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Huntington’s Breakthrough

Huntington’s disease a relatively rare, yet nonetheless devastating, hereditary condition whose effects have been described as a combination of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.  Because of its particularly devastating symptoms, it’s the subject of plenty of scientific investigation.  I recently read about one study at Johns Hopkins where researchers found evidence that disruptions in the flow of cellular materials in and out of a cell’s nucleus could be the direct cause of brain cell death in Huntington’s disease.  The researchers, working with mouse, fly and human cells...
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Glucose and Alzheimer’s

One of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s is a decline in glucose levels in the brain.  Yet whether or not it’s a cause or consequence of neurological dysfunction has been debated.  However, new research at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University unequivocally reveals that a lack of glucose triggers cognitive decline, rather than being caused by cognitive decline.   In recent years, advances in imaging techniques, particularly positron emission tomography (PET), have allowed researchers to look for subtle changes in the brains of patients with different...
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DAMP In Plants

Researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) have recently reported that a protein that signals tissue damage to the human immune system has a counterpart that plays a similar role in plants.  They have identified a new damage-associated molecular pattern molecule or “DAMP” in plants.  DAMP molecules released by injured cells trigger an immune response in plants and animals, a protein that researchers call HMGB3.  Knowledge of HMGB3 and its human equivalent, HMGB1, allows us to better understand how humans and plants can fight off infections. Plants and animal...
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Breast Cancer Breakthrough

Recently, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed the first clinically-relevant mouse model of human breast cancer, as part of successfully expressing functional estrogen receptor positive (ER+) adenocarcinomas.  The tumors that have been generated in this system bear a strong resemblance to the class of tumors that can be found among most women with breast cancer, in particular those whose cancer proves treatment-resistant.  Such a model could prove itself a powerful tool for testing therapies for aggressive E+ breast cancers, as well as for...
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CJD and Alzheimer’s?

According to new research, the brains of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) victims show evidence of Alzheimer’s pathology.  However, neuroscientists have dismissed concerns that people can “catch” Alzheimer’s by becoming infected with the “seeds” of the condition through surgery with contaminated instruments or blood transfusions.  The study, published in Nature last week, reported autopsy results from the brains of eight people between 36 and 51 years old who died of CJD after receiving contaminated growth hormone injections.  In four subjects, there was evidence of...