Aging

Scientists are trying a plumber’s approach to rid the brain of the amyloid buildup that plagues Alzheimer’s patients: Simply drain the toxic protein away.

That’s the method outlined in a paper published online August 12 by Nature Medicine. Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center show how the body’s natural way of ridding the body of the substance is flawed in people with the disease. Then the team demonstrated an experimental method in mice to fix the process, dramatically reducing the levels of the toxic protein in the brain and halting symptoms.

Women have a “female advantage” when it comes to chronic kidney disease. When compared to men, they have fewer and less severe episodes of this disorder throughout most of their lives. That advantage disappears, however, when the woman is diabetic. For reasons still unclear, diabetic women – regardless of age – are diagnosed with kidney and heart diseases almost as frequently as men.

What is it about diabetes that predisposes a woman to develop renal disease at levels generally associated with her male counterpart? Researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease have been studying the phenomenon and have identified a novel observation to help explain why.

It's well known that physical exercise is good for the brain but what about when age takes away the ability to exercise as much? Can mental exercise close the gap?

Yes, say researchers at Yale. For the young and middle-aged, exercise is key but for older people either mental of physical enrichment is good.

The Yale neuroscientists randomly assigned 160 female mice who were young, middle-aged and old adults (about 3, 15, or 21 months old) to either an experimental (treatment) condition or a control group. Treatment conditions included cages where mice could exercise on running wheels, cages where they could play with toys, or cages with both for complex enrichment. The control mice cages were unadorned.

Inside the body, our organs are elegantly kept apart by slick membranes. Inside our smallest components, our cells, a similar separation is upheld with the help of electrical charges. In the same way that reversed magnets repel each other, gauzes of negative charges prevent proteins, genetic material, and fats from sticking to each other in the wrong way.

Mikael Oliveberg, professor of biochemistry at Stockholm University in Sweden, describes how disturbances in these functions underlie the hereditary form of the motor-neuron disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Twenty-one years after they first described a fatal genetic disorder in Missouri and Arkansas families, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have linked the condition to mutations in a gene known as TREX1.

The identification will accelerate efforts to understand and treat retinal vasculopathy with cerebral leukodystrophy (RVCL), a rare condition that usually goes unrecognized or is misdiagnosed. In Asian and Caucasian patients with the disease, a complex and ultimately fatal barrage of primarily central nervous system symptoms begins around age 45 that includes vision loss, mini-strokes and dementia. The symptoms can also mimic a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis. After onset, RVCL is fatal in 10 years or less.

Scientists have only recently begun to speculate that what’s referred to as “junk” DNA – the 96 percent of the human genome that doesn’t encode for proteins and previously seemed to have no useful purpose – is present in the genome for an important reason. But it wasn’t clear what the reason was. Now, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have discovered one important function of so-called junk DNA.

Genes, which make up about four percent of the genome, encode for proteins, “the building blocks of life.” An international collaboration of scientists led by Michael G.

Two new studies suggest older men and women taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, are prone to increased bone loss.

The jointly released studies by scientists at Oregon Health&Science University, and in San Francisco, Minneapolis, San Diego and Pittsburgh, found that elderly men taking the so-called SSRIs had lower bone mineral density, and that elderly women taking the antidepressants had a higher rate of yearly bone loss.

A search for the molecular clues of longevity has taken Mayo Clinic researchers down another path that could explain why some people who consume excessive calories don’t gain weight. The study, which was done in laboratory mouse models, points to the absence of a gene called CD38. When absent, the gene prevented mice on high-fat diets from gaining weight, but when present, the mice became obese.

The findings were published this month in the online issue of The FASEB Journal, the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Researchers have shown that bone marrow stem cells injected into a damaged inner ear can speed hearing recovery after partial hearing loss.

Hearing loss has many causes, including genetics, aging, and infection, and may be complete or partial. Such loss may involve damage to inner ear cells called cochlear fibrocytes, which are fundamental to inner ear function. Some natural regeneration of these cells can occur after acute damage, leading to partial recovery of temporary hearing loss. The researchers say say such restoration could be enhanced by using bone marrow stem cells, which can differentiate into various tissue-specific cell types.

Buckyballs, or fullerenes, are nanoparticles containing 60 carbon atoms.