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New research in the journal Frontiers in Neuroinformatics has found that the brains of children with autism create 42% more information at rest than the brains of neurotypical children. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Toronto studied the brain activity in these children using a type of imaging known as magnetoencephalography, which measures the magnetic fields created by the electric currents of neurons when they fire. Using this method, th...e researchers found that the brains of children with autism were much more active, even when at rest. Analysis of the brain's functional connectivity also revealed that the children with autism were more introspective than neurotypical children. The researchers believe that these results support a new theory of understanding autism known as the Intense World Theory, which hypothesizes that the symptoms of autism result from brain over-activity and -arousal. Read more: http://bit.ly/MocdM6 Journal article: Information gain in the brain's resting state: A new perspective on autism. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, 2013. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2013.00037 Image credit: UbeIT/FlickrSee More
When attacked by bacteria and viruses, the body’s “army” – the immune system – is called into action to fight off and destroy the harmful invaders and thus prevent disease and infection. But viruses, among them HIV, have evolved numerous and varied strategies to evade the immune response and infect cells. Weizmann Institute scientists have recently uncovered a new “weapon” in HIV’s arsenal that specifically targets the activity of the immune system’s “elite force” – certain white blood cells called T cells. These findings have enabled the scientists to imitate the virus’s way of manipulating the immune system – one that has the potential to reduce the severity of such autoimmune diseases as multiple sclerosis, which arise from the “friendly fire” of T cells when they mistakenly attack healthy cells in the body.
The first step in HIV infection is to enter the T cells. To do this, the virus joins its outer membrane to that of a T cell. This is achieved with the help of a short molecular sequence found on a certain protein located within the HIV membrane. The point at which the two membranes fuse is found in the vicinity of T cell receptors (TCRs) – molecules on the surface of T cells that are usually responsible for recognizing harmful invaders and helping the T cells mount an effective response. Such a response includes T cell proliferation and the release of pro-inflammatory substances that kill the intruders.
Prof. Yechiel Shai
Prof. Yechiel Shai, former research student Avraham Ashkenazi and Omri Faingold of the Biological Chemistry Department found that the fusing sequence is conserved in this protein throughout different HIV strains, leading them to believe it must have additional, biologically important roles. Together with Prof. Avraham Ben-Nun and his research associate Dr. Nathali Kaushansky in the Immunology Department, they discovered, as reported in Blood, that this molecular pattern does indeed provide the virus with an added function: The sequence interacts directly with the TCRs, interfering with the TCR complex assembly. As a result, the activation of T cells is inhibited, preventing them from mounting an immune response.
Because multiple sclerosis is a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease, the scientists thought this action might prevent the harmful immune response in the disease. They worked with mouse models of this disease to gauge whether an isolated version of the sequence in the form of a peptide – a small piece of a protein sequence – would have the same inhibitory effect on T cells. They found that upon administration of the peptide, T cell activation was indeed suppressed and the severity of the disease was reduced. “As to the inhibitory effects on T cells, the peptide can do what the virus does, but without the virus,” says Ben-Nun.
Prof. Avi Ben-Nun
In a follow-up study, reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the scientists engineered a more stable form of the peptide based on the original HIV sequence. Not only has this allowed them to further understand the unique molecular mechanisms of HIV infection, but it turns out that this so-called killer may also help save lives: The engineered peptide, which is based on the virus’s sequence, could potentially be used as a tool to manipulate the immune system and shut down T cell activation, thereby suppressing the development of various T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases.
“And because it specifically targets T cells, unlike existing immunosuppressive drugs that affect all types of white blood cells, it is likely to mount a more effective response with fewer unwanted side effects,” says Shai.
Prof. Avraham Ben-Nun’s research is supported by the Jeanne and Joseph Nissim Foundation for Life Sciences Research; the Croscill Home Fashions Charitable Trust; Ellie Adiel, New York, NY; Maria Halphen, France; and the estate of Fannie Sherr. Prof. Ben-Nun is the incumbent of the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Professorial Chair.
Prof. Yechiel Shai’s research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases; the Yeda-Sela Center for Basic Research; the Carolito Stiftung; the Helmsley Charitable Trust; and Mario Fleck, Brazil. Prof. Shai is the incumbent of the Harold S. and Harriet B. Brady Professorial Chair in Cancer Research.
The Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7-23, are expected to generate a dramatic rise in Web and mobile viewing, but that does not mean viewers will abandon the traditional television-viewing experience for digital media, says a communication professor from The University of Akron. In fact, the opposite is true — TV benefits from social media viewing.
Tang Tang, an assistant professor of communication at UA who studies audiences' multiplatform media experiences during big sporting events, expects Sochi will be the first "fully mobile Olympics," as more viewers rely on phones and tablets to stream live events, access sports news and highlights, participate in social media and view less-popular "niche" sports, such as curling. But she is quick to add that people will not be ditching the television screen for the computer monitor or mobile device. Tang and her coauthor, Roger Cooper of Ohio University, found that those who viewed the 2012 London Summer Olympics on multiple platforms — often simultaneously — reported spending significantly more time watching television coverage than those whose experience was limited to the television screen.
Digital media enhances experience
"Digital use of Olympic content both broadened and individualized viewers' traditional television experience and, therefore, will become an increasing trend for Olympics viewing and continue to impact the audience's mega sporting event experiences," Tang says. "Digital media does not diminish interest in traditional television — it enhances it." In fact, the 2012 London Olympics — which offered U.S. viewers an unprecedented 5,500 hours of coverage across TV, Web and mobile platforms — were not only the largest online, social media and mobile event in U.S. history, they were also the most-watched television event, attracting 219.4 million viewers, Tang says.
She explains that the Olympics are less of a sports experience and more of a social event, and that television is better suited for group viewing than digital media. Moreover, the Olympics attract both sports fans and non-sports fans alike, and people of all ages, genders and ethnic groups, Tang adds.
TV has role to fill
She suggests that, during the Olympics, national identity trumps other forms of identity, uniting people in a common feeling of patriotism. The Olympics also attract more female viewers than most sporting events, Tang adds, because it offers more balanced coverage of women athletes, features more gender-neutral sports and provides an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Tang plans to conduct more research on multiplatform media uses, especially social media, for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Photo: Four out of 11 modules identified by an algorithm to the filtered network. This classification shows relationships between diseases and traits based on shared etiology for certain phenotypes. The diseases and traits in these clusters have more connections to each other than to others in the network: the bolder the line, the stronger the connection
Dartmouth researchers developed a new biological pathway-based computational model, called the Pathway-based Human Phenotype Network (PHPN), to identify underlying genetic connections between different diseases as reported in BioDataMining; this week. The PHPN mines the data present in large publicly available disease datasets to find shared SNPs, genes, or pathways and expresses them in a visual form.
"The PHPN offers a bird's eye view of the diseases and phenotype's relationships at the systems level," said Christian Darabos, PhD, post-doctoral fellow, Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (iQBS), Dartmouth College.
The PHPN uses information in human disease networks in conjunction with network science tools to show clusters of related disorders sharing common genetic backgrounds. It does so without the typical clinical classification of disease, in which all heart disease or all cancers are grouped together, based on clinical presentation. Dartmouth geneticists instead rely on the information contained in the PHPN's topology to automatically classify traits and diseases by their shared genetic mechanisms, such as common genes or pathways. PHPN explores the connections between the layers of the networks to find patterns and relationships.
"The intuitive network representation of the knowledge mined from several large-scale datasets makes the information accessible to anyone. It lies at the crossroads of computational genetics, systems biology, information theory, and network science," Darabos said.
PHPN supports the integration of genomic and phenotypic data to uncover significant links between traits, attributes, and disease. This offer tremendous potential in identifying risk factors for certain diseases. At the same time, it can reveal important targets for therapeutic intervention.
"As a proof of concept, the PHPN has proven capable of identifying well documented interactions, and many novel links that remain to be explored in depth," said Darabos.
The PHPN reveals biological connections between seemingly disparate displays of genetic properties and offers a unique view of the architecture of disease.
This tool can help researchers identify areas for further investigation based on connections it uncovers. "The PHPN is a hypothesis-generating tool, potentially capable of identifying yet uncharacterized common drug targets," said Darabos.
As a next step, iQBS researchers will refine statistical methods, isolate networks for optimal results, and compare previous work on phenotype networks.
Authors of the paper, "The Multiscale Backbone of the Human Phenotype Network based on Biological Pathways," include: Jason Moore, PhD; Scott Williams, PhD; Christian Darabos, PhD, Marquitta White, Britney Graham, and Derek Leung.
The study was supported by NIH grants RO1 EY022300, LM009012, LM010098, AI59694, GM103506, and GM103534
Developing Knowledge: IQBS
Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (iQBS) at Dartmouth College develops, advances and supports interdisciplinary education, research and infrastructure in the quantitative biomedical sciences including bioengineering, bioinformatics, biophysics, biostatistics, computational biology, genomics, epidemiology, proteomics, structural biology, systems biology, and related areas.
Implementing Knowledge: Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth College and the Geisel School of Medicine with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 12 partner hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 41 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute's "Comprehensive Cancer Center" designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at cancer.dartmouth.edu.
For more information contact Donna Dubuc at (603) 653-3615.
Individuals with diabetes are at higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, due to brain damage resulting from high blood sugars. Researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem found a drug that could prevent some of this brain damage from occurring in rats. Diabetic rats have high activity levels of enzymes known as MAPK kinases, which can lead to inflammation in the brain and damages tissue. The researchers worked to develop a drug that would turn down the activity of the MAPK kinases, which they called TXM-CB3 in a new study in Redox Biology. Rats that took this drug had decreased levels of neural cell death. As well, the researchers showed that injections of the sugar-lowering drug rosiglitazone lowered MAPK activity and decreased neuroinflammation. This study is the first to provide a functional link between high blood sugars and brain damage, as well as providing potential new ways to decrease the effects of high blood sugar. Read more: http://bit.ly/1basQkx Journal article: Thioredoxin-Mimetic peptide CB3 Lowers MAPKinsase activity in the Zucker Rat Brain. Redox Biology, 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2013.12.018 Image credit:
SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 28, 2014) — Although inflammation is frequently a cause of disease in the body, research from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio indicates that low levels of a pro-inflammatory cytokine in the brain are important for cognition. Cytokines are proteins produced by the immune system. Jennifer Donegan, graduate student, and David Morilak, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology in the School of Medicine, found that neutralizing the cytokine interleukin-6 in the brain impaired reversal learning in both stressed and nonstressed rats. Reversal learning is a form of cognitive flexibility that is diminished in psychiatric diseases such as depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to change previously learned thoughts and behaviors in response to changes in the environment. “When we started the project, we thought cognitive flexibility would be impaired by stress-induced inflammation in a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex,” Donegan said. “We decided to block interleukin-6 during stress to prevent the cognitive deficit, and to our surprise this made things worse. This suggested that it may actually be beneficial to maintain a low level of this pro-inflammatory cytokine in the brain.” As a key next step, the scientists were then able to fix the cognitive deficit caused by stress by restoring a low level of the cytokine specifically in the prefrontal cortex. Both scientists caution, however, that there is still much to learn about interleukin-6’s role in cognition and in diseases like depression. “We’ve replicated just one piece of a very complex disease so we can understand the biology,” Dr. Morilak said. “We found that, in one brain region, one cytokine facilitates cognitive flexibility and is beneficial after chronic stress. But we delivered the cytokine specifically into that brain region using a virus, which we cannot do in people. And its role in inflammation may be very different than in normal conditions. There’s still a lot of work to do.” Donegan is on track to receive her Ph.D. later this year. She is lead author and Dr. Morilak is senior author of the study, published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $765 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu
PHILADELPHIA - If the content of many a situation comedy, not to mention late-night TV advertisements, is to be believed, there's an epidemic of balding men, and an intense desire to fix their follicular deficiencies.
One potential approach to reversing hair loss uses stem cells to regenerate the missing or dying hair follicles. But it hasn't been possible to generate sufficient number of hair-follicle-generating stem cells – until now.
Xiaowei "George" Xu, MD, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues published in Nature Communications a method for converting adult cells into epithelial stem cells (EpSCs), the first time anyone has achieved this in either humans or mice.
The epithelial stem cells, when implanted into immunocompromised mice, regenerated the different cell types of human skin and hair follicles, and even produced structurally recognizable hair shaft, raising the possibility that they may eventually enable hair regeneration in people.
Xu and his team, which includes researchers from Penn's departments of Dermatology and Biology, as well as the New Jersey Institute of Technology, started with human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts. By adding three genes, they converted those cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which have the capability to differentiate into any cell types in the body. They then converted the iPS cells into epithelial stem cells, normally found at the bulge of hair follicles.
Starting with procedures other research teams had previously worked out to convert iPSCs into keratinocytes, Xu's team demonstrated that by carefully controlling the timing of the growth factors the cells received, they could force the iPSCs to generate large numbers of epithelial stem cells. In the Xu study, the team's protocol succeeded in turning over 25% of the iPSCs into epithelial stem cells in 18 days. Those cells were then purified using the proteins they expressed on their surfaces.
Comparison of the gene expression patterns of the human iPSC-derived epithelial stem cells with epithelial stem cells obtained from human hair follicles showed that the team had succeeded in producing the cells they set out to make in the first place. When they mixed those cells with mouse follicular inductive dermal cells and grafted them onto the skin of immunodeficient mice, they produced functional human epidermis (the outermost layers of skin cells) and follicles structurally similar to human hair follicles.
"This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles," Xu says. And those cells have many potential applications, he adds, including wound healing, cosmetics, and hair regeneration.
That said, iPSC-derived epithelial stem cells are not yet ready for use in human subjects, Xu adds. First, a hair follicle contains epithelial cells -- a cell type that lines the body's vessels and cavities – as well as a specific kind of adult stem cell called dermal papillae. Xu and his team mixed iPSC-derived EpSCs and mouse dermal cells to generate hair follicles to achieve the growth of the follicles.
"When a person loses hair, they lose both types of cells." Xu explains. "We have solved one major problem, the epithelial component of the hair follicle. We need to figure out a way to also make new dermal papillae cells, and no one has figured that part out yet."
What's more, the process Xu used to create iPSCs involves genetic modification of human cells with genes encoding oncogenic proteins and so needs more refinement. Still, he notes that stem-cell researchers are developing more workarounds, including strategies using only chemical agents.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (R01-AR054593, P30-AR05721).
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 16 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $398 million awarded in the 2012 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2012, Penn Medicine provided $827 million to benefit our community.
If Ukraine declares Martial Law they may shut down the ISP and internet but for no more then a day or two because it will cut off ATMS and all banking transactions, so the Oligarchs wil scream,just as they learned in Egypt. They may block off Facebook so use START PAGE as your anon browser or TOR Project.org https://www.torproject.org/ to get to FB.
Classroom project evolves into journal paper about surprising applications for everyday objects
Sometimes solving a problem doesn’t require a high-tech solution. Sometimes, you have to look no farther than your desktop.
Three students from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering —an undergraduate, a master’s student, and their teaching assistant — have proven that pencils and regular office paper can be used to create functional devices that can measure strain and detect hazardous chemical vapors.
The project originated in fall 2011 in McCormick’s Introduction to Conducting Polymers course (MSE 337) during a discussion about the conductive properties of graphene, a one-atom thick layer of carbon that can be parsed from regular pencil lead. (A misnomer, pencil “lead” actually comprises graphite in a clay binder.)
“When you draw a line on a piece of paper, the graphite may shed numerous graphene sheets,” said Jiaxing Huang, associate professor of materials science and engineering. “A student asked, ‘Can we use that graphene for something?’ That started an exploration of what pencil traces can do.”
One team of students — including lead authors Cheng-Wei Lin (MS materials science ’13) and Zhibo Zhao (BS materials science ’13) — started by measuring the conductivity of a pencil trace on paper, then used the traces to create a rudimentary electrode. They learned that curling the paper in one direction increased the trace’s conductivity by compressing the conductive graphene particles. Curling the paper in the other direction loosened the graphene network and decreased conductivity.
A strain gauge made of pencil and paper is deformed to compress the graphene network.
The students then turned to the traces of a bendable toy pencil. (These novelty pencils are flexible because the graphite is mixed not with clay, but with a polymer binder.) Again, conductivity could be increased and decreased by manipulating the paper, but the students found it also was affected by the presence of volatile chemical vapors, such as those from toxic industrial solvents.
When the chemical is present, the polymer binder absorbs the vapors and expands, pushing the graphene network apart and decreasing conductivity. The conductivity decreased the most in the presence of vapors that are more readily absorbed by the polymer binder.
These types of chemical sensor — also called “chemiresistors” — are key elements in “electronic noses” for detecting toxic chemical vapors. In creating chemiresistors, researchers often use more expensive materials, such as networks of carbon nanotubes or metal nanoparticles, and need to disperse them in polymer matrix to form a network.
A pencil-drawn chemiresistor can detect the presence of hazardous gases.
“Now our students showed that this can be done simply with a pencil and paper — and it works,” Huang said. “This is a great example showing how curiosity leads to innovative work.”
Other applications of the pencil-and-paper technology could be more unconventional. “It could help to inspire some new form of art,” Huang said. “Perhaps one can make ‘smart’ and interactive drawings, in which the art itself is the circuitry and can respond to the environment.”
In addition to Lin, Zhao, and Huang, Jaemyung Kim (PhD materials science ’13), who served as teaching assistant for the course, co-authored the paper.
DETROIT – A collaboration of surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital and Medanta Hospital in India successfully transplanted kidneys into 50 recipients using an innovative robot-assisted procedure in which the organ is cooled with sterile ice during the operation.
The research project – published online ahead of print in European Urology, the journal of the European Association of Urology – advances minimally invasive robotic surgery as a safe alternative to traditional open surgery.
"Minimally invasive surgery reduces post-operative pain and minimizes complications in comparison to conventional surgery," says Mani Menon, M.D., chair of Henry Ford's Vattikuti Urology Institute and co-author of the study.
"The benefits of minimally invasive surgery in removing donor kidneys has been well established in earlier studies, but the use of robot-assisted surgery in transplanting those kidneys is comparatively a frontier," Dr. Menon adds.
The Henry Ford researchers and their counterparts in Gurgaon, India, reasoned that since minimally invasive robotic surgery has proven to be a great benefit to healthy kidney donors, it might also be a boon to the ill and weakened transplant recipients who are at greater risk of complications. But they noted British research from 1971 that showed that kidney function was partially impaired in recipients if blood flow was interrupted for longer than 30 minutes during transplant.
So they decided to chill both the donor kidney and the transplant site with sterile ice slush in hopes of increasing the amount of time in which they could safely learn and perfect the robot-assisted surgery.
"To our knowledge, ours is the first study to use renal cooling during robotic kidney transplant," Dr. Menon says. "It had already proved useful during minimally invasive prostate surgeries."
After three years of planning and simulated surgeries at Henry Ford, 50 consecutive transplant patients who had volunteered for the minimally invasive procedure underwent robotic kidney transplant at Medanta Hospital between January and October 2013.
In all, Medanta Hospital has performed 54 operations and International Kidney and Renal Diseases at Ahmedabad, India, has done 56 operations, for a total of 110 transplants in one year. The surgeons in charge of the two programs are Dr. Rajesh Ahlawat and Dr. Pranjal Modi.
In each case, surgeons filled the kidney cavity with ice slush through a specially designed port in the patient's abdomen before transplanting the donor kidney, which was also chilled with ice slurry held in place by gauze wrapping.
Blood vessels were attached to the transplanted kidney using suturing techniques refined in other types of minimally invasive procedures. Immediately after transplant, all of the grafted kidneys functioned normally and patient levels of creatinine – used to measure kidney function – were well within normal range.
None of the patients developed blood or urine leaks, infections or other complications from their surgical wounds. None required dialysis after surgery.
When given follow-up exams six months after surgery, nearly all of the first 25 patients who underwent the procedure developed no complications, although two required exploratory surgery and one died of acute congestive heart failure.
Dr. Menon attributed the success of the study in part to "the seamless collaboration" between surgeons experienced in conventional "open surgery" kidney transplants and surgeons skilled in using robotic techniques.
By the time they began the study, the teams from Henry Ford and Medanta hospitals had performed more than 10,000 robotic procedures and 2,500 conventional kidney transplants.
"The individual surgeons involved had built an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect over 30 years of collaborative work," Dr. Menon says. "While this benefit can't be precisely measured, it clearly contributed to the success of this endeavor."
The researchers noted that further studies will be needed before robotic kidney transplant is widely accepted as a "reasonable" alternative to conventional transplantation.