PET scan predicts Alzheimer’s more accurately

Scanning a patient’s brain metabolism with positron-emission tomography (PET) can improve a doctor’s ability to forecast the patient’s future cognitive functions by up to 30 percent, a new study discovered. Published in the November issue of the journal Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, the findings suggest that PET may offer physicians a new tool to help with earlier diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Gender differences in brain response to pain

A new study shows that different parts of the brain are stimulated in reaction to pain depending on gender. The research, which represents the largest gender-comparison study of its kind, focused on people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the nation’s most common chronic medical conditions. The findings may help develop and target better treatments for IBS and other illnesses.

Study identifies stem cell in artery wall

A new study demonstrates for the first time that specific cells found in the adult artery wall have stem cell-like potential. Researchers found artery cells that change into cartilage, bone, muscle and marrow stromal cells. The study will be published online on Oct. 27 and will appear in an upcoming print issue of the journal Circulation. It may lead to a new source of adult stem cells, which could increase potential treatment options and avoid the controversial use of fetal stem cells.

Quantum Dots Used to 'Draw' Circuits for Molecular Computers

By using tiny quantum dots to create trails of altered molecules, UCLA researchers are developing a method of producing nanoscale circuitry for the molecular computers of the future that will use molecular switches in place of transistors.
“This technology, although still in the unpublished, proof-of-concept stage, could eventually lead to a relatively inexpensive means of patterning interconnections between the logic gates of a molecular computer,” according to Harold G. Monbouquette, professor of chemical engineering at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, who leads the team.

Two brain systems tell us to breathe

Until now, scientists believed that a single area in the brain generated breathing rhythm, enabling breathing to speed up or slow down to adapt to the body’s activity and position. But UCLA neurobiologists have discovered that two systems in the brain interact to generate breathing rhythm — a finding that may translate into better treatment for sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome. The journal Neuron reported the findings in its March 6 issue.

Common Acne Treatment Stops Blindness in Animal Model

Administering Accutane, a drug commonly used to treat acne, UCLA researchers have successfully stopped the accumulation of toxic pigments in the eyes of animals with a genetic defect similar to Stargardt’s macular degeneration. The UCLA team gave a daily injection of Accutane to mimic the effect of constant light deprivation and the results proved dramatic. These toxic pigments, called lipofuscin, are responsible for the visual loss in patients with Stargardt’s disease.

UCLA and NASA Partner on Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration

UCLA and NASA have partnered to combine the latest advances in biology and engineering at the Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration (CMISE), which officially opens on Monday, Feb. 10. CMISE will meld the molecular world with aerospace technology to create minuscule monitoring systems, or a “lab on a chip,” that could make research safer and more efficient on earth and in space.

Scientists Map How Alzheimer’s Disease Systematically Engulfs the Brain

UCLA and University of Queensland (Australia) neuroscientists using a powerful new imaging analysis technique have created the first three-dimensional video maps showing how Alzheimer’s disease systematically engulfs the brains of living patients. The findings appear in the Feb. 1 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Neuroscience. The dramatic time-lapse videos show the sequential destruction of brain areas that control memory function, then emotion and inhibition, and finally sensation. They also show how the disease spares small brain regions that control vision and other functions that remain intact in Alzheimer’s patients

Advanced Imaging Shows Crescendo, Diminuendo of Brain Circuitry

Using newly developed imaging techniques, neuroscientists for the first time have “unfolded” the brain’s sea-horse-shaped hippocampus to reveal how dynamic activity within the brain structure’s complex architecture orchestrates memory formation. Details appear in the Jan. 24 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Science. The researchers used extremely high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and software developed at UCLA’s Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center to study blood flow within the hippocampus as 10 human volunteers learned to associate names with faces.

Causes of Life-Expectancy Gap Between Races, Education Levels ID’d

Researchers for the first time have identified and ranked which diseases contribute most to the life-expectancy gap between races and between education levels. The top four contributors to the life-expectancy disparity between blacks and whites are hypertension, HIV, homicide and diabetes. The top six contributors of mortality differences between education levels are all smoking-related diseases.

One in Three Children Regularly Exposed to Tobacco Smoke at Home

Second-hand tobacco smoke threatens the health of 21 million American children ? 35 percent of everyone age 17 and younger ? who live in homes where residents or visitors smoke once a week or more, according to a study published Nov. 13 by researchers from RAND and UCLA. The study is the most thorough ever conducted of youths’ exposure to environmental second-hand tobacco smoke at home. It found that 19 million American children ? 28 percent of everyone in the United States 17 and younger ? are exposed to tobacco smoke at home on a daily basis.

Researchers Develop Chemical Switch to Control Biomolecular Motor

Researchers have created a tiny motor that they can turn on and off at will, bringing scientists one step closer to using such devices to repair cellular damage, manufacture medicines and attack cancer cells. As reported in this month’s Nature Materials, the researchers have developed a chemical switch that gives them control over a biomolecular motor just 11 nanometers, or 11 billionths of a meter, in size ? hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair.