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A New Target For Machado Joseph Disease Treatment

Machado-Josephdisease (MJD) is a hereditary neurodegenerative disorder that destroys the brainareas...

Mechanism To Delay Aging Identified

As medicine has improved, increasing our ability to treat disease, our longevity has improved as...

New Treatment For The "Iron Overload Disease"

Hemochromatosis (HH) is the most common genetic disorder in the western world, and yet is barely...

Fluorescence Microscopy: New 2-D Images Can Detect Cancer Risk

Portuguese researchers have developed a new method which uses images of a protein in cells to quantify...

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Catarina AmorimRSS Feed of this column.

After many years as a scientist (immunology) at Oxford University I moved into scientific journalism and public understanding of science. I am still at Oxford Uni but now I write about any bio... Read More »

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Astrocytes, the cells that make the background of the brain and support neurons, might be behind mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, according to new research by a Portuguese team from the ICVS at the University of Minho.  The study, in this month Molecular Psychiatry, shows how a simple reduction of astrocytes in the prefrontal cortex (which is linked to cognition) can kill its neurons and lead to the cognitive deficits that characterise several mental diseases.
Portuguese government shuts down half of the research units in the country

The Portuguese funding agency for science (Fundação para a Ciência e aTecnologia – FCT) has just announced lthat it will stop  funding nearly half of the research units in the country (154 units out of 322), which means to destroy the career of about a third of the total number of researchers in the country (5187 out of 15444).

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease that infects 243million people worldwide, and kills about 200 thousand every year. Theinfection is contracted through contaminated waters, and in the developingworld, where is most common, is 2nd only to malaria in rates of infection andpublic health impact.

To make things worse, women, already one of the most vulnerable groups in these regions, often develop infertility secondary to the infection, with the parasite being a main cause for the problem in these regions . Places where female role is centred on being a mother, and gynaecological medical care is next to inexistent. 

Some genetic diseases caused by an abnormal repeat in the DNA are known to become more severe with each new generation - this dreadful trait is called anticipation. Now a study by Portuguese researchers from Porto University has proved for the first time the existence of anticipation in diseases caused by a different type of errors that not a DNA repeat, in this case in the fatal neurodegenerative disorder Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy (FAP). 

“The gift that keeps on taking” someone called it. It starts with a little twitching that you think it will go away, but instead grows and soon your limbs shake, your balance and coordination lost. Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects almost 10 million people worldwide, but many more still undiagnosed until their symptoms emerge often years into the disease. It is also incurable.

In times of easy access to the Internet and cheap travel, we consider ourselves part of a global society, but how connected this really makes us will surprise many of us.