Researchers develop novel strategy to probe 'genetic haystack'

by Mark Wheeler

In ongoing work to identify how genes interact with social environments to impact human health, UCLA researchers have discovered what they describe as a biochemical link between misery and death. In addition, they found a specific genetic variation in some individuals that seems to disconnect that link, rendering them more biologically resilient in the face of adversity.

Perhaps most important to science in the long term, Steven Cole, a member of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and an associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology-oncology, and his colleagues have developed a unique strategy for finding and confirming gene–environment interactions to more efficiently probe what he calls the "genetic haystack."

Eric Kandel on how our brains manage data, and are changed by it

by Steve Bradt

“If you remember anything about this lecture, it’s because genes in your brain will be altered,” Noted neuroscientist Eric Kandel told those attending his Monday afternoon lecture at Harvard. The Columbia University professor, who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his studies on memory then said, “If you remember this tomorrow, or the next day, a week later, you will have a different brain than when you walked into this lecture.

New Harvard research casts doubt on the old adage, “All you need to run is a pair of shoes.”

Scientists have found that people who run barefoot, or in minimal footwear, tend to avoid “heel-striking,” and instead land on the ball of the foot or the middle of the foot. In so doing, these runners use the architecture of the foot and leg and some clever Newtonian physics to avoid hurtful and potentially damaging impacts, equivalent to two to three times body weight, that shod heel-strikers repeatedly experience.

Scientists have long pondered the seeming contradiction that taking broad-spectrum antibiotics over a long period of time can lead to severe secondary bacterial infections. Now researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine may have figured out why.

The investigators show that "good" bacteria in the gut keep the immune system primed to more effectively fight infection from invading pathogenic bacteria. Altering the intricate dynamic between resident and foreign bacteria – via antibiotics, for example – compromises an animal’s immune response, specifically, the function of white blood cells called neutrophils.

With seed money from the National Science Foundation, bioengineers from Stanford and UC-Berkeley, are ramping up efforts to characterize thousands of molecular players and processes critical to the engineering of microbes, so that eventually researchers can mix and match these “DNA parts” in synthetic organisms to produce new drugs, fuels or chemicals. They’ll do this in a lab in Emeryville, Calif., called BIOFAB.

“Synthetic biology has the potential to make the engineering of biology much easier and more affordable. Via the BIOFAB we will help ensure that the public’s investments and interests in the next generation of biotechnology return the greatest benefits,” said co-director Drew Endy, PhD, an assistant professor in Stanford’s bioengineering department and president of the BioBricks Foundation.

Two brain areas fail to connect when children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder attempt a task that measures attention, according to researchers at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain and M.I.N.D. Institute.

"This is the first time that we have direct evidence that this connectivity is missing in ADHD," said Ali Mazaheri, postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Mind and Brain. Mazaheri and his colleagues made the discovery by analyzing the brain activity in children with ADHD. The paper appears in the current online issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.

We have 16 guests and no members online

This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

WE PUBLISH PEER_REVIEWED SCIENCE
GSI is a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of medical research by improving communication among scientists.