Navigational ability visible in brain The brains of people who immediately know their way after traveling along as a passenger are different from the brains of people who always need a GPS system or a map to get from one place to another. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — The brains of people who immediately know their way after traveling along as a passenger are different from the brains of people who always need a GPS system or a map to get from one place to another. This was demonstrated by Joost Wegman, who will defend his thesis at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands on the 27th of November.Share This:Wegman demonstrates that good navigators store relevant landmarks automatically on their way. Bad navigators on the other hand, often follow a fixed procedure or route (such as: turn left twice, then turn right at the statue).Anatomical differencesWegman also found that there are detectable structural differences between the brains of good and bad navigators. ‘These anatomical differences are not huge, but we found them significant enough, because we had a lot of data’, the researcher explains. ‘The difference is in the hippocampus. We saw that good navigators had more so-called gray matter. In the brain’s gray matter information is processed. Bad navigators, on the other hand, have more white matter - which connects gray matter areas with each other - in a brain area called the caudate nucleus. This area stores spatial actions with respect to oneself. … For more info: Navigational ability visible in brain ScienceDaily: Living Well News Navigational ability visible in brain L’articolo Navigational ability visible in brain sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Online shoppers favor white sellers in classified ads, study finds Online classified ad shoppers respond less often and offer lower prices when a seller is black rather than white, finds a newly published study based on a field experiment. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — If you walked into a store to buy a brand-new Apple iPod, would you be less likely to buy it, or want to pay less for it, if it were presented by a salesperson who was black rather than white?Transpose that shopping experience to Craigslist, and that sums up how the average American behaves, according to newly published research co-authored by University of Virginia professor Jennifer Doleac.A yearlong experiment selling iPods in about 1,200 online classified ads placed in more than 300 locales throughout the United States, ranging from small towns to major cities, tested for such racial bias among buyers by featuring photographs of the iPod held by a man’s hand that was either dark-skinned (“black”), light-skinned (“white”), or light-skinned with a wrist tattoo. In all other respects, the photos were very similar.The experiment, conducted from March 2009 to March 2010, found that black sellers did worse than white sellers on a variety of metrics: they receive 13 percent fewer responses, 18 percent fewer offers, and offers that are 11 to 12 percent lower. These effects are similar in magnitude to those associated with a white seller’s display of a tattoo, which the authors included to serve as a “suspicious” white control group.Buyers corresponding with a black seller also behave in ways suggesting they trust the seller less: they are 17 percent less likely to include their names, 44 percent less likely to agree to a proposed delivery by mail and 56 percent more likely to express concern about making a long-distance payment.“We were really struck to find as much racial discrimination as we did,” said Doleac, assistant professor of public policy and economics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, who co-authored the paper with Luke C.D. Stein, assistant professor of finance at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Stein and Doleac conducted the experiment while both were doctoral students in economics at Stanford University.Their paper, “The Visible Hand: Race and Online Market Outcomes,” was published online Thursday by The Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society.At the time the ads were placed, among the 300-plus local ad sites, the average market had 15.7 other advertisements for iPod Nanos that had been listed in the previous week. Just 18 percent of the experiment’s ads were posted in markets with at least 20 other advertisements.In those thicker markets with at least 20 other iPod ads, black sellers received the same number of offers and equal best offers relative to whites. Conversely, black sellers suffered particularly poor outcomes in thin markets with fewer buyers and sellers, where they received 23 percent fewer offers and best offers that were 12 percent lower – very similar to the results for the tattooed sellers’ ads.Furthermore, black sellers do worst in markets with high property crime rates and more racially segregated housing, suggesting that at least part of the explanation is “statistical discrimination” – that is, where race is used as a proxy for unobservable negative characteristics, such as more time or potential danger involved in the transaction, or the possibility that the iPod may be stolen – rather than simply “taste-based” discrimination (against race itself), Doleac explained. However, “it is also possible that animus against black sellers is higher in high-crime or high-isolation markets.”The authors also found evidence that black sellers do better in markets with larger black populations, “suggesting that the disparities may be driven, in part, by buyers’ preference for own-race sellers,” they write in the conclusion.The experiment ads all featured a silver, 8-gigabyte “current model” iPod nano digital media player, described as new in an unopened box, and for sale because the seller did not need it.Doleac and Stein never met with the buyers in person. … For more info: Online shoppers favor white sellers in classified ads, study finds ScienceDaily: Living Well News Online shoppers favor white sellers in classified ads, study finds L’articolo Online shoppers favor white sellers in classified ads, study finds sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits Playing video games, including violent shooter games, may boost children’s learning, health and social skills, according to a review of research on the positive effects of video game play. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — Playing video games, including violent shooter games, may boost children’s learning, health and social skills, according to a review of research on the positive effects of video game play to be published by the American Psychological Association.The study comes out as debate continues among psychologists and other health professionals regarding the effects of violent media on youth. An APA task force is conducting a comprehensive review of research on violence in video games and interactive media and will release its findings in 2014.”Important research has already been conducted for decades on the negative effects of gaming, including addiction, depression and aggression, and we are certainly not suggesting that this should be ignored,” said lead author Isabela Granic, PhD, of Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands. “However, to understand the impact of video games on children’s and adolescents’ development, a more balanced perspective is needed.”The article will be published in APA’s flagship journal, American Psychologist.While one widely held view maintains playing video games is intellectually lazy, such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception, according to several studies reviewed in the article. This is particularly true for shooter video games that are often violent, the authors said. A 2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions, just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills, according to the study. “This has critical implications for education and career development, as previous research has established the power of spatial skills for achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Granic said. This enhanced thinking was not found with playing other types of video games, such as puzzles or role-playing games.Playing video games may also help children develop problem-solving skills, the authors said. The more adolescents reported playing strategic video games, such as role-playing games, the more they improved in problem solving and school grades the following year, according to a long-term study published in 2013. Children’s creativity was also enhanced by playing any kind of video game, including violent games, but not when the children used other forms of technology, such as a computer or cell phone, other research revealed.Simple games that are easy to access and can be played quickly, such as “Angry Birds,” can improve players’ moods, promote relaxation and ward off anxiety, the study said. … For more info: Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits ScienceDaily: Living Well News Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits L’articolo Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Se l’impresa sociale è una start-up: una guida all’impact investing Se l’impresa sociale è una start-up: una guida all’impact investing Dal Toniic Institute, in collaborazione con la Duke University e la fondazione Rockefeller, sette regole per investire nelle nuove realtà via buone pratiche: | Se l’impresa sociale è una start-up: una guida all’impact investing Dal Toniic Institute, in collaborazione con la Duke University e la fondazione Rockefeller, sette regole per investire nelle nuove realtà Prosegui la lettura su: Se l’impresa sociale è una start-up: una guida all’impact investing buone pratiche Se l’impresa sociale è una start-up: una guida all’impact investing L’articolo Se l’impresa sociale è una start-up: una guida all’impact investing sembra essere il primo su Bio Notizie.
New aggressive HIV strain leads to faster AIDS development A recently discovered HIV strain leads to significantly faster development of AIDS than currently prevalent forms, according to new research. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — A recently discovered HIV strain leads to significantly faster development of AIDS than currently prevalent forms, according to new research from Lund University in Sweden.The period from infection to development of AIDS was the shortest reported among HIV-1 types, at around five years.There are over 60 different epidemic strains of HIV-1 in the world, and geographic regions are often dominated by one or two of these. If a person becomes infected with two different strains, they can fuse and a recombined form can occur.”Recombinants seem to be more vigorous and more aggressive than the strains from which they developed,” explained Angelica Palm, a doctoral student at Lund University.The recombinant studied is called A3/02 and is a cross between the two most common strains in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa — 02AG and A3. It has previously been described by Joakim Esbjörnsson, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford, who is a co-author of the study.So far, the new strain has only been identified in West Africa, but other studies have shown that the global spread of different recombinants is increasing. In countries and regions with high levels of immigration, such as the US and Europe, the trend is towards an increasingly mixed and complex HIV flora, unlike in the beginning of the epidemic when a small number of non-recombinant variants of the virus dominated. There is therefore reason to be wary of HIV recombinants in general.”HIV is an extremely dynamic and variable virus. New subtypes and recombinant forms of HIV-1 have been introduced to our part of the world, and it is highly likely that there are a large number of circulating recombinants of which we know little or nothing. We therefore need to be aware of how the HIV-1 epidemic changes over time,” said Patrik Medstrand, Professor of Clinical Virology at Lund University.The research is based on a unique long-term follow-up of HIV-infected individuals in Guinea-Bissau, a project run by Lund University. In future research, Angelica Palm and her colleagues hope to be able to continue researching the characteristics of recombinant viruses and the presence of these among HIV carriers in Europe.For health services, the new research results mean a need to be aware that certain HIV-1 types can be more aggressive than others, according to the research team. For more info: New aggressive HIV strain leads to faster AIDS development ScienceDaily: Top Health News New aggressive HIV strain leads to faster AIDS development L’articolo New aggressive HIV strain leads to faster AIDS development sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Oxytocin leads to monogamy How is the bond between people in love maintained? Scientists have discovered a biological mechanism that could explain the attraction between loving couples: If oxytocin is administered to men and if they are shown pictures of their partner, the bonding hormone stimulates the reward center in the brain, increasing the attractiveness of the partner, and strengthening monogamy. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — How is the bond between people in love maintained? Scientists at the Bonn University Medical Center have discovered a biological mechanism that could explain the attraction between loving couples: If oxytocin is administered to men and if they are shown pictures of their partner, the bonding hormone stimulates the reward center in the brain, increasing the attractiveness of the partner, and strengthening monogamy. The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Monogamy is not very widespread among mammals; human beings represent an exception. Comparatively many couples of the species Homo sapiens have no other partners in a love relationship. For a long time, science has therefore been trying to discover the unknown forces that cause loving couples to be faithful. “An important role in partner bonding is played by the hormone oxytocin, which is secreted in the brain,” says Prof. Dr. René Hurlemann, Executive Senior Physician at the Inpatient and Outpatient Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Bonn University Medical Center. A team of scientists at the University of Bonn under the direction of Prof. … For more info: Oxytocin leads to monogamy ScienceDaily: Living Well News Oxytocin leads to monogamy L’articolo Oxytocin leads to monogamy sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Le sigarette mandano in fumo il cervello danneggiando memoria e capacità di apprendimento: fumare è, infatti, risultato collegato a declino cognitivo precoce, quindi potrebbe anche aumentare il rischio di Alzheimer. E’ emerso da uno studio condotto da Alex Dregan del King’s College di Londra e pubblicato sulla rivista Age …L’articolo Il fumo invecchia il cervello e accelera il declino cognitivo sembra essere il primo su La Vita Oggi.
Promising new treatment helps people with spine injuries walk better Scientists may have found a new treatment that can help people with spinal cord injuries walk better. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Scientists may have found a new treatment that can help people with spinal cord injuries walk better. The research is published in the November 27, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.”About 59 percent of all spinal injuries are incomplete, leaving pathways that could allow the spinal cord to change in a way that allows people to walk again. Unfortunately, usually a person affected by this type of spinal injury seldom recovers the ability to walk normally,” said study author Randy D. Trumbower, PT, PhD, with Emory University in Atlanta. “Our research proposes a promising new way for the spinal cord to make the connections needed to walk better.”The research involved 19 people with spine injuries between levels C2 and T12, no joint shortening, some controlled ankle, knee, and hip movements, and the ability to walk at least one step without human assistance. Research team members were based at Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.The participants were exposed to short periods of breathing low oxygen levels, which is called hypoxia. The participants breathed through a mask for about 40 minutes a day for five days, receiving 90-second periods of low oxygen levels followed by 60 seconds of normal oxygen levels. The participants’ walking speed and endurance was tested before the study started, on the first and fifth days of treatment, and again one and two weeks after the treatment ended.The participants were divided into two groups. In one, nine people received either the treatment or a sham treatment where they received only normal oxygen levels. … For more info: Promising new treatment helps people with spine injuries walk better ScienceDaily: Top Health News Promising new treatment helps people with spine injuries walk better L’articolo Promising new treatment helps people with spine injuries walk better sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Medical research needs kids, two-thirds of parents unaware of opportunities To improve healthcare for children, medical research that involves kids is a must. Yet, only five percent of parents say their children have ever participated in any type of medical research. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 26, 2013 — To improve healthcare for children, medical research that involves kids is a must. Yet, only five percent of parents say their children have ever participated in any type of medical research, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.However, in this month’s poll, nearly one-half of parents said they are willing to have their children take part in research that involved testing a new medicine or a new vaccine, if their child had the disease being studied. More than three-quarters of parents are willing to have their children participate in research involving questions about mental health, eating or nutrition.The poll surveyed 1,420 parents with a child aged 0 to 17 years old, from across the United States.According to the poll, parents who are aware of medical research opportunities are more likely to have their children take part. But awareness is an issue: more than two-thirds of those polled indicated that they have never seen or heard about opportunities for children to participate in medical research.”Children have a better chance of living healthier lives because of vaccinations, new medications and new diagnostic tests. But we wouldn’t have those tools without medical research,” says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the University of Michigan Health System.”With this poll, we wanted to understand parents’ willingness to allow their children to participate in medical research. The good news is that willingness is far higher than the current level of actual engagement in research. This means there is great opportunity for the medical research community to reach out to families and encourage them to take part in improving medical care.”In the poll, the willingness to have children take part differed by the type of study — higher for studies involving questions related to nutrition and mental illness; lower for studies involving exposure to a new medicine or vaccine.The poll found that 43 percent of parents were willing to have their children participate in a study testing a new vaccine and 49 percent testing a new medicine. … For more info: Medical research needs kids, two-thirds of parents unaware of opportunities ScienceDaily: Living Well News Medical research needs kids, two-thirds of parents unaware of opportunities L’articolo Medical research needs kids, two-thirds of parents unaware of opportunities sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Key protein responsible for controlling communication between brain cells identified Scientists are a step closer to understanding how some of the brain’s 100 billion nerve cells co-ordinate their communication. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Scientists are a step closer to understanding how some of the brain’s 100 billion nerve cells co-ordinate their communication. The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.The University of Bristol research team investigated some of the chemical processes that underpin how brain cells co-ordinate their communication. Defects in this communication are associated with disorders such as epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia, and therefore these findings could lead to the development of novel neurological therapies.Neurons in the brain communicate with each other using chemicals called neurotransmitters. This release of neurotransmitter from neurons is tightly controlled by many different proteins inside the neuron. These proteins interact with each other to ensure that neurotransmitter is only released when necessary. Although the mechanisms that control this release have been extensively studied, the processes that co-ordinate how and when the component proteins interact is not fully understood.The School of Biochemistry researchers have now discovered that one of these proteins called ‘RIM1α’ is modified by a small protein named ‘SUMO’ which attaches to a specific region in RIM1α. This process acts as a ‘molecular switch’ which is required for normal neurotransmitter release.Jeremy Henley, Professor of Molecular Neuroscience in the University’s Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences and the study’s lead author, said: “These findings are important as they show that SUMO modification plays a vital and previously unsuspected role in normal brain function.”The research builds on the team’s earlier work that identified a group of proteins in the brain responsible for protecting nerve cells from damage and could be used in future for therapies for stroke and other brain diseases. For more info: Key protein responsible for controlling communication between brain cells identified ScienceDaily: Top Health News Key protein responsible for controlling communication between brain cells identified L’articolo Key protein responsible for controlling communication between brain cells identified sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
When the living, deceased don’t agree on organ donation All 50 states have adopted laws giving individuals the right to consent to organ donation after death via a signed donor card or driver’s license, or by enrollment in a donor registry. While such laws give hospitals legal authority to proceed with organ procurement without consent of the registered donor’s family, a new study shows that organ procurement organizations’ implementation has been inconsistent and incomplete. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 26, 2013 — All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the 2006 Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) or enacted similar legislation giving individuals the “First Person Authorization” (FPA) to consent to organ donation after death via a signed donor card or driver’s license, or by enrollment in a donor registry. While such laws give hospitals legal authority to proceed with organ procurement without consent of the registered donor’s family, a new study shows that organ procurement organizations’ implementation of FPA has been inconsistent and incomplete.”Sometimes what we preach and what we practice may not be the same thing, especially when dealing with very sensitive issues such as organ donation,” said W. James Chon, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine, primary author of the study, which was published early online in the American Journal of Transplantation.Chon and his colleagues conducted a web-based survey of the executive directors of 58 organ procurement organizations to assess their policies and practices regarding donations from registered donors in cases of family objections. Most of the respondents estimated the frequency of family objection as less than 10 percent.Half the groups surveyed did not have a written policy for handling such scenarios. Twenty-one percent said they would first inform the family of the donor’s wishes and proceed with procurement, and another 59 percent said they would proceed even if they could not persuade family members. Twenty percent, however, said they would not proceed with organ procurement unless they had consent of the family, and 35 percent had not procured organs against family objections in the past five years.Chon said that despite the legal backing given by FPA legislation, procurement organizations still have difficulty dealing with family objections because questions about organ donation come at such an emotional time.”When a deadly accident hits, the family is in a state of shock,” he said. “Then out of nowhere, a total stranger comes up to say their son or daughter wanted to be an organ donor and the family often find it difficult to process the information in this time of emotional upheaval.”Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author and the Carolyn and Matthew Bucksbaum Professor of Clinical Ethics at the University of Chicago Medicine, said the work highlights the importance of people talking to family members about their organ donation wishes in the event of an untimely death.”What this study shows is that family objections to a kin’s decision is rare. However, we have to remember that it only addresses those cases in which an individual has made known his or her wishes about donation,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is a minority of the country, so it is critical that we convince the public to express their wishes using web-based consent registries, organ donor cards, or driver’s licenses.”Chon added that while organ procurement organizations should continue their efforts to enforce FPA in the face of family objections, increased public awareness about the critical need for donated organs will also help to limit the number of times families refuse to honor the wishes of a loved one.”As people are better informed and better educated about why we’re doing this, I think most people will agree that it’s really up to the deceased person to dictate how the organs are used,” he said. For more info: When the living, deceased don’t agree on organ donation ScienceDaily: Living Well News When the living, deceased don’t agree on organ donation L’articolo When the living, deceased don’t agree on organ donation sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Good news on the Alzheimer’s epidemic: Risk for older adults declining Improvements in education levels, health care and lifestyle credited for decline in dementia risk. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — People are less likely to experience dementia and Alzheimer’s disease today than they were 20 years ago — and those who do may be developing it later in life — says a new perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine that examines the positive trends in dementia.Authors examined five recent studies that suggest a decrease in the prevalence of dementia, crediting the positive trend to improvements in education levels, health care and lifestyle.”We’re very encouraged to see a growing number of studies from around the world that suggest that the risk of dementia may be falling due to rising levels of education and better prevention and treatment of key cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol,” says co-author Kenneth Langa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School and research investigator at the Center for Clinical Management Research (CCMR), VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.”Our findings suggest that, even if we don’t find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, there are social and lifestyle factors we can address to decrease our risk.”Authors also include Eric B. Larson, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of Group Health Research Institute and Group Health’s vice president for research; and Kristine Yaffe, M.D., a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Larson is also an adjunct professor at the University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health.Authors point to two key factors that may explain the decreased risk of dementia over the last few decades: People are completing more years of school, which helps the brain fight off dementia; and there’s more awareness and focus on preventing heart disease, another big risk factor for Alzheimer’s.”The growing number of older adults in the U.S. and around the world means we will undoubtedly see a significant growth in the number of people with dementia, however the good news is they appear to be living longer without experiencing it,” says Langa, who is also a member of the U-M Institute for Social Research, Institute of Gerontology and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.”We are seeing a positive trend that suggests that improving our physical and mental health go hand in hand with fighting off this devastating condition.”In 2008, Langa and Larson reported one of the first studies suggesting a decline in U.S. dementia rates, using information from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study. They found that decline tracked with education and improvements in health care and lifestyle. Since then, several studies in Europe have confirmed this trend — and the reasons behind it.Other research has also shown that other factors decreasing risk include early and ongoing education, physical activity, retiring later, educated parents (especially an educated mother), maintaining social activities and getting treatment for depression. For more info: Good news on the Alzheimer’s epidemic: Risk for older adults declining ScienceDaily: Top Health News Good news on the Alzheimer’s epidemic: Risk for older adults declining L’articolo Good news on the Alzheimer’s epidemic: Risk for older adults declining sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration For a few years, optogenetics has been seen as a very promising therapy for progressive blindness, for example when it is a result of retinal degeneration. In order to further develop this therapeutic approach, researchers have developed a computer model that simulates optogenetic vision. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — For a few years now, optogenetics has been seen as a very promising therapy for progressive blindness, for example when it is a result of retinal degeneration. In order to further develop this therapeutic approach, Marion Mutter and project leader Dr. Thomas Münch of the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN) at the University of Tübingen have developed a computer model that simulates optogenetic vision. The research has been published in the November 27 issue of PLOS ONE.Retinitis Pigmentosa is a form of retinal degeneration in which the photoreceptors in the eye die off. In order to counteract the accompanying loss of light perception, light-sensitive proteins known as channelrhodopsins are introduced into the retina using an optogenetic procedure. Every cell that contains channelrhodopsins can be activated by exposure to light. After optogenetic treatment, neighboring cells can take over the lost functions of the photoreceptors. This procedure has already been successful in restoring vision in mice. Thus, in the last few years, the foundation has been laid for using optogenetics to treat blindness.However, the method has its limits. … For more info: Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration ScienceDaily: Top Health News Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration L’articolo Simulating new treatment for retinal degeneration sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy increases risk of fetal, infant death New research shows that pre-existing diabetes in pregnant women greatly increases the risk of death of their unborn fetus by around 4.5 times compared with pregnant women without diabetes, and also almost doubles the risk of death of infants after birth. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — New research shows that pre-existing diabetes in pregnant women greatly increases the risk of death of their unborn fetus by around four-and-a-half times compared with pregnant women without diabetes, and also almost doubles the risk of death of infants after birth. The research, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes), is by Dr Ruth Bell and Peter Tennant, Newcastle University, UK, and colleagues from Newcastle University, and the South Tees NHS Trust, UK and Public Health England.While previous research has investigated links between pre-existing diabetes in mothers and deaths of unborn fetuses and young children, it has not previously excluded congenital anomalies1 from causes of death. In this new research, the authors used unique sources of data from several long-standing population-based registers in the north of England to investigate the association between pre-existing diabetes and the risks of fetal and infant death in offspring without congenital anomalies.All normally formed singleton offspring of women with pre-existing diabetes (1,206 with type 1 diabetes and 342 with type 2 diabetes) in the North of England during 1996� were identified from the Northern Diabetes in Pregnancy Survey. The relative risk of fetal death (i.e. death of a fetus at or after 20 weeks’ gestation 2) and infant death (i.e. death during the first year of life) were estimated by comparison with population data from the Northern Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality Survey. Predictors of fetal and infant death in women with pre-existing diabetes were examined.The researchers found that women with pre-existing diabetes were 4.56 times more likely to have their unborn fetus die compared with women without diabetes, while their infants were 1.86 times more likely to die. There was no difference in the risk of fetal and/or infant death in women with type 1 diabetes compared with type 2. Women with glycated haemoglobin (a standard measure of blood sugar control) above 6.6%, those with pre-pregnancy retinopathy (a complication of diabetes) and a lack of folic acid supplementation were all found to be at higher risk of experiencing a fetal or infant death.The prevalence of fetal death was 3% in women with pre-existing diabetes, and the prevalence of infant death was 0.7%, compared with 0.7% and 0.4% in women without the condition. … For more info: Pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy increases risk of fetal, infant death ScienceDaily: Top Health News Pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy increases risk of fetal, infant death L’articolo Pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy increases risk of fetal, infant death sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Crossing continents — where we drive affects how we drive According to the International Transport Forum, Malaysia has one of the highest death rates from road traffic accidents in the world. While the number of road deaths continues to rise in Malaysia the number in the United Kingdom is much lower and experiencing a downward trend. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 28, 2013 — According to the International Transport Forum, Malaysia has one of the highest death rates from road traffic accidents in the world. While the number of road deaths continues to rise in Malaysia the number in the United Kingdom is much lower and experiencing a downward trend.For the first time a team of experts have been looking at the cross-cultural effect on drivers’ hazard perception and their research has shown that compared to British drivers, Malaysian motorists are less likely to identify situations as dangerous and also react to them later. This could have consequences for hazard perception tests for drivers in developing countries where road safety is a primary concern.A cross-cultural study of drivers carried out by experts in the School of Psychology’s Driving Research Group at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) and The University of Nottingham in the UK showed that Malaysian drivers have much slower reaction times and required a higher threshold of danger before taking action. The study has also shown that the better we know the roads we are on the more likely we are to identify events occurring there as hazardous.The International Transport Forum’s Annual report for 2013 showed that in 2011 there were 1,960 fatalities on UK roads — a fall of nearly 64 per cent since 1990. While in Malaysia the figure stood at 6,877 — a rise of 70 per cent since 1990.Phui Cheng Lim, a Postgraduate student who led the research, said: “The fact that Malaysian drivers were slower to respond to danger possibly reflects the more hazardous road environment they are used to.”Although hazard perception tests are used in several developed countries as part of the driver licensing curriculum little research has been done in developing countries where road safety is a primary concern. Our results suggest that hazard perception testing, particularly in developing countries, would benefit from a paradigm where performance cannot be confused with differing thresholds of what is regarded as a potential hazard.”The research entitled ‘Cross-cultural effects on drivers’ hazard perception’ was carried out both in Malaysia and the UK. It was instigated by Dr Elizabeth Sheppard shortly after she arrived in Malaysia to take up an academic post at UNMC. Funded by an Early Career Research and Knowledge Transfer grant from The University of Nottingham, the research has been published in the academic journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.Dr Sheppard said: “I thought getting a car would make life easier but I soon realized that driving in Malaysia was very different from back home in Britain. I had to completely rethink my driving strategy.”Dr Sheppard now heads the Driving Research Group which is made up of experts in traffic psychology and behavior. … For more info: Crossing continents — where we drive affects how we drive ScienceDaily: Living Well News Crossing continents — where we drive affects how we drive L’articolo Crossing continents — where we drive affects how we drive sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Memories ‘geotagged’ with spatial information Using a video game in which people navigate through a town delivering objects, a team of neuroscientists has discovered how brain cells that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and are activated immediately before those memories are recalled. Their work shows how spatial information is incorporated into memories and why remembering an experience can bring to mind other events that happened in the same place. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 28, 2013 — Using a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations, a team of neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Freiburg University has discovered how brain cells that encode spatial information form “geotags” for specific memories and are activated immediately before those memories are recalled.Their work shows how spatial information is incorporated into memories and why remembering an experience can quickly bring to mind other events that happened in the same place.”These findings provide the first direct neural evidence for the idea that the human memory system tags memories with information about where and when they were formed and that the act of recall involves the reinstatement of these tags,” said Michael Kahana, professor of psychology in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences.The study was led by Kahana and professor Andreas Schulze-Bonhage of Freiberg. Jonathan F. Miller, Alec Solway, Max Merkow and Sean M. Polyn, all members of Kahana’s lab, and Markus Neufang, Armin Brandt, Michael Trippel, Irina Mader and Stefan Hefft, all members of Schulze-Bonhage’s lab, contributed to the study. They also collaborated with Drexel University’s Joshua Jacobs.Their study was published in the journal Science.Kahana and his colleagues have long conducted research with epilepsy patients who have electrodes implanted in their brains as part of their treatment. The electrodes directly capture electrical activity from throughout the brain while the patients participate in experiments from their hospital beds.As with earlier spatial memory experiments conducted by Kahana’s group, this study involved playing a simple video game on a bedside computer. The game in this experiment involved making deliveries to stores in a virtual city. The participants were first given a period where they were allowed to freely explore the city and learn the stores’ locations. When the game began, participants were only instructed where their next stop was, without being told what they were delivering. … For more info: Memories ‘geotagged’ with spatial information ScienceDaily: Living Well News Memories ‘geotagged’ with spatial information L’articolo Memories ‘geotagged’ with spatial information sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Mobility explains association between social activity, mortality risk in older people Social activity and health correlate in old age, but less is known about what explains this association. The results of a study showed that part of the association between social activity and mortality was mediated by mobility among older men and women. Of other potential mediators, having less depressive symptoms and better cognitive functioning are merely prerequisites for social activity. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 28, 2013 — Social activity and health correlate in old age, but less is known about what explains this association. The results of a study carried out in the Gerontology Research Center showed that part of the association between social activity and mortality was mediated by mobility among older men and women. Of other potential mediators, having less depressive symptoms and better cognitive functioning are merely prerequisites for social activity.”The health-enhancing influences of social activity may be partly explained by better mobility among persons who are socially active. Moreover, social activity may maintain mobility and thus decrease mortality risk, as many social activities also include physical activity,” says Katja Pynnönen, a PhD student from the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences.Collective social activity researched in this study included, for example cultural activities, acting in organizations, traveling, physical activity in groups, and dancing. When participating in these kinds of activities, a person acts together with other people and may experience a sense of belonging to a group and a feeling of being liked and accepted.Helping others in various daily tasks is an example of productive social activity which may give feelings of doing good and being useful.”Good cognitive functioning and having less depressive symptoms seemed to be prerequisites for social activity. Thus, it is important to recognize and take into account those older people who have memory problems and are melancholy, and may need extra support to participate in social activities,” says Pynnönen.The study is part of the Evergreen project carried out in the University of Jyväskylä. In 1988, 406 men and 775 women aged 65-84 years took part in face-to-face interviews. Data on mortality were drawn from the population register. For more info: Mobility explains association between social activity, mortality risk in older people ScienceDaily: Living Well News Mobility explains association between social activity, mortality risk in older people L’articolo Mobility explains association between social activity, mortality risk in older people sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Geriatric care may help older patients find independence after trauma A year after a trauma injury, seniors had difficulty with daily tasks such as simple shopping trips. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Older patients who received extra geriatric care following a traumatic injury were able to return to roughly two thirds more daily activities than those without a consultation, according to a new study led by researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and University of California, Los Angeles.Patients in the study were 65 or over and had experienced injuries ranging from a minor rib fracture from a bad fall to a serious head injury or multiple fractures as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian in a motor vehicle accident.A year after discharge from the hospital, patients were questioned about how well they were able to return to independence in regular activities, including walking, bathing, managing finances, light housework and simple shopping trips.Those who saw an additional geriatrician during their hospital stay were less dependent on others a year later — most notably in their ability to leave the house to shop for personal items — according to the research that appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery.”Trauma surgeons have long struggled with the fragility of their older trauma patients who have much greater health risks for the same injuries experienced by younger patients,” says senior author Lillian Min, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor of internal medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine at the U-M Medical School. “We’ve come a long way in improving our survival rates of these patients but what we didn’t know was whether we were returning them to their homes and communities sicker than they were before.””What we found was that geriatric interventions helped older patients take better care of themselves and be more independent.”Adults aged 65 and over are estimated to comprise 40 percent of all trauma patients over the next four decadesThe study found that overall, senior patients who had been hospitalized for a trauma injury were not able to return to all of the daily tasks they had been doing before. Most of the new impairments were in shopping for personal items, which is the one activity performed out of the home. Authors say this difficulty may reflect fatigue, physical disability, or fear of going out.Participants who received the geriatric consult had access to geriatricians who were able to discontinue unnecessary medications, avoid medications that older patients are sensitive to, promote physical rehabilitation, prevent delirium, and pay attention to home situations such as where patients lived and who their caretakers were.”This information compels us to do more to help our older patients get back to normal life,” Min says. “Our findings suggest that even small changes in care can lead to decreased complications and improve health outcomes for a vulnerable group. We have a responsibility to do what we can to strengthen collaborations between surgery and geriatric medicine doctors.” For more info: Geriatric care may help older patients find independence after trauma ScienceDaily: Living Well News Geriatric care may help older patients find independence after trauma L’articolo Geriatric care may help older patients find independence after trauma sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Fast, furious, refined: Smaller black holes can eat plenty Gemini observations support an unexpected discovery in the galaxy Messier 101. A relatively small black hole (20-30 times the mass of our sun) can sustain a hugely voracious appetite while consuming material in an efficient and tidy manner — something previously thought impossible. The research also affects the long quest for elusive intermediate-mass black holes. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Observations of a black hole powering an energetic X-ray source in a galaxy some 22 million light-years away could change our thinking about how some black holes consume matter. The findings indicate that this particular black hole, thought to be the engine behind the X-ray source’s high-energy light output, is unexpectedly lightweight, and, despite the generous amount of dust and gas being fed to it by a massive stellar companion, it swallows this material in a surprisingly orderly fashion.”It has elegant manners,” says research team member Stephen Justham, of the National Astronomical Observatories of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Such lightweights, he explains, must devour matter at close to their theoretical limits of consumption to sustain the kind of energy output observed. “We thought that when small black holes were pushed to these limits, they would not be able to maintain such refined ways of consuming matter,” Justham explains. “We expected them to display more complicated behavior when eating so quickly. Apparently we were wrong.”A Surprising TwistX-ray sources give off high- and low-energy X-rays, which astronomers call hard and soft X-rays, respectively. In what might seem like a contradiction, larger black holes tend to produce more soft X-rays, while smaller black holes tend to produce relatively more hard X-rays. This source, called M101 ULX-1, is dominated by soft X-rays, so researchers expected to find a larger black hole as its energy source.In a surprising twist, however, the new observations made at the Gemini Observatory, and published in the November 28th issue of the journal Nature, indicate that M101 ULX-1′s black hole is on the small side, and astrophysicists don’t understand why.In theoretical models of how matter falls into black holes and radiates energy, the soft X-rays come primarily from the accretion disk (see illustration), while hard X-rays are typically generated by a high-energy “corona” around the disk. The models show that the corona’s emission strength should increase as the rate of accretion gets closer to the theoretical limit of consumption. … For more info: Fast, furious, refined: Smaller black holes can eat plenty ScienceDaily: Top Science News Fast, furious, refined: Smaller black holes can eat plenty L’articolo Fast, furious, refined: Smaller black holes can eat plenty sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Pills of the future: Nanoparticles; Researchers design drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be taken orally Drugs delivered by nanoparticles hold promise for targeted treatment of many diseases, including cancer. However, the particles have to be injected into patients, which has limited their usefulness so far. Now, researchers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Drugs delivered by nanoparticles hold promise for targeted treatment of many diseases, including cancer. However, the particles have to be injected into patients, which has limited their usefulness so far.Now, researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections.In a paper appearing in the Nov. 27 online edition of Science Translational Medicine, the researchers used the particles to demonstrate oral delivery of insulin in mice, but they say the particles could be used to carry any kind of drug that can be encapsulated in a nanoparticle. The new nanoparticles are coated with antibodies that act as a key to unlock receptors found on the surfaces of cells that line the intestine, allowing the nanoparticles to break through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream.This type of drug delivery could be especially useful in developing new treatments for conditions such as high cholesterol or arthritis. Patients with those diseases would be much more likely to take pills regularly than to make frequent visits to a doctor’s office to receive nanoparticle injections, say the researchers.”If you were a patient and you had a choice, there’s just no question: Patients would always prefer drugs they can take orally,” says Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and an author of the Science Translational Medicine paper.Lead authors of the paper are former MIT grad student Eric Pridgen and former BWH postdoc Frank Alexis, and the senior author is Omid Farokhzad, director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at BWH. Other authors are Timothy Kuo, a gastroenterologist at BWH; Etgar Levy-Nissenbaum, a former BWH postdoc; Rohit Karnik, an MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Richard Blumberg, co-director of BWH’s Biomedical Research Institute.No more injectionsSeveral types of nanoparticles carrying chemotherapy drugs or short interfering RNA, which can turn off selected genes, are now in clinical trials to treat cancer and other diseases. These particles exploit the fact that tumors and other diseased tissues are surrounded by leaky blood vessels. After the particles are intravenously injected into patients, they seep through those leaky vessels and release their payload at the tumor site.For nanoparticles to be taken orally, they need to be able to get through the intestinal lining, which is made of a layer of epithelial cells that join together to form impenetrable barriers called tight junctions.”The key challenge is how to make a nanoparticle get through this barrier of cells. … For more info: Pills of the future: Nanoparticles; Researchers design drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be taken orally ScienceDaily: Top Health News Pills of the future: Nanoparticles; Researchers design drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be taken orally L’articolo Pills of the future: Nanoparticles; Researchers design drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be taken orally sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Study examines potential evolutionary role of ‘sexual regret’ in human survival, reproduction A study finds men regret missing opportunities to have sex, while women feel remorse for having casual, meaningless sex. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — In the largest, most in-depth study to date on regret surrounding sexual activity, a team of psychology researchers found a stark contrast in remorse between men and women, potentially shedding light on the evolutionary history of human nature.Researchers for the peer-reviewed study included University of Texas at Austin evolutionary psychologist David Buss. The study was led by Andrew Galperin, a former social psychology doctoral student at the University of California-Los Angeles; and Martie Haselton, a UCLA social psychology professor. It is published in the current issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.The findings show how human emotions such as regret can play an important role in survival and reproduction. They suggest that men are more likely to regret not taking action on a potential liaison, and women are more remorseful for engaging in one-time liaisons.”Prior sex researchers have focused primarily on the emotion of sexual attraction in sexual decisions,” Buss says. “These studies point to the importance of a neglected mating emotion — sexual regret — which feels experientially negative but in fact can be highly functional in guiding adaptive sexual decisions.”Evolutionary pressures probably explain the gender difference in sexual regret, says Haselton, who earned her Ph.D. in psychology at UT Austin.”For men throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective.” Haselton says. “But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding. The consequences of casual sex were so much higher for women than for men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today.”In three studies the researchers asked participants about their sexual regrets. In the first study, 200 respondents evaluated hypothetical scenarios in which someone regretted pursuing or failing to pursue an opportunity to have sex. … For more info: Study examines potential evolutionary role of ‘sexual regret’ in human survival, reproduction ScienceDaily: Living Well News Study examines potential evolutionary role of ‘sexual regret’ in human survival, reproduction L’articolo Study examines potential evolutionary role of ‘sexual regret’ in human survival, reproduction sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs Researchers have identified the protein in malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites that is inhibited by a newly discovered class of anti-malarial compounds known as imidazopyrazines. The protein, phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase, is the first potential malaria drug target shown to be essential to all stages of the Plasmodium life cycle; imidazopyrazines impede its activity throughout this process. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Researchers have identified the protein in malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites that is inhibited by a newly discovered class of anti-malarial compounds known as imidazopyrazines. The protein, phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase (PI4K), is the firstShare This:potential malaria drug target shown to be essential to all stages of the Plasmodium life cycle; imidazopyrazines impede its activity throughout this process. Led by Elizabeth Winzeler, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego and Novartis Research Foundation, the research was published online today in Nature. The work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other organizations.When a Plasmodium-carrying mosquito bites a human, it transmits infectious parasites that travel to the liver, where they multiply and mature, and then spread throughout the bloodstream, causing malaria symptoms to develop. Dr. Winzeler and her colleagues administered imidazopyrazines to mice and nonhuman primates infected with Plasmodium and found that the compounds blocked the parasites’ development both in the liver and in the bloodstream stages of infection. They also exposed Plasmodium parasites directly to imidazopyrazines and searched for genetic differences between parasites susceptible to the compounds and those that were resistant. They found that the imidazopyrazine-resistant parasites had mutated versions of the gene that codes for PI4K.Currently, only one drug, primaquine, has been approved for elimination of liver-stage parasites for the treatment of relapsing malaria. Knowing that PI4K makes Plasmodium parasites susceptible to imidazopyrazines during the liver and bloodstream stages should help researchers optimize these compounds for future clinical testing in humans, the study authors write.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. … For more info: Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs ScienceDaily: Top Health News Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs L’articolo Scientists identify potential target for malaria drugs sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Archaeological dig near Stonehenge uncovers sink hole of evidence from Neolithic period An archaeology team has delved back into a Neolithic site at Damerham, Hampshire, and uncovered a sink hole of material that may hold vital information about the plant species that thrived there 6,000 years ago. Scientists say the find was completely unexpected and had initially confused the team digging on the farmland. via ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News: Nov. 27, 2013 — An archaeology team led by an academic from London’s Kingston University has delved back into a Neolithic site at Damerham, Hampshire, and uncovered a sink hole of material that may hold vital information about the plant species that thrived there 6,000 years ago.Dr Helen Wickstead said the find was completely unexpected and had initially confused the team digging on the farmland. This is the sixth year of the project at Damerham, located about 15 miles from the iconic British monument Stonehenge, with four areas of a temple complex excavated during the summer. The surprise came in the largest of the openings, approximately 40 metres long, where careful extractions revealed a layer of uncharacteristic orange sand and clay. Typically the archaeological survey would involve mapping and cataloguing such finds as bone, pottery and tool-making waste fragments.”The site at Damerham is on chalk land, so we don’t often find materials like this that capture and preserve the plant remains — pollen or phytoliths — from a specific time period,” Dr Wickstead explained. “The sink hole contained orange sand with a yellow and grey clay and we are very hopeful that, within this material, there will be evidence of plant life that will help us continue to piece together the puzzle of human habitation on this significant site.”It was evident that prehistoric people living in the area had also come across the sink hole and excavated the material during their own construction work, Dr Wickstead said. A pile of matching waste material was also seen at one of the other mounds. “We didn’t expect to find this and suspect it would have surprised the original architects of the site too,” she said. “Moments of unexpected discovery could have had cultural significance for prehistoric people. The henge itself was a focus for rituals, life and death, so questions about the impact such a discovery would have had on their activity will be interesting to consider.”The prehistoric temple complex at Damerham is unusual because of the number of structures that are focused in one area, Dr Wickstead added. … For more info: Archaeological dig near Stonehenge uncovers sink hole of evidence from Neolithic period ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News Archaeological dig near Stonehenge uncovers sink hole of evidence from Neolithic period L’articolo Archaeological dig near Stonehenge uncovers sink hole of evidence from Neolithic period sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Making a gem of a tiny crystal: Slowly cooled DNA transforms disordered nanoparticles into orderly crystal Nature builds flawless diamonds, sapphires and other gems. Now researchers have built near-perfect single crystals out of nanoparticles and DNA, using the same structure favored by nature. The researchers developed a “recipe” for using nanomaterials as atoms, DNA as bonds and a little heat to form tiny crystals. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 27, 2013 — Nature builds flawless diamonds, sapphires and other gems. Now a Northwestern University research team is the first to build near-perfect single crystals out of nanoparticles and DNA, using the same structure favored by nature.”Single crystals are the backbone of many things we rely on — diamonds for beauty as well as industrial applications, sapphires for lasers and silicon for electronics,” said nanoscientist Chad A. Mirkin. “The precise placement of atoms within a well-defined lattice defines these high-quality crystals.”Now we can do the same with nanomaterials and DNA, the blueprint of life,” Mirkin said. “Our method could lead to novel technologies and even enable new industries, much as the ability to grow silicon in perfect crystalline arrangements made possible the multibillion-dollar semiconductor industry.”His research group developed the “recipe” for using nanomaterials as atoms, DNA as bonds and a little heat to form tiny crystals. This single-crystal recipe builds on superlattice techniques Mirkin’s lab has been developing for nearly two decades.In this recent work, Mirkin, an experimentalist, teamed up with Monica Olvera de la Cruz, a theoretician, to evaluate the new technique and develop an understanding of it. Given a set of nanoparticles and a specific type of DNA, Olvera de la Cruz showed they can accurately predict the 3-D structure, or crystal shape, into which the disordered components will self-assemble.Mirkin is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Olvera de la Cruz is a Lawyer Taylor Professor and professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. … For more info: Making a gem of a tiny crystal: Slowly cooled DNA transforms disordered nanoparticles into orderly crystal ScienceDaily: Top Science News Making a gem of a tiny crystal: Slowly cooled DNA transforms disordered nanoparticles into orderly crystal L’articolo Making a gem of a tiny crystal: Slowly cooled DNA transforms disordered nanoparticles into orderly crystal sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Brain reward gene influences food choices in the first years of life Research has suggested that a particular gene in the brain’s reward system contributes to overeating and obesity in adults. This same variant has now been linked to childhood obesity and tasty food choices, particularly for girls, according to a new study. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 26, 2013 — Research has suggested that a particular gene in the brain’s reward system contributes to overeating and obesity in adults. This same variant has now been linked to childhood obesity and tasty food choices, particularly for girls, according to a new study by Dr. Patricia Silveira and Prof. Michael Meaney of McGill University and Dr. Robert Levitan of the University of Toronto.Contrary to “blaming” obese individuals for making poor food choices, Meaney and his team suggest that obesity lies at the interface of three factors: genetic predispositions, environmental stress and emotional well-being. These findings, published in the journal, Appetite, shed light on why some children may be predisposed to obesity, and could mark a critical step towards prevention and treatment.”In broad terms, we are finding that obesity is a product of genetics, early development and circumstance,” says Meaney, who is also Associate Director of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Research Centre.The work is part of the MAVAN (Maternal Adversity Vulnerability & Neurodevelopment) project, headed by Meaney and Hélène Gaudreau, Project Coordinator. Their team studied pregnant women, some of whom suffered from depression or lived in poverty, and followed their children from birth until the age of ten.For the study, researchers tested 150 four-year old MAVAN children by administering a snack test meal. The children were faced with healthy and non-healthy food choices. Mothers also completed a questionnaire to address their child’s normal food consumption and preferences. … For more info: Brain reward gene influences food choices in the first years of life ScienceDaily: Living Well News Brain reward gene influences food choices in the first years of life L’articolo Brain reward gene influences food choices in the first years of life sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
ADHD linked to social, economic disadvantage A team of researchers has analyzed data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a database of more than 19,500 UK children born between 2000 and 2002, and has resolved that ADHD is linked to social and economic disadvantage. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 26, 2013 — Scientists have found evidence of a link between social and economic status and childhood attention deficit disorder (ADHD) in the UK.A team led by the University of Exeter Medical School analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a database of more than 19,500 UK children born between 2000 and 2002.Scientists have found evidence of a link between social and economic status and childhood attention deficit disorder (ADHD) in the UK.A team led by the University of Exeter Medical School analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a database of more than 19,500 UK children born between 2000 and 2002.The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Secondary Data Analysis Initiative. The team also acknowledge funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for the South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC).Findings showed that more children with ADHD came from families below the poverty line than the UK population as a whole, with average family incomes for households whose study child was affected by ADHD at £324 per week, compared to £391 for those whose child was not. The study found the odds of parents in social housing having a child with ADHD was roughly three times greater than for those who owned their own homes.The team also found that the odds of younger mothers having a child with ADHD were significantly higher than for other mothers. Mothers with no qualifications were more than twice as likely to have a child with ADHD than those with degrees, and lone parents were more likely to have a child with ADHD diagnosis than households with two live-in parents.Information was gathered from surveys when the cohort children were nine months old, and at the ages of three, five, seven and 11.Dr Ginny Russell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: “There is a genetic element to ADHD, but this study provides strong evidence that ADHD is also associated with a disadvantaged social and economic background.”Some people believe that ADHD in children causes disadvantage to the economic situation of their family, but we found no evidence to support that theory. It’s important to discover more about the causes of this disorder so that we can look towards prevention, and so that we can target treatment and support effectively.”The Millennium Cohort Study has been tracking more than 19,000 children in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through their early childhood and plans to follow them into adulthood. It covers such diverse topics as parenting; childcare; school choice; child behaviour and cognitive development; child and parental health; parents’ employment and education; income; housing; and neighbourhood. The Millennium Cohort Study was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, whose funding has been supplemented by a consortium of government departments. It is managed by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the Institute of Education, University of London.The findings support those of studies previously carried out in Northern Europe, the United States and Australia — but the findings show that the link between ADHD and socioeconomic status exists in the UK. For more info: ADHD linked to social, economic disadvantage ScienceDaily: Top Health News ADHD linked to social, economic disadvantage L’articolo ADHD linked to social, economic disadvantage sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Large study shows pollution impact on coral reefs, and offers solution One of the largest and longest experiments ever done to test the impact of nutrient loading on coral reefs today confirmed what scientists have long suspected — that this type of pollution from sewage, agricultural practices or other sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching. But there was unexpectedly good news – when you cleaned up the water, the corals recovered. via ScienceDaily: Ecology News: Nov. 26, 2013 — One of the largest and longest experiments ever done to test the impact of nutrient loading on coral reefs today confirmed what scientists have long suspected — that this type of pollution from sewage, agricultural practices or other sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.A three-year, controlled exposure of corals to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus at a study site in the Florida Keys, done from 2009-12, showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled.However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time.”We were shocked to see the rapid increase in disease and bleaching from a level of pollution that’s fairly common in areas affected by sewage discharge, or fertilizers from agricultural or urban use,” said Rebecca Vega-Thurber, an assistant professor in the College of Science at Oregon State University.”But what was even more surprising is that corals were able to make a strong recovery within 10 months after the nutrient enrichment was stopped,” Vega-Thurber said. “The problems disappeared. This provides real evidence that not only can nutrient overload cause coral problems, but programs to reduce or eliminate this pollution should help restore coral health. This is actually very good news.”The findings were published today in Global Change Biology, and offer a glimmer of hope for addressing at least some of the problems that have crippled coral reefs around the world. In the Caribbean Sea, more than 80 percent of the corals have disappeared in recent decades. These reefs, which host thousands of species of fish and other marine life, are a major component of biodiversity in the tropics.Researchers have observed for years the decline in coral reef health where sewage outflows or use of fertilizers, in either urban or agricultural areas, have caused an increase in the loading of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. But until now almost no large, long-term experiments have actually been done to pin down the impact of nutrient overloads and separate them from other possible causes of coral reef decline.This research examined the effect of nutrient pollution on more than 1,200 corals in study plots near Key Largo, Fla., for signs of coral disease and bleaching, and removed other factors such as water depth, salinity or temperature that have complicated some previous surveys. Following regular injections of nutrients at the study sites, levels of coral disease and bleaching surged.One disease that was particularly common was “dark spot syndrome,” found on about 50 percent of diseased individual corals. But researchers also noted that within one year after nutrient injections were stopped at the study site, the level of dark spot syndrome had receded to the same level as control study plots in which no nutrients had been injected.The exact mechanism by which nutrient overload can affect corals is still unproven, researchers say, although there are theories. … For more info: Large study shows pollution impact on coral reefs, and offers solution ScienceDaily: Ecology News Large study shows pollution impact on coral reefs, and offers solution L’articolo Large study shows pollution impact on coral reefs, and offers solution sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Incidental by-catch of marine turtles in the Mediterranean Sea When a marine turtle is incidentally by-caught by a longliner, fishermen try to cut the line — without hauling it on board — and release the turtle into the sea. However, research published determines that about 40% of post-released turtles die some months later due to the impact of longline fishing. via ScienceDaily: Ecology News: Nov. 26, 2013 — When a marine turtle is incidentally by-caught by a longliner, fishermen try to cut the line — without hauling it on board — and release the turtle into the sea. However, a research published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series alerts that about 40% of post-released turtles die some months later due to the impact of longline fishing. The study is signed by experts Lluís Cardona and Irene Álvarez de Quevedo, from the Department of Animal Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio), and Manu San Félix, from Vellmarí Formentera. It is the first scientific study based on satellite tracking of a group of loggerhead turtles released into the sea after being by-caught by Spanish longliners.The Mediterranean Sea: a cul-de-sacLoggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) is the most common turtle inhabiting Mediterranean grounds and one of the most threatened species around the world. Its migrations are long; it comes back to sandy beaches to nest. Main nesting areas are located at North-American coast, Brazil, Japan, Oman, Australia, Cape Verde and Eastern Mediterranean (specially, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Libya). To be exact, in Spanish waters there are turtles of Atlantic and Eastern Mediterranean origin.The Spanish longline fleet has been reported to by-catch around 10,000 turtles in the Mediterranean annually. However, more than 95% of them are still alive when longlines are collected. When looking for food, turtles bite baits and get caught by longliners’ hooks. … For more info: Incidental by-catch of marine turtles in the Mediterranean Sea ScienceDaily: Ecology News Incidental by-catch of marine turtles in the Mediterranean Sea L’articolo Incidental by-catch of marine turtles in the Mediterranean Sea sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Bonobo: ‘Forgotten’ ape threatened by human activity and forest loss The most detailed range-wide assessment of the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee) ever conducted has revealed that this poorly known and endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world with growing human populations. The loss of usable habitat is attributed to both forest fragmentation and poaching, according to a new study. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 26, 2013 — The most detailed range-wide assessment of the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee) ever conducted has revealed that this poorly known and endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world with growing human populations.The loss of usable habitat is attributed to both forest fragmentation and poaching, according to a new study by University of Georgia, University of Maryland, the Wildlife Conservation Society, ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority), African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto University, and other groups.Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team found that the bonobo — one of humankind’s closest living relatives — avoids areas of high human activity and forest fragmentation. As little as 28 percent of the bonobo’s range remains suitable, according to the model developed by the researchers in the study, which now appears in the December edition of Biodiversity and Conservation.”This assessment is a major step towards addressing the substantial information gap regarding the conservation status of bonobos across their entire range,” said lead author Dr. Jena R. Hickey of Cornell University and the University of Georgia. “The results of the study demonstrate that human activities reduce the amount of effective bonobo habitat and will help us identify where to propose future protected areas for this great ape.””For bonobos to survive over the next 100 years or longer, it is extremely important that we understand the extent of their range, their distribution, and drivers of that distribution so that conservation actions can be targeted in the most effective way and achieve the desired results,” said Ashley Vosper of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Bonobos are probably the least understood great ape in Africa, so this paper is pivotal in increasing our knowledge and understanding of this beautiful and charismatic animal.”The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common chimpanzee. The great ape’s social structure is complex and matriarchal. Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse tension or aggression with sexual behaviors.The entire range of the bonobo lies within the lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and currently beset with warfare and insecurity. The research team created a predictive model using available field data to define bonobo habitat and then interpolated to areas lacking data. … For more info: Bonobo: ‘Forgotten’ ape threatened by human activity and forest loss ScienceDaily: Top Science News Bonobo: ‘Forgotten’ ape threatened by human activity and forest loss L’articolo Bonobo: ‘Forgotten’ ape threatened by human activity and forest loss sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Cancer patients at increased risk for severe flu complications Weakened immune systems due to diseases like cancer cause increased risk of severe complications from the flu virus — experts advise vaccine shot, not mist. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — It is often noted that very young people and the elderly are most at-risk for experiencing flu-related complications, and one expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham says people with weakened immune systems due to diseases like cancer are also at an increased risk of severe complications from the virus.”The flu shot is recommended annually for cancer patients, as it is the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications,” said Mollie deShazo, M.D., associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and medical director of UAB Inpatient Oncology. “The flu vaccine significantly lowers the risk of acquiring the flu; it is not 100 percent effective, but it is the best tool we have.”Flu activity in the United States is low, even after increasing slightly in recent weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, more activity is expected, and people who have not had a flu vaccine this year are advised to do so.”It takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot, but you can benefit even if you get the vaccine after the flu has arrived in your community,” deShazo said.The flu shot — not the mist — is safe and is recommended for people with cancer.”Patients with cancer or who are undergoing chemotherapy should not get the flu mist because it contains live flu virus and could lead to complications in immunocompromised patients,” deShazo said, adding:• Cancer patients should avoid contact with anyone suspected of having the flu• It is prudent to wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water and avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth whenever possible• It is recommended that all caregivers and family members of cancer patients also get the flu vaccine to protect their loved onesOnce one is cancer-free, his or her risk lessens.”The longer patients are cancer-free, the lower their influenza complication risk, until it is no more than the risk of those who’ve never had the disease,” deShazo said. For more info: Cancer patients at increased risk for severe flu complications ScienceDaily: Living Well News Cancer patients at increased risk for severe flu complications L’articolo Cancer patients at increased risk for severe flu complications sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Archaeological discoveries confirm early date of Buddha’s life Archaeologists working in Nepal have uncovered evidence of a structure at the birthplace of the Buddha dating to the sixth century B.C. This is the first archaeological material linking the life of the Buddha — and thus the first flowering of Buddhism — to a specific century. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 25, 2013 — Archaeologists working in Nepal have uncovered evidence of a structure at the birthplace of the Buddha dating to the sixth century B.C. This is the first archaeological material linking the life of the Buddha — and thus the first flowering of Buddhism — to a specific century.Pioneering excavations within the sacred Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini, Nepal, a UNESCO World Heritage site long identified as the birthplace of the Buddha, uncovered the remains of a previously unknown sixth-century B.C. timber structure under a series of brick temples. Laid out on the same design as those above it, the timber structure contains an open space in the center that links to the nativity story of the Buddha himself.Until now, the earliest archaeological evidence of Buddhist structures at Lumbini dated no earlier than the third century B.C., the time of the patronage of the Emperor Asoka, who promoted the spread of Buddhism from present-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh.”Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” said archaeologist Professor Robin Coningham of Durham University, U.K., who co-led the investigation. Some scholars, he said, have maintained that the Buddha was born in the third century B.C. “We thought ‘why not go back to archaeology to try to answer some of the questions about his birth?’ Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the sixth century B.C.”Early Buddhism revealedThe international team of archaeologists, led by Coningham and Kosh Prasad Acharya of the Pashupati Area Development Trust in Nepal, say the discovery contributes to a greater understanding of the early development of Buddhism as well as the spiritual importance of Lumbini. Their peer-reviewed findings are reported in the December 2013 issue of the international journal Antiquity. The research is partly supported by the National Geographic Society.To determine the dates of the timber shrine and a previously unknown early brick structure above it, fragments of charcoal and grains of sand were tested using a combination of radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques. Geoarchaeological research also confirmed the presence of ancient tree roots within the temple’s central void.”UNESCO is very proud to be associated with this important discovery at one of the most holy places for one of the world’s oldest religions,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who urged “more archaeological research, intensified conservation work and strengthened site management” to ensure Lumbini’s protection.”These discoveries are very important to better understand the birthplace of the Buddha,” said Ram Kumar Shrestha, Nepal’s minister of culture, tourism and civil aviation. … For more info: Archaeological discoveries confirm early date of Buddha’s life ScienceDaily: Top Science News Archaeological discoveries confirm early date of Buddha’s life L’articolo Archaeological discoveries confirm early date of Buddha’s life sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Researchers create compounds that boost antibiotics’ effectiveness Inhibitor compounds developed by biologists and chemists have been shown to bolster the ability of antibiotics to treat deadly bacterial diseases such as MRSA and anthrax. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 25, 2013 — Inhibitor compounds developed by UC Irvine structural biologists and Northwestern University chemists have been shown to bolster the ability of antibiotics to treat deadly bacterial diseases such as MRSA and anthrax.The discovery by UC Irvine’s Thomas Poulos and Northwestern’s Richard Silverman builds on previous work in which they created compounds that inhibit an enzyme called neuronal nitric oxide synthase. These have demonstrated the potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases by blocking overproduction of cell-killing nitric oxide within neurons.Now the researchers are learning that the compounds may have another important function. After Poulos and Silverman read a study suggesting that nitric oxide synthase helped pathogenic bacteria resist antibiotics, their laboratory teams paired the inhibitor compounds with currently used antibiotics to see if they could suppress NOS — and increase the antibiotics’ effectiveness.”We found that NOS inhibitors were extremely successful at inhibiting neurodegeneration in an animal model, and if they could be successful combating other diseases, we wanted to identify that as quickly as possible to help other people,” said Poulos, Chancellor’s Professor of biochemistry, chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences at UC Irvine.The researchers tested their compounds on Bacillus subtilis, nonpathogenic bacteria very similar to Staphylococcus aureus (known as MRSA), and Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax. Bacteria treated with the NOS inhibitors and an antibiotic were killed off more efficiently and completely than bacteria treated with only an antibiotic. The scientists then compared the three-dimensional structure of the inhibitors bound to the bacterial NOS with those bound to the neuronal NOS and determined that they bonded quite differently.”Now that we know which region of the NOS to target, we should to be able to develop compounds that selectively bind to bacterial NOS,” Poulos said, adding that his team will also need to try out those compounds in animal models. For more info: Researchers create compounds that boost antibiotics’ effectiveness ScienceDaily: Top Health News Researchers create compounds that boost antibiotics’ effectiveness L’articolo Researchers create compounds that boost antibiotics’ effectiveness sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
“All’improvviso il Vesuvio che sonnecchia dal 1944, esploderà con una potenza mai vista. Una colonna di gas, cenere e lapilli si innalzerà per duemila metri sopra il cratere. Valanghe di fuoco rotoleranno sui fianchi del vulcano alla velocità di 100 metri al secondo e una temperatura di 1000 gradi centigradi, distruggendo l’intero paesaggio…L’articolo Allarme da USA e Giappone: “Il Vesuvio esploderà, un milione di morti in 15 minuti” sembra essere il primo su La Vita Oggi.
Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply Harvesting existing cropland more frequently could substantially increase global food production without clearing more land for agriculture, according to a new study. via ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News: Nov. 25, 2013 — Harvesting existing cropland more frequently could substantially increase global food production without clearing more land for agriculture, according to a new study from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota.The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, tracked global harvest trends of 177 crops between 1961 and 2011. It found that the total amount of land harvested increased four times faster than the total amount of cropland between 2000 and 2011, suggesting that harvest frequency was on the rise. This led the authors to wonder if there might be additional gains to be had by strategically increasing cropping frequency.”Could existing arable lands get more frequent harvests, and what is the upper limit?” asked Deepak Ray, lead author of the study. To answer that question, he introduced a new concept: harvest gap.Harvest gap is the difference between actual per-year harvest frequency and the maximum potential frequency. Ray and the study’s co-author, IonE director Jonathan Foley, estimated that on average an extra harvest is being missed globally every two years due to the presence of this harvest gap.The researchers found that Africa, Latin America and Asia have the highest concentration of potential harvest gaps. Brazil, for example, which on average harvests its croplands nearly once per year, has a harvest gap of 0.9, suggesting that on its current arable lands a second harvest is possible each year. Closing the gap would boost crop production on existing croplands without resorting to further clearing for agriculture, and so could potentially reduce the pressure to destroy additional rain forest. Increased harvest frequency also holds potential for mitigating risk under a changing climate. Worldwide, the researchers found that closing harvest gaps worldwide could theoretically boost production more than 44 percent.Ray notes the study amounts to “scientific eyeballing,” since only national data were available and only for 177 crops. … For more info: Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply L’articolo Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
School climate key to preventing bullying To effectively prevent bullying, schools need to understand positive school climate, use reliable measures to evaluate school climate and use effective prevention and intervention programs to improve the climate, a recent paper explains. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 25, 2013 — To effectively prevent bullying schools need to understand positive school climate, use reliable measures to evaluate school climate and use effective prevention and intervention programs to improve the climate, a recent paper co-authored by a University of California, Riverside assistant professor found.Cixin Wang, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education, co-authored the article, “The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention,” with Brandi Berry and Susan M. Swearer, both of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It was published in the journal Theory Into Practice.”Bullying is a very complex problem,” Wang said. “With this research, we’re really trying to provide school personnel with some proven steps to address the problem.”In recent years, there has been an increased interest in reducing bullying behavior by school personnel, parents and students. However, educators have remained challenged about how to assess the factors that cause bullying and select evidence-based prevention and intervention programs.Wang and her colleagues sought to address these issues by highlighting the importance of school climate in bullying prevention and reviewing school climate evaluations and intervention programs.They found that positive relationships among students and teachers, and negative attitudes toward inappropriate behavior such as bullying are key elements of a positive school climate.To create a positive school climate, school personnel need to promote and model appropriate attitudes and behaviors, such as caring, empathy, and appropriate interactions among and between teachers and students.To foster attitudes against bullying, in addition to promoting knowledge and awareness of bullying, teachers need to take reports of any bullying incident seriously and intervene consistently according to school rules instead of ignoring or minimizing bullying behavior.Adult behavior is also critical foundation for a healthy school climate. Adults should refrain from bullying students and other adults at school. In addition, teachers need to incorporate school climate interventions into the curriculum and use teachable moments to openly discuss topics related to bullying, such as popularity, power and social ostracism.Finally, bullying is not only a behavior problem, but also a mental health problem. Research has shown that students involved in bullying experience more mental health difficulties and display higher levels of cognitive distortions. Thus, educators need to seek professional help from mental health practitioners for students involved in bullying and experiencing mental health difficulties. For more info: School climate key to preventing bullying ScienceDaily: Living Well News School climate key to preventing bullying L’articolo School climate key to preventing bullying sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Bad proteins branch out: Misfolded proteins are capable of forming tree-like aggregates Researchers find that misfolded proteins form branched structures, which may have implications for Alzheimer’s and other aggregation diseases. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 25, 2013 — A method by Rice University researchers to model the way proteins fold — and sometimes misfold — has revealed branching behavior that may have implications for Alzheimer’s and other aggregation diseases.Results from the research will appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.In an earlier study of the muscle protein titin, Rice chemist Peter Wolynes and his colleagues analyzed the likelihood of misfolding in proteins, in which domains — discrete sections of a protein with independent folding characteristics — become entangled with like sequences on nearby chains. They found the resulting molecular complexes called “dimers” were often unable to perform their functions and could become part of amyloid fibers.This time, Wolynes and his co-authors, Rice postdoctoral researcher Weihua Zheng and graduate student Nicholas Schafer, modeled constructs containing two, three or four identical titin domains. They discovered that rather than creating the linear connections others had studied in detail, these proteins aggregated by branching; the proteins created structures that cross-linked with neighboring proteins and formed gel-like networks that resemble those that imbue spider silk with its remarkable flexibility and strength.”We’re asking with this investigation, What happens after that first sticky contact forms?” Wolynes said. “What happens if we add more sticky molecules? Does it continue to build up further structure out of that first contact?”It turned out this protein we’ve been investigating has two amyloidogenic segments that allow for branch structures. That was a surprise,” he said.The researchers used their AWSEM (Associative memory, Water-mediated Structure and Energy Model) program to analyze how computer models of muscle proteins interact with each other, particularly in various temperatures that determine when a protein is likely to fold or unfold.The program relies on Wolynes’ groundbreaking principle of minimal frustration to determine how the energy associated with amino acids, bead-like elements in a monomer chain, determines their interactions with their neighbors as the chain folds into a useful protein.Proteins usually fold and unfold many times as they carry out their tasks, and each cycle is an opportunity for it to misfold. When that happens, the body generally destroys and discards the useless protein. But when that process fails, misfolded proteins can form the gummy amyloid plaques often found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.The titin proteins the Rice team chose to study are not implicated in disease but have been well-characterized by experimentalists; this gives the researchers a solid basis for comparison.”In the real muscle protein, each domain is identical in structure but different in sequence to avoid this misfolding phenomenon,” Wolynes said. So experimentalists studying two-domain constructs made the domains identical in every way to look for the misfolding behavior that was confirmed by Rice’s earlier calculations. … For more info: Bad proteins branch out: Misfolded proteins are capable of forming tree-like aggregates ScienceDaily: Top Health News Bad proteins branch out: Misfolded proteins are capable of forming tree-like aggregates L’articolo Bad proteins branch out: Misfolded proteins are capable of forming tree-like aggregates sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Study finds gene network associated with alcohol dependence Using a new approach that combines genome-wide association studies with information about which human proteins interact with one another, researchers have identified a group of 39 genes that together are strongly associated with alcoholism. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 21, 2013 — There is good evidence from studies of families and twins that genetics plays an important role in the development of alcoholism. However, hundreds of genes likely are involved in this complex disorder, with each variant contributing only a very small effect. Thus, identifying individual risk genes is difficult.Using a new approach that combines genome-wide association studies ( GWAS) with information about which human proteins interact with one another, researchers from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Yale University Medical School have identified a group of 39 genes that together are strongly associated with alcoholism.”The discovery of these genes may open a new window into the biological mechanisms underlying this alcoholism disorder,” says Shizhong Han, UI assistant professor of psychiatry and corresponding author of the study, published Nov. 21 in the American Journal of Human Genetics. “Eventually, it’s our hope that the findings might help to develop drugs to treat or prevent this disorder.”Han and his colleagues based their approach for identifying risk genes on the idea that genes may be “guilty by association” of contributing to the disease — that although many different genes contribute to alcoholism, these genes, or more precisely, their protein products, are not independent of each other.”The proteins made by these genes could be neighbors, or they could be part of the same functional biological pathway,” Han explains. “We took advantage of their biological relatedness to identify a network of genes that interact and together contribute to the susceptibility to alcoholism.”The team conducted the study by using two large data sets collected for the genetic study of addiction — the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) and the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment (SAGE). These data sets document genome-wide common variants information from several thousand people linked to information about these individuals’ alcohol dependence or other types of addiction.The research team analyzed the merged SAGE and COGA datasets for genetic variants associated with alcoholism. No single variant was strongly associated with the condition, but when the researchers integrated information about protein-protein interactions from the Human Protein Interaction Network, they identified a network of 39 genes that was not only enriched for alcoholism-associated genes, but also was collectively strongly associated with alcoholism. This strong association held for both European Americans and African-Americans.Furthermore, the team was able to replicate the finding in three additional genetic datasets, two of individuals of European ancestry and one of individuals of African ancestry, suggesting that the findings are robust.To minimize the possibility of the result being a false positive, the researchers also analyzed the gene network for associations with other complex human diseases — bipolar disorder, depressions, and diabetes. … For more info: Study finds gene network associated with alcohol dependence ScienceDaily: Living Well News Study finds gene network associated with alcohol dependence L’articolo Study finds gene network associated with alcohol dependence sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Study pinpoints cell type, brain region affected by gene mutations in autism Researchers have identified the disruption of a single type of cell — in a particular brain region and at a particular time in brain development — as a significant factor in the emergence of autism. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 21, 2013 — A team led by UC San Francisco (UCSF) scientists has identified the disruption of a single type of cell — in a particular brain region and at a particular time in brain development — as a significant factor in the emergence of autism.The finding, reported in the Nov. 21 issue of Cell, was made with techniques developed only within the last few years and marks a turning point in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) research.Large-scale gene-sequencing projects are revealing hundreds of autism-associated genes. Scientists have begun to leverage new methods to decipher how mutations in these disparate genes might converge to exert their effects in the developing brain.The new research focused on just nine genes, those most strongly associated with autism in recent sequencing studies, and investigated their effects using precise maps of gene expression during human brain development.Led by Jeremy Willsey, a graduate student in the laboratory of senior author Matthew W. State, MD, PhD, of UCSF, the group showed that this set of genes contributes to abnormalities in brain cells known as cortical projection neurons in the deepest layers of the developing prefrontal cortex, during the middle period of fetal development.Though a range of developmental scenarios in multiple brain regions is surely at work in ASDs, the researchers said the ability to place these specific genetic mutations in one specific set of cells — among hundreds of cell types in the brain, and at a specific point in human development — is a critical step in beginning to understand how autism comes about.”Given the small subset of autism genes we studied, I had no expectation that we would see the degree of spatiotemporal convergence that we saw,” said State, an international authority on the genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders.”This strongly suggests that, though there are hundreds of autism risk genes, the number of underlying biological mechanisms will be far fewer,” he said. “This is a very important clue to advance precision medicine for autism toward the development of personalized and targeted therapies.”Complex Genetic Architecture of ASDsASDs, which are marked by deficits in social interaction and language development, as well as by repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests, are known to have a strong genetic component.But these disorders are exceedingly complex, with considerable variation in symptoms and severity, and little consistency in the mutations among affected individuals.Instead, with the rise of new sequencing methods over the past several years, researchers have identified many rare, non-inherited, spontaneous mutations that appear to act in combination with other genetic and non-genetic factors to cause ASDs. According to some estimates, mutations in as many as 1,000 genes could play a role in the development of these disorders.While researchers have been heartened that specific genes are now rapidly being tied to ASDs, State said the complex genetic architecture of ASDs is also proving to be challenging.”If there are 1,000 genes in the population that can contribute to risk in varying degrees and each has multiple developmental functions, it is not immediately obvious how to move forward to determine what is specifically related to autism,” State said. “Without this, it is very difficult to think about how to develop new and better medications,” he said.Focusing on Nine GenesTo begin to grapple with those questions, the researchers involved in the new study first selected as “seeds” the nine genes that have been most strongly tied to ASDs in recent sequencing research from their labs and others.Importantly, these nine genes were chosen solely because of the statistical evidence for a relationship to ASDs, not because their function was known to fit a theory of the cause of ASDs. “We asked where the leads take us, without any preconceived idea about where they should take us,” said State.The team then took advantage of BrainSpan, a digital atlas assembled by a large research consortium, including co-author Nenad Šestan, MD, PhD, and colleagues at Yale School of Medicine. Based on donated brain specimens, BrainSpan documents how and where genes are expressed in the human brain over the lifespan.The scientists, who also included Bernie Devlin, PhD, of The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Kathryn Roeder, PhD, of Carnegie-Mellon University; and James Noonan, PhD, of Yale School of Medicine, used this tool to investigate when and where the nine seed genes join up with other genes in “co-expression networks” to wire up the brain or maintain its function.The resulting co-expression networks were then tested using a variety of pre-determined criteria to see whether they showed additional evidence of being related to ASDs. … For more info: Study pinpoints cell type, brain region affected by gene mutations in autism ScienceDaily: Top Science News Study pinpoints cell type, brain region affected by gene mutations in autism L’articolo Study pinpoints cell type, brain region affected by gene mutations in autism sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Scientists find brain region that helps you make up your mind One of the smallest parts of the brain is getting a second look after new research suggests it plays a crucial role in decision making. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 24, 2013 — One of the smallest parts of the brain is getting a second look after new research suggests it plays a crucial role in decision making.A University of British Columbia study published in Nature Neuroscience says the lateral habenula, a region of the brain linked to depression and avoidance behaviours, has been largely misunderstood and may be integral in cost-benefit decisions.”These findings clarify the brain processes involved in the important decisions that we make on a daily basis, from choosing between job offers to deciding which house or car to buy,” says Prof. Stan Floresco of UBC’s Dept. of Psychology and Brain Research Centre (BRC). “It also suggests that the scientific community has misunderstood the true functioning of this mysterious, but important, region of the brain.”In the study, scientists trained lab rats to choose between a consistent small reward (one food pellet) or a potentially larger reward (four food pellets) that appeared sporadically. Like humans, the rats tended to choose larger rewards when costs — in this case, the amount of time they had to wait before receiving food-were low and preferred smaller rewards when such risks were higher.Previous studies suggest that turning off the lateral habenula would cause rats to choose the larger, riskier reward more often, but that was not the case. Instead, the rats selected either option at random, no longer showing the ability to choose the best option for them.The findings have important implications for depression treatment. “Deep brain stimulation — which is thought to inactivate the lateral habenula — has been reported to improve depressive symptoms in humans,” Floresco says. “But our findings suggest these improvements may not be because patients feel happier. They may simply no longer care as much about what is making them feel depressed.”BackgroundFloresco, who conducted the study with PhD candidate Colin Stopper, says more investigation is needed to understand the complete brain functions involved in cost-benefit decision processes and related behaviour. … For more info: Scientists find brain region that helps you make up your mind ScienceDaily: Top Health News Scientists find brain region that helps you make up your mind L’articolo Scientists find brain region that helps you make up your mind sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Stress, isolation take toll on those under 50 with HIV; older people fare better Researchers were surprised to learn that people younger than 50 years old with HIV feel more isolated and stressed than older people with the disease. They expected their study to reveal just the opposite. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 21, 2013 — Case Western Reserve University researchers were surprised to learn that people younger than 50 years old with HIV feel more isolated and stressed than older people with the disease. They expected their study to reveal just the opposite.”The younger, newly diagnosed individual may not know anyone in their peer group with a chronic illness, much less HIV,” said Allison Webel, PhD, RN, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.Webel’s research group studied 102 men and women recruited between 2011-12 from HIV-related clinics, service organizations and a registry of individuals with the illness. They focused on associations between stress, age and social isolation.Participants ranged from 18 to 64 years old. The groups were divided into younger than 50 and over 50.”While 50 years of age is not generally used to identify “elderly” patients, this age cut-off is frequently used by the CDC in HIV/AIDS statistics.” (Nguyen & Holodiny, 2008, HIV infection in the elderly Clinical Intervention and Aging)The average participant in this study was African-American, 48 years old, who had managed HIV for nearly 14 years and low income. This is generally reflective of the Midwest population with HIV/AIDS that also includes more women, primarily African American, and heterosexual, Webel said.Researchers found those under 50 felt more disconnected from family and friends than older people. Stigma was a major contributor, Webel said, because younger people don’t as easily identify with having to battle a chronic illness. They may also feel blamed by others for their illness and avoid people because they are sick.She also said the over-50 group, which was less stressed, had developed social networks over the years that they could rely on for support, such as getting rides to doctor’s appointments.The study countered previous research that suggested older people with HIV have increasingly limited and fragile relationships with their friends.Webel also found that many older individuals who had lived with HIV for a longer time were willing to help the younger group manage the illness.With new anti-retroviral therapies, HIV is no longer the death sentence it was in the 1980s. Today, medications allow those with the HIV infection to live a normal lifespan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.But HIV may accelerate aging, Webel said. HIV-infected people tend to develop cancers associated with old age 20 years earlier, as well as some forms of cognitive problems.Generally, those with HIV also experience higher stress levels, according to Webel. … For more info: Stress, isolation take toll on those under 50 with HIV; older people fare better ScienceDaily: Top Health News Stress, isolation take toll on those under 50 with HIV; older people fare better L’articolo Stress, isolation take toll on those under 50 with HIV; older people fare better sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
The Galaxy’s ancient brown dwarf population revealed Astronomers have discovered two of the oldest brown dwarfs in the Galaxy. These ancient objects are moving at speeds of 100-200 kilometers per second, much faster than normal stars and other brown dwarfs and are thought to have formed when the Galaxy was very young, more than 10 billion years ago. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 20, 2013 — A team of astronomers led by Dr David Pinfield at the University of Hertfordshire have discovered two of the oldest brown dwarfs in the Galaxy. These ancient objects are moving at speeds of 100-200 kilometres per second, much faster than normal stars and other brown dwarfs and are thought to have formed when the Galaxy was very young, more than 10 billion years ago. Intriguingly the scientists believe they could be part of a vast and previously unseen population of objects.The researchers publish their results in the Oxford University Press journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.Brown dwarfs are star-like objects but are much less massive (with less than 7% of the Sun’s mass), and do not generate internal heat through nuclear fusion like stars. Because of this brown dwarfs simply cool and fade with time and very old brown dwarfs become very cool indeed — the new discoveries have temperatures of 250-600 degrees Celsius, much cooler than stars (in comparison the Sun has a surface temperature of 5600 degrees Celsius).Pinfield’s team identified the new objects in the survey made by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a NASA observatory that scanned the mid-infrared sky from orbit in 2010 and 2011. The object names are WISE 0013+0634 and WISE 0833+0052, and they lie in the Pisces and Hydra constellations respectively. Additional measurements confirming the nature of the objects came from large ground-based telescopes (Magellan, Gemini, VISTA and UKIRT). The infrared sky is full of faint red sources, including reddened stars, faint background galaxies (large distances from our own Milky Way) and nebulous gas and dust. Identifying cool brown dwarfs in amongst this messy mixture is akin to finding needles in a haystack. But Pinfield’s team developed a new method that takes advantage of the way in which WISE scans the sky multiple times. … For more info: The Galaxy’s ancient brown dwarf population revealed ScienceDaily: Top Science News The Galaxy’s ancient brown dwarf population revealed L’articolo The Galaxy’s ancient brown dwarf population revealed sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Heavy drinking bad for marriage if only one spouse drinks Do drinking and marriage mix? That depends on who’s doing the drinking — and how much — according to a recent study. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 21, 2013 — Do drinking and marriage mix? That depends on who’s doing the drinking — and how much — according to a recent study by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).Researchers followed 634 couples from the time of their weddings through the first nine years of marriage and found that couples where only one spouse was a heavy drinker had a much higher divorce rate than other couples.But if both spouses were heavy drinkers? The divorce rate was the same as for couples where neither were heavy drinkers.”Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce,” said Kenneth Leonard, PhD, RIA director and lead author of the study.A video interview with Leonard about the research is available here: http://youtu.be/AhRDOJG75CU. The study’s co-authors were Gregory Homish, PhD, and Philip Smith, PhD, of UB’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.Over the course of the nine-year study, nearly 50 percent of couples where only one partner drank more heavily wound up divorcing, while the divorce rates for other couples was only 30 percent. (“Heavy drinking” was defined as drinking six or more drinks at one time or drinking to intoxication.)”This research provides solid evidence to bolster the commonplace notion that heavy drinking by one partner can lead to divorce,” Leonard said. “Although some people might think that’s a likely outcome, there was surprisingly little data to back up that claim until now.”The surprising outcome was that the divorce rate for two heavy drinkers was no worse than for two non-heavy drinkers. “Heavy drinking spouses may be more tolerant of negative experiences related to alcohol due to their own drinking habits,” Leonard said. But he cautioned that this does not mean other aspects of family life are unimpaired. “While two heavy drinkers may not divorce, they may create a particularly bad climate for their children.”The researchers also found a slightly higher divorce rate in cases when the heavy drinker was the wife, rather than the husband. … For more info: Heavy drinking bad for marriage if only one spouse drinks ScienceDaily: Living Well News Heavy drinking bad for marriage if only one spouse drinks L’articolo Heavy drinking bad for marriage if only one spouse drinks sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Why some ear, respiratory infections become chronic Scientists have figured out how a bacterium that causes ear and respiratory illnesses is able to elude immune detection in the middle ear, likely contributing to chronic or recurrent infections in adults and children. via ScienceDaily: Living Well News: Nov. 22, 2013 — Scientists have figured out how a bacterium that causes ear and respiratory illnesses is able to elude immune detection in the middle ear, likely contributing to chronic or recurrent infections in adults and children. A team from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital published the findings in a recent issue of PLOS Pathogens and has now received a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further the work.Led by Kevin M. Mason, PhD, and Sheryl S. Justice, PhD, principal investigators in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, the effort is offering new information about nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI). Contrary to what its name suggests, NTHI does not cause the flu. It is, however, the culprit behind most childhood cases of otitis media, or chronic ear infections. NTHI also can cause sinusitis, pneumonia and a range of other upper and lower respiratory illnesses.”Infections caused by NTHI are chronic and recurrent similar to other bacterial infections that are difficult to treat,” Dr. Justice says. “Findings from our studies help to explain reasons for that.”Humans are the only known hosts for Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, a family comprised of many different strains, the most well-known of which is type b, or Hib. … For more info: Why some ear, respiratory infections become chronic ScienceDaily: Living Well News Why some ear, respiratory infections become chronic L’articolo Why some ear, respiratory infections become chronic sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Greenland’s shrunken ice sheet: We’ve been here before Think Greenland’s ice sheet is small today? It was smaller — as small as it’s been in recent history — from 3-5,000 years ago, according to scientists who studied the ice sheet’s history using a new technique they developed for interpreting the Arctic fossil record. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 22, 2013 — Think Greenland’s ice sheet is small today? It was smaller — as small as it has ever been in recent history — from 3-5,000 years ago, according to scientists who studied the ice sheet’s history using a new technique they developed for interpreting the Arctic fossil record.”What’s really interesting about this is that on land, the atmosphere was warmest between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago, maybe as late as 4,000 years ago. The oceans, on the other hand, were warmest between 5-3,000 years ago,” said Jason Briner, PhD, University at Buffalo associate professor of geology, who led the study.”What it tells us is that the ice sheets might really respond to ocean temperatures,” he said. “It’s a clue to what might happen in the future as the Earth continues to warm.”The findings appeared online on Nov. 22 in the journal Geology. Briner’s team included Darrell Kaufman, an organic geochemist from Northern Arizona University; Ole Bennike, a clam taxonomist from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland; and Matthew Kosnik, a statistician from Australia’s Macquarie University.The study is important not only for illuminating the history of Greenland’s ice sheet, but for providing geologists with an important new tool: A method of using Arctic fossils to deduce when glaciers were smaller than they are today.Scientists have many techniques for figuring out when ice sheets were larger, but few for the opposite scenario.”Traditional approaches have a difficult time identifying when ice sheets were smaller,” Briner said. “The outcome of our work is that we now have a tool that allows us to see how the ice sheet responded to past times that were as warm or warmer than present — times analogous to today and the near future.”The technique the scientists developed involves dating fossils in piles of debris found at the edge of glaciers.To elaborate: Growing ice sheets are like bulldozers, pushing rocks, boulders and other detritus into heaps of rubble called moraines.Because glaciers only do this plowing when they’re getting bigger, logic dictates that rocks or fossils found in a moraine must have been scooped up at a time when the associated glacier was older and smaller.So if a moraine contains fossils from 3,000 years ago, that means the glacier was growing — and smaller than it is today — 3,000 years ago.This is exactly what the scientists saw in Greenland: They looked at 250 ancient clams from moraines in three western regions, and discovered that most of the fossils were between 3-5,000 years old.The finding suggests that this was the period when the ice sheet’s western extent was at its smallest in recent history, Briner said.”Because we see the most shells dating to the 5-3000-year period, we think that this is when the most land was ice-free, when large layers of mud and fossils were allowed to accumulate before the glacier came and bulldozed them up,” he said.Because radiocarbon dating is expensive, Briner and his colleagues found another way to trace the age of their fossils.Their solution was to look at the structure of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — in the fossils of ancient clams. Amino acids come in two orientations that are mirror images of each other, known as D and L, and living organisms generally keep their amino acids in an L configuration.When organisms die, however, the amino acids begin to flip. In dead clams, for example, D forms of aspartic acid start turning to L’s.Because this shift takes place slowly over time, the ratio of D’s to L’s in a fossil is a giveaway of its age.Knowing this, Briner’s research team matched D and L ratios in 20 Arctic clamshells to their radiocarbon-dated ages to generate a scale showing which ratios corresponded with which ages. … For more info: Greenland’s shrunken ice sheet: We’ve been here before ScienceDaily: Top Science News Greenland’s shrunken ice sheet: We’ve been here before L’articolo Greenland’s shrunken ice sheet: We’ve been here before sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Stuck on flu Researchers have shown for the first time how influenza A viruses snip through a protective mucus net to both infect respiratory cells and later cut their way out to infect other cells. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 22, 2013 — Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown for the first time how influenza A viruses snip through a protective mucus net to both infect respiratory cells and later cut their way out to infect other cells.The findings, published online in Virology Journal by principal investigator Pascal Gagneux, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and colleagues, could point the way to new drugs or therapies that more effectively inhibit viral activity, and perhaps prevent some flu infections altogether.Scientists have long known that common strains of influenza specifically seek and exploit sialic acids, a class of signaling sugar molecules that cover the surfaces of all animal cells. The ubiquitous H1N1 and H3N2 flu strains, for example, use the protein hemagglutinin (H) to bind to matching sialic acid receptors on the surface of a cell before penetrating it, and then use the enzyme neuraminidase (N) to cleave or split these sialic acids when viral particles are ready to exit and spread the infection.Mucous membrane cells, such as those that line the internal airways of the lungs, nose and throat, defend themselves against such pathogens by secreting a mucus rich in sialic acids — a gooey trap intended to bog down viral particles before they can infect vulnerable cells.”The sialic acids in the secreted mucus act like a sticky spider’s web, drawing viruses in and holding them by their hemagglutinin proteins,” said Gagneux.Using a novel technique that presented viral particles with magnetic beads coated with different forms of mucin (the glycoproteins that comprise mucus) and varying known amounts of sialic acids, Gagneux and colleagues demonstrated that flu viruses counteract the natural barrier by also using neuraminidase to cut themselves free from binding mucosal sialic acids.More notably, he said that by blocking neuraminidase activity in the mucus, the viruses remain stuck. “They can’t release themselves from the mucus decoy and thus can’t infect.”The discovery is likely to alter the way researchers and pharmaceutical companies think about how viruses and flu therapies function. Existing drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza inhibit neuraminidase activity and presumably dampen the ability of the flu virus to spread among cells. The work by Gagneux and colleagues suggests inhibiting neuraminidase activity in mucus may reduce the initial risk of infection.The challenge will be to restrict neuraminidase inhibition to the mucus. Many types of cells in the human body produce neuraminidases, each performing vital cellular functions, particularly in the brain. Limiting neuraminidase inhibition to relevant mucus-secreting cells is necessary to reducing potential side effects.”The airway’s mucus layer is constantly being shed and renewed, within a couple of hours the entire layer is replaced by a new layer,” said first author Miriam Cohen, PhD, an assistant project scientist in Gagneux’s lab. “A drug or compound that slows down neuraminidase activity rather than completely inhibit its activity will suffice to enhance the natural protective effect of mucus and prevent infection.” For more info: Stuck on flu ScienceDaily: Top Health News Stuck on flu L’articolo Stuck on flu sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Infant galaxies merging near ‘cosmic dawn’ Astronomers using the combined power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a far-flung trio of primitive galaxies nestled inside an enormous blob of primordial gas nearly 13 billion light-years from Earth. via ScienceDaily: Top Science News: Nov. 21, 2013 — Astronomers using the combined power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a far-flung trio of primitive galaxies nestled inside an enormous blob of primordial gas nearly 13 billion light-years from Earth.”This exceedingly rare triple system, seen when the Universe was only 800 million years old, provides important insights into the earliest stages of galaxy formation during a period known as ‘Cosmic Dawn,’ when the Universe was first bathed in starlight,” said Richard Ellis, the Steele Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and member of the research team. “Even more interesting, these galaxies appear poised to merge into a single massive galaxy, which could eventually evolve into something akin to the Milky Way.”Researchers first detected this object, which appeared to be a giant bubble of hot, ionized gas, in 2009. Dubbed Himiko (after a legendary queen of ancient Japan), it is nearly 10 times larger than typical galaxies of that era and comparable in size to our own Milky Way. Subsequent observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope suggested that Himiko might represent a single galaxy, which would make it uncharacteristically massive for that period of the early Universe.”The new observations revealed that, rather than a single galaxy, Himiko harbors three distinct, bright sources, whose intense star formation is heating and ionizing this giant cloud of gas,” said Masami Ouchi, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo who led the international team of astronomers from Japan and the United States.Areas of such furious star formation should be brimming with heavy elements such as carbon, silicon, and oxygen. These elements are forged in the nuclear furnaces of massive, short-lived stars like those bursting into life inside the three galaxies detected by Hubble. At the end of their relatively brief lives, these stars explode as supernovas, seeding the intergalactic medium with a fine dust of heavy elements.”When this dust is heated by ultraviolet radiation from massive newborn stars, the dust then re-radiates at radio wavelengths,” remarked Kotaro Kohno, a member of the team also with the University of Tokyo. “Such radiation is not detected in Himiko.””Surprisingly, observations with ALMA revealed a complete absence of the signal from carbon, which is rapidly synthesized in young stars. Given the sensitivity of ALMA, this is truly remarkable,” said Ouchi. “Exactly how this intense activity can be reconciled with the primitive chemical composition of Himiko is quite puzzling.”The astronomers speculate that a large fraction of the gas in Himiko could be primordial, a mixture of the light elements hydrogen and helium, which were created in the Big Bang. … For more info: Infant galaxies merging near ‘cosmic dawn’ ScienceDaily: Top Science News Infant galaxies merging near ‘cosmic dawn’ L’articolo Infant galaxies merging near ‘cosmic dawn’ sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary: Three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas What types of skills do first-year primary school children in education priority areas need most to learn to read? To find out, scientists conducted a study of 394 children at the end of their first year of school. The results show that, of all the factors involved in their reading comprehension skills, three played a predominant role: decoding ability, oral comprehension and vocabulary. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 22, 2013 — What types of skills do first-year primary school children in education priority areas need most to learn to read? To find out, a team of researchers at CNRS and the universities of Grenoble, Paris Descartes and Aix-Marseille conducted a study of 394 children in ZEPs (1) administered by the Académie de Lyon at the end of their first year of school. The results show that, of all the factors involved in their reading comprehension skills, three played a predominant role: decoding ability, oral comprehension and vocabulary.Published in the November 8, 2013 issue of PLoS ONE, these findings were obtained in collaboration with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Geneva. The report also underlines the importance of evaluating and cultivating these skills starting in the first year of school in order to improve children’s reading comprehension.Learning to read is a long, complex, difficult process that requires both teaching and systematic, in-depth guidance. In France, 5% of the children in any given class will have difficulties learning to read and write in their first year of school, but this percentage can exceed 25% in certain underprivileged areas, identified as priority education areas or “ZEPs.” It is therefore very important to identify the skills that directly influence first-year primary school children’s reading comprehension in order to propose exercises that can optimize the process of learning to read, especially in ZEPs.Researchers from the Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition (CNRS / Universités Pierre Mendès France and Joseph Fourier / Université de Savoie), the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (CNRS / Aix-Marseille University) and the Laboratory Psychologie de la Perception (CNRS / Université Paris Descartes), in collaboration with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences in Geneva, surveyed 394 first-year elementary school children at the beginning and end of the school year to determine their level of acquisition of the three basic skills that influence reading comprehension: — “Decoding”: the speed and precision with which they can recognize written words (familiar or invented), — Oral comprehension, — Vocabulary. At the end of the school year, the pupils were tested for reading comprehension in order to compare all the factors and determine the role of each skill in the understanding of written language.The results obtained with these 394 children at the end of their first school year reveal for the first time that, of all the factors that can affect reading comprehension (e.g. spoken language characteristics, attention span, memorization capacity, etc., adding up to 100%), decoding ability accounted for 34%, oral comprehension 8.9% and vocabulary 4.5%. These figures are significant, showing the importance of these three skills for children to understand what they read.These unprecedented results have far-reaching implications in the field of education. They show that evaluating these three abilities (decoding, oral comprehension and vocabulary) could help teachers identify children who are likely to have reading difficulties and give them specific training at an early stage.(1)In the French educational system, primary and secondary schools in the Zones d’Education Prioritaires (priority education areas, or ZEPs) are given additional resources and greater autonomy to deal with exceptional academic and social difficulties. … For more info: Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary: Three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas ScienceDaily: Top Health News Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary: Three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas L’articolo Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary: Three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
College students more likely to be lawbreakers if spanked as children No matter where they live in the world, university students who were spanked as children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, according to new research. Even young adults whose parents were generally loving and helpful as they were growing up showed higher rates of criminal behavior. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 22, 2013 — No matter where they live in the world, university students who were spanked as children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, according to new research by Murray Straus, co-director of University of New Hampshire Family Research Lab. Even young adults whose parents were generally loving and helpful as they were growing up showed higher rates of criminal behavior.Straus will present the research results, “Crime by University Students in 15 Nations: Links to Spanking and Positive Parenting at Age 10 by Father, Mother, And Both Parents,” today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Atlanta.”The results show that spanking is associated with an increase in subsequent misbehavior, which is the opposite of what almost everyone believes. These results are consistent with a large number of high quality peer-reviewed studies,” Straus said.Straus looked at criminality trends of university students in 15 countries using nine measures of criminality. The measures are criminal beliefs, antisocial personality, father assaulted by child in previous year, mother assaulted by child in previous year, physical assault of partner in previous year, severe physical assault of partner in previous year, physically injured partner in previous year, attacked someone intending to seriously injure them, and stolen money from anyone, including family.The 15 countries are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, and the United States. Straus took into account the influence of such factors as parental education, misbehavior as a child, loving and positive approach to correcting misbehavior, student gender, student age, and nation. One of the most interesting findings was related to the effect of parents who took a loving and positive approach but who also spanked their children.”So many parents and child psychologists believe that if spanking is done by loving and helpful parents, it has no harmful effect,” Straus said. “This study and only one other study I know of that empirically investigated this belief found that it is not true. Spanking seems to be associated with an increased probability of subsequent child behavior problems regardless of culture and, regardless of whether it done by loving and helpful parents.””Children need lots guidance and correction, but not by being physically attacked under the euphemism of ‘spanking,’ ” Straus said.Straus found that positive parenting decreased the probability of subsequent crime but mainly for nonfamily crime. And even though positive parenting was associated with less crime by students, the relation of spanking to crime remained for all nine aspects of crime.”Most people will find these results hard to understand because parents spank to correct misbehavior and to teach the child to be law-abiding citizens,” Straus said.Straus also investigated the criminal behavior of university students who were spanked just by their fathers, just by their mothers, or by both parents. … For more info: College students more likely to be lawbreakers if spanked as children ScienceDaily: Top Health News College students more likely to be lawbreakers if spanked as children L’articolo College students more likely to be lawbreakers if spanked as children sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.
Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language In a new study, researchers uncovered the brain mechanisms that underlie discourse comprehension, or the ability to understand written or spoken language through the construction of rich mental models. via ScienceDaily: Top Health News: Nov. 21, 2013 — When reading text or listening to someone speak, we construct rich mental models that allow us to draw conclusions about other people, objects, actions, events, mental states and contexts. This ability to understand written or spoken language, called “discourse comprehension,” is a hallmark of the human mind and central to everyday social life. In a new study, researchers uncovered the brain mechanisms that underlie discourse comprehension.The study appears in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.With his team, study leader Aron Barbey, a professor of neuroscience, of psychology, and of speech and hearing science at the University of Illinois, previously had mapped general intelligence, emotional intelligence and a host of other high-level cognitive functions. Barbey is the director of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.To investigate the brain regions that underlie discourse comprehension, the researchers studied a group of 145 American male Vietnam War veterans who sustained penetrating head injuries during combat. Barbey said these shrapnel-induced injuries typically produced focal brain damage, unlike injuries caused by stroke or other neurological disorders that affect multiple regions. These focal injuries allowed the researchers to pinpoint the structures that are critically important to discourse comprehension.”Neuropsychological patients with focal brain lesions provide a valuable opportunity to study how different brain structures contribute to discourse comprehension,” Barbey said.A technique called voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping allowed the team to pool data from the veterans’ CT scans to create a collective, three-dimensional map of the cerebral cortex. They divided this composite brain into units called voxels (the three-dimensional counterparts of two-dimensional pixels). This allowed them to compare the discourse comprehension abilities of patients with damage to a particular voxel or cluster of voxels with those of patients without injuries to those brain regions.The researchers identified a network of brain areas in the frontal and parietal cortex that are essential to discourse comprehension.”Rather than engaging brain regions that are classically involved in language processing, our results indicate that discourse comprehension depends on an executive control network that helps integrate incoming language with prior knowledge and experience,” Barbey said. Executive control, also known as executive function, refers to the ability to plan, organize and regulate one’s behavior.”The findings help us understand the neural foundations of discourse comprehension, and suggest that core elements of discourse processing emerge from a network of brain regions that support language processing and executive functions. … For more info: Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language ScienceDaily: Top Health News Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language L’articolo Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language sembra essere il primo su My Biologica.