Mapping system tells skin cells whether to become scalp or palm tissues

Global-positioning system aficionados know that it’s possible to precisely define any location in the world with just three geographic coordinates: latitude, longitude and altitude. Now scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that specialized skin cells use a similar mapping system to identify where they belong in the body and how to act once they arrive.

These cellular cornerstones direct embryonic patterning and wound healing by sending vital location cues to their neighbors, and may help in growing tissue for transplant or understanding metastatic cancer.
Continue reading “Mapping system tells skin cells whether to become scalp or palm tissues”

Irrational decisions driven by emotions

Irrational behaviour arises as a consequence of emotional reactions evoked when faced with difficult decisions, according to new research at UCL (University College London), funded by the Wellcome Trust. The UCL study suggests that rational behaviour may stem from an ability to override automatic emotional responses, rather than an absence of emotion per se.
Continue reading “Irrational decisions driven by emotions”

Researchers identify gene as protector of DNA, enemy of tumors

A single gene plays a pivotal role launching two DNA damage detection and repair pathways in the human genome, suggesting that it functions as a previously unidentified tumor suppressor gene, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report in Cancer Cell.

The advance online publication also reports that the gene – called BRIT1 – is under-expressed in human ovarian, breast and prostate cancer cell lines.
Continue reading “Researchers identify gene as protector of DNA, enemy of tumors”

Study provides new insights into brain organization

Scientists have provided new insights into how and why the brain is organised – knowledge which could eventually inform diagnosis of and treatments for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and autism.

A study by Newcastle University, UK, and the International University Bremen, Germany, debunked a prevailing theory that the nervous system should have mainly very short nerve fibre connections between nerve cells, or neurons, to function at its most effective.

Instead the study, which carried out a sophisticated computer analysis of public databases containing detailed information of worldwide anatomical studies on primate and worm brains, found that long nerve fibre connections were just as vital to overall brain function as short ones.
Continue reading “Study provides new insights into brain organization”

Study shows altering fatty acid levels in diet may reduce prostate cancer growth rate

UCLA researchers found that altering the fatty acid ratio found in the typical Western diet to include more omega-3 fatty acids and decrease the amount of omega-6 fatty acids may reduce prostate cancer tumor growth rates and PSA levels.

Published in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, this initial animal-model study is one of the first to show the impact of diet on lowering an inflammatory response known to promote prostate cancer tumor progression and could lead to new treatment approaches.
Continue reading “Study shows altering fatty acid levels in diet may reduce prostate cancer growth rate”

Key fat and cholesterol cell regulator identified, promising target

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified how a molecular switch regulates fat and cholesterol production, a step that may help advance treatments for metabolic syndrome, the constellation of diseases that includes high cholesterol, obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. The study is now published in the online version of the scientific journal Nature and will appear in the August 10th print edition.
Continue reading “Key fat and cholesterol cell regulator identified, promising target”

Blood clot fibers more elastic than spider’s web

The tiny fibers that comprise blood clots show extraordinary elasticity, on average stretching to almost three times their length while still retaining their ability to go back to their normal shape and expanding to more than four times their length before breaking, according to findings published in the journal Science this week by researchers at Wake Forest University.
Continue reading “Blood clot fibers more elastic than spider’s web”

Human embryonic stem cells display a unique pattern of chemical modification to DNA

Scientists have found that the DNA of human embryonic stem cells is chemically modified in a characteristic, predictable pattern. This pattern distinguishes human embryonic stem cells from normal adult cells and cell lines, including cancer cells. The study, which appears online today in Genome Research, should help researchers understand how epigenetic factors contribute to self-renewal and developmental pluripotence, unique characteristics of human embryonic stem cells that may one day allow them to be used to replace diseased or damaged cells with healthy ones in a process called therapeutic cloning.
Continue reading “Human embryonic stem cells display a unique pattern of chemical modification to DNA”

‘Obesity vaccine’ shows promise

IN what could become a new weapon in the battle of the bulge, scientists have reported initial success with an experimental vaccine for obesity.

The researchers found that when they gave rats a vaccine against a “hunger hormone” called ghrelin, the animals were able to live the dream of eating what they wanted without packing on body fat. The findings, published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest a whole new approach to weight loss.
Continue reading “‘Obesity vaccine’ shows promise”

Family Of Life-extending Genes Discovered

Mice, rats, worms, flies, and yeast all live longer on a low-calorie diet, which also seems to protect mammals against cancer and other aging-related diseases. A gene called SIR2 is thought to control this process. Now, researchers at Harvard Medical School and UC Davis have discovered four cousins of the SIR2 gene that also extend lifespan, suggesting that the whole family of SIR2 genes is involved in controlling lifespan. The research indicates potential targets for developing drugs to lengthen life and prevent or treat aging-related diseases. The findings are reported July 28 in the advance online edition of Science. This discovery comes on the heels of the Harvard group’s discovery of a molecule in red wine that extends the lifespan of every organism so far tested.

Continue reading “Family Of Life-extending Genes Discovered”