Cancer Research

More than 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 40,900 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a gene linked to the development of an aggressive form of breast cancer.

The researchers found that the gene, FOXP3, suppresses tumor growth. FOXP3 is located on the X chromosome, which means a single mutation can effectively silence the gene. This is unusual, as only one other gene linked to cancer has been found on the X chromosome.

Nutraceuticals are used to create ‘functional foods’, the most commonly known of which are yogurts containing probiotic bacteria. However, many natural food products contain powerful ingredients that could be incorporated into food products to create functional foods.

Dr Nigel Brunton and Dr Hilde Wijngaard describe a number of possible new ingredients in the most recent issue of TResearch, Teagasc’s research magazine.

Waste Not, Want Not

Fruit and vegetable processing in Ireland generates substantial quantities of waste and by-products. However, researchers at Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) have found a potential use for this ‘waste’ as a source of antioxidants, which may help in the prevention of degenerative conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

New research presented at Life Sciences 2007 shows how the UK’s most commonly used brominated flame retardant, TBBPA, bio-accumulates within the human body, meaning that even low concentrations could cause cells to become cancerous and have dramatic effects on sperm count and allergic responses.

Dr. Francesco Michelangeli explained exactly the process involved and called for research into alternative, less toxic, flame retardants.

The research is particularly significant as the use of a number of other flame retardants are being banned throughout Europe, due to their toxicity. TBBPA was considered the least toxic, and has, until now, been unaffected by bans. Brominated Flame Retardants (or BFRs) are known endocrine disrupters - ie.

Research now indicates that air pollution has a role to play in atherosclerosis (artery hardening), which can contribute to heart attacks or strokes. Findings published in Genome Biology show how the fats that clog arteries work together with air pollution particles, triggering the genes behind inflammation.

A research team drawn from medical and environmental engineering disciplines at the Universities of California, Los Angeles, investigated the relationship between oxidized phospholipids found in the low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, the ‘bad’ fats that clog arteries, and diesel exhaust particles.

The "itch gene" is GRPR (gastrin-releasing peptide receptor), which codes for a receptor found in a very small population of spinal cord nerve cells where pain and itch signals are transmitted from the skin to the brain. The researchers, led by Zhou-Feng Chen, Ph.D., found that laboratory mice that lacked this gene scratched much less than their normal cage-mates when given itchy stimuli.

The laboratory experiments confirmed the connection between GRPR and itching, offering the first evidence of a receptor specific for the itch sensation in the central nervous system. The findings are reported this week in Nature through advance online publication.

The first threat is at the source of the raw material for nuclear power itself, the uranium mine, processing plant, and transport route. Here, physical protection and security are at a much lower level than at a nuclear installation in the developed world, according to Austrian scientists writing in today's issue of the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology.

The second threat is from saboteurs with expertise in the industry and the security of nuclear installations. Researchers from the US Environmental Protection Agency suggest that such saboteurs on the inside could wreak havoc and cause a serious environmental and health threats with only small, shaped explosives or even no explosives at all.

Korea had mummies? Apparently so.

Until recently, no one even knew that mummies existed in Korea. Korea's ancient tradition of ancestor worship and the belief that at death, the soul rises up and the body has to go back to its natural components, without interference by external elements, meant that mummification was in fact anathema in Korean culture. However, with the take-over of the neo-Confucianist Joseon Dynasty in 1392, changes were made to the former Buddhist burial practices.

The burial process involved laying the body on ice for three to thirty days during mourning, placing the body inside an inner and an outer pine coffin, surrounded by the deceased's clothes, and the covering he coffin in a lime soil mixture.

There is little disagreement that the body’s maintenance and repair systems deteriorate with age, even as there is plenty of disagreement as to why.

Stem cells combat the aging process by replenishing old or damaged cells—particularly in the skin, gut, and blood—with a fresh supply to maintain and repair tissue. Unfortunately, new evidence published in the open-access journal PLoS Biology suggests that this regenerative capacity also declines with age as stem cells acquire functional defects.

In the search for better ways of treating children with brain cancer the study, a twelve-year research effort carried out by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group at The University of Nottingham revealed that a significant proportion of children under the age of three, with the brain tumor ependymoma, can be spared the effects of radiotherapy by using chemotherapy — without compromising their chances of survival.

Experts in the field of childhood cancer recognise that radiotherapy can be harmful to a young child’s developing brain. It can affect IQ, short term memory, growth and puberty. The effective treatment of patients under the age of five remains, say the researchers, one of the more difficult tasks in pediatric oncology.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine are the first to observe and measure the internal motion inside proteins, or its “dark energy.” This research, appearing in the current issue of Nature has revealed how the internal motion of proteins affects their function and overturns the standard view of protein structure-function relationships, suggesting why rational drug design has been so difficult.

The situation is akin to the discussion in astrophysics in which theoreticians predict that there is dark matter, or energy, that no one has yet seen,” says senior author A. Joshua Wand, PhD, Benjamin Rush Professor of Biochemistry.