Natural brain substance blocks weight gain in mice

Mice with increased levels of a natural brain chemical don’t gain weight when fed a high-fat diet, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The chemical, orexin, works by increasing the body’s sensitivity to the “weight-loss hormone,” leptin, the researchers report. Continue reading “Natural brain substance blocks weight gain in mice”

The Army’s Remote-Controlled Beetle

The insect’s flight path can be wirelessly controlled via a neural implant.

Michel Maharbiz

A giant flower beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research presented this week. Scientists at the University of California developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from a nearby computer. Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for surveillance purposes or for search-and-rescue missions.

>>>>> Article in MIT Technology Review

Cyborg beetle: Shown here is a giant flower beetle carrying a microprcessor, radio receiver, and microbattery and implanted with several electrodes. To control the insect’s flight, scientists wirelessly deliver signals to the payload, which sends electrical signals through the electrode to the brain and flight muscles. Credit: Michel Maharbiz

Motivating minds

TO SOME there is nothing so urgent that it cannot be postponed in favour of a cup of tea. Such procrastination is a mystery to psychologists, who wonder why people would sabotage themselves in this way. A team of researchers led by Sean McCrea of the University of Konstanz, in Germany, reckon they have found a piece of the puzzle. People act in a timely way when given concrete tasks but dawdle when they view them in abstract terms.

>>>>>>> Article in the Economist

Scientists discover how cancer cells survive a chemotherapy drug

What separates the few cancer cells that survive chemotherapy – leaving the door open to recurrence – from those that don’t? Weizmann Institute scientists developed an original method for imaging and analyzing many thousands of living cells to reveal exactly how a chemotherapy drug affects each one. Continue reading “Scientists discover how cancer cells survive a chemotherapy drug”

Omega-3s ease depressive symptoms related to menopause

Omega-3s ease psychological distress and depressive symptoms often suffered by menopausal and perimenopausal women, according to researchers at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine. Their study, published in the February issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, presents the first evidence that omega-3 supplements are effective for treating common menopause-related mental health problems. Continue reading “Omega-3s ease depressive symptoms related to menopause”

Astrocytes regulate sleep pressure and memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation

Scientists have discovered an unexpected brain mechanism that modulates the regulation of sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation. The research, published by Cell Press in the January 29th issue of the journal Neuron, opens new avenues for development of treatments for disorders and cognitive deficits associated with sleep loss. Continue reading “Astrocytes regulate sleep pressure and memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation”

Researchers identify new function of protein in cellular respiration

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have found that the protein Stat3 plays a key role in regulating mitochondria, the energy-producing machines of cells. This discovery could one day lead to the development of new treatments for heart disease to boost energy in failing heart muscle or to master the abnormal metabolism of cancer. Continue reading “Researchers identify new function of protein in cellular respiration”

Biologists find stem cell-like functions in other types of plant cells

Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants—a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells—researchers at New York University’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found. The findings, which suggest that some roles of stem cells in organ regeneration may be shared by other types of cells, are published in the latest issue of the journal Nature. Continue reading “Biologists find stem cell-like functions in other types of plant cells”

Plums poised to give blueberries run for the money

There’s an emerging star in the super-food world.

Plums are rolling down the food fashion runway sporting newly discovered high levels of healthy nutrients, say scientists at Texas AgriLife Research.

Plainly, “blueberries have some stiff competition,” said Dr. Luis Cisneros, AgriLife Research food scientist.”Stone fruits are super fruits, with plums as emerging stars.” Continue reading “Plums poised to give blueberries run for the money”

Discovery could lead to a new animal model for hepatitis C

During its career, the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus has banked its success on a rather unusual strategy: its limitations. Its inability to infect animals other than humans and chimpanzees has severely hampered scientists in developing a useful small animal model for the disease. But now, in a breakthrough to be published in the January 29 advance online issue of Nature, Rockefeller University scientists have identified a protein that allows the virus to enter mouse cells, a finding that represents the clearest path yet for developing a much-needed vaccine as well as tailored treatments for the 170 million people across the globe living with the tenacious, insidious and rapidly changing virus. Continue reading “Discovery could lead to a new animal model for hepatitis C”

research shows that newly discovered drug reduces heart enlargement

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered that a prototype drug reduces heart enlargement, one of the most common causes of heart failure.

Heart failure, which occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood throughout the body, affects 5 million people in the United States. The condition contributes to 300,000 deaths each year. Continue reading “research shows that newly discovered drug reduces heart enlargement”

Bioengineers develop novel method for accelerated bone growth

Engineers at the University of California at San Diego have come up with a way to help accelerate bone growth through the use of nanotubes and stem cells. This new finding could lead to quicker and better recovery, for example, for patients who undergo orthopedic surgery. Continue reading “Bioengineers develop novel method for accelerated bone growth”

Human induced plurtipotent stem cells reprogrammed into germ cell precursors

For the first time, UCLA researchers have reprogrammed human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into the cells that eventually become eggs and sperm, possibly opening the door for new treatments for infertility using patient-specific cells.

The iPS cells were coaxed into forming germ line precursor cells which include genetic material that may be passed on to a child. Continue reading “Human induced plurtipotent stem cells reprogrammed into germ cell precursors”

Sensor in artery measures blood pressure

High blood pressure can be a trial of patience for doctors and for sufferers, whose blood pressure often has to be monitored over a long time until it can be regulated. This will now be made easier by a pressure sensor that is inserted in the femoral artery.

The tiny pressure sensor – depicted here on a finger – measures blood pressure directly in the femoral artery. © Fraunhofer IMS

Continue reading “Sensor in artery measures blood pressure”

Implants mimic infection to rally immune system against tumors

Bioengineers at Harvard University have shown that small plastic disks impregnated with tumor-specific antigens and implanted under the skin can reprogram the mammalian immune system to attack tumors.

The research — which ridded 90 percent of mice of an aggressive form of melanoma that would usually kill the rodents within 25 days — represents the most effective demonstration to date of a cancer vaccine. Continue reading “Implants mimic infection to rally immune system against tumors”

The Glucose-Monitoring Tattoo

It’s a modern medical twist on an ancient art. Scientists at Draper Laboratory, in Cambridge, MA, are developing a nanosensor that could be injected into the skin, much like tattoo dye, to monitor an individual’s blood-sugar level. As the glucose level increases, the “tattoo” would fluoresce under an infrared light, telling a diabetic whether or not she needs an insulin shot following a meal.

>>>> Article at Technology Review

Heather Clark, Draper
Sensing sodium: This cell glows red because it has been injected with nanosensors that fluoresce in the presence of sodium. Credit: Heather Clark, Draper

Nicotine activates more than just the brain’s pleasure pathways

Duke University Medical System researchers have discovered there are differing taste pathways for nicotine, which could provide a new approach for future smoking-cessation products.

Using genetic engineering and measurements of nervous system activity in mice, the researchers found that nicotine sends signals directly to the brain’s sensory systems by several pathways, similar to the way taste is perceived. Continue reading “Nicotine activates more than just the brain’s pleasure pathways”

Scientists unlock possible aging secret in genetically altered fruit fly

Brown University researchers have identified a cellular mechanism that could someday help fight the aging process.

The finding by Stephen Helfand and Nicola Neretti and others adds another piece to the puzzle that Helfand, a professor of biology, molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, first discovered in 2000. Back then, he identified a mutation in the Indy (“I’m Not Dead Yet”) gene that can extend the life span of fruit flies. Continue reading “Scientists unlock possible aging secret in genetically altered fruit fly”

Letter to Obama

Forty-nine American Nobel laureates and other distinguished American scientists call the president’s attention to the importance of increasing federal funding for scientific research.

>>> Article at Seed

The Power of Berries

Several studies show that people who eat diets high in fruits and vegetables have lower cancer rates. Now a large body of research suggests that berries may be among the most potent cancer-fighting fruits.

>>>  Article : New York Times

Researchers identify 4 genetic hotspots associated with psoriasis

A genomewide scan of millions of genetic mutations has revealed four new DNA “hotspots” that affect the risk for psoriasis.

Appearing Jan. 25 in Nature Genetics online, the study also confirmed that two other previously identified DNA sites, discovered by researchers at the University of Utah and Celera Group, have a high association with psoriasis, an automimmune disease that can affect the joints and cause sore, itchy patches of skin in an estimated 7.5 million people in the United States.

Continue reading “Researchers identify 4 genetic hotspots associated with psoriasis”

Statins may treat blood vessel disorder that can lead to fatal strokes

In a finding that could save thousands of lives a year, University of Utah School of Medicine researchers have shown that a blood vessel disorder leading to unpredictable, sometimes fatal, hemorrhagic strokes, seizures, paralysis or other problems is treatable with the same statin drugs that millions of people take to control high cholesterol. Continue reading “Statins may treat blood vessel disorder that can lead to fatal strokes”

Gene may lead to early onset of brain tumor

People with a particular gene variant may be more likely to develop brain tumors, and at an earlier age, than people without the gene, according to a study published in  Neurology.

The study involved 254 people with brain tumors and 238 people with no cancers. All those with tumors had glioblastoma multiforme, the most common type of brain cancer. People with this type of tumor survive an average of 12 to 15 months.

Through blood samples, researchers looked at the tumor suppressor TP53 gene. This gene acts as a tumor suppressor and is involved in preventing cancer. Continue reading “Gene may lead to early onset of brain tumor”

Major immune system branch has hidden ability to learn

Half of the immune system has a hidden talent, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered.

They found the innate immune system, long recognized as a specialist in rapidly and aggressively combating invaders, has cells that can learn from experience and fight better when called into battle a second time. Scientists previously thought any such ability was limited to the immune system’s other major branch, the adaptive immune system. Continue reading “Major immune system branch has hidden ability to learn”

Cutting salt isn’t the only way to reduce blood pressure

Most people know that too much sodium from foods can increase blood pressure.

A new study suggests that people trying to lower their blood pressure should also boost their intake of potassium, which has the opposite effect to sodium.

Researchers found that the ratio of sodium-to-potassium in subjects’ urine was a much stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone. Continue reading “Cutting salt isn’t the only way to reduce blood pressure”

Natural selection is not the only process that drives evolution

Why have some of our genes evolved rapidly? It is widely believed that Darwinian natural selection is responsible, but research led by a group at Uppsala University, suggests that a separate neutral (nonadaptive) process has made a significant contribution to human evolution. Their results have been published today in the journal PLoS Biology. Continue reading “Natural selection is not the only process that drives evolution”

Feeling your words: Hearing with your face

The movement of facial skin and muscles around the mouth plays an important role not only in the way the sounds of speech are made, but also in the way they are heard according to a study by scientists at Haskins Laboratories, a Yale-affiliated research laboratory.

Continue reading “Feeling your words: Hearing with your face”

Cancer-causing gene discovery suggests new therapies

Scientists have discovered a novel way by which a much-studied cancer-promoting gene accelerates the disease. The finding suggests a new strategy to halt cancer’s progress.

Up to now, research has largely focused on how the mutated gene, Myc, disrupts the ability of DNA to be “transcribed” into RNA – the first step in making proteins that are essential for cell growth and function. But the new research shows that this altered Myc gene, called an oncogene, can also act directly on the final stage of protein production. Continue reading “Cancer-causing gene discovery suggests new therapies”

‘Warrior Gene’ Predicts Aggressive Behavior After Provocation

Individuals with the so-called “warrior gene” display higher levels of aggression in response to provocation, according to new research co-authored by Rose McDermott, professor of political science at Brown University. In the experiment, which is the first to examine a behavioral measure of aggression in response to provocation, subjects were asked to cause physical pain to an opponent they believed had taken money from them by administering varying amounts of hot sauce. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading “‘Warrior Gene’ Predicts Aggressive Behavior After Provocation”