Weekly Research Roundup: 11/13/2017 Edition

Here’s a quick rundown of some the most interesting research articles from the last week or so, in no particular order:

In autism, too many brain connections may be at root of condition – from Washington University:

“A defective gene linked to autism influences how neurons connect and communicate with each other in the brain, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Rodents that lack the gene form too many connections between brain neurons and have difficulty learning.  The findings, published Nov. 2 in Nature Communications, suggest that some of the diverse symptoms of autism may stem from a malfunction in communication among cells in the brain…”

New drug shows potential as a different kind of antidepressant in mouse trials – from University of Bath:

“A potential new antidepressant and antianxiety treatment with a unique mechanism of action has been developed by scientists at the University of Bath.  The compound has shown significant potential after studies in mice. The research is published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.  Around one in six adults will experience depression in their lifetimes. New drugs to treat depression in particular are needed because many existing antidepressants don’t work in up to 50% of patients…”

Carbon nanotubes may pose cancer risk similar to asbestos – and we think we know how – from The Medical Research Council:

“A study by researchers at the MRC Toxicology Unitopens in new window has provided strong evidence that certain carbon nanotubes used in manufacturing could pose the same cancer risk as asbestos.  As well as highlighting potential risks to those exposed to carbon nanotubes, their findings, published today in Current Biologyopens in new window, have also given new insights into how the disease develops. This is important because mesothelioma, for which there is currently no cure, often remains undiagnosed for decades. Knowing more about its very early stages could one day lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective therapies…”

Hydrogel-grown tissues speed wound healing in mouse colon – from National Institutes of Health:

“Engineered organ-like structures, called organoids, have the potential to repair or replace tissue that is damaged or diseased. Organoids are grown by bringing together stem cells, scaffolds made of biomaterials, and biologically active molecules. With the right mixture, these can combine to assemble functional tissues.  To engineer specific tissues, scaffolds must contain the proper combination of proteins, stem cells, and growth factors. Scaffold materials must also be carefully formulated to minimize potential toxic effects…”

Fish provide insight into the evolution of the immune system – from University of East Anglia:

“A study, published today in Nature Communications, solves the enigma of how species can adapt and change their immune system to cope with new parasitic threats – whilst at the same time showing little or no evolutionary change in critical immune function over millions of years.  The findings help to explain why we humans have some immune genes that are almost identical to those of chimpanzees…”

Biologists Show How Chromosomes ‘Cheat’ for the Chance to Get Into an Egg – from University of Pennsylvania:

“Each of your cells contains two copies of 23 chromosomes, one inherited from your father and one from your mother. Theoretically, when you create a gamete — a sperm or an egg — each copy has a 50-50 shot at being passed on. But the reality isn’t so clearcut.  Scientists have observed that chromosomes can “cheat,” biasing the chance that they will make it into a sex cell. Now, a team from the University of Pennsylvania has shown how this bias arises in female cells…”

Promising New Drug for Hepatitis B Tested – from Texas Biomedical Research Institute:

“Research at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) on the campus of Texas Biomedical Research Institute helped advance a new treatment now in human trials for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Testing at SNPRC provided proof this novel therapeutic approach and drug delivery mechanism would be safe and effective, as recently published in the international journal Science Translational Medicine…”

Topical Gel Speeds Wound Healing in Pigs, Lab Mice – from ALN:

“A topical gel made with a class of common blood pressure pills improved the healing of chronic wounds in laboratory mice and pigs, according to research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.  The research team is currently seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use the gel to treat chronic wounds in diabetics. The drug could also be used to treat scars, wrinkles, and other skin problems.  Chronic wounds, skin injuries that don’t heal in a timely manner, increase the risk of infection and tissue breakdown…”

From the lab to the field: Tackling antibiotic resistance with science – from The Frederick News-Post:

When livestock get sick, that’s when Susanna Whitfield steps in.  As a microbiologist at the Frederick Animal Health Laboratory, Whitfield identifies the bacteria found in wounds, abscesses and milk of livestock across the state. But even before a sick animal is treated, she can also test the effectiveness of various antibiotics in the lab before veterinarians administer the first dose.  “It enables the veterinarians to narrow down the causes of infections,” Whitfield said.  The process, called “susceptibility testing,” is pivotal to the fight against antibiotic resistance…”


Header image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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