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

Coffee Consumption Reduces Mortality Risk from Liver Cirrhosis

New research reveals that consuming two or more cups of coffee each day reduces the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%, specifically cirrhosis caused by non-viral hepatitis. Findings in Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, show that tea, fruit juice, and soft drink consumption are not linked to cirrhosis mortality risk. As with previous studies heavy alcohol use was found to increase risk of death from cirrhosis.A 2004 report from The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year 1.3% of total death worldwide is caused by liver cirrhosis. Previous research shows that 29 million Europeans have chronic liver disease, with 17,000 deaths annually attributed to cirrhosis. Further WHO reports state that liver cirrhosis is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.”Prior evidence suggests that coffee may reduce liver damage in patients with chronic liver disease,” said lead researcher, Dr. Woon-Puay Koh with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore. “Our study examined the effects of consuming coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea, and soft drinks on risk of mortality from cirrhosis.”This prospective population-based study, known as The Singapore Chinese Health Study, recruited 63,275 Chinese subjects between the ages of 45 and 74 living in Singapore. Participants provided information on diet, lifestyle choices, and medical history during in-person interviews conducted between 1993 and 1998. Patients were followed for an average of nearly 15 years, during which time there were 14,928 deaths (24%); 114 of them died from liver cirrhosis. The mean age of death was 67 years.Findings indicate that those who drank at least 20 g of ethanol daily had a greater risk of cirrhosis mortality compared to non-drinker. …

Read more

It’s alive! Bacteria-filled liquid crystals could improve biosensing

Plop living, swimming bacteria into a novel water-based, nontoxic liquid crystal and a new physics takes over. The dynamic interaction of the bacteria with the liquid crystal creates a novel form of soft matter: living liquid crystal.The new type of active material, which holds promise for improving the early detection of diseases, was developed by a research collaboration based at Ohio’s Kent State University and Illinois’ Argonne National Laboratory. The team will present their work at the 58th annual Biophysical Society Meeting, held in San Francisco, Feb.15-19.As a biomechanical hybrid, living liquid crystal moves and reshapes itself in response to external stimuli. It also stores energy just as living organisms do to drive its internal motion. And it possesses highly desirable optical properties. In a living liquid crystal system, with the aid of a simple polarizing microscope, you can see with unusual clarity the wake-like trail stimulated by the rotation of bacterial flagella just 24-nanometers thick, about 1/4000th the thickness of an average human hair.You can also control and guide active movements of the bacteria by manipulating variables such as oxygen availability, temperature or surface alignment, thus introducing a new design concept for creating microfluidic biological sensors. Living liquid crystal provides a medium to amplify tiny reactions that occur at the micro- and nano-scales — where molecules and viruses interact — and to also easily optically detect and analyze these reactions. That suits living liquid crystal to making sensing devices that monitor biological processes such as cancer growth, or infection. Such microfluidic technology is of increasing importance to biomedical sensing as a means of detecting disease in its earliest stages when it is most treatable, and most cost-effectively managed.”As far as we know, these things have never been done systematically as we did before in experimental physics,” explained Shuang Zhou, a Ph.D. candidate at Ohio’s Kent State University. …

Read more

Deep TCR sequencing reveals extensive renewal of the T cell repertoire following autologous stem cell transplant in MS

A new study describes the complexity of the new T cell repertoire following immune-depleting therapy to treat multiple sclerosis, improving our understanding of immune tolerance and clinical outcomes.In the Immune Tolerance Network’s (ITN) HALT-MS study, 24 patients with relapsing, remitting multiple sclerosis received high-dose immunosuppression followed by a transplant of their own stem cells, called an autologous stem cell transplant, to potentially reprogram the immune system so that it stops attacking the brain and spinal cord. Data published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation quantified and characterized T cell populations following this aggressive regimen to understand how the reconstituting immune system is related to patient outcomes.ITN investigators used a high-throughput, deep-sequencing technology (Adaptive Biotechnologies, ImmunoSEQTM Platform) to analyze the T cell receptor (TCR) sequences in CD4+ and CD8+ cells to compare the repertoire at baseline pre-transplant, two months post-transplant and 12 months post-transplant.Using this approach, alongside conventional flow cytometry, the investigators found that CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes exhibit different reconstitution patterns following transplantation. The scientists observed that the dominant CD8+ T cell clones present at baseline were expanded at 12 months post-transplant, suggesting these clones were not effectively eradicated during treatment. In contrast, the dominant CD4+ T cell clones present at baseline were undetectable at 12 months, and the reconstituted CD4+ T cell repertoire was predominantly composed of new clones.The results also suggest the possibility that differences in repertoire diversity early in the reconstitution process might be associated with clinical outcomes. Nineteen patients who responded to treatment had a more diverse repertoire two months following transplant compared to four patients who did not respond. Despite the low number of non-responders, these comparisons approached statistical significance and point to the possibility that complexity in the T cell compartment may be important for establishing immune tolerance.This is one of the first studies to quantitatively compare the baseline T cell repertoire with the reconstituted repertoire following autologous stem cell transplant, and provides a previously unseen in-depth analysis of how the immune system reconstitutes itself following immune-depleting therapy.About The Immune Tolerance NetworkThe Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) is a research consortium sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The ITN develops and conducts clinical and mechanistic studies of immune tolerance therapies designed to prevent disease-causing immune responses, without compromising the natural protective properties of the immune system. Visit www.immunetolerance.org for more information.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Immune Tolerance Network. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Meal times could have a significant effect on the levels of triglycerides in the liver

New findings in mice suggest that merely changing meal times could have a significant effect on the levels of triglycerides in the liver. The results of this Weizmann Institute of Science study, recently published in Cell Metabolism, not only have important implications for the potential treatment of metabolic diseases, they may also have broader implications for most research areas in the life sciences.Many biological processes follow a set timetable, with levels of activity rising and dipping at certain times of the day. Such fluctuations, known as circadian rhythms, are driven by internal “body clocks” based on an approximately 24-hour period — synchronized to light-dark cycles and other cues in an organism’s environment. Disruption to this optimum timing system in both animal models and in humans can cause imbalances, leading to such diseases as obesity, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver. Night-shift workers, for example, have been shown to have higher incidence of these diseases.In studying the role of circadian rhythm in the accumulation of lipids in the liver, postdoctoral fellow Yaarit Adamovich and the team in the lab of Dr. Gad Asher of the Weizmann Institute’s Biological Chemistry Department, together with scientists from Dr. Xianlin Han’s lab in the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Orlando, US, quantified hundreds of different lipids present in the mouse liver. They discovered that a certain group of lipids, namely the triglycerides (TAG), exhibit circadian behavior, with levels peaking about eight hours after sunrise. The scientists were astonished to find, however, that daily fluctuations in this group of lipids persist even in mice lacking a functional biological clock, albeit with levels cresting at a completely different time — 12 hours later than the natural schedule.”These results came as a complete surprise: One would expect that if the inherent clock mechanism is ‘dead,’ TAG could not accumulate in a time-dependent fashion,” says Adamovich. So what was making the fluctuating lipid levels “tick” if not the clocks? …

Read more

Prof van Zandwijk/ADRI meso trial TargomiRs treatment first stage late 2013

Prof van Zandwijk says he does not want to raise false hope, but he is cautiously optimistic the treatment will work.”I think the whole concept is sound and we feel very reassured.”While our preclinical research was confined to mesothelioma, we hope that this new approach to cancer treatment will also inhibit other tumour types.”Speaking at the launch, Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said: “This will allow further research into the most promising treatment for mesothelioma yet discovered. It means that we might have a cure in a few years.”Mentioning the sadness of losing a family friend to the disease, she said: “Anyone who has been touched by mesothelioma, and there are so many Australians who have been, will be so excited about this. …

Read more

Australian Asbestos Diseases Research Institute Announces Clinical Trial for New Mesothelioma Drug

TheAustralian Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI)has announced aclinical trialfora newly developed drug therapy in the treatment of mesothelioma.Researchers at the ADRI conducted a three year study focused on the genetic characteristics and the gene expression and found that a particular family of microRNAs was greatly decreased in mesothelioma.MicroRNAs are small genes involved in the regulation of cell and tumor biology, inhibition of this particular type of microRNAs is commonly found in other types of cancers but has never been linked to mesothelioma.Researchers treated human derived mesothelioma tumors in mice with a synthetic version of microRNA, the drug TargomiRs, in an attempt to bring the microRNA levels back up to normal. The drug was administered by way of minicells, a new drug delivery system developed …

Read more

Mesothelioma Treatment – How Does the Stage of Tumor Affect the Mode of Treatment For Mesothelioma?

The stage (extent) of a mesothelioma is an important factor in determining treatment options. Treatment option used is also based on the patients state of general health and individual preferences. The stage of the tumor most importantly helps to determine whether the tumor is resectable {operable} or not.Mesotheliomas are very resistant to treatment irrespective of their stage and it is always very important for the patient to know the goal of his or her own treatment before it is commenced, the patient should know whether the aim of the treatment plan is curative or whether it is palliative. The patient must also be informed about the likely side effects and benefits of the treatment. All these will help the patient to make up his/her mind …

Read more

Expert panel diagnosis for diagnostic test poorly described, experts not blinded to test under study

Oct. 15, 2013 — Evaluation of diagnostic studies is often a challenge in diseases that are not defined by a specific test. Assessment of the accuracy of diagnostic tests is essential because they may be used to define who is considered to have a disease and receive treatment for it. However, measuring the accuracy of a diagnostic test requires an accurate gold standard, which defines which patients truly have and do not have the disease. Studies of diseases not defined by a specific test often rely on expert panels to establish the gold standard. In a systematic review and analysis of the diagnostic literature using expert panels to define the gold standard for a given disease, Loes Bertens and colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht determined how expert panels were used in such studies and how well their process was described and reliability assessed.Share This:The authors evaluated 81 diagnostic studies published up to May 31, 2012, including studies of diagnostic tests for psychiatric disorders (30 of 81 papers, 37%), half of which pertained to dementia, cardiovascular diseases (17 papers, 21%), and respiratory disorders (10 papers, 12%). They found that reporting was often incomplete, with 83% of studies missing at least some important information about the expert panel. In 75% of studies the panel consisted of three or fewer members, and panel members were blinded to the results of the test results being evaluated in only 31% of studies. Blinding is important because knowledge of the index text results could influence the panelists’ decision as to whether the patient had the disease. Reproducibility of the decision process was assessed in only 21% of studies.The authors state, “Complete and accurate reporting is a prerequisite for judging potential bias in a study and for allowing readers to apply the same study methods. …

Read more

Novel way discovered to ‘switch on’ tumor suppressors that have been silenced

Oct. 9, 2013 — A team of scientists from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and their collaborators from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have found that a novel noncoding ribonucleic acid (RNA) offers the potential for “switching on” of tumour suppressors that have been shut off.The research group, led by Professor Daniel Tenen, Director of CSI Singapore, demonstrated for first time that RNA interacts with an enzyme essential for DNA methylation, known as DNA methyl transferase 1 (DNMT1), offering strategies for the treatment of diseases such as cancer.In this study, the researchers focused on a new class of RNAs, which is critical in regulating DNA methylation. This is a process in which certain building blocks of DNA, the genetic code, are chemically modified without resulting in a change in the code itself. DNA methylation is associated with silencing of gene expression and found in many diseases. For example, in cancer, genes called tumour suppressors, which inhibit tumour formation, are often silenced or shut off in the cancer cells, and this is associated with DNA methylation.This novel study was first published online in the research journal Nature on 9 October 2013.How the novel noncoding RNA inhibits DNA methylationThe study focused on this novel noncoding RNA in a specific tumour suppressor, known as CEBPA. The silencing of CEPBA is associated with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, lung cancer and other types of cancer. The scientists demonstrated that the noncoding RNA binds to the enzyme DNMT1 and prevents DNA methylation of the CEBPA gene. This principle, which is likely to extend to thousands of other genes, can potentially be used to “switch on” tumour suppressors that have been shut off.Prof Tenen said, “We started out by studying the noncoding RNA to satisfy our scientific curiosity. In the process, we discovered the novel finding that RNA inhibits methylation and experimentally, we can introduce RNAs to ‘switch on’ tumour suppressors which have been shut off. Our results suggest strategies for gene-selective demethylation of therapeutic targets in human diseases such as cancer.”Further ResearchIn the next phase of their research, the scientists will look into developing tools for targeted activation of other tumour suppressors, besides CEBPA, and investigate the role of RNA in regulating other epigenetic marks.

Read more

Bacteria responsible for gum disease facilitates rheumatoid arthritis

Sep. 12, 2013 — Does gum disease indicate future joint problems? Although researchers and clinicians have long known about an association between two prevalent chronic inflammatory diseases — periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — the microbiological mechanisms have remained unclear.In an article published today in PLoS Pathogens, University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases group researcher Jan Potempa, PhD, DSc, and an international team of scientists from the European Union’s Gums and Joints project have uncovered how the bacterium responsible for periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalisworsens RA by leading to earlier onset, faster progression and greater severity of the disease, including increased bone and cartilage destruction.The scientists found that P. gingivalis produces a unique enzyme, peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD) which then enhances collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a form of arthritis similar to RA produced in the lab. PAD changes residues of certain proteins into citrulline, and the body recognizes citullinated proteins as intruders, leading to an immune attack. In RA patients, the subsequent result is chronic inflammation responsible for bone and cartilage destruction within the joints.Potempa and his team studied another oral bacterium, Prevotella intermedia for the same affect, but learned it did not produce PAD, and did not affect CIA.”Taken together, our results suggest that bacterial PAD may constitute the mechanistic link between P. gingivalis periodontal infection and rheumatoid arthritis, but this ground-breaking conclusion will need to be verified with further research,” he said.Potempa said he is hopeful these findings will shed new light on the treatment and prevention of RA.Studies indicate that compared to the general population, people with periodontal disease have an increased prevalence of RA and, periodontal disease is at least two times more prevalent in RA patients. Other research has shown that a P. gingivalis infection in the mouth will precede RA, and the bacterium is the likely culprit for onset and continuation of the autoimmune inflammatory responses that occur in the disease.

Read more

Crucial pathway discovered to fight gut infection

Sep. 11, 2013 — The researchers found virulent E. coli bacteria blocked a pathway that would normally protect the gut from infection. These infections are particularly serious in young children and can result in diarrhoea and other complications such as kidney damage.The role of this pathway in fighting gut infection was previously unknown but defects in it are associated with inflammatory bowel disease.The research, published tomorrow in Nature, provides much needed insight into how the gut fights infection.Lead author Professor Elizabeth Hartland from the University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology said the research improved our understanding of what happens when this pathway doesn’t work as well as it should.”This research provides a model where we can look at how these bacteria switch off a critical pathway in our body that helps fight infection and contributes to normal intestinal function,” she said.”Using this fundamental knowledge, we can conduct further studies and work towards improving therapies and treatments for people with inflammatory bowel disease, which affects around 5 million people worldwide”The researchers found the diarrhoea-causing bacteria use a needle-like structure to inject a toxin into the gut cell that blocks cell death. This allows the bacteria to survive and spread in the gut, causing a range of diseases.The injected toxin paralyses the infected cell’s ability to send messages to immune cells which would normally sense and eliminate dangerous microbes from the body as well as alert the broader immune system to mount a response to the infection.”This is a significant contribution to global research in this field as the role of this pathway in intestinal defence and the way bacteria go about blocking this pathway was not known.”Diarrhoeal infections are predominantly a problem in developing countries where sanitation is poor, yet cases of virulent E. coli also occur in developed countries including Australia.The international study was conducted in collaboration with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Bio21 Institute and international universities.

Read more

Autoimmune disease strategy emerges from immune cell discovery

Sep. 9, 2013 — Scientists from UC San Francisco have identified a new way to manipulate the immune system that may keep it from attacking the body’s own molecules in autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.The researchers, led by immunologist Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, a professor with the UCSF Diabetes Center, have discovered a distinctive type of immune cell called an eTAC, which puts a damper on immune responses.Anderson’s research team found that eTACs reside in lymph nodes and spleen in both humans and mice, and determined that they could be manipulated to stop the destruction of the pancreas in a mouse model of diabetes. The study appears in the September issue of the journal Immunity.Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) to highlight a key regulatory protein called AIRE, Anderson’s research team tracked down the rare eTACs and their role in a phenomenon known as peripheral tolerance, which helps prevent autoimmune disease throughout the body.The newly described immune cells are of a type known as dendritic cells, which make up less than 3 percent of the cells in the immune system. ETAC cells account for a small fraction of all dendritic cells, Anderson said.Dendritic cells already have been the focus of new cell therapies to treat cancer. These therapies, which include treatments evaluated in clinical trials at UCSF, have been used to prod dendritic cells to rev up a complementary class of immune cells, called T cells. Treatment causes the T cells to target cancer cells, which, despite being abnormal, would not otherwise be subjected to vigorous attack in the same way as foreign microbial invaders.However, eTAC cells have the opposite effect. Instead of priming T cells to do battle, eTACs counteract the overactive immune response in autoimmune diseases. Anderson’s team took advantage of this property to demonstrate that eTACs could prevent autoimmune diabetes in mice.By displaying “self” molecules to T cells that target them, and turning off these T cells for good, eTACs help the immune system tolerate the molecules naturally present within us, Anderson said.”The mouse model we are working with involves using T cells that normally attack the islet cells of the pancreas, specifically by recognizing a molecule called chromagranin A that is present on islet cells,” Anderson said. “But if the eTACs can get to the T cells first and display chromagranin A, they can prevent T cells from attacking the islets.”Anderson aims to exploit eTACs therapeutically by finding out how to grow them in large numbers outside the body. “We need to figure out how to grow a lot of these cells, to load them up with whatever molecule it is that we want to induce tolerance to, and then to load them back into a patient,” he said. …

Read more

Combination of social media, behavior psychology leads to HIV testing, better health behaviors

Sep. 6, 2013 — Can social media be used to create sustainable changes in health behavior?A UCLA study published Sept. 3 in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates that an approach that combines behavioral science with social media and online communities can lead to improved health behaviors among men at risk of HIV infection.The evidence-based approach not only led to increased HIV testing and encouraged significant behavioral change among high-risk groups but also proved to be one of the best HIV-prevention and testing approaches on the Internet, according to the study’s lead investigator, Sean D. Young, an assistant professor of family medicine and director of innovation at the Center for Behavior and Addiction Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.And it’s not only applicable to HIV prevention efforts, he noted.”We found similar effects for general health and well-being,” said Young, who is also a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. “Because our approach combines behavioral psychology with social technologies, these methods might be used to change health behaviors across a variety of diseases.”In an earlier study, published in February and also led by Young, researchers found that social media could be useful in HIV- and STD-prevention efforts by increasing conversations about HIV prevention.For the current study, the researchers recruited 112 men who have sex with men through banner ads placed on social networking sites like Facebook, through a Facebook fan page with study information, through banner ads and posts on Craigslist, and from venues such as bars, schools, gyms and community organizations in Los Angeles. Of the participants, 60 percent were African-American, 28 percent were Latino, 11 percent were white and 2 percent were Asian-American.The men were randomly assigned to one of two Facebook discussion groups — an HIV intervention group or a general health group (with the latter serving as a control in the study). Each participant was then randomly assigned to two “peer leaders” within their group. The peer leaders communicated with participants by sending messages, chats and wall posts.In addition to general conversation, peer leaders for the HIV group discussed HIV prevention and testing, while those in the control group communicated about the importance of exercising, eating right and maintaining a low-stress lifestyle.While the men were under no obligation to engage with the peer leaders or other participants or to even remain members of their respective Facebook groups, the authors found that the participants were highly engaged and maintained active participation during the 12-week study.Throughout the study, the men were able to request and receive home-based HIV self-testing kits. At baseline and again after 12 weeks, participants completed a 92-item survey that included questions about their Internet and social media use (including whether they discussed health and sexual risk behaviors), their general health behaviors (including exercise and nutrition), and their sex and sexual health behaviors (including HIV testing and treatment).Among other things, the researchers looked for evidence of behavioral change — such as reductions in the number of sexual partners — and requests for home-based HIV test kits, along with follow-ups to obtain test results.Among the findings:95 percent of the intervention group participants voluntarily communicated on Facebook, as did 73 percent of the controls. 44 percent (25 of 57) of the members of the intervention group requested the testing kits, compared with 20 percent (11 of 55) of the controls. …

Read more

Body’s ‘safety procedure’ could explain autoimmune disease

Sep. 5, 2013 — Monash University researchers have found an important safety mechanism in the immune system that may malfunction in people with autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, potentially paving the way for innovative treatments.Published today in Immunity, the research, led by Head of the Monash Department of Immunology Professor Fabienne Mackay, described for the first time how the body manages marginal zone (MZ) B cells, which form a general first line of attack against germs, but are potentially harmful.MZ B cells are integral to our defenses as they rapidly produce polyreactive antibodies that are capable of destroying a variety of pathogens. This first response gives the body time to put in place an immune reaction specific to the invading microbe.However, MZ B cells have the potential to turn against the body. Some are capable of producing antibodies which attack healthy, rather than foreign, cells — known as an autoimmune response. Bacteria trigger MZ B cells irrespective of whether these cells are dangerous or benign, effectively placing anyone with a bacterial infection at risk of developing an autoimmune disease.Professor Mackay’s team has discovered the mechanism that regulates this response, ensuring that that the majority of infections do not result in the body attacking its own tissue.”We found that while MZ B cells are rapidly activated, they have a very short life span. In fact, the very machinery which triggers a response leads to MZ B cells dying within 24 hours,” Professor Mackay said.”This means that in a healthy person, the potentially harmful immune cells are not active for long enough to cause in tissue damage. We now need to look at whether a malfunction in this safety feature is leading to some autoimmune diseases.”When MZ B cells are activated by bacteria, they express greater amounts of a protein known as TACI. When TACI binds to another protein as part of the immune response, this triggers the activation of the ‘death machinery’ inside MZ B cells. The detection of a pathogen sets of a chain reaction that both activates and then destroys MZ B cells.Professor Mackay said this was an entirely new way of looking at the immune system.”The research suggests that through evolution the immune system has not solely been vulnerable to infections but has learned to take advantage of pathogens to develop its own internal safety processes,” Professor Mackay said.”This says something important about our environment — pathogens are not always the enemy. They can also work hand in hand with our immune system to protect us against some immune diseases.”

Read more

Prion-like proteins drive several diseases of aging

Sep. 5, 2013 — Two leading neurology researchers have proposed a theory that could unify scientists’ thinking about several neurodegenerative diseases and suggest therapeutic strategies to combat them.The theory and backing for it are described in the September 5, 2013 issue of Nature.Mathias Jucker and Lary Walker outline the emerging concept that many of the brain diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are caused by specific proteins that misfold and aggregate into harmful seeds. These seeds behave very much like the pathogenic agents known as prions, which cause mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease in deer, scrapie in sheep, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.Walker is research professor at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. Jucker is head of the Department of Cellular Neurology at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research at the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.Unlike prion diseases, which can be infectious, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases can not be passed from person to person under normal circumstances. Once all of these diseases take hold in the brain, however, it is increasingly apparent that the clumps of misfolded proteins spread throughout the nervous system and disrupt its function.The authors were the first to show that a protein that is involved in Alzheimer’s disease — known as amyloid-beta — forms prion-like seeds that stimulate the aggregation of other amyloid-beta molecules in senile plaques and in brain blood vessels. Since then, a growing number of laboratories worldwide have discovered that proteins linked to other neurodegenerative disorders also share key features with prions.Age-related neurodegenerative disorders remain stubbornly resistant to the discovery of effective treatments. Jucker and Walker propose that the concept of pathogenic protein seeding not only could focus research strategies for these seemingly unrelated diseases, but it also suggests that therapeutic approaches designed to thwart prion-like seeds early in the disease process could eventually delay or even prevent the diseases.

Read more

Wheat research indicates rise in mean temperature would cut yields

Sep. 4, 2013 — Any producer will tell you, growing a healthy, high-yielding wheat crop takes skill and hard work. Quality drought-tolerant varieties that are resistant to pests and disease are important. And cooperation from Mother Nature in terms of temperature and precipitation doesn’t hurt, either.To quantify the impact of genetic improvement in wheat, disease and climate change over a 26-year period, a team of researchers at Kansas State University examined wheat variety yield data from Kansas performance tests, along with location-specific weather and disease data.Their results showed that from 1985 through 2011, wheat breeding programs boosted average wheat yields by 13 bushels per acre, or 0.51 bushel each year, for a total increase of 26 percent.Simulations also found that a 1 degree Celsius increase (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in projected mean temperature was found to decrease wheat yields by 10.64 bushels per acre or nearly 21 percent.”Kansas wheat producers are challenged by weather, pests and disease,” said Andrew Barkley professor of agricultural economics and lead researcher of a multi-disciplinary team that included agronomists and plant pathologists. “Fortunately, the Kansas wheat breeding program produces new varieties of wheat that increase yields over time.”Given weather trends in recent years, climate change is expected to increase temperatures, and this is likely to lower wheat yields in Kansas,” Barkley said. “Diseases such as fungi and viruses can attack wheat and lower yields. This research quantifies the impact of weather, diseases and new wheat varieties on yields. So far, genetic improvement has allowed wheat yields to increase significantly over time, but there are challenges ahead to keep up with potential increases in temperature.”The study, funded by the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station, is the first to quantify all of these impacts (climate change, disease and genetic improvement) using a unique data set, and state-of-the-art statistical methods, Barkley said. The results update and expand previous research to identify and quantify the impact of the Kansas wheat breeding program.From Tribune in the western part of the state to Ottawa in the east, and Parsons in the south to Belleville in the north, the data came from 11 locations across the state. All yield data are for dryland (non-irrigated) hard red winter wheat, including 245 varieties.Daily temperature was collected at the specific location of each variety trial, resulting in a location-specific match between variety yield and weather data. …

Read more

Overweight and obese women are equally capable of the impulse control that lean women exhibit

Aug. 30, 2013 — Dieters call it willpower; social scientists call it delayed gratification.It’s the ability to delay an immediate reward in favor of a bigger future reward, for example, having a slimmer body in a few months versus the hot fudge sundae now. Previous studies have shown that overweight and obese people have a harder time delaying gratification, so they are more likely to forego the healthy body later on in favor of eating more calorie-dense foods now.But University at Buffalo research published last month in the journal Appetite now shows that behavioral interventions that improve delay of gratification can work just as well with overweight and obese women as with lean women.”This research is certainly welcome news for people who have struggled to lose weight, because it shows that when people are taught to imagine, or simulate the future, they can improve their ability to delay gratification,” says obesity expert, Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who was senior author on the research.The research is part of a field called prospection, the process by which people can project themselves into the future, by mentally simulating future events.Some of the most famous research done on delay of gratification includes experiments done at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s, where children were given an opportunity to either eat a single snack, such as a marshmallow now, or, if they waited a period of time, they could be rewarded with multiple snacks. Follow-up studies found that in general, those who were able to wait were more responsible and successful in their adult lives.Epstein notes that many people have difficulty resisting the impulse for immediate gratification. Instead, they do something called delay discounting, in which they discount future rewards in favor of smaller, immediate rewards. This tendency is associated with greater consumption of highly caloric, ready-to-eat foods. It has been speculated that if people could modify delay discounting, they would be more successful at losing weight. “Now we have developed a treatment for this,” says Epstein. “We can teach people how to reduce delay discounting, where they learn how to mentally simulate the future in order to moderate their behavior in the present.”The UB researchers evaluated how much delay discounting participants engaged in using a hypothetical test that promised different amounts of money available either now or in the future. …

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