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A New Cause For Mental Disease

Astrocytes, the cells that make the background of the brain and support neurons, might be behind...

R.I.P Portuguese Science

Portuguese government shuts down half of the research units in the countryThe Portuguese funding...

Schistosomiasis- New Urine Test Could Help Millions

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease that infects 243million people worldwide, and kills about...

When Bad News Is Good News For Neurodegenerative Diseases

Some genetic diseases caused by an abnormal repeat in the DNA are known to become more severe...

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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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Calcium is crucial for heart regeneration by cardiac stem cells following cardiovascular problems say scientists in an article to be published in the journal Circulation Research this 9th of October. The study also identifies the body molecules controlling calcium levels in the stem cells and reveals, how their manipulation, can lead to the formation of new cardiac tissue. The work, that follows the recent surprising discovery of stem cells within the heart, can have important implications in the regenerative medicine of this organ in patients with cardiovascular diseases.

What a difference a bulb makes? On the 6th of November the 2100 inhabitants of the Isles of Scilly - a small British archipelago just off the mainland – will be asking this and a little more, by switching off for 24 hours all unused electrical apparatus, while measuring online, and in real time, the energy saved. This unique event aims to raise awareness of climate change and energy wastage, whilst showing how easy it is to make a real difference. All this is part of the “Isle of Scilly Earth Summit” that launches this weekend (3/4 October) with talks by islanders from all over the world followed by the energy saving day (E-Day) on the 6th of October.

A new gene called AP2gamma has been discovered to be crucial for the neural development of the visual cortex in a discovery that can have implications for the therapeutics of neural regeneration as well as provide new clues about how the brain evolved into higher sophistication in mammals. The article will come out in the journal Nature Neuroscience1 on the 14th of September.
A new paradigm in the way we look at cancer with important implications on how we treat it is about to be published in the British Journal of Cancer by Portuguese, Belgian and American researchers. The group use a mathematical approach to reveal how - by changing the dynamics of interaction between the cancer cells and those of the affected tissue – it is possible to control and even potentially cure the disease.
Schistosoma haematobium (S. haematobium) is a parasitic flatworm that infects millions of people, mostly in the developing world, and is associated with high incidence of bladder cancer although why is not clear.

Two works by Portuguese researchers just out in The Journal of Experimental Pathology (1) and the International Journal of Parasitology (2) reveal that cells infected in laboratory with S. haematobium, acquire cancer-like characteristics and, when injected into mice develop into tumours. The research identifies as well the host molecules linked to the carcinogenic changes, suggesting that these could be used as therapeutic targets to prevent bladder cancer.
Every day we make a multitude of decisions based on the consequences of our actions; goal-orientated responses.

In an always changing environment this capacity is crucial but, because it is complex, it also requires a lot from the brain. So repeated actions, like to press the elevator button to our floor, become linked to other type of neural responses, which are automatic and so less demanding. And if necessary it is always possible to switch back to the first kind of response.