Physicists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are opening a new window into the life of biological cells, using a technique that lets them grab the ends of a single protein molecule and pull, making continuous, direct measurements as it unfolds and refolds. Their latest results, reported in the journal Science, reveal a complex network of intermediate structural and kinetic states along the way to functionally correct folded forms, including both express routes and dead ends. Better understanding of protein folding is essential because incorrectly folded proteins cause diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The experiments focused on the protein calmodulin, which is not implicated in these diseases but plays a role in many processes vital to cellular functions, and thus to human health.
Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a new in vitro diagnostic test to aid in determining the prognosis of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the most common types of leukemia in older adults. Abbott's Vysis EGR1 FISH Probe Kit, the third Abbott FISH assay approved or cleared in the past two months by the FDA for oncology applications, detects a chromosomal deletion in bone marrow that is usually associated with an unfavorable prognosis for AML patients. In AML, fast-growing abnormal white blood cells in bone marrow replace healthy cells and impede the body's ability to fight infection. Eventually, the bone marrow ceases to function properly, leaving patients infection-prone and at risk for bleeding.
A significant step towards understanding the genetic make-up of a parasite which causes leishmaniasis - a flesh-eating disease spread by the bite of a female sand fly - has been made by a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow. The study is published in the journal Genome Research. Approximately 350 million individuals in 88 countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Iran, Brazil and parts of china, are at risk of catching the disease. There are 21 species of the parasite in two different forms: Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which affect the skin and mucus membranes and systemic or visceral leishmaniasis, which affect the entire body. Symptoms include, skin sores, difficulty breathing, ulcers and erosion in the mouth, gums, lips, and tongue, fever, diarrhea, as well as potentially fatal infections of the liver and spleen.
Low levels of a brain protein that regulates gene expression may play a role in the origin of bipolar disorder, a complex and sometimes disabling psychiatric disease. As reported in the latest issue of Bipolar Disorders, the journal of The International Society for Bipolar Disorders, levels of SP4 (specificity protein 4) were lower in two specific regions of the brain in postmortem samples from patients with bipolar disorder. The study suggests that normalization of SP4 levels could be a relevant pharmacological strategy for the treatment of mood disorders. "We found that levels of SP4 protein in the brain's prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum were lower in postmortem samples from patients with bipolar disorder, compared with samples from control subjects who did not have the disease, " said co-senior author Grace Gill, PhD, an associate professor in the department of anatomy and cellular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine and a member of the neuroscience;
In what is so far the largest investigation of its kind, researchers uncovered a wide range of new insights about common diseases and how they are affected by differences between two persons' genes. The results from this study could lead to highly targeted, individualized therapies. Led by researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and published in a recent edition of the journal Nature, the study provides details on the genetics behind many diseases, including cardiovascular and kidney disorders, diabetes, cancer, gout, thrombosis and Crohn's disease, and elucidates the role that individual differences in metabolism play in these disorders. Disturbances in metabolism are at the root of a variety of human afflictions and complex diseases. Although many of the genes that contribute to these conditions have been identified since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, it is still not known how metabolic disorders related to these genetic aberrations disrupt cellular processes.