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Fatal Cellular Malfunction Identified in Huntington’s Disease

June 24, 2014 1:28 pm | News | Comments

Researchers believe they have learned how mutations in the gene that causes Huntington’s disease kill brain cells, a finding that could open new opportunities for treating the fatal disorder. Scientists first linked the gene to the inherited disease more than 20 years ago.

Mammals Defend Against Viruses Differently than Invertebrates

June 24, 2014 1:16 pm | News | Comments

Biologists have long wondered if mammals share the elegant system used by insects, bacteria and other invertebrates to defend against viral infection. Two back-to-back studies in the journal Science last year said the answer is yes, but a study just published in Cell Reports by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found the opposite.

Ferroelectric Switching Seen in Biological Tissues

June 24, 2014 12:57 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have shown that a favorable electrical property is present in a type of protein found in organs that repeatedly stretch and retract, such as the lungs, heart and arteries. These findings are the first that clearly track this phenomenon, called ferroelectricity, occurring at the molecular level in biological tissues.

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Schizophrenia and Cannabis Use May Share Common Genes

June 24, 2014 12:44 pm | News | Comments

Genes that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia may also increase the likelihood of using cannabis, according to a new study. Previous studies identified a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia, but it has remained unclear whether this association is due to cannabis directly increasing the risk of the disorder. The new results suggest that part of this association is due to common genes.

Researchers Find Gene Critical for Development of Brain Motor Center

June 23, 2014 3:05 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers describe the role of a specific gene, called Snf2h, in the development of the cerebellum. Snf2h is required for the proper development of a healthy cerebellum, a master control centre in the brain for balance, fine motor control and complex physical movements.

Single Tick Bite Can Pack Double Pathogen Punch

June 23, 2014 2:05 pm | News | Comments

People who get bitten by a blacklegged tick have a higher-than-expected chance of being exposed to more than one pathogen at the same time. Research found that almost 30 percent of the ticks were infected with the agent of Lyme disease. One-third of these were also infected with at least one other pathogen. The agents of Lyme disease and babesiosis were found together in 7 percent of ticks.

Molecule Regulates Production of Antibacterial Agent Used by Immune Cells

June 23, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered how a protein molecule in immune cells promotes the production of nitric oxide, a potent weapon in the cells’ arsenal to defend the body from bacterial attack. The protein may offer a target for reining in the inflammatory response, which must be able to fight infection without damaging tissue.

Scientists Break the Genetic Code for Diabetes in Greenland

June 19, 2014 3:35 pm | Videos | Comments

A piece of detective work has mapped a special gene variant among Greenlanders that plays a particularly important role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The results can be used to improve prevention and treatment options for those genetically at-risk.

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Fight-or-Flight Chemical Primes Cells to Shift Brain from Subdued to Alert

June 19, 2014 3:17 pm | News | Comments

A new study shows that the brain cells surrounding a mouse’s neurons do much more than fill space. According to the study, the cells can monitor and respond to nearby neural activity, but only after being activated by the fight-or-flight chemical norepinephrine.

Broken Gene Found to Protect Against Heart Disease

June 19, 2014 2:41 pm | News | Comments

By scouring the DNA of thousands of patients, researchers have discovered four rare gene mutations that not only lower the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, but also significantly reduce a person’s risk of coronary heart disease—dropping it by 40 percent. The mutations all cripple the same gene, called APOC3, suggesting a powerful strategy in developing new drugs against heart disease.

Portable Brain-mapping Device Allows Researchers to 'See' Where Memory Fails

June 19, 2014 2:11 pm | News | Comments

UT Arlington researchers have successfully used a portable brain-mapping device to show limited prefrontal cortex activity among student veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when they were asked to recall information from simple memorization tasks.

Neurons Get Their Neighbors to Take Out Their Trash

June 19, 2014 2:04 pm | News | Comments

Biologists have long considered cells to function like self-cleaning ovens, chewing up and recycling their own worn out parts as needed. But a new study challenges that basic principle, showing that some nerve cells found in the eye pass off their old energy-producing factories to neighboring support cells to be “eaten.”

Exploring How the Nervous System Develops

June 19, 2014 1:49 pm | News | Comments

The circuitry of the central nervous system is immensely complex and, as a result, sometimes confounding. When scientists conduct research to unravel the inner workings at a cellular level, they are sometimes surprised by what they find.

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Genetic Risk for Type 1 Diabetes Driven by Faulty Cell Recycling

June 19, 2014 1:38 pm | News | Comments

Researchers, tackling a modern challenge of diabetes research, have identified a gene believed to disrupt the ability of beta cells to produce insulin resulting in type 1 diabetes. The loss of beta cell function may be driven by a defect in Clec16a, a gene responsible for getting rid of old mitochondria, and making room for fresh ones. Healthy mitochondria are crucial to allowing beta cells to produce insulin and control blood sugar levels.

New Approach to Funding Alzheimer’s Research Could Pay Off

June 19, 2014 10:29 am | News | Comments

More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the affliction that erodes memory and other mental capacities, but no drugs targeting the disease have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2003. Now a paper by an MIT professor suggests that a revamped way of financing Alzheimer’s research could spur the development of useful new drugs for the illness.

Modeling How Neurons Work Together

June 19, 2014 10:07 am | News | Comments

A newly-developed, highly accurate representation of the way in which neurons behave when performing movements such as reaching could not only enhance understanding of the complex dynamics at work in the brain, but aid in the development of robotic limbs that are capable of more complex and natural movements.

Blood Test Identifies Heart-transplant Rejection Earlier than Biopsy Can

June 19, 2014 9:56 am | News | Comments

Stanford University researchers have devised a noninvasive way to detect heart-transplant rejection weeks or months earlier than previously possible. The test, which relies on the detection of increasing amounts of the donor’s DNA in the blood of the recipient, does not require the removal of any heart tissue.

Scientists Pinpoint How Genetic Mutation Causes Early Brain Damage

June 19, 2014 9:32 am | News | Comments

Scientists have shed light on how a specific kind of genetic mutation can cause damage during early brain development that results in lifelong learning and behavioral disabilities. The work suggests new possibilities for therapeutic intervention.

Breathalyzer Test May Detect Deadliest Cancer

June 18, 2014 4:54 pm | News | Comments

Lung cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined. The reason for the striking mortality rate is simple: poor detection. Lung cancer attacks without leaving any fingerprints, quietly afflicting its victims and metastasizing uncontrollably—to the point of no return. Now a new device may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. 

A New Twist on Neurological Disease

June 18, 2014 4:47 pm | News | Comments

Twist and hold your neck to the left. Now down, and over to the right, until it hurts. Now imagine your neck—or arms or legs—randomly doing that on their own. That’s a taste of what children and adults with a neurological condition called dystonia live with every day—uncontrollable twisting and stiffening of neck and limb muscles. The mystery of why this happens, and what can prevent or treat it, has long puzzled doctors.

Hearing Protein Required to Convert Sound into Brain Signals

June 18, 2014 2:03 pm | News | Comments

A specific protein found in the bridge-like structures that make up part of the auditory machinery of the inner ear is essential for hearing. The absence of this protein or impairment of the gene that codes for this protein leads to profound deafness in mice and humans, respectively, reports a team of researchers.

Stress Hormone Linked to Short-term Memory Loss as We Age

June 18, 2014 1:51 pm | News | Comments

A new study at the University of Iowa reports a potential link between stress hormones and short-term memory loss in older adults. The study reveals that having high levels of cortisol—a natural hormone in our body whose levels surge when we are stressed—can lead to memory lapses as we age.

Computation Leads to Better Understanding of Influenza Virus Replication

June 18, 2014 10:50 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations that reveal a key mechanism in the replication process of influenza A may help defend against future deadly pandemics. Treating influenza relies on drugs, such as Amantadine, that are becoming less effective due to viral evolution. But University of Chicago scientists have published computational results that may give drug designers the insight they need to develop the next generation of effective influenza treatment.

Sleep Quality and Duration Improve Cognition in Aging Populations

June 18, 2014 10:42 am | Videos | Comments

Maybe turning to sleep gadgets—wristbands, sound therapy and sleep-monitoring smartphone apps—is a good idea. A new University of Oregon-led study of middle-aged or older people who get six to nine hours of sleep a night think better than those sleeping fewer or more hours.

Mammograms May Cut Breast Cancer Deaths by 28%

June 17, 2014 9:19 pm | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

In the latest major study to consider whether the dangers of mammograms outweigh the benefits, experts say the tests can reduce the chances of dying from breast cancer by nearly 30 percent and that national screening programs should continue.

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