I am off to Canberra as a keynote/guest speaker to talk with our Politicians

Next Monday 14 July 2014 PGARD (Parliamentary Group on Asbestos Related Diseases) have organised a luncheon at Parliament House, Canberra for various party politicians to be present. Also ASEA (Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency) are also supporting this important event to raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos. I have been invited to be a keynote/guest speaker. It is an honour to have been asked and I am looking forward to this event.I will be flying up on Sunday afternoon and staying with good friends for the night rather than an early flight on the Monday morning that could leave me feeling exhausted and a bit short of breath.Our winter weather has well and truly set in today. We were lucky to get above 4 degrees celcius. …

Read more

Neurotics don’t just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds

That person we all seem to know who we say is neurotic and unable to take action? Turns out he or she isn’t unable to act but simply doesn’t want to.A study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries has uncovered new details about why neurotic people may avoid making decisions and moving forward with life. Turns out that when they are asked if action is positive, favorable, good, they just don’t like it as much as non-neurotics. Therefore persuasive communications and other interventions may be useful if they simply alter neurotics’ attitudes toward inaction.These findings come the study “Neuroticism and Attitudes Toward Action in 19 Countries.” It is published in the Journal of Personality and was written by Molly E. Ireland, Texas Tech University; Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Hong Li, Battelle Center for Analytics and Public Health; and Dolores Albarracn -the principal investigator of the study– from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.”You’re so neurotic!” It’s a phrase that’s tossed about casually, but what exactly is neuroticism? It is a personality trait defined by the experience of chronic negative affect — including sadness, anxiety, irritability, and self-consciousness — that is easily triggered and difficult to control. Neurotic people tend to avoid acting when confronted with major and minor life stressors, leading to negative life consequences.The researchers sought to determine whether and under what conditions neuroticism is associated with favorable or unfavorable representations of action and inaction. They investigated whether depression and anxiety would decrease proactive behavior among neurotic individuals, and whether a person’s collectivistic tendencies — considering the social consequences of one’s behavior before acting — would moderate the negative associations between neuroticism and action/inaction. The study found neurotics look at action less favorably and inaction more favorably than emotionally stable people do.”People who are less emotionally stable have less positive attitudes towards action and more positive attitudes toward inaction,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, anxiety was primarily responsible for neurotic individuals’ less positive attitudes toward action. …

Read more

Exercise training improves health outcomes of women with heart disease more than of men

In the largest study to ever investigate the effects of exercise training in patients with heart failure, exercise training reduced the risk for subsequent all-cause mortality or all-cause hospitalization in women by 26 percent, compared with 10 percent in men. While a causal relationship has previously been observed in clinical practice between improved health outcomes and exercise, this trial is the first to link the effects of exercise training to health outcomes in women with cardiovascular disease. This study, an exploratory analysis, recently was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.”This trial was uniquely positioned to review results of exercise training in women compared with men since we included a pre-specified analysis of women, we used the largest testing database ever acquired of women and the population was optimized with medical therapy,” said Ileana Pia, M.D., M.P.H., associate chief, Academic Affairs, Division of Cardiology, Montefiore Medical Center, professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the NHLBI-sponsored clinical trial investigator and chair of the Steering Committee. “Heart disease has a major impact on women. Our goal is for these findings to greatly impact the management of this challenging syndrome.”Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, responsible for one-in-four female deaths. Although women are twice as likely as men to develop heart failure following heart attack or cardiac ischemia, they are less often directed to complete an exercise program.Women with cardiovascular disease are largely underrepresented in past exercise research, and no large trial has previously studied the impact of exercise training on health outcomes for women with heart failure. The randomized, multicenter, international HF-ACTION (The Heart Failure — A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of Exercise Training) trial included the largest cohort of women with heart failure to undergo exercise training, and examined potential gender differences that could affect physical exercise prescription.”These findings are significant because they represent important implications for clinical practice and patient behaviors,” said Dr. Pia. “Findings suggest physicians should consider exercise as a component of treatment for female patients with heart failure, as they do for male patients.”The clinical trial randomized 2,331 patients with heart failure and a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than or equal to 35 percent to either a formal exercise program plus optimal medical therapy, or to optimal medical therapy alone. Prior to randomization, patients underwent symptom-limited cardiopulmonary exercise tests to assess exercise capacity, as measured by peak oxygen uptake (VO2). …

Read more

Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it’s the happy habit many people practice the least

Happiness is more than just a feeling; it is something we can all practise on a daily basis. But people are better at some ‘happy habits’ than others. In fact, the one habit that corresponds most closely with us being satisfied with our lives overall — self-acceptance — is often the one we practise least.5,000 people surveyed by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different, rated themselves between 1 and 10 on ten habits identified from the latest scientific research as being key to happiness.Giving was the top habit revealed by those who took the survey. When asked about Giving (How often do you make an effort to help or be kind to others?) people scored an average of 7.41 out of 10, with one in six (17%) topping 10 out of 10. Just over one in three (36%) people scored 8 or 9; slightly fewer (32%) scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less.The Relating habit came a close second. The question How often do you put effort into the relationships that matter most to you? produced an average score of 7.36 out of 10. And 15% of people scored the maximum 10 out of 10.The survey also revealed which habits are most closely related to people’s overall satisfaction with life. All 10 habits were found to be strongly linked to life satisfaction, with Acceptance found to be the habit that predicts it most strongly. Yet Acceptance was also revealed as the habit that people tend to practise the least, generating the lowest average score from the 5,000 respondents.When answering the Acceptance question, How often are you kind to yourself and think you’re fine as you are? …

Read more

Agencies often hindered in addressing health concerns from industrial animal production

State regulatory agencies face barriers and often take limited action when confronted with public health concerns resulting from industrial food animal production operations. This is according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future who examined agency responses to community health concerns. They found that agencies with jurisdiction over industrial food animal production operations are unable to address concerns primarily due to narrow regulations, a lack of public health expertise, and limited resources. The results are featured today online in PLOS ONE.”Despite the well-established health risks associated with living and working near industrial food animal production operations, regulation of these sites is limited and characterized by a patchwork of different regulatory approaches from state to state,” said Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH, a project director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “Common across most states, however, is delegating the permitting to an agency without a primary mandate to address public health, which raises concerns that public health issues may not be adequately monitored or addressed. Our study found that permitting and agriculture agencies’ response to health-based industrial farm animal production concerns are constrained by narrow regulations, a lack of public health expertise, and limited resources. In addition, most agency staff believed health departments should play a role in addressing citizen concerns related to industrial food animal production operations.”Researchers conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with staff at 12 state agencies in seven states. The agencies were selected based on high volumes of industrial food animal production or a rapid increase in the number of industrial food animal production operations within their state. The interviews were conducted to gather information regarding agency involvement in regulating operations, the frequency and type of contacts received about public health concerns, how the agency responds to such contacts and barriers to additional involvement.Previous studies have shown air near animal production sites to contain hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and allergens. Exposure to these emissions has been associated with multiple respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological health problems. …

Read more

Preventing suicide should start in general medical setting

The mental health conditions of most people who commit suicide remain undiagnosed, even though most visit a primary care provider or medical specialist in the year before they die. To help prevent suicides, health care providers should therefore become more attuned to their patients’ mental health state and possible suicide ideation. These are the findings of Brian Ahmedani from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, in a new study documenting the type and timing of health services sought by Americans who commit suicide. The study is the largest geographically diverse study of its kind to date, and appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, published by Springer.Ahmedani and colleagues in the Mental Health Research Network studied the medical records of 5,894 health-plan members from eight states who committed suicide between 2000 and 2010. This methodology provided data on the health care that people who commit suicide receive prior to their deaths.Eighty-three percent of people received health care treatment in the year prior to dying, and used medical and primary care services more frequently than any other health service. However, a mental health diagnosis was made in less than half (45 percent) of these cases. Only about one quarter of individuals were diagnosed with a mental health condition in the four weeks before they died, and one in every five people who committed suicide made a health care visit in the week prior to their death.In comparison, only five percent of people who committed suicide received psychiatric hospitalization, with only 15 percent receiving such treatment in the year before committing suicide.The frequency of visits differed markedly according to sex and age. Women, people older than 65 years old, those living in neighborhoods with incomes over $40,000 per year and people who died by non-violent means made the most visits. One in every four patients was a college graduate, and mental health diagnoses were less common among disadvantaged groups with lower levels of education and income.This study and others point to the importance of outreach efforts at regular doctor visits, especially to men and younger- or middle-age groups.These findings can help target future suicide prevention efforts, and help meet the targets of the 2012 national strategy report by the United States Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.”These findings indicate that mental health and suicide risk may need to be assessed more thoroughly, especially in general medical settings,” writes Ahmedani. “By detecting mental health problems more effectively, we may be able to begin treatment earlier and prevent many suicides.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. …

Read more

Climate change won’t reduce deaths in winter, British study concludes

New research published today has found that climate change is unlikely to reduce the UK’s excess winter death rate as previously thought. The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change and debunks the widely held view that warmer winters will cut the number of deaths normally seen at the coldest time of year.Analyzing data from the past 60 years, researchers at the University of Exeter and University College London (UCL) looked at how the winter death rate has changed over time, and what factors influenced it.They found that from 1951 to 1971, the number of cold winter days was strongly linked to death rates, while from 1971 to 1991, both the number of cold days and flu activity were responsible for increased death rates. However, their analysis showed that from 1991 to 2011, flu activity alone was the main cause in year to year variation in winter mortality.Lead researcher Dr Philip Staddon said “We’ve shown that the number of cold days in a winter no longer explains its number of excess deaths. Instead, the main cause of year to year variation in winter mortality in recent decades has been flu.”The team suggest that this reduced link between the number of cold days and deaths in a winter can be explained by improvements in housing, health care, income and a greater awareness of the risks of the cold.As climate change progresses, the UK is likely to experience increasing weather extremes, including a greater number of less predictable periods of extreme cold. The research highlights that, despite a generally warmer winter, a more volatile climate could actually lead to increased numbers of winter deaths associated with climate change, rather than fewer.Dr Staddon believes the findings have important implications for policy:”Both policy makers and health professionals have, for some time, assumed that a potential benefit from climate change will be a reduction in deaths seen over winter. We’ve shown that this is unlikely to be the case. Efforts to combat winter mortality due to cold spells should not be lessened, and those against flu and flu-like illnesses should also be maintained.”Co-author, Prof Hugh Montgomery of UCL said:”Climate change appears unlikely to lower winter death rates. Indeed, it may substantially increase them by driving extreme weather events and greater variation in winter temperatures. Action must be taken to prevent this happening.”Co-author, Prof Michael Depledge of University of Exeter Medical School said:”Studies of the kind we have conducted provide information that is key for policymakers and politicians making plans to manage the impacts of climate change. We’re hopeful that the importance of this issue will be understood, so that matters of health and environmental security can be dealt with seriously and effectively.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. …

Read more

Roots to shoots: Hormone transport in plants deciphered

Plant growth is orchestrated by a spectrum of signals from hormones within a plant. A major group of plant hormones called cytokinins originate in the roots of plants, and their journey to growth areas on the stem and in leaves stimulates plant development. Though these phytohormones have been identified in the past, the molecular mechanism responsible for their transportation within plants was previously poorly understood.Now, a new study from a research team led by biochemist Chang-Jun Liu at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory identifies the protein essential for relocating cytokinins from roots to shoots.The research is reported in the February 11 issue of Nature Communications.Cytokinins stimulate shoot growth and promote branching, expansion and plant height. Regulating these hormones also improves the longevity of flowering plants, tolerance to drought or other environmental stresses, and the efficiency of nitrogen-based fertilizers.Manipulating cytokinin distribution by tailoring the action of the transporter protein could be one way to increase biomass yield and stress tolerance of plants grown for biofuels or agriculture. “This study may open new avenues for modifying various important crops, agriculturally, biotechnologically, and horticulturally, to increase yields and reduce fertilizer requirements, for instance, while improving the exploitation of sustainable bioenergy resources,” Liu said.Using Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to mustard and cabbage that serves as a common experimental model, the researchers studied a large family of transport proteins called ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, which act as a kind of inter- or intra-cellular pump moving substances in or out of a plant’s cells or their organelles. While performing gene expression analysis on a set of these ABC transporters, the research team found that one gene — AtABCG14 – is highly expressed in the vascular tissues of roots.To determine its function, they examined mutant plants harboring a disrupted AtABCG14 gene. They found that knocking out this transporter gene resulted in plants with weaker growth, slenderer stems, and shorter primary roots than their wild-type counterparts. These structural changes in the plants are symptoms of cytokinin deficiencies. Essentially, the long-distance transportation of the growth hormones is impaired, which causes alterations in the development of roots and shoots. …

Read more

New pathway for fear discovered deep within brain

Fear is primal. In the wild, it serves as a protective mechanism, allowing animals to avoid predators or other perceived threats. For humans, fear is much more complex. A normal amount keeps us safe from danger. But in extreme cases, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), too much fear can prevent people from living healthy, productive lives. Researchers are actively working to understand how the brain translates fear into action. Today, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) announce the discovery of a new neural circuit in the brain that directly links the site of fear memory with an area of the brainstem that controls behavior.How does the brain convert an emotion into a behavioral response? For years, researchers have known that fear memories are learned and stored in a small structure in the brain known as the amygdala. Any disturbing event activates neurons in the lateral and then central portions of the amygdala. The signals are then communicated internally, passing from one group of neurons to the next. …

Read more

Written all over your face: Humans express four basic emotions rather than six

Human beings are emotional creatures whose state of mind can usually be observed through their facial expressions.A commonly-held belief, first proposed by Dr Paul Ekman, posits there are six basic emotions which are universally recognized and easily interpreted through specific facial expressions, regardless of language or culture. These are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.New research published in the journal Current Biology by scientists at the University of Glasgow has challenged this view, and suggested that there are only four basic emotions.Their conclusion was reached by studying the range of different muscles within the face — or Action Units as researchers refer to them — involved in signalling different emotions, as well as the time-frame over which each muscle was activated.This is the first such study to objectively examine the ‘temporal dynamics’ of facial expressions, made possible by using a unique Generative Face Grammar platform developed at the University of Glasgow.The team from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology claim that while the facial expression signals of happiness and sadness are clearly distinct across time, fear and surprise share a common signal — the wide open eyes — early in the signalling dynamics.Similarly, anger and disgust share the wrinkled nose. It is these early signals that could represent more basic danger signals. Later in the signalling dynamics, facial expressions transmit signals that distinguish all six ‘classic’ facial expressions of emotion.Lead researcher Dr Rachael Jack said: “Our results are consistent with evolutionary predictions, where signals are designed by both biological and social evolutionary pressures to optimize their function.”First, early danger signals confer the best advantages to others by enabling the fastest escape. Secondly, physiological advantages for the expresser — the wrinkled nose prevents inspiration of potentially harmful particles, whereas widened eyes increases intake of visual information useful for escape — are enhanced when the face movements are made early.”What our research shows is that not all facial muscles appear simultaneously during facial expressions, but rather develop over time supporting a hierarchical biologically-basic to socially-specific information over time.”In compiling their research the team used special techniques and software developed at the University of Glasgow to synthesize all facial expressions.The Generative Face Grammar — developed by Professor Philippe Schyns, Dr Oliver Garrod and Dr Hui Yu — uses cameras to capture a three-dimensional image of faces of individuals specially trained to be able to activate all 42 individual facial muscles independently.From this a computer can then generate specific or random facial expressions on a 3D model based on the activation of different Actions Units or groups of units to mimic all facial expressions.By asking volunteers to observe the realistic model as it pulled various expressions — thereby providing a true four-dimensional experience — and state which emotion was being expressed the researchers are able to see which specific Action Units observers associate with particular emotions.It was through this method they found that the signals for fear/surprise and anger/disgust were confused at the early stage of transmission and only became clearer later when other Action Units were activated.Dr Jack said: “Our research questions the notion that human emotion communication comprises six basic, psychologically irreducible categories. Instead we suggest there are four basic expressions of emotion.”We show that ‘basic’ facial expression signals are perceptually segmented across time and follow an evolving hierarchy of signals over time — from the biologically-rooted basic signals to more complex socially-specific signals.”Over time, and as humans migrated across the globe, socioecological diversity probably further specialized once-common facial expressions, altering the number, variety and form of signals across cultures.”The researchers intend to develop their study by looking at facial expressions of different cultures, including East Asian populations whom they have already ascertained interpret some of the six classical emotions differently — placing more emphasis on eye signals than mouth movements compared to Westerners.

Read more

Why Lindsay Lohan is Right

Lindsay Lohan on Oprah, photo via When anything on Lindsay Lohan is written in newspapers or tabloids people’s eyes have grown accustomed to skimming or glossing over – because it is often the same story with slightly varied details about jails, rehabs, arrests, accidents and so forth.However, in her interview this week on Oprah’s Next Chapter, Lohan sings a different tune, a tune that is actually right on the mark with regard to recovery – that others in early recovery from addiction can resonate with.The following excerpts are from Oprah’s 1st of many scheduled interviews with Lohan that aired this week :Lohan: “I need to shut up and listen”Why it is right: This self deprecating phrases is often considered essential for newcomers in 12 step meetings. It…

Read more

Mesothelioma Treatments-What Are Your Options?

There are several options available for the treatment of mesothelioma. The most recommended forms of treatment are: a} Surgery b} Chemotherapy c} Radiotherapy. There are however other less popular, less commonly used forms of treatments, these include gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy and others. Some of these other forms of treatment are still in the stage of experimental and clinical trials usage.The cancer is usually treated by the use of combination therapies involving the use of more than one type of therapy. Most times, surgery is used to remove as much of the tumor as possible and this is followed with chemotherapy and or radiotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells. This particular combination of surgery and chemotherapy with radiotherapy is one of the commonest forms …

Read more

Woman awarded £5,000 for poor dental treatment

Home » No Win No Fee » Latest Personal Injury News » 2013 » 10 » Woman awarded £5,000 for poor dental treatmentWoman awarded £5,000 for poor dental treatmentA woman from Knebworth has been awarded compensation of almost £5,000 after suffering poor dental work.Carole Gavin sued Dr Alykhan Dinani over treatment that was carried out to such a low standard it resulted in her losing a tooth. Ms Gavin had visited the dentist for routine root canal treatment and a crown, but the action taken by the medical expert left one tooth so badly broken and infected that it later had to be removed.The 46-year-old villager told the Hertfordshire Mercury she is not the sort of person who would take legal action on a whim, but she felt the incident was of such severity that she opted to.”I wanted to make people aware of what happened and that there is a recourse. You can’t see inside your own mouth. You don’t know what should be done and you can’t tell if it’s been done correctly,” Ms Gavin said.She had originally visited the practice to see Dr Dinani in May 2008 and described how the crown was fitted poorly. Indeed, she soon found food became lodged under her tooth and this led to an infection and a painful abscess.At this point, she returned to the practice and told how the dentist did not remove the food residue that had gathered beneath the crown. Several weeks later she tried to get another appointment but was soon rushed into A&E.”The left side of my face became extremely swollen and I was in so much pain. I was really concerned so I went straight to my nearest hospital,” she explained.Ms Gavin was informed the tooth could not be repaired because the root canal treatment had been carried out incorrectly. As a result, it was removed.She has now been awarded compensation of £4,875. Dr Dinani and Stevenage Dental Practice chose not to comment.Or call us on 0800 884 0321SHARE THIS

Read more

Space around others perceived just as our own

Sep. 5, 2013 — A study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has shown that neurons in our brain ‘mirror’ the space near others, just as if this was the space near ourselves. The study, published in the scientific journal Current Biology, sheds new light on a question that has long preoccupied psychologists and neuroscientists regarding the way in which the brain represents other people and the events that happens to those people.”We usually experience others as clearly separated from us, occupying a very different portion of space,” says Claudio Brozzoli, lead author of the study at the Department of Neuroscience. “However, what this study shows is that we perceive the space around other people in the same way as we perceive the space around our own body.”The new research revealed that visual events occurring near a person’s own hand and those occurring near another’s hand are represented by the same region of the frontal lobe (premotor cortex). In other words, the brain can estimate what happens near another person’s hand because the neurons that are activated are the same as those that are active when something happens close to our own hand. It is possible that this shared representation of space could help individuals to interact more efficiently — when shaking hands, for instance. It might also help us to understand intuitively when other people are at risk of getting hurt, for example when we see a friend about to be hit by a ball.The study consists of a series of experiments in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in which a total of forty-six healthy volunteers participated. In the first experiment, participants observed a small ball attached to a stick moving first near their own hand, and then near another person’s hand. The authors discovered a region in the premotor cortex that contained groups of neurons that responded to the object only if it was close to the individual’s own hand or close to the other person’s hand. In a second experiment, the authors reproduced their finding before going on to show that this result was not dependent on the order of stimulus presentation near the two hands.”We know from earlier studies that our brains represent the actions of other people using the same groups of neurons that represent our own actions; the so called mirror neuron system,” says Henrik Ehrsson, co-author of the study. …

Read more

Inner-ear disorders may cause hyperactivity

Sep. 5, 2013 — Behavioral abnormalities are traditionally thought to originate in the brain. But a new study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has found that inner-ear dysfunction can directly cause neurological changes that increase hyperactivity. The study, conducted in mice, also implicated two brain proteins in this process, providing potential targets for intervention.The findings were published today in the online edition of Science.For years, scientists have observed that many children and adolescents with severe inner-ear disorders — particularly disorders affecting both hearing and balance — also have behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity. Until now, no one has been able to determine whether the ear disorders and behavioral problems are actually linked.”Our study provides the first evidence that a sensory impairment, such as inner-ear dysfunction, can induce specific molecular changes in the brain that cause maladaptive behaviors traditionally considered to originate exclusively in the brain,” said study leader Jean M. Hébert, Ph.D., professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience and of genetics at Einstein.The inner ear consists of two structures, the cochlea (responsible for hearing) and the vestibular system (responsible for balance). Inner-ear disorders are typically caused by genetic defects but can also result from infection or injury.The idea for the study arose when Michelle W. Antoine, a Ph.D. student at Einstein at the time, noticed that some mice in Dr. …

Read more

Our brains can (unconsciously) save us from temptation

Aug. 8, 2013 — Inhibitory self control — not picking up a cigarette, not having a second drink, not spending when we should be saving — can operate without our awareness or intention.That was the finding by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They demonstrated through neuroscience research that inaction-related words in our environment can unconsciously influence our self-control. Although we may mindlessly eat cookies at a party, stopping ourselves from over-indulging may seem impossible without a deliberate, conscious effort. However, it turns out that overhearing someone — even in a completely unrelated conversation — say something as simple as “calm down” might trigger us to stop our cookie eating frenzy without realizing it.The findings were reported in the journal Cognition by Justin Hepler, M.A., University of Illinois; and Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D., the Martin Fishbein Chair of Communication and a Professor of Psychology at Penn.Volunteers completed a study where they were given instructions to press a computer key when they saw the letter “X” on the computer screen, or not press a key when they saw the letter “Y.” Their actions were affected by subliminal messages flashing rapidly on the screen. Action messages (“run,” “go,” “move,” “hit,” and “start”) alternated with inaction messages (“still,” “sit,” “rest,” “calm,” and “stop”) and nonsense words (“rnu,” or “tsi”). The participants were equipped with electroencephalogram recording equipment to measure brain activity.The unique aspect of this test is that the action or inaction messages had nothing to do with the actions or inactions volunteers were doing, yet Hepler and Albarracín found that the action/inaction words had a definite effect on the volunteers’ brain activity. Unconscious exposure to inaction messages increased the activity of the brain’s self-control processes, whereas unconscious exposure to action messages decreased this same activity.”Many important behaviors such as weight loss, giving up smoking, and saving money involve a lot of self-control,” the researchers noted. “While many psychological theories state that actions can be initiated automatically with little or no conscious effort, these same theories view inhibition as an effortful, consciously controlled process. Although reaching for that cookie doesn’t require much thought, putting it back on the plate seems to require a deliberate, conscious intervention. …

Read more

Scientists decipher structure of NatA, an enzyme complex that modifies most human proteins

Aug. 4, 2013 — A team of researchers from Philadelphia and Norway has determined the structure of an enzyme complex that modifies one end of most human proteins and is made at elevated levels in numerous forms of cancer. A study in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, led by researchers at The Wistar Institute, depicts the structure and the means of action of a protein complex called NatA. Their findings, they believe, will allow them to create an inhibitor — a potential drug — that could knock out NatA in order to curb the growth of cancer cells.”NatA appears essential for the growth of cells and their ability to divide, and we can see elevated production of this enzyme in many forms of cancer” said Ronen Marmorstein, Ph.D., senior author, Hilary Koprowski, M.D. Professor, and leader of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center’s Gene Expression and Regulation program. “Obviously, this is a particularly appealing drug target and we are currently leveraging our recent understanding of how the protein works to develop small molecules that will bind to and inactivate NatA.”NatA is a member of a family of N-terminal acetyltransferase (NAT) enzymes (or enzyme complexes) that modify proteins in order to control their behavior — for example by turning proteins on, telling proteins where to move, and tagging proteins or the cell for destruction.According to Marmorstein, NatA works with an amazing specificity for a particular sequence of amino acids — the individual building blocks of proteins — and unraveling the roots of that specificity has proven an alluring puzzle for scientists.The Marmorstein laboratory has proven expertise in the study of acetylation enzymes, proteins that modify other molecules in the cell with an acetyl group “tag.” In the cellular world, structure dictates function, and acetylation is a universal process for controlling protein behavior and gene expression in living organisms.”Modifying protein structures is one way that our cells control how proteins function,” Marmorstein explained, “and enzymes in the NAT family modify nearly 85 percent of human proteins, and 50 percent of these are modified by NatA.”According to Marmorstein, NatA operates in a complex of two proteins, an enzymatic subunit and an auxiliary partner. When they developed the structure of NatA — by bombarding a crystallized sample of the enzyme with powerful X-rays — they found how the auxiliary partner protein is crucial for turning the enzymatic subunit on.Binding to an auxiliary protein causes a structural change in the enzymatic subunit that properly configures the active site of the protein — the region of the protein where the chemical reaction occurs — essentially acting as a switch that activates the enzyme.”When it binds to its auxiliary protein, the enzymatic subunit of NatA actually changes shape, reconfiguring the structure to allow it to properly grab its target protein N-terminal sequence for acetylation,” Marmorstein said.Importantly, others have found that NatA function is required for the proliferation of cancer cells. Marmorstein says, understanding the structure of NatA has allowed his team to better understand how to inactivate the protein in cancer cells. The structure has yielded targets for small molecules that will act as inhibitors, essentially stopping the protein by gumming up its structure.

Read more

Novel molecules to target the cytoskeleton

Aug. 1, 2013 — The dysfunction of the cytoskeleton, a constituent element of the cell, is often associated with pathologies such as the onset of metastases. For this reason, it is a target of interest in numerous therapies. Teams from CNRS, the Université de Strasbourg and Inserm, led by Daniel Riveline[1], Jean-Marie Lehn[2] and Marie-France Carlier[3], have synthesized molecules capable of causing rapid growth of actin networks, one of the components of the cytoskeleton.This is a breakthrough because, until now, only molecules that stabilize or destroy the cytoskeleton of actin have been available. These compounds with novel properties, whose action has been elucidated both in vitro and in vivo, provide a new tool in pharmacology.This work was published in the journal Nature Communications on 29 July 2013.The cytoskeleton is mainly composed of actin filaments and microtubules. Made of polymers in dynamic assembly and constantly constructing and deconstructing itself, it affects numerous cellular processes such as intracellular movement, division and transport. It is involved in key steps of embryogenesis and other processes essential to life. Consequently, its malfunctioning can lead to serious pathologies. For example, the onset of certain metastases is revealed by an increased activity of the cytoskeleton. Identifying new molecules that target the cytoskeleton thus represents a major challenge.Until now, the molecules known and used in pharmacology had the effect of stabilizing or destroying the cytoskeleton of actin. …

Read more

New way discovered to block inflammation

July 1, 2013 — Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered a mechanism that triggers chronic inflammation in Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosisand type-2 diabetes. The results, published today in Nature Immunology, suggest a common biochemical thread to multiple diseases and point the way to a new class of therapies that could treat chronic inflammation in these non-infectious diseases without crippling the immune system. Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis and type-2 diabetes — diseases associated with aging and inflammation — affect more than 100 million Americans.When the body encounters a pathogen, it unleashes a rush of chemicals known as cytokines that draws immune cells to the site of infection and causes inflammation. Particulate matter in the body, such as the cholesterol crystals associated with vascular disease and the amyloid plaques that form in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, can also cause inflammation but the exact mechanism of action remains unclear. Researchers previously thought that these crystals and plaques accumulate outside of cells, and that macrophages — immune cells that scavenge debris in the body — induce inflammation as they attempt to clear them.”We’ve discovered that the mechanism causing chronic inflammation in these diseases is actually very different,” says Kathryn J. Moore, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor of medicine and cell biology, Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center.The researchers found that particulate matter does not linger on the outside of cells. Instead, a receptor called CD36 present on macrophages draws the soluble forms of these particles inside the cell where they are transformed into substances that trigger an inflammatory response. Says Dr. Moore, “What we found is that CD36 binds soluble cholesterol and protein matter associated with these diseases, pulls them inside the cell, and then transforms them. …

Read more

Social capabilities of performing multiple-action sequences

June 26, 2013 — The day of the big barbecue arrives and it’s time to fire up the grill. But rather than toss the hamburgers and hotdogs haphazardly onto the grate, you wait for the heat to reach an optimal temperature, and then neatly lay them out in their apportioned areas according to size and cooking times. Meanwhile, your friend is preparing the beverages. Cups are grabbed face down from the stack, turned over, and — using the other hand — filled with ice.While these tasks — like countless, everyday actions — may seem trivial at first glance, they are actually fairly complex, according to Robrecht van der Wel, an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers-Camden. “For instance, the observation that you grab a glass differently when you are filling a beverage than when you are stacking glasses suggests that you are thinking about the goal that you want to achieve,” he says. “How do you manipulate the glass? How do you coordinate your actions so that the liquid goes into the cup? These kinds of actions are not just our only way to accomplish our intentions, but they reveal our intentions and mental states as well.”van der Wel and his research partners, Marlene Meyer and Sabine Hunnius, turned their attention to how action planning generalizes to collaborative actions performed with others in a study, titled Higher-order planning for individual and joint object manipulations, published recently in Experimental Brain Research.According to van der Wel, the researchers were especially interested in determining whether people’s actions exhibit certain social capabilities when performing multiple-action sequences in concert with a partner. “It is a pretty astonishing ability that we, as people, are able to plan and coordinate our actions with others,” says van der Wel. “If people plan ahead for themselves, what happens if they are now in a task where their action might influence another person’s comfort? …

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close