ALSO NOTED: New targets for ALS; Genetic switch for breast cancer; Designer estrogen potential;


People who carry the APOE e4 gene--which has been linked to Alzheimer's--are exposed to a significantly elevated risk of postoperative dementia. The researchers say that patients with a minimum of one copy of the gene are four times more likely to develop postoperative delirium, a debilitating condition. The study included 190 seniors with an average age of 72.5 years. Postoperative delirium is a relatively common occurrence among seniors following major surgery. Report

Dietrich A. Stephan, director of discovery research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, says that a gene linked to ALS--FLJ10986--creates a protein that attacks muscle-stimulating nerve cells. They also found 10 other genes linked to ALS, offering new targets for drug discovery. Report

A new research program is focused on finding the genetic causes of autism. Report

Using genetic engineering, researchers have created an obsessive-compulsive disorder-like set of behaviors in mice and reversed them with antidepressants and genetic targeting of a key brain circuit. The study, by National Institutes of Health-funded researchers, suggests new strategies for treating the disorder. Release 

Children who are genetically susceptible to asthma are exposed to an even greater risk when exposed to traffic pollution. Article

Stem Cell Research

Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered a simple technique to distinguish between "true" neural stem cells and similar but less potent versions. The new development is a study in which the scientists worked with embryonic mouse brains. It may simplify the isolation of stem cells not only from brain, but also other body tissues, say the researchers. Report

Whitehead postdoctoral researchers Alexander Meissner and Marius Wernig have now identified successfully reprogrammed cells by looks alone. "This eliminates one of the major hurdles to reprogramming human cells," says Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch, who is also an MIT professor of biology. "If we overcome the other obstacles, this approach could one day provide custom human embryonic stem cells for use in therapy." Release

Cancer Research

The cancer biology team from the University of Queensland's Diamantina Institute for Cancer has determined that estrogen turns on a gene linked to breast cancer. The gene MYB is present in 70 percent of breast cancer cases. Blocking that gene could become an important new approach to preventing the disease. Report

In an article recently published in the journal Cancer Research, Prof. Avri Ben-Ze'ev and Dr. Nancy Gavert of the Weizmann Institute's Molecular Cell Biology Department reveal mechanisms that help colorectal cancer metastasize. Release

Chemists at Rice University have figured out how to package powerful radioactive particles inside carbon nanotubes, pointing to a new approach to treating cancer. Report

Little-known bits of RNA help master tumor-suppressor gene do its job, U-M cancer researchers find. Three micro RNA genes appear to be key partners of protective gene p53; their loss is linked to common type of lung cancer. Report

An article published in Nature Biotechnology describes how Cellzome scientists, using a new technology called Kinobeads, have assessed the molecular action of two approved Chronic Myeloid Leukemia drugs--Gleevec and Sprycel and one which is currently undergoing clinical testing, SKI-606. The team discovered novel targets for all three drugs, including two new targets for Gleevec. Release

In a new study, Danilo Perrotti and colleagues from Ohio State University, Columbus, show that treatment with a drug known as FTY720 prevents disease in a mouse model of many leukemias caused by the cancer protein BCR-ABL (nearly all cases of blast crisis chronic myeloid leukemia [CML-BC] and some cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia [ALL]). Release 

More Research

A new animal study at UCLA has determined that a "designer estrogen" could be developed to protect the brain from degeneration, offering a new approach to treating MS. Report

Scientists at UT Southwestern have been exploring ways to improve the odds of success for pancreatic cell transplants. Report

The Washington Post profiles Maine's Jackson Laboratory, which has been providing mice for medical research since 1933. The lab now covers 3,000 mouse strains and is working on developing 1,000 more to advance new therapies. Article

Using mice engineered to overeat, scientists at UT Southwestern found that a subgroup designed to produce high levels of adiponectin grew to be the fattest of the bunch, but never developed symptoms associated with diabetes. The research team believes that the high levels of adiponectin prompted their bodies to store fat just under the skin rather than around organs, allowing them to grow obese without becoming diseased. Article

Two blood chemicals have been linked to itching eczema, pointing to new therapies for the condition. Report

Using a precursor to the chemical sulforaphane found in broccoli and other vegetables, scientists at Johns Hopkins were able to treat a rare skin disease in 85 percent of the mice involved in their study. Without treatment, the mice usually died. Report

Two substances that occur naturally in the brain act to protect the brain during a stroke. This is the conclusion of a dissertation published at the Sahlgrenska Academy, and the discovery may lead to new treatments for stroke patients. Release

Teresa DiLorenzo, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology and of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, has been selected to receive a 2007 Gail Patrick ADA Innovation Award from the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation. Release

Australian researchers say that immune proteins called perforins, which protect against cancer and infection, belong to a family of bacterial toxins that are responsible for deadly diseases such as anthrax. The discovery will help the scientists develop new methods for fighting disease. Article

Thomas H. Gillingwater and colleagues identified 16 proteins that are affected by the Wlds gene. Although details are still missing, Wlds probably prevents these proteins from deteriorating synapses and axons. Release