Spring styles for kids! ($50 Carter’s giveaway)

~This post on spring styles for kids was written in partnership with Carter’s & The Motherhood. Opinions and collages are my own.SERIOUSLY hating this winter. I’m not a cold-weather person anyway, but I haven’t seen the grass (even if it is dead) since… November? And it’s been unbearably cold, too, so it’s not like we get to take the kids out to play in the snow much. Who else is ready for some SUNSHINE?! Some RAIN instead of snow! FLIP FLOPS instead of boots! SUNGLASSES instead of hats & gloves! Me, please!!!Last weekend I pulled out my warm-weather clothes and my sandals. When the warm weather finally hits, I will be ready! So I’ve been shopping for my kids, too. Ya know, it …

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Cosmetic treatment can open door to bacteria

Many people have ‘fillers’ injected into their facial tissue to give them ‘bee-stung lips’ or to smooth out their wrinkles. Unfortunately, a lot of cosmetic treatment customers experience unpleasant side effects in the form of tender subcutaneous lumps that are difficult to treat and which — in isolated cases — have led to lesions that simply will not heal. Research recently published by the University of Copenhagen now supports that, despite the highest levels of hygiene, this unwanted side effect is caused by bacterial infection.Injections of fillers were previously reserved exclusively for trauma treatment — when rebuilding a face disfigured in a traffic accident, for example. However, the jelly-like substances are increasingly being used in beauty treatments with the intention of making lips swell up and to erase the effects of ageing from the skin. Side effects in the form of stubborn, tender lumps or even lesions are becoming an increasing problem:”Previously, most experts believed that the side effects were caused by an auto-immune or allergic reaction to the gel injected. Research involving tissue from patients and mouse models has now shown that the disfiguring lesions are actually due to bacteria injected in connection with the cosmetic procedure. What is more, we have demonstrated that the fillers themselves act as incubators for infection, and all it takes is as few as ten bacteria to create an ugly lesion and a tough film of bacterial material — known as biofilm — which is impossible to treat with antibiotics,” says Morten Alhede, a postdoc at the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen.The results have just been published in the journal Pathogens and Disease.Biofilm is resistant to antibioticsTreatment with fillers is very common. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), treatment with products based on hyaluronic acid — such as Restylane — constitutes the second-most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the United States. The precise figures for Denmark are not known, but there can be no doubt that the numbers are rising rapidly — and a rise in the number of treatments will inevitably make the side effects more evident.”Because a lot of cosmetic practitioners refuse to accept that side effects from filler procedures are caused by bacteria, claiming that such problems are caused by allergic reactions, the usual procedure has been to treat with steroids. This is actually the worst possible treatment because steroid injections exacerbate the condition and give the bacteria free rein. …

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Revolutionary new view on heritability in plants: Complex heritable traits not only determined by changes in DNA sequence

Complex heritable traits are not only determined by changes in the DNA sequence. Scientists from the University of Groningen Bioinformatics Centre, together with their French colleagues, have shown that epigenetic marks can affect traits such as flowering time and architecture in plants. Furthermore, these marks are passed on for many generations in a stable manner. Their results were published in Science on the 6th of February 2014. It seems that a revision of genetics textbooks is now in order.We’ve all been taught that DNA is the physical foundation of heredity. Our genes are spelled out in the four famous letters A, T, C and G, which together form the genetic code. A single letter change in this code can lead to a gene ceasing to function or failing to work properly.The fact that the functioning of our genes is also affected by epigenetic marks has been known for decades. For example, the nucleotide cytosine (the C in the genetic code) can be changed into a methylcytosine. This cytosine methylation, which is one type of epigenetic mark, is typically associated with repression of gene activity.Epigenetic inheritance’While in mammals epigenetic marks are typically reset every generation, in plants no such dramatic resetting takes place. This opens the door to epigenetic inheritance in plants: epigenetic changes that are acquired in one generation tend to be stably passed on to the next generation’, explains Frank Johannes, assistant professor at the GBIC and co-lead scientist for the Science study.Johannes’s French colleagues have produced inbred strains of the model plant Arabidopsis, in which the epigenetic marks vary between strains although the DNA sequence is almost identical. …

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Will your child be a slim adult? Crowdsourcing novel childhood predictors of adult obesity

Will your child be a slim adult? A novel new study published in PLOS ONE asked 532 international English speaking adults to submit or “crowd-source” predictors of whether a child is going to be an overweight or a slim adult. Each participant offered what they believed to be the best predictor of what a child would weigh as an adult and submitted it in the form of a question. Questions were related to factors of participants’ childhood experience including home environment, psychosocial well-being, lifestyle, built environment, and family history. Each participant also supplied his or her height and weight (to determine BMI) and answered questions generated by other participants about their own childhood behaviors and conditions. Several of the questions asked had a significant correlation with participants’ current BMI as listed below.Adults who reported a lower BMI also reported having the following childhood experiences in common:Their families prepared meals using fresh ingredients. Their parents talked with them about nutrition. They frequently engaged in outdoor physical activity with their families. They slept a healthy number of hours on weeknights. They had many friends. …

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Sleepy’s Grand Openings in Chicago (giveaway)

I previously wrote about how the mattress professionals were opening NEW Sleepy’s stores all over the Chicago area. Well, I just happened to be shopping in Algonquin with my mom so we headed 15 minutes north to check out the new Sleepy’s in Crystal Lake, IL!It’s right on the corner and can’t be missed. It’s a nice little store FILLED with mattresses. We were greeted as we entered and mentioned we just wanted to look around. I stopped to see all these great pillow first and we quickly had tons of questions for Sleepy’s, haha. There were pillows designed for side sleepers and stomach sleepers and cooling pillows and… so much to choose from!Then we moved on to the mattresses… my mom is looking for a …

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Malignant Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma-What Is This?

In histological terms, there are four different types of mesothelioma: sarcomatoid, epithelial, biphasic, and desmoplastic (a variant of sarcomatoid).In medical terms, the term histopathology refers to the microscopic examination of cellular tissue to gain insight into the manifestations of various diseases.Malignant sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the least common of the four cellular types. It accounts for approximately 7 to 20 percent of cases. When viewed under a microscope,the malignant cells appear as elongated spindle-shaped cells that are irregularly shaped and often overlap one another.Desmoplastic mesothelioma is considered a variant of sarcomatoid mesothelioma. This form is likely the most difficult of all mesotheliomas to diagnose. When desmoplastic mesothelioma invades or metastasizes, the cells can appear very bland and can be misdiagnosed as benign fibrous tissue. Medical …

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Mesothelioma Life Expectancy-What determines It?

Medical science has tried to increase the life expectancy for mesothelioma patients for decades. Since there is presently no known definitive cure for mesothelioma, the goal of the presently available intensive treatment for mesothelioma patients is to help prolong their life expectancy or improve the patient’s overall quality of life.What are the factors that determine a Mesothelioma Patient’s Life Expectancy? This type of cancer is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is affected by numerous factors including:* Latency period – The asbestos fibers that cause mesothelioma over time can lay dormant in the body for up to 50 years before causing any significant symptom or sign in the patient. This long period of latency often results in a late …

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Mesothelioma Blood Test-Mesomark Test

The reason for high death rates among mesothelioma patients is the aggressive nature of the disease and the inability to diagnose it until it is well advanced. Because mesothelioma symptoms do not show up until about 40-50 years after exposure to asbestos, most cases at the time of diagnosis have already reached Stage III or IV. As a result, mesothelioma treatment options are often more palliative than curative.However, the ability to diagnose the disease at an earlier time would certainly result in a better prognosis for mesothelioma patients. That ability is now present in the form of a mesothelioma blood test known as Mesomark. Developed by Fujirebio Diagnostics Inc. of Malvern, Pennsylvania, a leader in the field of oncology testing, the test measures the amount of a …

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Mesothelioma Alternative Therapy – What Are Your Options?

Quite a number of patients afflicted with asbestos related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma now-a days use different types of complimentary and alternative therapies in addition to conventional therapies like surgery and drugs.These alternative therapies are used by patients coping with asbestos related disease as a form of pain management, to improve general health, and also to provide symptomatic relief.Although these treatments do not offer a cure, they certainly help you to live more comfortable lives by providing relief from pain and stress.The most commonly used alternative therapies include the following:1} AcupunctureThis is one of the commonest forms of available alternative therapies today, and there are a lot of insurance companies offering coverage for this type of treatment. Acupuncture involves the …

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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 …

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All About Mesothelioma Cancer

All About Mesothelioma CancerBy Michalle LawMesothelioma cancer is considered to be the rarest and deadliest types of cancer, and usually affects the mesothelial tissues of the body organs, normally abdomen and lungs. It develops malignant and cancerous cells in mesothelium, which is the protective cell covering many internal organs of the body. It can even damage other body organs by spreading out the damaged cells to them.The main cause of this type of cancer in about 50-80% cases is exposure to the asbestos. People involved in occupations like constructions jobs in insulators, shipyards and boiler makers are at a risk of catching asbestos disease. It is a very restrained form of cancer which provides only few symptoms that can be noticed until the disease becomes enormously …

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Holiday cards: Tiny Prints giveaway

Holiday cards: Tiny Prints giveaway Emily Dickey posted this in GiveawaysI loooove summer and every winter I’m begging for summer to come. But right now I’m so over it–what is with this super warm weather mid-October?! I’m ready for hoodies and fires and colored leaves and… Christmas! Soooo ready. And you know you’ve already seen those holiday decorations up in stores (eek!) so it’s definitely not too early to start planning.We’re having family photos taken in early November and I’m  hoping for a shot or two we can use for our holiday cards! I order cards from Tiny Prints all the time –to send friends and family on special occasions–so naturally it’s the first place I head to check out holiday cards. They have…

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Nasal inhalation of oxytocin improves face blindness

Sep. 5, 2013 — Prosopagnosia (face blindness) may be temporarily improved following inhalation of the hormone oxytocin.This is the finding of research led by Dr Sarah Bate and Dr Rachel Bennetts of the Centre for Face Processing Disorders at Bournemouth University that will be presented today, Friday 6 September, at the British Psychological Society’s Joint Cognitive and Developmental annual conference at the University of Reading.Dr Bate explained: “Prosopagnosia is characterised by a severe impairment in face recognition, whereby a person cannot identify the faces of their family or friends, or even their own face”The researchers tested twenty adults (10 with prosopagnosia and 10 control participants). Each participant visited the laboratory on two occasions, approximately two weeks apart. On one visit they inhaled the oxytocin nasal spray, and on the other visit they inhaled the placebo spray. The two sprays were prepared by an external pharmaceutical company in identical bottles, and neither the participants nor the researchers knew the identity of the sprays until the data had been analysed.Regardless of which spray the person inhaled, the testing sessions had an identical format. Participants inhaled the spray, then sat quietly for 45 minutes to allow the spray to take effect. They then participated in two face processing tests: one testing their ability to remember faces and the other testing their ability to match faces of the same identity.The researchers found that the participants with prosopagnosia achieved higher scores on both face processing tests in the oxytocin condition. Interestingly, no improvement was observed in the control participants, suggesting the hormone may be more effective in those with impaired face recognition systems.The initial ten participants with prosopagnosia had a developmental form of the condition. Individuals with developmental prosopagnosia have never experienced brain damage, and this form of face blindness is thought to be very common, affecting one in 50 people. Much more rarely, people can acquire prosopagnosia following a brain injury. …

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‘Groovy’ hologram creates strange state of light

Aug. 20, 2013 — Applied physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have demonstrated that they can change the intensity, phase, and polarization of light rays using a hologram-like design decorated with nanoscale structures.As a proof of principle, the researchers have used it to create an unusual state of light called a radially polarized beam, which — because it can be focused very tightly — is important for applications like high-resolution lithography and for trapping and manipulating tiny particles like viruses.This is the first time a single, simple device has been designed to control these three major properties of light at once. (Phase describes how two waves interfere to either strengthen or cancel each other, depending on how their crests and troughs overlap; polarization describes the direction of light vibrations; and the intensity is the brightness.)”Our lab works on using nanotechnology to play with light,” says Patrice Genevet, a research associate at Harvard SEAS and co-lead author of a paper published this month in Nano Letters. “In this research, we’ve used holography in a novel way, incorporating cutting-edge nanotechnology in the form of subwavelength structures at a scale of just tens of nanometers.” One nanometer equals one billionth of a meter.Genevet works in the laboratory of Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Harvard SEAS. Capasso’s research group in recent years has focused on nanophotonics — the manipulation of light at the nanometer scale — with the goal of creating new light beams and special effects that arise from the interaction of light with nanostructured materials.Using these novel nanostructured holograms, the Harvard researchers have converted conventional, circularly polarized laser light into radially polarized beams at wavelengths spanning the technologically important visible and near-infrared light spectrum.”When light is radially polarized, its electromagnetic vibrations oscillate inward and outward from the center of the beam like the spokes of a wheel,” explains Capasso. “This unusual beam manifests itself as a very intense ring of light with a dark spot in the center.””It is noteworthy,” Capasso points out, “that the same nanostructured holographic plate can be used to create radially polarized light at so many different wavelengths. Radially polarized light can be focused much more tightly than conventionally polarized light, thus enabling many potential applications in microscopy and nanoparticle manipulation.”The new device resembles a normal hologram grating with an additional, nanostructured pattern carved into it. Visible light, which has a wavelength in the hundreds of nanometers, interacts differently with apertures textured on the ‘nano’ scale than with those on the scale of micrometers or larger. By exploiting these behaviors, the modular interface can bend incoming light to adjust its intensity, phase, and polarization.Holograms, beyond being a staple of science-fiction universes, find many applications in security, like the holographic panels on credit cards and passports, and new digital hologram-based data-storage methods are currently being designed to potentially replace current systems. …

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Möbius strip ties liquid crystal in knots to produce tomorrow’s materials and photonic devices

Aug. 20, 2013 — University of Warwick scientists have shown how to tie knots in liquid crystals using a miniature Möbius strip made from silica particles.By tying substances like this in knots, the researchers hope to understand how their intricate configurations and unique properties can be harnessed in the next generation of advanced materials and photonic devices.Liquid crystal is an essential material in modern life — the flat panel displays on our computers, TVs and smartphones all make use of its light-modulating properties.It is composed of long, thin, rod-like molecules which align themselves so they all point in the same direction. By controlling the alignment of these molecules, scientists can literally tie them in a knot.To do this, they simulated adding a micron sized silica particle — or colloid — to the liquid crystal. This disrupts the orientation of the liquid crystal molecules.For example, a colloid in the shape of a sphere will cause the liquid crystal molecules to align perpendicular to the surface of the sphere, a bit like a hedgehog’s spikes.Using a theoretical model, the University of Warwick scientists have taken this principle and extended it to colloids which have a knotted shape in the form a Möbius strip.A Möbius strip with one twist does not form a knot, however with three, four and five twists it becomes a trefoil knot (like an overhand knot with the ends joined together), a Solomon’s knot or a cinquefoil knot respectively.By adding these specially designed knotted particles they force the liquid crystal to take on the same structure, creating a knot in the liquid crystal.Gareth Alexander, Assistant Professor in Physics and Complexity Science, at the University of Warwick said: “Knots are fascinating and versatile objects, familiar from tying your shoelaces.”Recently it has been demonstrated that knots can be created in a variety of natural settings including electromagnetic fields, laser light, fluid vortices and liquid crystals.”These knots are more intricate than those in your shoelaces, since it is the entire continuous material, and not just a piece of string, that is knotted.”Our research extends this previous work to apply to liquid crystal, the substance we use every day in our TVs, smartphones and computer screens.”We are interested in this as creating and controlling these intricate knotted fields is an emergent avenue for the design of new metamaterials and photonic devices.”The research was funded by the EPSRC.

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Ingested nanoparticle toxicity

June 26, 2013 — Ingestion of commonly encountered nanoparticles at typical environmental levels is unlikely to cause overt toxicity, according to US researchers. Nevertheless there is insufficient evidence to determine whether chronic exposures could lead to subtle alterations in intestinal immune function, protein profiles, or microbial balance.Writing in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Biomedical Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, researchers have compared existing laboratory and experimental animal studies pertaining to the toxicity of nanoparticles most likely to be intentionally or accidentally ingested. Based on their review, the researchers determined ingestion of nanoparticles at likely exposure levels is unlikely to cause health problems, at least with respect to acute toxicity. Furthermore, in vitro laboratory testing, which often shows toxicity at a cellular level, does not correspond well with in vivo testing, which tends to show less adverse effects.Ingrid Bergin in the Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Frank Witzmann in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, at Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis, explain that the use of particles that are in the nano size range (from 1 billionth to 100 billionths of a meter in diameter, 1-100 nm, other thereabouts) are finding applications in consumer products and medicine. These include particles such as nano-silver, which is increasingly used in consumer products and dietary supplements for its purported antimicrobial properties. Nanoparticles can have some intriguing and useful properties because they do not necessarily behave in the same chemical and physical ways as non-nanoparticle versions of the same material.Nanoparticles are now used as natural flavor enhancers in the form of liposomes and related materials, food pigments and in some so-called “health supplements.” They are also used in antibacterial toothbrushes coated with silver nanoparticles, for instance in food and drink containers and in hygienic infant feeding equipment. They are also used to carry pharmaceuticals to specific disease sites in the body to reduce side effects. Nanoparticles actually encompass a very wide range of materials from pure metals and alloys, to metal oxide nanoparticles, and carbon-based and plastic nanoparticles. Because of their increasing utilization in consumer products, there has been concern over whether these small scale materials could have unique toxicity effects when compared to more traditional versions of the same materials.Difficulties in assessing the health risks of nanoparticles include the fact that particles of differing materials and shapes can have different properties. Furthermore, the route of exposure (e.g. …

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Microbes capture, store, and release nitrogen to feed reef-building coral

May 14, 2013 — Microscopic algae that live within reef-forming corals scoop up available nitrogen, store the excess in crystal form, and slowly feed it to the coral as needed, according to a study published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Scientists have known for years that these symbiotic microorganisms serve up nitrogen to their coral hosts, but this new study sheds light on the dynamics of the process and reveals that the algae have the ability to store excess nitrogen, a capability that could help corals cope in their chronically low-nitrogen environment.

“It was a great surprise to find the nitrogen-rich crystals inside the algae,” says corresponding author Anders Meibom of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. “It all makes perfect sense now. The algae suck up the ammonium and nitrate like a sponge when the concentration of these molecules increases, then store this nitrogen as uric acid crystals for later use.”

Like all reef-forming corals, the species they studied, Pocillopora damicornis, is actually a symbiosis of two different organisms: the coral provides protection to a species of photosynthetic algae called dinoflagellates, which, in turn, provide sugars and nitrogen to the coral host. The symbiosis allows the coral to thrive in clear, tropical waters that are naturally nutrient-poor. In many places, however, coral reefs are suffering from an excess of nutrients – pollution from sewage and fertilizers that impacts the symbiotic relationship and the health of coral in unknown ways.

To better understand these exchanges of materials and to determine how an excess of nutrients might affect the balance, the researchers exposed pieces of coral to varying concentrations of isotopically-labeled nitrogen-rich compounds. Using the facilities at the Aquarium Tropicale Porte Dorée in Paris, France, the scientists applied a relatively new analytic technique called nano-scale secondary ion mass-spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to follow the path of the nitrogen. NanoSIMS enabled them to visualize and quantify the uptake, movement, and accumulation of this labeled nitrogen within the coral.

When supplied with nitrogen in the form of ammonium, nitrate or aspartic acid the dinoflagellates responded by rapidly storing the nitrogen as crystals of uric acid within its cells. But the dinoflagellates don’t hang onto the nitrogen for long. Starting at about six hours after exposure, the microbes begin translocating nitrogen-rich compounds to the coral host, where the nitrogen is used in specific cellular compartments all over the surface layers of the coral.

This storage and release process helps explain how these corals get through the ups and downs of nitrogen concentrations, says Meibom. “This gives the coral-algae symbiosis a very efficient way to deal with strong fluctuations in nitrogen availability,” writes Meibom. “When the nitrogen availability suddenly becomes high, the algae can take-up large amounts of nitrogen on a timescale of a few hours, store it into crystals inside the algae cells and then release this stored nitrogen for metabolic processes and growth when the nitrogen levels become normal again.”

To follow up on this work, Meibom says he and his colleagues are now studying how carbon-based nutrients are taken up and distributed in the same coral-algae symbiosis.

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New method to grow synthetic collagen unveiled: New material may find use in reconstructive surgery, cosmetics, tissue engineering

Sep. 9, 2011 — In a significant advance for cosmetic and reconstructive medicine, scientists at Rice University have unveiled a new method for making synthetic collagen. The new material, which forms from a liquid in as little as an hour, has many of the properties of natural collagen and may prove useful as a scaffold for regenerating new tissues and organs from stem cells.

“Our work is significant in two ways,” said Rice’s Jeffrey Hartgerink, the lead author of a new paper about the research in Nature Chemistry. “Our final product more closely resembles native collagen than anything that’s previously been made, and we make that material using a self-assembly process that is remarkably similar to processes found in nature.”

Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is a key component of many tissues, including skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and blood vessels. Biomedical researchers in the burgeoning field of regenerative medicine, or tissue engineering, often use a combination of stem cells and collagen-like materials in their attempts to create laboratory-grown tissues that can be transplanted into patients without risk of immunological rejection.

Animal-derived collagen, which has some inherent immunological risks, is the form of collagen most commonly used in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery today. Animal-derived collagen is also used in many cosmetics.

Despite the abundance of collagen in the body, deciphering or recreating it has not been easy for scientists. One reason for this is the complexity collagen exhibits at different scales. For example, just as a rope is made of many interwoven threads, collagen fibers are made of millions of proteins called peptides. Like a rope net that can trap and hold items, collagen fibers can form three-dimensional structures called hydrogels that trap and hold water.

“Our supramolecules, fibers and hydrogels form in a similar way to native collagen, but we start with shorter peptides,” said Hartgerink, associate professor of chemistry and of bioengineering.

With an eye toward mimicking collagen’s self-assembly process as closely as possible, Hartgerink’s team spent several years perfecting its design for the peptides.

Hartgerink said it’s too early to say whether the synthetic collagen can be substituted medically for human or animal-derived collagen, but it did clear the first hurdle on that path; the enzyme that the body uses to break down native collagen also breaks down the new material at a similar speed.

A faculty investigator at Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative, Hartgerink said scientists must next determine whether cells can live and grow in the new material and whether it performs the same way in the body that native collagen does. He estimated that clinical trials, if they prove warranted, are at least five years away.

The paper’s co-authors include Rice graduate students Lesley O’Leary, Jorge Fallas, Erica Bakota and Marci Kang. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert A. Welch Foundation and the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program of Texas.

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The right massage can relax the body and improve health

Jan. 29, 2013 — Massage therapy can lower blood pressure, help prevent colds, enhance skin tone and more, according to an expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Licensed Massage Therapist Arnold Kelly, who provides massage therapy at the Outpatient Physical Therapy Clinic at the UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center, said massage provides two types of benefits: immediate and cumulative.

“Immediately following massage, you can experience reduced tightness in the muscles, improved blood flow and breathing, plus reduced anxiety and stress,” Arnold explained.

“Over the long-term, the benefits of massage accumulate; massage can increase a person’s range of motion, strengthen the immune system and provide an improved sense of well-being,” Arnold added.

Stress seems to creep into the lives of almost everybody at some point, and Arnold said a massage can do a lot to help.

“Swedish and deep-tissue massages are two of the ‘big four’ types of massage,” Arnold explained. “Swedish is for those who are interested in just relieving stress. If there are deeper aches and pains, deep tissue can help take care of it.”

Neuromuscular and trigger point therapy are the other two major types of massage that have proven to be universally beneficial, according to Arnold.

“Clients often inquire about which form of massage therapy is right for them,” Arnold said. “What you should look for and ask about are things like: how long the type of massage therapy has been around; how long the massage therapist has practiced it; what it is based on; and whether it focuses more on the physical or mental aspect.”

How often massage therapy should be utilized varies from person to person.

“Someone who has little to no physical issues and is simply looking to relax and unwind can benefit from massage as little as once a month,” Arnold said. “Someone who has a problem that can benefit from regular massage can be seen as often as once a day. My regular clients average about once a week.”

Arnold recommends those considering massage first visit a physician to see if this form of therapy will help then choose a licensed therapist.

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Molecular chain reaction in Alzheimer’s disease

May 29, 2013 — Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified the molecular mechanism behind the transformation of one of the components in Alzheimer’s disease. They identified the crucial step leading to formations that kill brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease is associated with memory a loss and personality changes. It is still not known what causes the onset of the disease, but once started it cannot be stopped. The accumulation of plaques in the brain is widely considered a hallmark of the disease. The key discovery identified the chemical reaction that causes the plaques to grow exponentially.

Amyloid beta, a protein fragment that occurs naturally in the fluid around the brain, is one of the building blocks of plaques. However, the processes leading from soluble amyloid beta to the form found in the plaques, known as amyloid fibril, have not been known. In the very early part of the process, two protein fragments can create a nucleus that then grows into a fibril.

In solution this is a slow process, but the rate can be enhanced on surfaces. The current study shows that fibrils present a catalytic surface where new nuclei form and this reaction increases the speed of the process. As soon as the first fibrils are formed, amyloid-beta fragments attach at its surface and form new fibrils that subsequently detach.

– This process is thus self-perpetuating, and autocatalytic, and the more fibrils are present, the quicker the new ones are created, says Sara Snogerup Linse, Professor of Chemistry at Lund University and one of the researchers behind the study.

The findings also show that the chemical reaction on the fibril surface creates cell-killing formations. It is hoped that the research could lead to a new type of medication targeting early stages of the disease in the future.

The results have emerged from several years of laboratory work by Professor Snogerup Linse and her colleague in Lund, Erik Hellstrand, including development of extensive methods to obtain amyloid beta in highly pure form and to study its transformation in a highly reproducible manner. Additional methodology based on isotope labelling and spin filters was developed to monitor the surface catalysis and pin-point the origin of the forms that kill brain cells. The collaboration with the theoretical group and cell biologists at Cambridge University has been absolutely crucial for all the findings.

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