Aging

Neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered that mice lacking an enzyme that contributes to Alzheimer disease exhibit a number of schizophrenia-like behaviors. The finding raises the possibility that this enzyme may participate in the development of schizophrenia and related psychiatric disorders and therefore may provide a new target for developing therapies.

The BACE1 enzyme, for beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme, generates the amyloid proteins that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. The research team years ago suspected that removing BACE1 might prevent Alzheimer.

“We knew at the time that in addition to amyloid precursor protein, BACE1 interacts with other proteins but we didn’t know how those interactions might affect behavior,” says Alena Savonenko, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in neuropathology at Hopkins.

Gambling activity is widespread among U.S. adolescents and young adults ages 14 through 21, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

Results of the first national survey of its kind show problem gambling -- described as gambling with three or more negative consequences (for example, gambling more than you intended or stealing money to gamble) in the past year -- occurring at a rate of 2.1 percent among youth 14 to 21. That ppercentage projects to approximately 750,000 young problem gamblers nationwide.

In addition, 11 percent of the youth surveyed gambled twice per week or more, a rate that describes frequent gambling. Sixty-eight percent of the youth interviewed reported that they had gambled at least once in the past year.

People with shorter arms and legs may be at a higher risk for developing dementia later in life compared to people with longer arms and legs, according to a study published in the May 6, 2008, bonus issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Researchers say the association between short limbs and dementia risk may be due to poor nutrition in early life, which can affect limb growth.

Several studies have shown that early life environment plays an important role in susceptibility to chronic disease later in life.

“Body measures such as knee height and arm span are often used as biological indicators of early life deficits, such as a lack of nutrients,” said Tina L. Huang, PhD, who was with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, when the study started. Huang is now with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, MA. “Because the development of the brain region most severely affected by Alzheimer’s disease coincides with the greatest change in limb length, we thought it was possible that men and women with shorter limbs could be at greater risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Ethylene (C2H4) is a gaseous hormone produced naturally in plants and by man in combustion (1). When plants encounter ethylene they soften and ripen (fruit) or wilt and fade (flowers.)

We all like fruit that is ripe but lasts longer and flowers that stay colorful are a good thing so some growers spray plants with products like EthylBloc for flowers or SmartFresh for fruits and vegetables which contain a compound, 1-methylcyclopropane or 1-MCP, that blocks ethylene’s action on plants.

But how this compound works at the molecular level remains uncertain despite several chemical pathways chemists have proposed.

Calorie restriction is a hot topic in discussions of aging but most studies use mice that were weaned with calorie restriction as test subjects whereas humans would have to adopt that lifestyle later in life if they were to grow normally.

Research continues to see how a restricted calorie diet impacts the aging process. Working with yeast cells, University of Washington scientists have linked ribosomes, the protein-making factories in living cells, and Gcn4, a specialized protein that aids in the expression of genetic information, to the pathways related to dietary response and aging.

Previous research has shown that the lifespan-extending properties of dietary restriction are mediated in part by reduced signaling through TOR, an enzyme involved in many vital operations in a cell. When an organism has less TOR signaling in response to dietary restriction, one side effect is that the organism also decreases the rate at which it makes new proteins, a process called translation.

If the aging process can’t be stopped, it can at least be predicted, say researchers from Tel Aviv University.

They have developed a new biological marker that represents the age of a body’s bones. It reveals that the speed of physical aging is strongly influenced by genetics.

Christened the osseographic score (OSS), this new marker can be used by doctors as a scientific tool for predicting a person’s general functioning and lifespan, says Tel Aviv University scientist Dr. Leonid Kalichman, an instructor at The Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions. He is a co-author of the study published in Biogerontology and the American Journal of Human Biology (2007), which was conducted in partnership with Dr. Ida Malkin and Prof. Eugene Kobyliansky, both from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.


A daily dose of caffeine blocks the disruptive effects of high cholesterol that scientists have linked to Alzheimer's disease. A study in the Journal of Neuroinflammation revealed that caffeine equivalent to just one cup of coffee a day could protect the blood-brain barrier (BBB) from damage that occurred with a high-fat diet.

The BBB protects the central nervous system from the rest of the body's circulation, providing the brain with its own regulated microenvironment. Previous studies have shown that high levels of cholesterol break down the BBB which can then no longer protect the central nervous system from the damage caused by blood borne contamination. BBB leakage occurs in a variety of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

DNA repair capacity is an important factor in cancer, inflammation, aging, and other human conditions. Radiation is something we can never avoid and it's responsible for a lot of medical problems.

Bdelloid rotifers have been able to give up sex and escape the usual drawback of asexuality – extinction - and still survive because they have evolved an extraordinary efficient mechanism for repairing harmful mutations to their DNA, say the Marine Biological Laboratory’s David Mark Welch, Matthew Meselson, and their colleagues.

What’s more, they have done so over millions of years of evolution, resulting in at least 370 species.


We all know people who can seemingly eat whatever they want and not gain weight. Recent research from Tel Aviv University says a woman’s waistline may have less to do with rigorous exercise and abstaining from sweets than it does with the genes of her parents.

A new study by Prof. Gregory Livshits from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and colleagues from King’s College in London found a scientific link between the lean body mass of a woman and her genes. They’ve determined that thinness – like your smile or the color of your eyes – is an inheritable trait.

Of the almost 25,000 human genes science that have been identified, half are believed to be silent at any particular time and activated only when needed.

Perhaps not, says Andre Ptitsyn, of the Center for Bioinfomatics at Colorado State University. He says he has discovered that current tools cannot measure extraordinarily low levels of gene expression signals so genes may not be turned off, but instead have undetected functioning.

"Genes that we have believed to be silent are actually whispering," said Ptitsyn, who a applied a common physics principle to find oscillating patterns of gene expression in genes previously thought to be shut off.