Better livestock diets to combat climate change, improve food security

Livestock production is responsible for 12% of human-related greenhouse gas emissions, primarily coming from land use change and deforestation caused by expansion of agriculture, as well as methane released by the animals themselves, with a lesser amount coming from manure management and feed production.”There is a lot of discussion about reduction of meat in the diets as a way to reduce emissions,” says IIASA researcher Petr Havlk, who led the study “But our results show that targeting the production side of agriculture is a much more efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that within the current systems, farmers would find it more profitable in coming years to expand livestock production in mixed systems — where livestock are fed on both grass as well as higher quality feed — rather than in pure grass-based systems. This development, would lead to a 23% reduction of emissions from land use change in the next two decades without any explicit climate mitigation policy.Cows, sheep, and goats grow more quickly and produce more milk when they eat energy-rich diets that include grain supplements or improved forages. This means that more livestock can be raised on less land, and with fewer emissions per pound of meat or milk produced.The new study projects that the increasing cost of land and continued yield increases in the crop sector will lead to shifts to richer animal diets in the future. Such diets are efficient not only from the perspective of greenhouse gas reduction, but also from farm profit maximization and food production.At a moderate price of US$10 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, livestock system transitions within a given region, together with international relocation of production to regions with the most efficient livestock systems could also reduce the total emissions from agriculture and land use change by 25%. Most of the savings would come from avoided land use change.Havlk says, “From the livestock sector perspective, limiting land use change seems the cheapest option both in terms of the economic cost and in terms of impact on food availability.”Previous work by the group produced a detailed database highlighting the differences in the efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions of different livestock production systems. The new study adds to this by examining the economic potential for a transition to more efficient systems as a mitigation measure, and which policies would be the most effective for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, while also maintaining food availability.The new study also introduces a new metric for measuring the costs of climate measures for agricultural systems, the Total Abatement Calorie Cost (TACC), which complements the pure economic metric known as “marginal abatement cost” while also capturing the impacts of mitigation measures on food security. Mario Herrero, a co-author of the study and a researcher at CSIRO, IIASA’s Australian National Member Organization, says, “Applying current metrics could lead to mitigation, but also food insecurity in developing countries, because it ignores the social cost of policies that focus just on greenhouse gas abatement.. So we developed a new metric which tells you how consumption would be affected as a result of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.”Changing livestock production systems remains a challenge. The researchers say that policies to provide education and market access are the keys for enabling change. In addition, they note that safeguards are needed to insure that the intensified agricultural production does not lead to environmental damage or reduce animal well-being.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. …

Read more

People accept 3-colored raspberry jelly, study finds

Date:March 14, 2014Source:Institute of Food TechnologistsSummary:A new study found that the production of a mixed raspberry jelly with black and yellow raspberries could be a good alternative to just one-colored jelly.determined that a jelly with both red, yellow and black raspberries had a high sensory acceptability, even greater than traditional jelly prepared only with the red raspberry.Raspberries are among the most popular berries in the world and are high in antioxidants that offer significant health benefits to consumers. The red raspberry is most commonly used in processed products like juices, jams, jellies and preserves because of its short shelf life. A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that the production of a mixed raspberry jelly with black and yellow raspberries could be a good alternative to just one-colored jelly.Black raspberries, which produce clusters of small fruit with a dark purple color, stand out among the yellow and red variety as an excellent choice for cultivation because of their excellent adaptability, high productivity and fruit quality. Researchers at the University of Lavras in Brazil determined that a jelly with both red, yellow and black raspberries had a high sensory acceptability, even greater than traditional jelly prepared only with the red raspberry.More research is needed to study the feasibility of using yellow and black raspberries on other products.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Food Technologists. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Journal Reference:Vanessa Rios de Souza, Patrcia Aparecida Pimenta Pereira, Ana Carla Marques Pinheiro, Cleiton Antnio Nunes, Rafael Pio, Fabiana Queiroz. Evaluation of the Jelly Processing Potential of Raspberries Adapted in Brazil. Journal of Food Science, 2014; 79 (3): S407 DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.12354 Cite This Page:MLA APA Chicago Institute of Food Technologists. “People accept three-colored raspberry jelly, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2014. .Institute of Food Technologists. …

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

Smoke in the water: Understanding effects of smoke compounds on seed germination

Although seemingly destructive, wildfires help to maintain biodiversity and are an important element of many ecosystems throughout the world. Not only do fires discourage non-native and invasive species from becoming established, but the quick release of nutrients, heat, and compounds found in ash and smoke play an important role in the life cycle of the native flora. For plants that are adapted to ecosystems where fire is a regular occurrence — such as savannas, grasslands, and coniferous forests — exposure to fire may initiate seed germination or enhance plant growth.Recent research has focused on the effects of smoke. As plant tissue is burned, numerous compounds are released, some of which have been found to break seed dormancy and stimulate germination. In a new study published in the March issue of Applications in Plant Sciences, scientists at Eastern Illinois University have developed a novel system to produce smoke solutions to further investigate the importance of smoke compounds such as butenolides and cyanohydrins in seed germination and seedling growth.”Because many of the identified compounds are known to be water soluble, using a smoke solution is a convenient alternative to direct fumigation of seeds,” explains Dr. Janice Coons, lead author of the study.The new system utilizes a bee smoker, heater hose, and water aspirator. Water-soluble compounds are dissolved by bubbling smoke through water contained in a flask. This setup is inexpensive and much more compact than previous systems, allowing for the production of smaller volumes of smoke solution within a small space, such as a fume hood.This new apparatus increases the concentration of smoke compounds in the solution and allows for greater control of variables. For example, different species of plants contain different compounds, which may have different effects on seed germination. “Native species often require special conditions to break seed dormancy,” explains Coons. …

Read more

It slices, it dices, and it protects the body from harm: 3-D structure of enzyme that helps defend against bacteria

An essential weapon in the body’s fight against infection has come into sharper view. Researchers at Princeton University have discovered the 3D structure of an enzyme that cuts to ribbons the genetic material of viruses and helps defend against bacteria.The discovery of the structure of this enzyme, a first-responder in the body’s “innate immune system,” could enable new strategies for fighting infectious agents and possibly prostate cancer and obesity. The work was published Feb. 27 in the journal Science.Until now, the research community has lacked a structural model of the human form of this enzyme, known as RNase L, said Alexei Korennykh, an assistant professor of molecular biology and leader of the team that made the discovery.”Now that we have the human RNase L structure, we can begin to understand the effects of carcinogenic mutations in the RNase L gene. For example, families with hereditary prostate cancers often carry genetic mutations in the region, or locus, encoding RNase L,” Korennykh said. The connection is so strong that the RNase L locus also goes by the name “hereditary prostate cancer 1.” The newly found structure reveals the positions of these mutations and explains why some of these mutations could be detrimental, perhaps leading to cancer, Korennykh said. RNase L is also essential for insulin function and has been implicated in obesity.The Princeton team’s work has also led to new insights on the enzyme’s function.The enzyme is an important player in the innate immune system, a rapid and broad response to invaders that includes the production of a molecule called interferon. Interferon relays distress signals from infected cells to neighboring healthy cells, thereby activating RNase L to turn on its ability to slice through RNA, a type of genetic material that is similar to DNA. The result is new cells armed for destruction of the foreign RNA.The 3D structure uncovered by Korennykh and his team consists of two nearly identical subunits called protomers. The researchers found that one protomer finds and attaches to the RNA, while the other protomer snips it.The initial protomer latches onto one of the four “letters” that make up the RNA code, in particular, the “U,” which stands for a component of RNA called uridine. …

Read more

How stellar death can lead to twin celestial jets

Astronomers know that while large stars can end their lives as violently cataclysmic supernovae, smaller stars end up as planetary nebulae — colourful, glowing clouds of dust and gas. In recent decades these nebulae, once thought to be mostly spherical, have been observed to often emit powerful, bipolar jets of gas and dust. But how do spherical stars evolve to produce highly aspherical planetary nebulae?In a theoretical paper published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a University of Rochester professor and his undergraduate student conclude that only “strongly interacting” binary stars — or a star and a massive planet — can feasibly give rise to these powerful jets.When these smaller stars run out of hydrogen to burn they begin to expand and become Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars. This phase in a star’s life lasts at most 100,000 years. At some point some of these AGB stars, which represent the distended last spherical stage in the lives of low mass stars, become “pre-planetary” nebula, which are aspherical.”What happens to change these spherical AGB stars into non-spherical nebulae, with two jets shooting out in opposite directions?” asks Eric Blackman, professor of physics and astronomy at Rochester. “We have been trying to come up with a better understanding of what happens at this stage.”For the jets in the nebulae to form, the spherical AGB stars have to somehow become non-spherical and Blackman says that astronomers believe this occurs because AGB stars are not single stars but part of a binary system. The jets are thought to be produced by the ejection of material that is first pulled and acquired, or “accreted,” from one object to the other and swirled into a so-called accretion disk. There are, however, a range of different scenarios for the production of these accretion disks. All these scenarios involve two stars or a star and a massive planet, but it has been hard to rule any of them out until now because the “core” of the AGBs, where the disks form, are too small to be directly resolved by telescopes. Blackman and his student, Scott Lucchini, wanted to determine whether the binaries can be widely separated and weakly interacting, or whether they must be close and strongly interacting.By studying the jets from pre-planetary and planetary nebulae, Blackman and Lucchini were able to connect the energy and momentum involved in the accretion process with that in the jets; the process of accretion is what in effect provides the fuel for these jets. …

Read more

Environmental impact of Ontario corn production assessed

Researchers at the University of Guelph examined the energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with corn production in Ontario. Their findings are published today in the Agricultural Institute of Canada’s (AIC) Canadian Journal of Soil Science.The study reports estimated county-level energy and GHG intensity of grain corn, stover and cob production in Ontario from 2006-2011. According to the paper’s authors, most of the energy used during corn production comes from the use of natural gas and electricity during grain drying; the production and application of nitrogen fertilizers (which are also associated with GHG emissions); and the use of diesel fuel during field work.”Corn is a major economic crop in North America, and the renewable fuels developed from corn production are frequently used to mitigate the GHG emissions from fossil fuel use,” explained Susantha Jayasundara, lead author of the paper.”Assessing the GHG and energy intensity of corn production helps identify opportunities for efficiency and aids in improving the GHG mitigation potential of corn-derived renewable fuels,” continued Jayasundara. The authors note that reducing GHG intensity and improving energy efficiency during corn production can be achieved through the use of field-drying corn hybrids, reduced tillage and diminished nitrogen inputs.The article, “Energy and Greenhouse Gas Intensity of Corn (Zea Mays L.) in Ontario: A regional assessment,” by Susantha Jayasundara, Claudia Wagner-Riddle, Goretty Dias and Kumudinie Kariyapperuma, is available Open Access in the Canadian Journal of Soil Science.”Given the environmental and economic benefits of renewable fuels and the proliferation of their use in Canada, it is important to more fully understand the environmental impacts of their associated agricultural production,” added Serge Buy, CEO of AIC. “Essential studies such as this are of national significance and are certainly evidence of the need for targeted federal investments in agricultural science.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

What does ‘whole grain’ really mean? European definition published

The most comprehensive definition of whole grain termed to date has been published this week in the journal Food and Nutrition Research. The effort to create the definition, which is intended to assist in the production and labeling of foods rich in whole grains, was born of the HEALTHGRAIN EU project, the largest project ever focusing on cereals and health; and was led by a multi-disciplinary team from some of Europe’s leading universities and food research institutes.Historically, there’s been no complete, legally endorsed definition of whole grain flour and products,” explains Jan-Willem van der Kamp, corresponding author of the paper and Senior Officer of International Projects at TNO Food and Nutrition. “Most supermarkets today are stocked with foods that originate from many different countries. When you read ‘25% whole grain flour’ on one product label; the same claim on a different label could mean something quite different nutritionally. If use of this definition is adopted broadly, this inconsistency eventually would cease.”The HEALTHGRAIN definition is the next step in reaching a precise, common understanding of what constitutes whole grain in food products — from breads to pasta to breakfast cereals — regardless of where they originate, adds van der Kamp.Almost universally, the term whole grain indicates inclusion of all three components of the cereal grain kernel — endosperm (this is the largest part of the grain and provides mostly starch), germ (comprises only a small part of the grain; this is where sprouting begins) and bran (the grain’s protective outer layer; it is rich in dietary fiber). Variances, however, arise around the particular grains considered “whole,” precise combination of the three components once processed, and processing practices which can affect the resulting flour’s nutritional value. The HEALTHGRAIN definition addresses all three of these issues detailing a permitted list of grains and “pseudo grains” (such as quinoa and amaranth) and processing guidelines that take into account current milling practices.The need for developing a more comprehensive, detailed whole grain definition was identified during the course of the HEALTHGRAIN EU project, an initiative intended to increase the use of whole grains and their health protecting constituents in food products for improved nutrition and health benefits. The expansive project has involved everything from research to better understand specific health benefits of whole grains to exploration of new ways to get products high in their healthy compounds onto the market.The HEALTHGRAIN definition was developed by a committee led by van der Kamp, representatives of the Swedish Nutrition Foundation; DPR Nutrition Ltd., UK; and VTT and University of Eastern Finland; in cooperation with a multidisciplinary group of nutrition scientists, cereal scientists and technologists, plant breeders, flour milling specialists and experts in regulatory affairs from throughout Europe.The article with the complete HEALTHGRAIN definition, including the permitted grains, can be accessed in the current volume of Food and Nutrition Research (http://www.foodandnutritionresearch.net/index.php/fnr/article/view/22100).Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Co-Action Publishing. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Finnish agriculture increasingly steered by market forces

Agriculture in Finland is becoming more market driven in the next few years. EU and national support systems will continue to protect production, but the risks due to fluctuating prices will increase. MTT Agrifood Research Finland anticipates that the major structural changes in agriculture will continue, and the number of livestock farms in particular will decrease steadily.Last year, an agreement was reached on the common EU agricultural policy until 2020. The recent report by MTT Agrifood Research Finland describes the outlook of Finnish agriculture in the following five years.The market will take up the reinsThe agricultural production volumes in Finland on average will remain at the current level until 2020. Even though subsidies in nominal terms will remain in place to maintain production volumes, their real value will decrease. In order to maintain the income level, a larger part of the agricultural revenue than before must be gained from the products sold in the market.”The markets will increasingly influence what happens to the production, income and profitability in the agricultural sector. Prices will fluctuate wildly, which means that the market risks of agricultural enterprises increase both in the sale of products and the acquisition of production inputs,” says Professor Jyrki Niemi, MTT Agrifood Research Finland.For Finland, there will be no significant changes in the overall level of EU support to agriculture by 2020. “Since Finland’s northern circumstances were taken into account in the level of production-based support, the definition of less-favoured areas and the greening practices, the reform will not cause any dramatic changes in the Finnish agricultural market or production,” Niemi says.Precautions must be taken against production risksThe role of the state in the compensation of crop damages will change. After a transition period, crop damages will no longer be compensated directly from state funds. Instead, the state will participate in covering crop damages by creating prerequisites for commercial crop damage insurance.”The most important prerequisite for the creation of commercial insurance and insurance market is closing down the current system, which is completely funded by the state. …

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

Eat more, weigh less: Worm study provides clues to better fat-loss therapies for humans

Oct. 10, 2013 — Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered key details of a brain-to-body signaling circuit that enables roundworms to lose weight independently of food intake. The weight-loss circuit is activated by combined signals from the worm versions of the neurotransmitters serotonin and adrenaline, and there are reasons to suspect that it exists in a similar form in humans and other mammals.”Boosting serotonin signaling has been seen as a viable strategy for weight loss in people, but our results hint that boosting serotonin plus adrenaline should produce more potent effects — and there is already some evidence that that’s the case,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Supriya Srinivasan, who was principal investigator for the study, published online before print on October 10, 2013 by the journal Cell Metabolism.Serotonin signaling, which can be increased artificially by some diet and antidepressant drugs, has long been known to reduce weight. Until recently, scientists assumed that it does so largely by suppressing appetite and food intake. However, Srinivasan reported in 2008 — while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco — that serotonin changes food intake and fat levels via separate signaling pathways. “We could make the animals we studied lose fat even as they ate more,” she said. Her experiments were conducted on C. elegans roundworms, whose short lifespans and well-characterized nervous systems make them a preferred species for quick-turnaround lab studies. Indeed, other researchers soon found that serotonin’s food-intake-suppressing and weight-loss effects are separable in mammals, too.Now with her own laboratory at TSRI, Srinivasan has been examining the C. elegans weight loss circuitry in more detail. …

Read more

Cell growth discovery has implications for targeting cancer

Oct. 11, 2013 — The way cells divide to form new cells — to support growth, to repair damaged tissues, or simply to maintain our healthy adult functioning — is controlled in previously unsuspected ways UC San Francisco researchers have discovered. The findings, they said, may lead to new ways to fight cancer.The steps leading a quiet cell to make and divvy up new parts to form daughter cells rely on some of the cell’s most complex molecular machines. Different machines play key roles at different stages of this cell cycle. Each of these cellular machines consists of many proteins assembled into a functioning whole. They carry out such tasks as repairing DNA in the newly replicated gene-bearing chromosomes, for instance, or helping pull the chromosomes apart so that they can be allocated to daughter cells.In a study published online on October 10, 2013 in the journal Molecular Cell, UCSF researchers led by molecular biologist Davide Ruggero, PhD, associate professor of urology, and computational biologist Barry Taylor, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, found that the production of entire sets of proteins that work together to perform such crucial tasks is ramped up together, all at once — not due to the transcription of genes into messenger RNA, a phenomenon scientists often study to sort out cellular controls — but at a later stage of gene expression that occurs within the cell’s protein-making factories, called ribosomes.”We have found that these proteins are regulated specifically and exquisitely during the cell cycle,” Ruggero said. When this regulation falters, it wreaks havoc in the cell, he added. “Cell-cycle control is a process that is most often misregulated in human disease,” he said.More specifically, the researchers found that this coordinated timing of protein production during the cell cycle is largely governed at the tail end of gene expression, within the ribosome, where cellular machinery acts on messenger RNA to churn out the chains of amino acids that eventually fold into functional form as proteins.In 2010 Ruggero reported key evidence suggesting that this stage of protein production, called “translation,” might be an often-neglected process in many tumors, ranging from lymphomas, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer.In the new study, the researchers examined translation of messenger RNA into protein at the classic phases of the cell cycle, before the cell actually divides. These are the G1 phase, when cells grow and make lots of proteins before replicating their DNA; the S phase, when cells replicate their DNA; and the G2 phase, when cells make internal components known as organelles, which they divvy up along with the chromosomes when the cell actually divides during mitosis.The scientists used a technique know as ribosome profiling, originally developed for yeast cells in the lab of Jonathan Weismann, PhD, Howard Hughes Investigator at UCSF and professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology, to figure out which messenger RNA was being translated into protein by the ribosome during human cell division. They then used computational techniques developed by Taylor’s lab team along with the lab team of Adam Olshen, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, to better quantify which genes had been translated into proteins.By conducting a genome-wide investigation of translation and interrogating the data with sophisticated computer algorithms, the researchers discovered that different groups of protein were made in abundance at a particular phase, only to be quieted during another phase of the cell cycle. …

Read more

Agricultural phosphorus recovery

Oct. 9, 2013 — Phosphorus is an elemental nutrient in agriculture. In response to the increasing demand for phosphorus in the food, biofuels and biobased materials industries, global consumption of phosphate has risen significantly and will continue to increase. In 2008, approximately 1.4 million tonnes of phosphorus were consumed for the production of synthetic phosphate fertilizer. Moreover, phosphate rock reserves are non-renewable and controlled by only a few countries such as China, Morocco, Tunisia and the U.S.A. As a result, Europe is completely dependent on imports from these countries to cover phosphorus demand.Share This:Besides non-renewable reserves, alternative phosphate resources include municipal wastewater and agricultural organic residues such as livestock manure or digestate from biogas plants. Although new technologies have already been developed for the recovery of dissolved inorganic phosphates in the liquid fractions of municipal and agricultural wastes, solid residues remain a largely untapped source for phosphorus in its organic form. In solid fractions, organic phosphorus bound in biochemical molecules such as phospholipids, nucleotides and nucleic acids offer a bountiful source of phosphorus.These agricultural residues represent a huge additional reservoir for phosphate recovery: Annually, more than 1,800 million tonnes of manure are generated in the EU and the amount of digestion residues is still increasing. Especially in swine and poultry manure, up to 50 per cent of the overall phosphorus is present in the organic form. In the PhosFarm project, this organic residual matter is to be made accessible as a valuable phosphate resource. …

Read more

Helper cells trigger potent responses to HIV

Sep. 12, 2013 — A major new finding that will significantly advance efforts to create the world’s first antibody-based AIDS vaccine was published today by researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.La Jolla Institute scientist Shane Crotty, Ph.D., a respected vaccine researcher and member of one of the nation’s top AIDS vaccine consortiums, showed that certain helper T cells are important for triggering a strong antibody response against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Helper T cells are disease-fighting immune cells key in shaping the body’s response to viruses or other pathogens. The cells are multi-faceted, come in various types, and have numerous functions, including assisting with antibody production.”We’ve shown that a specific type of these cells, known as follicular helper T (Tfh) cells are not only necessary, but are a limiting factor that differentiates between an average and a potent antibody response to HIV,” says Crotty, a scientific collaborator with the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology & Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID), a major research consortium led by The Scripps Research Institute.Notably, Crotty showed that the frequency of the Tfh cells correlated with development of broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV in a large group of HIV-infected individuals. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative put together the group of study participants, and collaborated on the analysis.Dennis Burton, Ph.D., a prominent HIV expert who heads the CHAVI-ID consortium at Scripps, calls the finding “the kind of fundamental basic research that will eventually allow us to defeat HIV.””Shane Crotty and his collaborators have made an important step in understanding how potent antibodies to HIV can be made, a step which is vital to the effort to develop an AIDS vaccine given that antibodies are critical to most successful vaccines,” says Burton. “Crotty is a world expert on the cells that control antibody production and, by teaming up with AIDS researchers, he and his group have shown how these cells can be tracked in blood and provided evidence of their importance in generating the right types of antibody to HIV.”The findings were published online today in the journal Immunity in a paper entitled, “Human circulating PD-1+CXCR3-CXCR5+ memory Tfh cells are highly functional and correlate with broadly neutralizing HIV antibody responses.”Antibodies may be thought of as the body’s smart bombs, which seek out infectious agents and tag them for destruction. Twenty-six human vaccines currently exist worldwide, 24 of which work by triggering the production of antibodies. Tfh cells are a type of CD4+ T helper cells specialized in providing help to B cells, which are the cells that make antibodies. “Essentially it’s the Tfh cells that tell the B cells to produce antibodies,” explains Crotty.No vaccine currently exists for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and there is no cure for AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), which currently infects 34 million around the globe. While AIDS drugs have extended the lives of many sufferers, AIDS remains a major killer, particularly in developing countries, making the search for an effective HIV vaccine a public health priority.In his study, Crotty used blood samples from HIV-infected patients and a control group of people without the disease. …

Read more

Certification of aquaculture: one of the strategies to sustainable seafood production

Sep. 5, 2013 — Certification of products from aquatic farming — aquaculture — is contributing to sustainable production, but it also has serious limits. Therefore it should be seen as one approach among many for steering aquaculture toward sustainability.This is argued by an international team of researchers in a paper published in Science on September 6th.Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing global food production systems, and now contributes around 13% of world animal-protein supply. It provides almost half of the world’s supply of seafood. The rapid expansion of the sector has come with a wide range of concerns about the environmental and social impact of aquaculture. In response, NGO-led certification schemes, such as the Dutch based Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), have developed standards against which the environmental and social performance of aquaculture can be measured.Based on the work of an international network of researchers, the paper argues that aquaculture certification has limits as a means of governing sustainable production. Aquaculture certification is limited in the volume of global production it can certify, given market demand for certified seafood is currently limited to the US and EU while the majority of seafood consumption occurs in other markets. The impact of certification is also limited in reaching wider sustainability goals, it is focused on the farm-level instead of the cumulative impacts of multiple farms in one location on the surrounding environment or farming communities. Furthermore it is limited in its ability to include stakeholders, particularly smallholder producers, in the Global South where the vast majority of global production comes from.The implication of these limits is that certification needs to be seen as but one of a wider array of strategies for regulating sustainable production. Assumptions that countries in the Global South are unwilling or incapable to regulate aquaculture no longer holds true everywhere. …

Read more

Brown algae reveal antioxidant production secrets

Sep. 5, 2013 — Brown algae contain phlorotannins, aromatic (phenolic) compounds that are unique in the plant kingdom. As natural antioxidants, phlorotannins are of great interest for the treatment and prevention of cancer and inflammatory, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.Researchers at the Végétaux marins et biomolécules (CNRS/UPMC) laboratory at the Station biologique de Roscoff, in collaboration with two colleagues at the Laboratoire des sciences de l’Environnement MARin (Laboratory of Marine Environment Sciences) in Brest (CNRS/UBO/IFREMER/IRD) have recently elucidated the key step in the production of these compounds in Ectocarpus siliculosus, a small brown alga model species. The study also revealed the specific mechanism of an enzyme that synthesizes phenolic compounds with commercial applications. These findings have been patented and should make it easier to produce the phlorotannins presently used as natural extracts in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. The results have also been published online on the site of the journal The Plant Cell.Until now, extracting phlorotannins from brown algae for use in industry was a complex process, and the biosynthesis pathways of these compounds were unknown. By studying the first genome sequenced from a brown alga, the team in Roscoff identified several genes homologous to those involved in phenolic compound biosynthesis in terrestrial plants (1). Among these genes, the researchers found that at least one was directly involved in the synthesis of phlorotannins in brown algae. They then inserted these genes into a bacterium, which thus produced a large quantity of the enzymes that could synthesize the desired phenolic compounds. One of these enzymes, a type III polyketide synthase (PKS III), was studied in detail and revealed how it produces phenolic compounds. …

Read more

Language and tool-making skills evolved at the same time

Sep. 3, 2013 — Research by the University of Liverpool has found that the same brain activity is used for language production and making complex tools, supporting the theory that they evolved at the same time.Researchers from the University tested the brain activity of 10 expert stone tool makers (flint knappers) as they undertook a stone tool-making task and a standard language test.Brain blood flow activity measuredThey measured the brain blood flow activity of the participants as they performed both tasks using functional Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound (fTCD), commonly used in clinical settings to test patients’ language functions after brain damage or before surgery.The researchers found that brain patterns for both tasks correlated, suggesting that they both use the same area of the brain. Language and stone tool-making are considered to be unique features of humankind that evolved over millions of years.Darwin was the first to suggest that tool-use and language may have co-evolved, because they both depend on complex planning and the coordination of actions but until now there has been little evidence to support this.Dr Georg Meyer, from the University Department of Experimental Psychology, said: “This is the first study of the brain to compare complex stone tool-making directly with language.Tool use and language co-evolved”Our study found correlated blood-flow patterns in the first 10 seconds of undertaking both tasks. This suggests that both tasks depend on common brain areas and is consistent with theories that tool-use and language co-evolved and share common processing networks in the brain.”Dr Natalie Uomini from the University’s Department of Archaeology, Classics & Egyptology, said: “Nobody has been able to measure brain activity in real time while making a stone tool. This is a first for both archaeology and psychology.”The research was supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy. It is published in PLOS ONE.

Read more

Hydrogen fuel from sunlight

Aug. 29, 2013 — In the search for clean, green sustainable energy sources to meet human needs for generations to come, perhaps no technology matches the ultimate potential of artificial photosynthesis. Bionic leaves that could produce energy-dense fuels from nothing more than sunlight, water and atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide, with no byproducts other than oxygen, represent an ideal alternative to fossil fuels but also pose numerous scientific challenges. A major step toward meeting at least one of these challenges has been achieved by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) working at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP).”We’ve developed a method by which molecular hydrogen-producing catalysts can be interfaced with a semiconductor that absorbs visible light,” says Gary Moore, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and principal investigator for JCAP. “Our experimental results indicate that the catalyst and the light-absorber are interfaced structurally as well as functionally.”Moore is the corresponding author, along with Junko Yano and Ian Sharp, who also hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and JCAP, of a paper describing this research in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). The article is titled “Photofunctional Construct That Interfaces Molecular Cobalt-Based Catalysts for H2 Production to a Visible-Light-Absorbing Semiconductor.” Co-authors are Alexandra Krawicz, Jinhui Yang and Eitan Anzenberg.Earth receives more energy in one hour’s worth of sunlight than all of humanity uses in an entire year. Through the process of photosynthesis, green plants harness solar energy to split molecules of water into oxygen, hydrogen ions (protons) and free electrons. The oxygen is released as waste and the protons and electrons are used to convert carbon dioxide into the carbohydrate sugars that plants use for energy. Scientists aim to mimic the concept but improve upon the actual process.JCAP, which has a northern branch in Berkeley and a southern branch on the campus of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), was established in 2010 by DOE as an Energy Innovation Hub. …

Read more

T-cell targeted therapy tested in type 1 diabetes study

Aug. 27, 2013 — Results from the START clinical study (Study of Thymoglobulin to Arrest Newly Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes), led by Dr. Steve Gitelman (University of California, San Francisco) and sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), are published today in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. The study did not meet its primary endpoint: at 12 months, insulin production, as measured by C-peptide responses, showed no difference in overall decline between the treatment and placebo groups.Thymoglobulin®, currently licensed for the treatment of organ transplant rejection, is a form of antithymocyte globulin (ATG), a mixture of specialized proteins called antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to white blood cells known as T cells, interfering with their function and eliminating them temporarily from the bloodstream. During the development of type 1 diabetes, T cells mistakenly destroy the beta cells of the pancreas, which secrete insulin. ITN investigators hypothesized that treating new-onset type 1 diabetes with thymoglobulin would disrupt T-cell activation and might induce tolerance.The Phase II START study enrolled 58 new-onset type 1 diabetic patients ages 12 to 35 years old. The patients were randomized 2:1 to receive ATG treatment or placebo. Patients in the ATG group received intravenous infusion of ATG over 4 consecutive days at the start of the study; patients in the placebo group received saline solution. At 6-month intervals, researchers measured insulin production of patients in both groups. …

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