Sex Reversal in Humans Associated with Mutation in CBX2 Gene

Researchers describe the birth of a girl with the XY male karyotype, who has a completely normal female phenotype, including uterus and histologically normal ovaries. In mice with a similar phenotype, ablation of the M33 gene, an ortholog of Drosophila Polycomb, causes male-to-female sex reversal. Analysis of the human homolog of M33 (that is, the …

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Powerful New Paint May Kill Super-Bugs

Researchers in South Dakota have developed a broad-spectrum, anti-microbial paint that will not only kill disease-causing bacteria, but also mold, fungi, and viruses. The paint is designed to decorate and disinfect homes, businesses, and health-care settings. The scientists said that the paint holds special promise of effectiveness in killing so-called “super-bugs,” antibiotic-resistant microbes that cause an estimated 88,000 deaths annually in the United States. The new paint contains a new anti-microbial polymer that includes a type of N-halamine. The researchers note that anti-microbial paints already on store shelves are only effective against a narrow range of disease-causing organisms, limiting their effectivenss. The work is described in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, published by the American Chemical Society. [ACS press release] [Journal abstract]

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Miolecular Secret of Turmeric Spice Finally Revealed

Scientists believe they have discovered the mechanism by which turmeric, a spice revered in India as “holy powder,” exerts its fabled healing powers. Turmeric has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat wounds, infections, and other health problems. Using solid-state NMR spectroscopy, the scientists discovered that molecules of curcumin, the key ingredient in …

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Discovery of New Targets May Aid Fight Against Dengue Fever

Using a genome-wide RNA interference screen in Drosophila cells, researchers have identified 116 genes that are potential host factors for the mosquito-borne Dengue viruses that cause Dengue fever. Such host factors aid propagation of the Denque virus, and it is suggested that inhibitors of these host factors might interfere with this propagation. Dengue fever is …

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Domestic Cattle Genome Sequenced

An international consortium of researchers has reported the sequencing and analysis of the genome of domestic cattle. This is the first livestock mammal to have its genome sequenced and it is believed that this achievement will aid in efforts to produce better beef and dairy products and also lead to a better understanding of the human genome. The analysis indicates that the bovine genome shares approximately 80% of its genes with humans. The particular cow whose genome was sequenced was named Dominette, a Hereford. [NIH press release] [CSIRO press release] [Science article 1] [Science article 2]

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New Drug Starves Brain Cancer Cells

In animal studies, researchers have shown that a new drug (3-BrOP) is effective at starving neuroblastoma cells and reducing tumor growth by 75%. The drug, developed by scientists at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Center, is an inhibitor of glycolysis, the energy-producing process upon which neuroblastoma cells are highly dependent. Neuroblastoma is a childhood …

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Gene Signature Associated with Gleevec Resistance in GIST Patients

A genetic signature associated with increased resistance to Gleevec in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) has been identified by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Efforts to affect the expression and/or activity of genes in the signature may help increase the responsiveness to Gleevec in resistant patients. Currently, approximately 80% of GIST patients are responsive to Gleevec. This work was presented at the annual AACR meeting April 18-22. [Press release]

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Clues to Mechanism of Lithium Action in Bipolar Disease

New research provides insights into how lithium works in the treatment of bipolar mood disorder, and may lay the groundwork for advances in the treatment of this disease. Scientists from Cardiff University, together with colleagues, have shown that lithium inhibits the enzyme inositol monophosphatase, and this leads to the inhibition of the production of PIP3, a molecule that is important in controlling brain cell signaling. Professor Adrian Harwood of Cardiff School of Biosciences, who led the research, said “We still cannot say definitively how lithium can help stabilize bipolar disorder. However, our research does suggest a possible pathway for its operation. By better understanding lithium, we can learn about the genetics of bipolar disorder and develop more potent and selective drugs. Further, altered PIP3 signalling is linked to other disorders, including epilepsy and autism, so this well established drug could be used to treat other conditions.” The research was published in Disease Models & Mechanisms. [Press release]

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DICER1 Mutations Implicated in Rare Childhood Cancer

Mutations in the microRNA processing enzyme DICER1 appear to the cause of the inherited form of a rare, aggressive childhood cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB). “PPB is the first malignancy found to be directly associated with inherited DICER1 mutations, making the cancer an important model for understanding how mutations and loss of DICER1 function lead …

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Possible New Avenue for Huntington Disease Treatment

Increasing the levels of a key protein (RCAN1-1L) can, in vitro, rescue cells from the toxic effects of mutant huntingtin proteins that cause Huntington disease. “Our findings allow for the possibility that controlled over-expression of RCAN1-1L might in the future be a viable avenue for therapeutic intervention in Huntington disease patients,” said Kelvin J. A. …

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