ALSO NOTED: Researchers develop concentrated cancer therapies; U.K. regulators support animal/human embryos for research;

On Stem Cell Research

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center are studying the use of a patient's stem cells in repairing damage done by heart disease. The investigators want to determine if the use of stem cells will spur the heart to develop new blood vessels so that fresh supplies of oxygen and blood can be delivered to the heart, reducing chest pains. CD34 stem cells will be collected from patients' blood streams and then injected into areas of the heart with poor blood flow. The Phase II trial will enroll patients with severe coronary artery disease receiving maximum therapy. Report

A low level of toxicity can prevent stem cells in the central nervous system from functioning. Release

Researchers at the University of Guelph are hoping stem cells might provide the needed tissue replacements to heal joint injuries. Release

Carnegie Mellon University's Philip LeDuc predicts the use of artificially created cells could be a potential new therapeutic approach for treating diseases. LeDuc, an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, penned an article for the January edition of Nature Nanotechnology Journal about the efficacy of using man-made cells to treat diseases without injecting drugs. Release

Officials at the University of Minnesota want to stay out of a fight in the legislature over funding stem cell research, even though researchers at the university testified in favor of the bill. Report

On Cancer Research

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a method for concentrating cancer therapies into an implant that is inserted into an area where a tumor has been removed, doing away with the need for chemotherapy. Report

A team directed by Michel L. Tremblay at the Cancer Centre at McGill University has uncovered the role played by a gene associated with the propagation of breast cancer in two of five affected women. Their study, published in the magazine Nature Genetics, shows that halting the activity of this gene in mice predisposed to cancer slowed the growth of--and in some cases, prevented--tumors. Release

A toxin derived from a reclusive sea creature resembling a translucent doughnut has inspired UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers to develop a related compound that shows promise as a cancer treatment. In a study appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the UT Southwestern scientists detail how the toxin blocks uninhibited reproduction of cultured human cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. Release

Following an error in an animal test, a researcher at the University of Rochester University Medical Center found that the PPAR-gamma modulator destroyed cancer cells. And the researcher believes she has found a new approach to defeating cancer. Report

A tubular network in cells is regulated by an enzyme which plays a significant role in cell growth. And researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine say that could be a clue to promoting cell death as a means to stop the spread of cancer. Release

New research from The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital points to the significance of a single transcription factor called GABP in starting cell division. The work provides a new avenue of research for preventing cancer. Release

Two new vitamin D studies have revealed new prescriptions for possibly preventing up to half of the cases of breast cancer and two-thirds of the cases of colorectal cancer in the United States. The work was conducted by a team of cancer prevention specialists at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego and colleagues from both coasts. Release

Wielding a palette of chromosome paints, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have taken a step closer to understanding the relationship between aging and cancer by visualizing chromosomes of cells from patients with a heritable premature aging disease known as Werner Syndrome. Release

More Research

Scientists studying the HIV virus have found that interleukin-7 plays a critical role in maintaining a functioning immune system. The research suggests that adding interleukin-7 to other therapies could help protect patients T cells. Report

The government regulatory body for embryos in the U.K. has come out in favor of using animal/human hybrid embryos in research. The authority wants the use of the hybrids to be allowed with the provision that they are destroyed after two weeks. Report

Two biologists at Penn State have discovered a master regulator that controls metabolic responses to a deficiency of essential amino acids in the diet. They also discovered that this regulatory substance, an enzyme named GCN2 eIF2alpha kinase, has an unexpectedly profound impact on fat metabolism, suggesting a new approach to battling obesity. Release

Statins can be used to reverse atherosclerosis, according to investigators at the Cleveland Clinic. They came to their conclusion after evaluating data on 1,455 patients involved in four trials. Report

Scientists exploring the physics of hearing have found an underlying molecular cause for one form of deafness, and a conceptual connection between deafness and the organization of liquid crystals, which are used in flat-panel displays. Release

People with newly diagnosed epilepsy experienced few, if any, seizures while taking the drug levetiracetam as a single therapy, giving hope to epilepsy patients who don't respond to or can't tolerate existing treatments, according to a study published in the Feb. 6, 2007, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Release

Research by scientists at University College London has clearly demonstrated for the first time the structure and function of a gene crucial to the regulation of blood pressure. The discovery could be important in the search for new treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, the U.K.'s biggest killer. Release

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin have identified two small molecules with promising activity against neurotoxins produced by the Clostridium botulinum, a compound so deadly it has been labeled one of the six highest-risk bioterrorism agents by the CDC. Release

People who have survived therapy for Hodgkin's disease run a higher risk of have a fatal heart attack for up to 25 years after their treatment, according to U.K. investigators. Report

Metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes and once thought to have great promise in overcoming the infertility associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is less effective than the standard fertility drug treatment, clomiphene, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Reproductive Medicine research network. Release

Scientists at the University of Virginia have identified what appears to be a major missing link in the process that destroys nerve cells in Alzheimer's, an incurable disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive abilities. The findings are reported in the November 20, 2006, issue of the Journal of Cell Biology and could eventually lead to new drugs that target and disrupt specific proteins that conspire in the brain to cause Alzheimer's. Release

Apolipoprotein E (APOE), a gene associated with heightened risk for Alzheimer's disease in adults, can also increase the likelihood that brain-injured newborns will develop cerebral palsy, researchers at Children's Memorial Research Center have discovered. Release

Doctors have long wondered why, in some people, the immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect, leading to autoimmune disease. Now, researchers at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, have provided some new clues into one likely factor: the early development of immune system cells called B cells. Release

A new study to be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice reveals that French maritime pine tree extract known as Pycnogenol delays the uptake of glucose from a meal 190 times more than prescription medications, preventing the typical high-glucose peak in the blood stream after a meal. The study revealed the pine bark is more potent for suppressing carbohydrate absorption in diabetes than synthetic prescription alpha-glucosidase inhibitors such as Precose. Release

Four million people die every year from respiratory diseases such as viral influenza. For elderly people in particular, an infection can be dangerous. An international EU project led by the University of Bonn is now starting which aims at shedding light on why with age the fire power of the immune system is reduced. The objective is also to develop new medicines which largely inactivate the viruses and enable the immune system to deal with the small amount of residual viruses. Release

Tools & Technology

A new MIT microchip system promises to speed up the separation and sorting of biomolecules such as proteins. The work is important because it could help scientists better detect certain molecules, or biomarkers, associated with diseases, potentially leading to earlier diagnoses or treatments. Release

A physics group at Georgia Tech say that a pair of atoms are responsible for the varying levels of electrical conductance in nanowires. Release

Deals & Dollars

South Dakota billionaire T. Denny Sanford is contributing $400 million to Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health Systems to help transform it into a leading research institution dealing with children's health. Report

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has given $25 million to Autism Speaks, a group that is providing support for autism research. Report