Researchers First to Capture Elusive Lightning-Quick Waveforms

Researchers at UCLA have for the first time been able to capture and digitize electrical signals at the rate of 1 trillion times per second, a discovery that eventually may help scientists develop defenses against high-powered microwave weapons attacks and allow physicists to peer into the fundamental building blocks of nature.

UCLA Launches Major Stem Cell Institute

Drawing together experts from fields as diverse as engineering to molecular biology, UCLA officials announced March 15 the formation of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine to conduct embryonic and adult stem cell research that may lead to better treatments for HIV, cancer and neurological disorders.

Green tea extract has potential as anti-cancer agent

A study on bladder cancer cells lines showed that green tea extract has potential as an anti-cancer agent, proving for the first time that it is able to target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. The study, published in the Feb. 15, 2005 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Cancer Research, also uncovered more about how green tea extract works to counteract the development of cancer, said JianYu Rao, a Jonsson Cancer Center member, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and the study’s senior author.

Diet Rich in Omega-3 Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s

UCLA neuroscientists have shown for the first time that a diet high in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps protect the brain against the memory loss and cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The new research suggests that a DHA-rich diet may lower one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease and help slow progression of the disorder in its later stages. ”This is the first proof that our diets affect how our brain cells communicate with each other under the duress of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Greg Cole, senior author and a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. ”We saw that a diet rich in DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer’s gene.

Researchers pinpoint role of histamines in waking

A new study shows that brain cells containing the chemical histamine are critical for waking. The findings show that the cessation of activity in histamine cells causes loss of consciousness during sleep, while cessation of activity in other brain cells–those containing the brain chemicals norepinephrine or serotonin–causes loss of muscle tone in sleep. The findings also help explain why antihistamines, often taken to control allergies, cause drowsiness.

Researchers explore gene treatment to obliterate HIV before it does damage

Doctors may someday have a new way to combat AIDS by going straight to the source: destroying the virus before it has a chance to wreak havoc on a patient’s immune system. Researchers are now seeking volunteers for a study to test a possible method of empowering an infected person’s own cells to destroy HIV as it enters the cell. The process involves removing the patient’s stem cells – the ones in the bloodstream that form the different immune system cell types that HIV infects, such as T cells and macrophages – and inserting a gene that produces an HIV-obliterating enzyme.

Volunteers sought for advanced colorectal cancer study

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center are seeking volunteers with advanced colorectal cancer to participate in two final-phase studies that test the cancer-fighting powers of an experimental pill designed to cut off the blood supply that feeds oxygen and nutrients to cancer tumors. The experimental drug, called PTK/ZK, is paired with what is considered the best chemotherapy combination available for advanced colorectal cancer, so study volunteers will receive the highest standard of care.

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.