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Researchers identify innate pain protection mechanism

New research identifying a 'brake' which limits spontaneous pain could lead to the development of new pain relief  treatments. Spontaneous pain is ongoing and can occur constantly (slow burning pain) or intermittently (sharp shooting pain), with no obvious cause. Although they can be very debilitating, the mechanisms behind such conditions can be poorly understood and they are therefore difficult to treat.  Continuous activity in small sensory nerve fibers, known as …Read More

New research investigates how cancer cells enter bloodstream

A new study published in the Journal of Biology describes how a protein that promotes cell growth allows cells to metastasise and spread through the bloodstream.  Cancer cells are confined to the tissue in which they arise unless they can find a way into the bloodstream. The growth factor VEGF enables cells to do this by loosening connections between endothelial cells that form the lining of blood vessel walls. VEGF …Read More

Researchers identify Alzheimer’s memory loss protein

Researchers have identified a protein which plays a role in the development of memory loss that affects patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, found that a protein known as Neuroligin-1 (NLGN1), which is known to play a role in the formation of memories, is also linked to amyloid-associated memory loss. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Alzheimer's disease involves …Read More

Vitamin D levels may affect cognition in PD patients

A new study on the effects of vitamin D on Parkinson's Disease (PD) suggests early intervention may be a fruitful method of preventing or delaying cognitive impairment and depression. Scientists conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 286 patients suffering from PD. Higher plasma vitamin D levels were associated with lower symptom severity, better cognition, and less depression in the entire group. The results were stronger in the group which was not …Read More

Stem cell research helps shed light on spread of cancer

New research conducted into breast cancer cells has identified two states in which they exist and each of these plays a role in the spread of the disease. "The lethal part of cancer is its metastasis so understanding how metastasis occurs is critical," says senior study author Max Wicha, MD, distinguished professor of oncology and director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We have evidence that cancer stem …Read More

New gene research raises hopes for brain tumour treatment

Scientists have identified a mutated gene which causes a particularly debilitating kind of brain tumour, possibly leading the way to new treatments for the condition. The only treatments currently available for the tumours, which affect less than one in 100,000 people, are repeated surgery and radiation therapy.  Research conducted by scientists from Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, …Read More

New protein study could aid cancer drug development

New research into the role played by dysfunction of regulatory proteins that keep an oncogene in check could lead to the developments in drugs used to treat head and neck cancers. Previous research has revealed activation and signalling of a protein known as Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) in many cancers. The increased activity of this protein is often associated with poor prognosis. In adult tissues, proteins …Read More

Research identifies way to boost corneal transplant success

New research at the University of Texas South Western Medical Centre has identified a potential method of improving the odds of corneal transplant acceptance. In a study conducted on mice, researchers found that blocking the action of an immune system molecule called interferon-gamma (IFN-y) led to corneal transplants being accepted 90 per cent of the time when the mice shared the same major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotype as the donor …Read More

Research explores spread of ‘parasitic’ DNA

A new study has been published which sheds light on how strands of parasitic DNA proliferate as part of the ageing process. Genomes of all organisms contain elements that, when not suppressed, copy themselves and spread, potentially affecting health. It has already been discovered that these parts, known as  "retrotransposable elements" (RTEs), are able to free themselves from the genome's control in cultures of human cells. The new research, conducted …Read More

Research could repair damaged brain cells

A new technique is being pioneered by researchers at Penn State University to regenerate functional neurons after brain injury and in those affected by Alzheimer's disease. The scientists have used the brain's supporting cells, known as glial cells, to grow healthy neurons which are essential for transmitting brain signals. When the brain is damaged, normal neurons often die or degenerate. Reactive glial cells proliferate as a defence mechanism against bacteria …Read More