Thursday, March 8, 2012

Zebrafish - New Hope in Motor Neuronal Regeneration

While it is commonly known that mammals, after a certain young age, will never regenerate or increase the number of motor neurons that we have. Brain and other neurons regenerate for life, but motor neurons are a special type. However, the zebrafish is one animal that can regenerate new motor neurons throughout its life.

By blocking a signal protein called Notch 1, laboratory models suggest that production of motor neurons could be increased, and thus regeneration. Progenitor cells, more specifically, are what they are targeting. Mammals, including humans have these which can turn into motor neurons, however, as it stands, there's nothing to tell them to form motor neurons. With the blockage of Notch 1, researchers are hopeful that they can stimulate the growth of progenitor cells into motor neurons for regeneration of damaged neurons that have led to paralysis.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Old Hypothesis Ruled Out for Cause of M.S.

Multiple Sclerosis was once thought to be caused by a break down of oligodendocytes, which create the myelin sheathing that surrounds nerves. This myelin acts as an insulator on our nerve cells, called neurons, that help to transmit nervous impulses at a faster, more efficient rate. And this break down in turn created a break down in the myelin from an autoimmune response that broke down the myelin. Essentially, the body was attacking its own myelin.

However, that hypothesis has been refuted through experiments conducted on mice. Researchers, through genetic manipulation, damaged oligodendrocytes and waited for the immune response; but the response never came. Therefore, it has been posited that the damaging of oligodendrocytes did not lead to an autoimmune response, a reaction, but that the autoimmune response was actually the cause independent of oligodendrocyte breakdown.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Map Toward the Road to an M.S. Cure? This is Way More Than Some Yellow Brick Road

The Scripps Research Institute has discovered a receptor, S1P1 receptors to be more precise, that could be a road map to lead the way towards an M.S. cure as well as cures for other diseases. Well, it's actually more of  a fully enhanced, virtual image at this time, however this receptor is critical in the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis and other diseases. Yet, don't let that sway your view on this receptor, it is vital towards good health, such as the release of white blood cells.

Understanding its structure is pivotal to understanding certain facets of health, as well as, sickness. Small changes within this structure can have profound effects. So, scientists are hopeful that the study of S1P1 will not only let them determine the onset and spread of diseases in and of itself, but also to similar other structures that play a part. Why only know the road that you're on, when you can know the entire countryside?

The hopes are that one day, researchers and the medical industry will know exactly how to decimate this deadly disease along with others in which S1P1 plays a part.

There's so much more for you to get into here:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Further Findings Into Stopping Muscular Dystrophy

Way back last month, I wrote about a protein known as Dystrophin that was lacking in those with Duchenne and how researchers had found a way to produce more of this protein to help those with the disease. Well, even more good news is occurring as researchers have now identified a protein known as Biglycan. This protein stabilizes synapses at the neuromuscular junction between muscle and bone. This helps us control movement as well as ensure the health of motor neurons and muscles alike.

The way this relates to Dystrophin is that Biglycan promotes Utrophin which takes over for Dystrophin. Therefore, both promoting Dystrophin and also Utrophin can be a double pronged attack that could someday lead to the end of Duchenne and other types of muscular dystrophy.

Another role of Biglycan is that it binds and targets an receptor enzyme known as MuSK that regulates the building and stability of the neuromuscular junction.

This should lead to testing on animal models in the near future; a necessary precursor to human trials.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Blood Test Could Act as Biopsy Lite

Scientists that the Scripps Research Institute have discovered a way to use an advanced blood test to detect CTC's, or circulating tumor cells, that break away from solid tumors in the blood stream. It will allow doctors to monitor, predict, and understand the progression of tumors much better than they do at this time.

The HD-CTC test isolates cancer cells in differentiation from red and white blood cells that are healthy. They then use digital microscopes and image-processing algorithms to study the morphologies, which are the size and shape of the cells to fully differentiate the cancer cells from the regular cells.

5 new studies from California and the Netherlands have shown the accuracy and effectiveness both in identifying cancer cells but also one day they hope to be able to early diagnose patients with cancer as well as improving the research within a lab setting.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who Would Have Thought; Using Your Own Heart Cells Could Help Repair It?

Ok, enough with the sarcasm, this is actually good news. Researchers have figured a way to use stem cells from your own heart muscle, to help your heart to develop new heart cells after a heart attack. In fact, this will lessen the scars that people have after suffering a myocardial infarction (heart attack). They found that the average patient treated in this manner, lessened their scarring from 24% of the heart, to 12% of the heart. Approximately a 50% reduction in scar size. This took one year of treatment and healing of course.

This news challenges the held belief that once tissue of the heart was lost, it was gone permanently and the scarring was there to stay. Apparently, that has changed, not just in theory, but in applied reality as well. The technology is currently under application of a patent and may soon become a regular treatment option. No timetable has been set, but that still doesn't take into account the good news.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

National Cancer Day is Upon US

Short post today. Let's all remember those that have Cancer, have lost the fight against Cancer, and keep them in our hearts, prayers, and minds. We're going to keep up the fight against this disease and we're going to beat it through helping those that research the cure. Remember that we can beat this on National Cancer Day. If you know someone, give them a call, or better yet, see them if you can and show your support. Goodnight all.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Further Possibilities to Ending Breast Cancer

It always seems that there's some protein or gene involved in the spread or stoppage of disease. In this case, there's another one, HSP90, which when blocked, mitigates migration inhibitory factor. What is this last long sounding factor you might ask. Well, it's function includes driving the spread of breast cancer tumors. So when HSP90 is blocked, it essentially inhibits MIF and helps to stop the spread of breast cancer tumors.

Researchers have been successful with female mice blocking this protein. They've also found that it helps in stopping the spread of leukemia as well. So there is a possible link between the two diseases. That link being HSP90. Human trials are a ways off, but it marks another possibility in the fight against these two deadly diseases.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Can Parkinson's Be Stopped at Inception?

That's what researchers may be on to with new breakthroughs. At Michigan State University, researchers think they have identified synuclein proteins as the cause of aggregation, or clumping, which is the first sign, or step, of Parkinsons.

While scientists don't know exactly how proteins are formed, they do know that as they form, they fold together. This folding can be done incorrectly and clump together, where plaques can form and lead to Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

While not a cure, this is a key first step in not only identifying a cause, but also in one day stopping the disease at inception. They are now looking into ways to stop the aggregation that is the underlying cause. One day, they'll not only be able to stop the initial problem, but prevent it from ever happening in the first place.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tips For Those With Paralysis During Winter

It's been awhile, but I've been a bit under the weather so today we're getting back on track and we're also doing something a bit different. With Winter in full swing, I wanted to help those out that aren't able to move about as easily as some of us. I'm referring to those with mobility issues, including paralysis. I found an interesting article with tips to help you this Winter. There are 23 of them.

1) Invest in good quality, name brand outer wear like The North Face.
2) Wear loose, lightweight clothes in layers if you live in a cold region.
3) Avoid cotton due to it getting wet and staying wet. Wear man-made fibers or better yet, wool.
4) Wear mittens if you have a hard time moving fingers.
5) Carry 2 sets of gloves in case one gets wet.
6) If you need to warm your hands, put them in your arm pits or groin area as this will warm them fastest.
7) Wear a hat to keep heat from evaporating from your head.
8) If in outdoor sports, wear mask and neck warmer/scarf.
9) Keep calves warm with leggings. Even guys can do this; or wear long johns.
10) Use something like Grabber warmers in gloves or pockets to keep hands warm.
11) Use boot warmers such as the one by Bootronic or other equivalent.
12) Wear sunscreen. Just as you can get burned on an overcast day, down 30 feet diving, you can also burn on a Winter's day despite the rays being weaker and it taking longer.
13) Apply Vaseline to uncovered facial skin. It will insulate the moisture to keep face from drying out.
14) If skin is white or greyish-yellow, it may be frostbite. Move to warm area and cover the affected area. Never rub the skin.
15) Always check for uncovered skin from say, a shirt or jacket rolling up from the back of a wheelchair.
16) Invest in snow tires for wheelchair as well as the car if you live in snowy regions. Soft rubber works the best for grip. You  never know when this could help you sliding down a hill and keeping you out of the gutter.
17) Mountain bike tires can be used on the back of your wheelchair for optimal grip.
18) Snow tires on cars are specifically designed with special tread patterns for grip and not getting stuck. Snow chains may be needed in deeper or slick snows.
19) Don't use cruise control as it may take longer to turn it off than you actually have.
20) Keep hydrated. Dehydration helps cold to set in. Skin also dries out more in the Winter from the exposure to heat and cold as well as less humidity in the air.
21) You can become more dehydrated in drier or higher climates.
22) Carry a survival kit in your car or backpack. Include the following: Water, matches, food, shovel of some sort, flashlights, blankets, sleeping bag, and flares. I realize that is unfeasible possibly for a backpack and is more in line with your car. However, make sure you have at least some water, food, matches, flashlight, and blanket with you. The flashlight can flash for help and the rest will keep you until help arrives. If you live in an area with bad reception, then a few flares are a good idea in case you get stranded. Always let someone know where you'll be going if it's either a new area or somewhere where you could potentially get stuck.
23) Keep batteries warm with covers of some sort. When the temperature reaches 0 degrees, batteries lose 60% of their charge.

These tips are more suited for those with disabilities, but some are useful for anybody really.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prevention Post First Edition - Parkinson's

I'm trying to decide whether or not to begin one of these from time to time. It would be a Prevention thread that continues to run in further editions and would address things that are found to prevent certain diseases. I suppose it really has more to do with how much there is out there, rather than me just being lazy. Ha ha.

Anyway, today we're going to look at a prevention from Parkinson's Disease. While not everybody will get this disease, researchers have found ways to prevent it through diet. The research shows that eating a diet high in berries, helps men and women reduce their risk due to the flavonoids within the berries. In addition, men can eat apples, oranges, grapefruit, and chocolate along with anything else containing flavonoids.

Flavonoids are also collectively known as vitamin P and citrin. Tea and red wine also contain levels of flavonoids.

In the study, men in the top 20% who took the most flavonoids, were 40% less likely to develop Parkinson's. Women were not as affected, however, anthocyanin is a sub-type of flavonoid, and was the most effective in preventing Parkinson's.

Flavonoids are also known for their antioxidant abilities and also in prevention of heart disease and cancer.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Possible Link to Stopping the Spread of Breast Cancer

First thing, Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to all of you out there.

Now on to some good news in the world of Breast Cancer research. Researchers at the McGill University Health Centre have identified a protein that plays a role in spreading breast cancer tumor cells outside of the initial tumor cells. The protein, parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), is key in cancer initiation, progression, and metastatic spread.

Once scientists removed this hormone from tumors, they marked up to an 80 to 90 percent decrease in the size of a tumors growth. It doesn't necessarily reduce the size once it has progressed, but it does reduce the size that it can grow to, essentially preventing it from spreading or growing in size.

The researchers have produced an monoclonal antibody that eliminates the PTHrP, which has worked so far in mice. This will pave the way for future human clinical trials. Eventually, this will help those with aggressive tumors that do not respond well to radiation and/or chemotherapy.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

One Step Closer to the End of Duchenne

You may have seen them on UK's X-Factor. The Lloyd family told their story prior to the contestants singing for their charity event. Twins, Dan and Sam, and even their younger brother, Tom, have all been diagnosed with DMD, or Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne is but one type of Muscular Dystrophy that affects about 1 in 3,000 males in the world, and about 100 per year in the U.K.

The way that it debilitates is by a lack of a protein called Dystrophin. This leads to a breakdown and loss of muscle cells. Professor George Dickson of the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway and researchers have found that gene based drug treatment, drug AVI-4658, has been effective in restoring Dystrophin. Of course only 7 of 19 patients studied actually recovered the dystrophin, that 37% is huge considering there was no course of treatment prior and this is a first step towards an actual 100% cure.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Statistics of Giving Over 3 Years and Then Some

We're going to travel into the past. Not the distant past, but the somewhat immediate past. A past that encompasses times that we can all easily recall. That's right, we're talking about the past few years. We're going to cover the actual giving statistics from 2008 to February of 2011. This will give us a better look than just taking a single year and will put everything, modern giving, into a better perspective.

In 2009, the recession was in full swing, so as per logic, donations were down 6%. This can be expected as there is a correlation between giving and the stock market; giving increases at roughly 1/3 of the rate of stock growth as a whole. So, this accounted for a gross of $228.5 billion. And of that where do you think that the majority comes from. Again, if you said individuals like yourself, you would be correct again. In fact, individuals make up a majority somewhere in the neighborhood of 75%, with foundations, bequests, and corporations making up the rest in respective descending order.

As to households, 65% give to charity with the average being over $2,200. That's the average, but households with a high net worth, actually not only paid more taxes, but were the largest proponents of giving at 98%.

2011 should have been a good year, even though the statistics haven't been released as of yet in this early year. This is based on the government announcing the end of the recession after 2010 and the stock markets were predicted to rebound.

One final note, online donating has been on the rise as it rose by 5% back in 2009. That number surely increased in 2010 and 2011 due to apps arising all the time on Facebook, which was one of the largest hubs of online giving. Expect good things for funding in 2012 and beyond as there are ever increasing avenues of giving to be found if we just go online in the convenience of our home.

Findings of a secretive magic sort:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just as Alzheimers is Debilitating, it's Debilitating to Find a Cure When Funding is Low

At least that's what the numbers state. Alzheimers affects more people than the top 2 cancers to affect each sex, breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as HIV/AIDS as well. However, funding for the disease is less than those 3. Researchers have cited a lack of finding a cure to the low funding.

Last year, in 2011, the National Institute of Health spent billions on cancer research and HIV/AIDS, while only $480 million on Alzheimers, despite the fact that more people have been not only affected by but killed by it as well than the others.

U.S. Representative Ed Markey, whose wife succumbed to the disease, is backing the National Alzheimers Project Act (NAPA) to increase funding. One of the reasons he states for lack of attention is because those affected and those giving them care have less access to Washington due to the debilitating effects. Other reasons may include a bias towards diseases that affect younger adults, a stigma on diseases affecting the mind, and refusing to admit to having the disease, Alzheimers.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Florida Mayo Clinic Receives National Accreditation

For a change of pace, today we're going to go from funding and research to actual application. The Mayo Clinic's Breast Clinic in Florida has recently gained a three year, full accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. It is only for those that provide the highest quality breast care for those with breast disease such as breast cancer.

This is the first time that they have been recognized. Keep up the good work guys.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Science Fiction to Become Science Fact Shortly

For those paralyzed, life represents highly complex sets of tasks that used to be routine and often taken for granted. Things like getting around your own home and reaching for things can take on a whole new difficulty never seen before and the frustration is highly understandable for those that have enjoyed the freedom of full mobility prior or those that never have, but long to be able to be what some would consider 'normal.'

However, scientists are very close to making the dream a reality. Researchers have successfully implanted microchips into primate's brains that allow them to reach for things with robotic arms. This area of neural prosthetics was once considered science fiction but scientists still worked diligently to finding a way to make this a reality and it's almost here. "There's going to be an explosion in neural prosthetics," says Jose Carmena, a Neuro-Engineer at UC Berkeley.

While some things such as a cochlear implant and mind controlled cursors have enjoyed public success, these new devices actually allow for new prosthetic limbs attached to people, in the near future, to be moved just as if the prosthetics were part of the person; just like if they were their own limbs.

There are a few issues to be worked out such as the life of the battery and will the surface area be large enough to decoded hundreds of complex brain signals from brain neurons. Nevertheless, this is a great first step in allowing those that are physically challenged from living a fully free motion lifestyle and also feel like they're more like everyone else that enjoys those freedoms also. Now we can not only dream, but can actually envision this happening and within a timetable that's not futuristic science fiction.

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