Scientists report success growing cartilage to reconstruct nostrils and implanting tissue-engineered vaginal organs into humans

Two new articles published in The Lancet report the first ever successful operations in humans to reconstruct the alar wings of the nose (nostrils) (Martin et al), and to implant tissue-engineered vaginal organs in women with a rare syndrome that causes the vagina to be underdeveloped or absent (Atala et al), in both cases using the patients’ own tissue.In one paper, led by Professor Ivan Martin from the University of Basel in Switzerland, scientists report having engineered a human cartilage graft from patients’ own nasal septum cartilage cells to successfully rebuild the nostrils (alar lobule) of five individuals whose noses were damaged by skin cancer. One year after reconstruction, all five recipients were satisfied with their ability to breathe, as well as the cosmetic appearance of their nose, and did not report any local or systemic adverse events.The nose is the most common site of non-melanoma skin cancer, because of its cumulative exposure to sunlight, with the highest frequency of cancer occurring on the alar lobule. Currently, when removing skin cancers, surgeons often have to cut away parts of cartilage, (for instance from the nasal septum, ear, or rib) as grafts to functionally reconstruct the tumour excision site. However, this painful and invasive procedure involves major additional surgery, and has been associated with complications at the site from which cartilage has been removed.A team from the University of Basel, Switzerland, investigated an alternative approach using engineered cartilage tissue grown from patients’ own cells. They extracted the cartilage cells (chondrocytes) from the nasal septum of each patient, and multiplied the cells by exposing them to growth factors for two weeks. The expanded cells were seeded onto collagen membranes and cultured for two additional weeks, generating cartilage 40 times larger than the original biopsy. When the engineered grafts were ready they were shaped according to the defect and implanted.According to Professor Martin, “The engineered cartilage had clinical results comparable to the gold standard cartilage graft surgery. This new technique could help the body accept the new tissue more easily, and improve the stability and functionality of the nostril. Our success is based on the long-standing, effective integration in Basel between our experimental group at the Department of Biomedicine and the surgical disciplines. It opens the way to using this engineered cartilage for more challenging reconstructions in facial surgery such as the complete nose, eyelid, or ear. …

Read more

Not only is she thinner than you, her muscles work better, too: Role of muscle function in maintaining weight

We all know the type: The friend or colleague who stays slim and trim without much effort and despite eating the same high-calorie fare that causes everyone else to gain weight. As it turns out, the way the muscles of the inherently thin work may give them the edge.Daily physical activity is an inherited trait with a strong association to how fat or thin a person is. Chaitanya K. Gavini et al. previously found that aerobic capacity is a major predictor of daily physical activity level among humans and laboratory animals. In their new study, they compared female rats with high aerobic capacity (genetic tendency toward leanness) or low aerobic capacity (genetic tendency toward obesity) to investigate how muscle physiology affects leanness.Though the rats in each group were similar in weight and lean body mass, the rats with a high aerobic capacity were consistently more active than the low capacity rats. While all the rats had similar energy expenditures when at rest, big differences in energy expenditure (calorie burn) occurred during mild exercise. The researchers found the muscles of rats with lean genes demonstrated “poor fuel economy,” meaning that they burned more calories when performing the same exercise as those with fat genes. This may be due to more lean rats having higher levels of proteins that support energy expenditure and lower levels of proteins that encourage energy conservation and/or an increased sympathetic nervous system role in powering the muscles of lean rats.According to the researchers: “This has implications for how we consider metabolism when attempting to prevent or treat obesity. Targeting of pathways maximizing skeletal muscle energy use during physical activity may take advantage of already existing mechanisms that are endogenously employed to a greater extent in naturally lean people.”The article “Leanness and heightened nonresting energy expenditure: role of skeletal muscle activity thermogenesis” is published in the March 2014 issue of the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society. …

Read more

Biologists use sound to identify breeding grounds of endangered whales

Remote acoustic monitoring among endangered whales is the subject of a major article by two doctoral students in The College of Arts and Sciences.Leanna Matthews and Jessica McCordic, members of the Parks Lab in the Department of Biology, have co-authored “Remote Acoustic Monitoring of North Atlantic Right Whales Reveals Seasonal and Diel Variations in Acoustic Behavior.” The article appears in the current issue of PLOS ONE, an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the Public Library of Science in San Francisco.Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology for whom the lab is named, says the article confirms what many conservationists fear — that Roseway Basin, a heavily traveled shipping lane, off the coast of Nova Scotia, is a vital habitat area for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.”Remote acoustic monitoring is an important tool for understanding patterns in animal communication, and studies on the seasonality of context-specific acoustic signals allow inferences to be made about the behavior and habitat use of certain species,” says Parks, an expert in behavioral ecology, acoustic communication and marine science. “Our results support the hypothesis that the North Atlantic right whale’s breeding season occurs mostly from August to November and that this basin is a widely used habitat area.”More than 30 percent of all right whales use Roseway Basin, part of a larger geological formation called the Scotian Shelf, throughout the year. With only 400-500 in existence, these whales, says Parks, must congregate in the basin to feed and find mates.Already, the U.S. and Canadian governments have taken steps to redirect shipping traffic, in response to several fatal collisions with right whales.Matthews, whose research includes animal behavior and physiology, says the object of the article is to determine how and when Roseway Basin is used for male breeding activities.”Part of the answer lies in a loud ‘gunshot’ sound, made by the male whale,” says Matthews, the article’s lead author. “We’re not exactly sure what the gunshot is, but we think it may be a male-to-male antagonistic signal or an advertisement to females. … During a two-year period, we used non-invasive acoustic monitoring to analyze gunshots at two locations on the Scotian Shelf. The resultant data has provided tremendous insights into the whales’ feeding and mating habits.”Matthews and her team found that gunshot sound production occurred mainly in the autumn and, more often than not, at night. Researchers say this kind of information is essential to not only the individual fitness of each whale, but also the survival of the species, in general.McCordic, whose research spans animal behavior and communication, says the observed seasonal increase in gunshot sound production is consistent with the current understanding of the right whale breeding season.”Our results demonstrate that detection of gunshots with remote acoustic monitoring can be a reliable way to track shifts in distribution and changes in acoustic behavior, including possible mating activities,” she says, acknowledging David Mellinger, associate professor of marine bioacoustics at Oregon State University, who collected and provided access to the recordings used in the study. “It also provides a better understanding of right whale behavior and what needs to be done with future conservation efforts.”Parks, who assisted with the article, is proud of her students’ accomplishments.”Right whales are increasingly rare, and Leanna’s and Jessica’s research helps us understand how to better protect them,” she says. “By identifying potential breeding areas, we might be able to save this critically endangered species.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Syracuse University. …

Read more

The ten best weather places in the world

Do you dream of a place that is always sunny? Where the temperature is perfect? Where there is virtually no severe weather? Ed Darack has. His article, “The 10 Best Weather Places in the World,” featured in the March/April issue of Weatherwise magazine attempts to name the top ten places in the world that continually experience the best weather.Darack defines what “best” weather consists of. The basis of this list is founded in weather that has positive effects on human fundamental needs (physical, mental, and emotional). “We can determine meteorological “best” criteria for ideal human physical, mental, and emotional health that includes temperature, humidity, average number of sunny days, and other criteria, by studying the results of research conducted on environmental effects on humans.” With this in mind Darack creates a mythical place of weather perfection, ‘Anthro-Weathertopia’. Here the temperature never strays too far from 68F, the humidity is always comfortably 50%, and the clouds are never a threat. Unfortunately this perfect place does not exist, but his article lists the top ten places that come close.The Manjimup region of the extreme south west region of Western Australia ranks at number ten on the list. It is a piece of lush land off the southern Indian Ocean. …

Read more

Concerns raised about using beta agonists in beef cattle

Use of certain animal drugs known as beta agonists in cattle production has received considerable national attention.A Texas Tech University veterinary epidemiologist has found that although there are significant societal benefits to the practice, an increase in death loss of cattle raises questions about welfare implications of its use.In a peer-reviewed article published in PLOS ONE, Guy Loneragan, professor of food safety and public health in Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, adds to this ongoing national dialogue.”Beta agonists improve the efficiency of beef production and this improvement provides important societal benefits,” Loneragan said.”The beta agonists approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cattle increase muscle growth and may reduce the amount of fat the cattle accumulates,” he said. “This means the cattle converts more of the feed it eats into beef, and it does this more efficiently.”The article is co-authored by Daniel Thomson and Morgan Scott of Kansas State University and is titled “Increased mortality in groups of cattle administered the β-adrenergic agonists ractopamine hydrochloride and zilpaterol hydrochloride.”With the use of beta agonists, cattle require less feed and less water to produce the same amount of beef than if no beta agonists were used. Less land would be used to grow the crops used to feed the animals and, therefore, less fuel to produce the same amount of beef. The improvement in the efficiency of production has meaningful societal benefits.”However, through our extensive analysis, we found that the incidence of death among cattle administered beta agonists was 75 to 90 percent greater than cattle not administered the beta agonists,” Loneragan said. “This increase in death loss raises critical animal-welfare questions. We believe an inclusive dialogue is needed to explore the use of animal drugs solely to improve performance, yet have no offsetting health benefits for the animals to which they are administered. This is particularly needed for those drugs that appear to adversely impact animal welfare, such as beta agonists.”At a recent symposium held at Texas Tech, the animal behaviorist and welfare expert Temple Grandin headlined a discussion of beta agonists and animal welfare.In a recent joint NPR interview with Loneragan and Grandin about beta agonists’ affect on animal welfare, Grandin said, “These problems have got to stop. I’ve laid awake at night about it. I’ve worked all my career to improve how animals are handled and these animals are just suffering. …

Read more

Agroforestry can ensure food security, mitigate effects of climate change in Africa

Agroforestry can help to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation while at the same time providing livelihoods for poor smallholder farmers in Africa.Scientists at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) say agroforestry — which is an integrated land use management technique that incorporates trees and shrubs with crops and livestock on farms — could be a win-win solution to the seemingly difficult choice between reforestation and agricultural land use, because it increases the storage of carbon and may also enhance agricultural productivity.In a special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, scientists say that in most parts of Africa, climate change mitigation focuses on reforestation and forest protection however, such efforts to reduce deforestation conflict with the need to expand agricultural production in Africa to feed the continent’s growing population.Agriculture in Africa is dominated by smallholder farmers. Their priority is to produce enough food. Under such circumstances, any measures that will be put in place to mitigate the effects of climate change should also improve food production.”This mixture shows the role that agroforestry can play in addressing both climate mitigation and adaptation in primarily food-focused production systems of Africa” says Dr. Cheikh Mbow, Senior Scientist, Climate Change and Development at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and lead author of the article.”It has been demonstrated by science that if you develop agroforestry it has the potential to buffer the impact of climate change. For example, a farm with trees will suffer less to the impacts of climate change because it will absorb some of these impacts so agroforestry is a good response to develop resilience of agrosystems to the challenges brought about by climate change” he says.The report however notes that for farmers to incorporate trees in their farms there is need to revise the cultivation methods and provide them with some support to ensure swift adoption.Agroforestry is one of the most common land use systems across landscapes and agroecological zones in Africa but need much more adoption in order to increase the impact on food security. With food shortages and increased threats of climate change, interest in agroforestry is gathering for its potential to address various on-farm adaptation needs. “The failure of extension services in poor African countries limits the possibility to scale up innovations in agroforestry for improved land use systems .”The scientists conclude that agroforestry should therefore attract more attention in global agendas on climate change mitigation because of its positive social and environmental impacts.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Mental health problems mistaken for physical illness in children

Many children are admitted to general acute wards with mental health problems mistaken for physical disease. Somatic symptoms, such as abdominal pain, headaches, limb pain and tiredness, often mask underlying problems and result in the NHS spending money on investigations to eliminate wrongly diagnosed disease.A literature review published in Nursing Children and Young People examines how children’s nurses can recognize such complaints and help to address them.It identified that somatic complaints are linked to children’s upbringing and their home environments, including unstable home lives, a chaotic upbringing and parental over-protectiveness.The authors suggest that nurses working on the wards are in an ideal position to identify cases of children and young people presenting with somatic symptoms and provide holistic care.They say that nurse training and practice need to be adapted to enable somatic complaints to be diagnosed quickly and ensure correct management from the start.The article concludes that somatic disorders can, to some extent, be predicted when nurses take into consideration issues such as poor family situations and parental influences, psychosocial stress, and poor emotional functioning.Nurses should assess these factors together with physical symptoms to provide a full picture of a child’s circumstances and healthcare needs.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by RCN Publishing Company. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Acamprosate For Alcohol: Why the Research Might Be Wrong

Calcium may be curbing the urge to drink.“Occasionally,” reads the opening sentence of a commentary published online last month in Neuropsychopharmacology, “a paper comes along that fundamentally challenges what we thought we knew about a drug mechanism.” The drug in question is acamprosate, and the mechanism of action under scrutiny is the drug’s ability to promote abstinence in alcoholics. The author of the unusual commentary is Markus Heilig, Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).Acamprosate, in use worldwide and currently the most widely prescribed medication for alcohol dependence in the U.S., may work by an entirely different mechanism than scientists have believed on the basis of hundreds of studies over …

Read more

Marriage’s ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’: Changing expectations and rising inequality improve best marriages, but undermine average marriages

Today Americans are looking to their marriages to fulfill different goals than in the past — and although the fulfillment of these goals requires especially large investments of time and energy in the marital relationship, on average Americans are actually making smaller investments in their marital relationship than in the past, according to new research from Northwestern University.Those conflicting realities don’t bode well for the majority of marriages, according to Eli Finkel, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and sciences and professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and the lead author of the study. But today’s best marriages — those in which the spouses invest enough time and energy in bolstering the marital relationship to help each other achieve what they seek from the marriage — are flourishing even more than the best marriages of yesteryear.What accounts for these divergent trends?Many scholars and social commentators have argued that contemporary Americans are, to their peril, expecting more of their marriage than in the past. But Finkel, who wrote the article in collaboration with Northwestern graduate students Ming Hui, Kathleen Carswell and Grace Larson, disagrees.”The issue isn’t that Americans are expecting more versus less from their marriage, but rather that the nature of what they are expecting has changed,” Finkel said. “They’re asking less of their marriage regarding basic physiological and safety needs, but they’re asking more of their marriage regarding higher psychological needs like the need for personal growth.”According to Finkel, these changes over time in what Americans are seeking from their marriage are linked to broader changes in the nation’s economic and cultural circumstances.In the decades after America’s Declaration of Independence in 1776, the nation primarily consisted of small farming villages in which the household was the unit of economic production and wage labor outside the home was rare. During that era, the primary functions of marriage revolved around meeting basic needs like food production, shelter and physical safety.”In 1800, the idea of marrying for love was ludicrous,” Finkel said. “That isn’t to say that people didn’t want love from their marriage; it just wasn’t the point of marriage.”Starting around 1850, the nation began a sharp and sustained transition toward urbanization, and the husband-breadwinner/wife-homemaker model of marriage became increasingly entrenched. With these changes, and as the nation became wealthier, the primary functions of marriage revolved less around basic needs and more around needs pertaining to love and companionship.”To be sure,” Finkel observed, “marriage remained an economic institution, but the fundamental reason for getting married and for achieving happiness within the marriage increasingly revolved around love and companionship.”Starting with the various countercultural revolutions of the 1960s, a third model of marriage emerged. This third model continued to value love and companionship, but many of the primary functions of marriage now involved helping the spouses engage in a voyage of self-discovery and personal growth.”In contemporary marriages, “Finkel notes, “Americans look to their marriage to help them ‘find themselves’ and to pursue careers and other activities that facilitate the expression of their core self.”Finkel is generally enthusiastic about these historical changes, as having a marriage meet one’s needs for self-discovery and personal growth can yield extremely high-quality marriages. Yet, he has doubts about whether the majority of American marriages can, at present, meet spouses’ new psychological expectations of their marriage.According to Finkel, when the primary functions of marriage revolved around shelter and food production, there wasn’t much need for spouses to achieve deep insight into each other’s core psychological essence. As the primary functions shifted to love and then to self-expression, however, it became increasingly essential for spouses to develop such insight.”However, developing such insight requires a heavy investment of time and psychological resources in the marriage, not to mention strong relationship skills and interpersonal compatibility,” Finkel said.Those marriages that are successful in meeting the two spouses’ love and self-expression goals are extremely happy — happier than the best marriages in earlier eras. …

Read more

Whole diet approach to lower cardiovascular risk has more evidence than low-fat diets

A study published in The American Journal of Medicine reveals that a whole diet approach, which focuses on increased intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, has more evidence for reducing cardiovascular risk than strategies that focus exclusively on reduced dietary fat.This new study explains that while strictly low-fat diets have the ability to lower cholesterol, they are not as conclusive in reducing cardiac deaths. By analyzing major diet and heart disease studies conducted over the last several decades, investigators found that participants directed to adopt a whole diet approach instead of limiting fat intake had a greater reduction in cardiovascular death and non-fatal myocardial infarction.Early investigations of the relationship between food and heart disease linked high levels of serum cholesterol to increased intake of saturated fat, and subsequently, an increased rate of coronary heart disease. This led to the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit fat intake to less than 30% of daily calories, saturated fat to 10%, and cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day.”Nearly all clinical trials in the 1960s, 70s and 80s compared usual diets to those characterized by low total fat, low saturated fat, low dietary cholesterol, and increased polyunsaturated fats,” says study co-author James E. Dalen, MD, MPH, Weil Foundation, and University of Arizona College of Medicine. “These diets did reduce cholesterol levels. However they did not reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction or coronary heart disease deaths.”Carefully analyzing studies and trials from 1957 to the present, investigators found that the whole diet approach, and specifically Mediterranean-style diets, are effective in preventing heart disease, even though they may not lower total serum or LDL cholesterol. The Mediterranean-style diet is low in animal products and saturated fat, and encourages intake of monounsaturated fats found in nuts and olive oil. In particular, the diet emphasizes consumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and fish.”The potency of combining individual cardioprotective foods is substantial — and perhaps even stronger than many of the medications and procedures that have been the focus of modern cardiology,” explains co-author Stephen Devries, MD, FACC, Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology (Deerfield, IL) and Division of Cardiology, Northwestern University (Chicago, IL). “Results from trials emphasizing dietary fat reduction were a disappointment, prompting subsequent studies incorporating a whole diet approach with a more nuanced recommendation for fat intake.”Based on the data from several influential studies, which are reviewed in the article, Dalen and Devries concluded that emphasizing certain food groups, while encouraging people to decrease others, is more cardioprotective and overall better at preventing heart disease than a blanket low-fat diet. Encouraging the consumption of olive oil over butter and cream, while increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and fish promises to be more effective.”The last fifty years of epidemiology and clinical trials have established a clear link between diet, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular events,” concludes Dr. …

Read more

First African study on biodiversity in genetically modified maize finds insects abundant

Previous studies from China, Spain, and the United States on genetically modified (GM) rice, cotton, and maize have concluded that the biodiversity of insects and related arthropods in GM crop fields was essentially the same as that among conventional crops. Now a new study from South Africa shows similar results.The study is described in an article called “Comparative Diversity of Arthropods on Bt Maize and Non-Bt Maize in two Different Cropping Systems in South Africa,” which appears in the February 2014 issue of Environmental Entomology.”The aims of the study were to compile a checklist of arthropods that occur on maize in South Africa and to compare the diversity and abundance of arthropods and functional groups on Bt maize and non-Bt maize,” the authors wrote. “Results from this short-term study indicated that abundance and diversity of arthropods in maize and the different functional guilds were not significantly affected by Bt maize, either in terms of diversity or abundance.”A total of 8,771 arthropod individuals, comprising 288 morphospecies, were collected from 480 plants sampled from Bt maize and non-Bt maize fields over a two-year period. The researchers found no significant differences in abundance or diversity in detritivores, herbivores, predators, or parasitoids.”The results of our study indicate that arthropod diversity, even in high-input farming systems, is as high as in subsistence farming systems” said Dr. Johnnie van den Berg, a professor at North-West University and one of the co-authors of the article. “More recently, surveys of arthropod and plant beta-diversity inside and adjacent to maize fields have been completed during which 30,000 arthropods and 15,000 plant individuals were surveyed along a 1,000 kilometer transect. It seems that maize field diversity is homogenized and field margins had a high beta diversity,” he added.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Entomological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Asbestos and Lung CancerBy David HooperAsbestos and lung cancer, yes it is true that asbestos is a major reason for the cause of this deadly disease. Before we analyze the interrelationship between asbestos and lung cancer it is necessary to understand what is asbestos and what are its health implications.What is Asbestos?Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in the form of bundled fibers. Asbestos fibers are heat and chemical resistant and are poor conductor of electricity. These qualities make it fit for commercial use. Industries use four types of Asbestos: Chrysolite or white asbestos, Crocidolite or blue asbestos, Anthophyllite or gray colored fibers and Amosite or brown colored fibers. These asbestos fibers break into tiny dust particles and thus easily inhaled or swallowed which can …

Read more

Mesothelioma Diagnosis-How Do You Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma Diagnosis-How Do You Diagnose Mesothelioma?By Bello KamorudeenMesothelioma is a serious cancer that advances quickly and aggressively. However the diagnosis of this type of cancer is not usually made until it has reached an advanced stage. This is mainly due to two reasons:1-Mesothelioma has a very long latency period. In a typical case, between 20 to 50 years elapse between asbestos exposure and the onset of the first symptoms of the disease show up.2-Most of the early and warning symptoms are not specific to mesothelioma; they often resemble symptoms of other conditions that are much less serious. For example, the early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may look like those for influenza or pneumonia, and this can result in misdiagnosis.The First Stages of DiagnosisMesothelioma patients …

Read more

Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Mesothelioma Treatment OptionsBy Garry NealeMesothelioma is a cancer caused by contact with asbestos, a carcinogen. The disease attacks the lining of the lung or the lining of the abdominal cavity. It can be difficult to deal with this type of cancer and find decent mesothelioma info online. This article will outline some of the main treatment options available to deal with the disease. The more knowledge you have about this disease, the better.Most people searching for mesothelioma info are looking for information regarding the different treatments currently available to those affected by the cancer. The type of treatment you receive for it depends on many factors, including cancer stage, location of the disease, and how far it has spread. It also depends on how the cancer …

Read more

Alternative Mesothelioma Treatments

Alternative Mesothelioma TreatmentsBy Bill CassAlternative treatments for mesothelioma are often described as holistic treatments because not only do they help patients’ physical well being but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Alternative treatments help ease stress and reduce the side effects caused by conventional treatments for mesothelioma cancer. Alternative treatments for mesothelioma therefore are a great compliment to medical treatment.Alternative TreatmentsIn order to make the most of your cancer treatment, it is a good idea to discuss alternative treatments with your doctor. Anything deemed outside the traditional treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation) are alternative treatments. Alternative mesothelioma treatments can include:AcupunctureYogaMeditationMassage TherapyNutritional Supplements and HerbsAromatherapyTENS therapyThese treatments may be expensive and most are not covered by health insurance.AcupunctureThis technique involves thin, long needles being inserted into certain …

Read more

Canadian NICU puts parents in charge

At Mount Sinai Hospital in Ontario, Canada, the NICU has implemented a new program putting parents in charge of their baby’s care. From an article at CTV News: Parents have long been encouraged to spend time with their babies in the NICU, but they were typically more observers than participants, often feeling helpless and lost as they sat by their child’s isolette watching every breath, trying to make sense of the monitors and startling at every bell or buzzer around them.”With family integrated care, we have done something quite different,” explains Dr. Shoo Lee, pediatrician-in-chief and director of the Maternal-Infant Care Research Centre.”What we’ve done is to say that for all babies in the NICU, the parents should be the primary …

Read more

Researchers discover new regulator of drug detoxication

Oct. 11, 2013 — Drug abuse and alcohol are some of the most frequent causes of liver damage, particularly in developed countries. Such kind of liver damage can cause irreversible liver failure and even cancer. Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have discovered an important new protective role of the Fra-1 protein, which neutralizes the damage caused by agents, such as the analgesic drug acetaminophen (Paracetamol). This is the first study to reveal a function of Fra-1 in protecting this important organ. The study is published in the journal Hepatology.The journal includes a comment by David A. Brenner, from the University of California, who is a leader in the field of gastroenterological research, specializing in diseases of the liver. In the comment, Brenner highlights the importance of this study, saying that it “should provide new insights into the complex role of AP-1 [a family of proteins which Fra1 is part of] in liver disease and the potential role of inhibitors of the signalling pathway in the treatment of specific liver diseases.”A NEW ‘SUPER-DETOXIFYING’ MOUSEKey to the study has been a new ‘super-detoxifying’ mouse model generated by the team around Erwin Wagner, Director of the BBVA Foundation-CNIO Cancer Cell Biology Programme and holder of an ERC Advanced Grant.”Our mouse was designed to produce extra Fra-1 protein only in the liver, which allowed us to study its specific function in this organ and thus eliminate side effects that an excess of protein might have in other tissues,” explains Sebastian Hasenfuss, first author of the study.According to the article, increased production of Fra-1 in the liver of these mice protects the organ from damage caused by drugs, such as Paracetamol. Moreover, Erwin Wagner’s team also found that the removal of Fra-1 in mice causes a significant increase in liver damage.How Fra-1 protects the liver is another question that Wagner’s team answers in the article. On one hand, Fra-1 stimulates genes related to the glutathione defence system against free radicals and thus avoids cellular damage. …

Read more

Video captions improve comprehension

Oct. 11, 2013 — A simple change — switching on captions — can make a big difference when students watch educational videos, an SF State professor has discovered.Robert Keith Collins, an assistant professor of American Indian studies, found that students’ test scores and comprehension improved dramatically when captions were used while watching videos. The tool is often utilized for students with learning disabilities, but Collins says his results show captions can be beneficial to all students.Collins developed the idea while he was a member of a faculty learning committee focused on ways to make the classroom more accessible to all students. During the first year of a two-year case study, he showed videos without captions to establish a baseline of student comprehension. Once that baseline was established, he turned captions on and began to see improvements. Those improvements continued into the second year of the study.”Not only were students talking about how much having the captions helped them as they took notes, their test scores went up,” Collins said. “During the baseline year, there were a lot of Cs. In the second years, they went from Cs, Ds and Fs to As, Bs and Cs. It was really significant improvement.”That improvement didn’t just manifest itself in grades. Class discussions also became livelier and more detailed, with students recalling specific information shown in the videos such as names of people and places.”We’re living in an age where our students are so distracted by technology that they sometimes forget where they should focus their attention when engaged with technology or media,” he said. …

Read more

Get touchy feely with plants

Sep. 12, 2013 — Forget talking to plants to help them grow, gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease, a paper in the open access journal BMC Plant Biology reveals.Gently rubbing the leaves of thale cress plants (Arabidsopsis thaliana) between thumb and forefinger activates an innate defense mechanism, Floriane L’Haridon and colleagues report. Within minutes, biochemical changes occur, causing the plant to become more resistant to Botrytis cinerea, the fungus that causes grey mould.Rubbing the leaves is a form of mechanical stress. Plants frequently have to deal with mechanical stress, be it caused by rain, wind, animals or even other plants. Trees growing on windy shorelines, for example, sometimes respond by developing shorter, thicker trunks.But plants also respond to more delicate forms of mechanical stress, such as touch. Some responses are obvious — the snapping shut of a Venus fly trap, the folding leaflets of a touched touch-me-not plant (Mimosa pudica) — whilst some are more discrete. Plants also launch an arsenal of ‘invisible’ responses to mechanical stress, including changes at the molecular and biochemical level.Rubbing the thale cress leaves triggered a host of internal changes. Genes related to mechanical stress were activated. Levels of reactive oxygen species increased. And the protective outer layer of the leaf became more permeable, presumably to aid the escape of various biologically active molecules that were detected and which are thought to contribute to the observed immune response. …

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