant, and they have identified new mutations that may render ineffective one of the few treatments currently available on the market.

New Respect for Primary Visual Cortex

March 31, 2014 2:33 pm | News | Comments

In the context of learning and memory, the primary visual cortex is the Rodney Dangerfield of cortical areas: It gets no respect. Also known as “V1,” this brain region is the very first place where information from the retina arrives in the cerebral cortex.

Relaxed Blood Pressure Guidelines Cut Millions from Needing Medication

March 31, 2014 2:20 pm | News | Comments

New guidelines that ease the recommended blood pressure could result in 5.8 million U.S. adults no longer needing hypertension medication. The findings are the first peer-reviewed analysis to quantify the impact of guidelines announced in February by the Eighth Joint National Committee. In a divisive move, the committee relaxed the blood pressure goal in adults 60 years and older to 150/90, instead of the previous goal of 140/90.

Newly Designed Gel Allows for Targeted Therapy After Heart Attack

March 31, 2014 1:25 pm | News | Comments

Combating the tissue degrading enzymes that cause lasting damage following a heart attack is tricky. Each patient responds to a heart attack differently and damage can vary from one part of the heart muscle to another, but existing treatments can’t be fine-tuned to deal with this variation. Penn researchers have developed a way to address this problem via a material that can be applied directly to the damaged heart tissue.

Married People Less Likely to Have Cardiovascular Problems

March 28, 2014 2:08 pm | News | Comments

Analysis of surveys of more than 3.5 million American men and women, administered at some 20,000 health centers across the country—believed to be the largest analysis of its kind ever performed—found that married people, regardless of age, sex, or even cardiovascular risk factors, had significantly less chances of having any kind of cardiovascular disease than those who were single, divorced or widowed.

Cancer Researchers Find Key Protein Link

March 28, 2014 1:48 pm | News | Comments

A new understanding of proteins at the nexus of a cell’s decision to survive or die has implications for researchers who study cancer and age-related diseases, according to biophysicists at the Rice University-based Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (CTBP). Experiments and computer analysis of two key proteins revealed a previously unknown binding interface that could be addressed by medication.

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