Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body.
Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no reliable, noninvasive way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at MIT could change that: a research team led by professor Michael Cima has invented an injectable device that reveals oxygen levels over several weeks and can be read with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Using this kind of sensor, doctors may be able to better determine radiation doses and to monitor whether treatments are having the desired effect, according to the researchers, who describe the device in PNAS this week.
The most effective way to tackle debilitating diseases is to punch them at the start and keep them from growing.
Research at Michigan State Univ., published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows that a small “molecular tweezer” keeps proteins from clumping, or aggregating, the first step of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. The results are pushing the promising molecule toward clinical trials and actually becoming a new drug, says Lisa Lapidus, MSU associate professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the paper.
Nonsteroidal antinflamatory drugs (NSAIDs) that block an enzyme called COX-2 relieve pain and inflammation but can cause heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and even sudden cardiac death. This has prompted a decade-plus search for safer, but still effective, alternatives to these commonly prescribed, pain-relieving drugs.
Building on previous work that showed that deleting an enzyme in the COX-2 pathway in a mouse model of heart disease slowed the development of atherosclerosis, a team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the Univ. of Pennsylvania has now extended this observation by clarifying that the consequence of deleting the enzyme mPEGS-1 differs, depending on the cell type in which it is taken away.
Wild, Domesticated Animals Interbred Until Recently
Many of our ideas about domestication derive from Charles Darwin, whose ideas in turn were strongly influenced by British animal-breeding practices during the 19th century, a period when landowners vigorously pursued systematic livestock improvement. We inherit the idea that animal domestication involved isolation of captive animals from wild species and total human control over breeding and animal care from Darwin.
But animal management in this industrial setting has been applied too broadly in time and space, says Fiona Marshall, professor of anthropology at Washington Univ. in St. Louis. It is not representative of the practices of the Neolithic herders who first domesticated animals nor — for that matter — of contemporary herders in nonindustrial societies.
A Curtin Univ. study has cast doubt on claims vitamin D helps with fat loss after a meta-analysis of 12 high-quality vitamin D randomized control trials showed it had little impact on adiposity or obesity measures.
The School of Public Health study reviewed randomized controlled trials to see whether supplementation with vitamin D without caloric restriction influenced body weight and composition.
Muscle weakness is a common symptom of both long-time alcoholics and patients with mitochondrial disease. Now, researchers have found a common link: mitochondria that are unable to self-repair. The results are published online today in The Journal of Cell Biology. The link to self-repair provides researchers both a new way to diagnose mitochondrial disease, and a new drug target.
Mitochondria — organelles that produce the energy needed for muscle, brain and every other cell in the body — repair their broken components by fusing with other mitochondria and exchanging their contents. Damaged parts are segregated for recycling and replaced with properly functioning proteins donated from healthy mitochondria.
Stem cells demonstrate a bizarre property never before seen at a cellular level, according to a study published today by scientists at the Univ. of Cambridge. The property, known as auxeticity, is one that may have application as wide-ranging as soundproofing, super-absorbent sponges and bulletproof vests.
Most materials when stretched will contract. For example, if one pulls on an elastic band, the elastic itself will get thinner. The opposite is also true: squeeze a material and it will expand – if one squeezes a tennis ball between both hands, the circumference around the ball gets larger. However, material scientists have begun to explore auxeticity, an unusual property that has the opposite effect – squeeze it and it will contract, stretch it and it will expand. This means that auxetic materials act as excellent shock absorbers or sponges, a fact that is being explored for various uses.
Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.
“Our study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance levels,” says study author Tobore Onojjighofia, with Proove Biosciences and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Identifying whether a person has these four genes could help doctors better understand a patient’s perception of pain.”
With a new, commercially available camera system using Cornell-developed nanoparticles that make cancer cells glow, the way is lit for surgeons to diagnose and remove tumors.
With researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), Uli Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and inventor of the fluorescent “C dots” (Cornell Dots), has integrated his lab’s nanoparticle technology with an optical camera made by Quest Medical Imaging. In real time, the camera gives surgeons a clear view of cancer in the body.
Mothers give a newborn baby a gift of germs — germs that help to kick-start the infant’s immune system. But antibiotics, used to fend off infection, may paradoxically interrupt a newborn’s own immune responses, leaving already-vulnerable premature babies more susceptible to dangerous pathogens.
A new animal study, by neonatology researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), sheds light on immunology in newborns by revealing how gut microbes play a crucial role in fostering the rapid production of infection-fighting white blood cells, called granulocytes.
Asteroid and comet impacts can cause widespread ecological havoc, killing off plants and animals on regional or even global scales. But, new research from Brown Univ. shows that impacts can also preserve the signatures of ancient life at the time of an impact.
A research team led by Brown geologist Pete Schultz has found fragments of leaves and preserved organic compounds lodged inside glass created by a several ancient impacts in Argentina. The material could provide a snapshot of environmental conditions at the time of those impacts. The find also suggests that impact glasses could be a good place to look for signs of ancient life on Mars.
Sodium channels are implicated in many serious conditions such as heart disease, epilepsy and pain, making them an important potential target for drug therapies. Unfortunately, there is still much scientists do not know about the molecules. New Univ. of Cambridge research provides fresh and unexpected insights into the structure of sodium channels and, specifically, one of its components - β-subunit molecules - which are responsible for “fine-tuning” the activity of the channel.
If you’ve ever bitten into a strawberry and wondered why it doesn’t taste as sweet or as good as others in the punnet, you could blame the fruit’s genetics.
Two studies, published in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavor of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others. The gene, FaFAD1, controls a key flavor volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as fruity, sweet or peachy and contributes to fruit aroma.
Forensic Genomics Solves Case of the Red Abalone Die-off
In August 2011, thousands of dead red abalone washed up on the beaches of Sonoma County in Northern California. At the time, the cause was unknown. Now, scientists, including a biologist from UC Davis, have learned that a harmful algal bloom was to blame: the causative agent Yessotoxin.
While discovery of the cause itself is noteworthy, the method by which it was determined could have a profound effect on how wildlife mortality events are investigated in the future. Described in a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers call this new approach “forensic genomics.” It involves a combination of field surveys, toxin testing and genomic scans.