Patients with lower back pain that can’t be traced to a specific physical cause may have abnormal pain-processing pathways in their brains, according to a new study led by Michigan researchers. The effect, which as yet has no explanation, is similar to an altered pain perception effect in fibromyalgia patients recently reported by the same research team.
Aluminum — one of nature’s best conductors of electricity conductors of electricity — may behave like a ceramic or a semiconductor in certain situations, according to an Ohio State University scientist and his colleagues. Among the findings that appear in the current issue of the journal Science: When it comes to forming tiny structures in computer chip circuits and nanotechnology, aluminum may endure mechanical stress more than 30 percent better than copper, which is normally considered to be the stiffer metal
Scientists have developed a sensor that can record brainwaves without the need for electrodes to be inserted into the brain or even for them to be placed on the scalp. Conventional electroencephalograms (EEGs) monitor electrical activity in the brain with electrodes placed either on the scalp (involving hair removal and skin abrasion) or inserted directly into the brain with needles. Now a non-invasive form of EEG has been devised by Professor Terry Clark and his colleagues in the Centre for Physical Electronics at the University of Sussex. Instead of measuring charge flow through an electrode (with attendant distortions, in the case of scalp electrodes) the new system measures electric fields remotely, an advance made possible by new developments in sensor technology.
A seemingly mild “insult” to the brain could sensitize neurons to attack by immune system proteins that are otherwise protective, researchers have found. The finding could explain why sufferers of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases significantly worsen following such insults. The scientists believe that drugs to selectively inhibit the immune proteins could reduce the rate of neural damage in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. Such drugs could also protect other organs against damage from autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks body tissues.
Brain cell membranes have established “doorways” that accept or reject molecules trying to pass into the cell, researchers have founbd. The discovery fundamentally changes how researchers think about the behavior of neurons. It had been long believed that surface molecules such as receptors are enveloped right where they rest in the fatty membrane, to be drawn into the cell’s interior.
Researchers in Los Angeles have localized a region on chromosome 16 that is likely to contain a risk gene for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the most prevalent childhood-onset psychiatric disorder. The scientists say their finding suggest that the suspected risk gene may contribute as much as 30 percent of the underlying genetic cause of ADHD and may also be involved in a separate childhood onset disorder, autism.
Federal researchers say they’ve developed several drug candidates that show promise in protecting the brain against damage from stroke, with the potential to fight chronic neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease as well.. The drugs, called p53 inhibitors, attack a key protein involved in nerve cell death and represent a new strategy for preserving brain function following sudden injury or chronic disease.
Researchers in Ohio say they’ve developed a way to use a decade-old imaging technology to directly compare the brains of monkeys and humans. Specifically, they used MRIs to compare parts of the monkey and human brains — the visual cortex — concerned with processing visual information. “Implicit in the neuroscience community was that the monkey cortex is a good model for the human cortex,” said one of the researchers. “Scientists didn’t have any choice but to make that assumption, as the monkey brain was the only model we had to work with.” But with the MRI they’ve found that there are in fact big differences.
Cancer researchers in San Diego have developed a 3-step process in which human leukemia cells and neighboring immune-system T cells are manipulated together in the laboratory to create a powerful and specific cancer-killing cocktail. “For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, leukemia cells fail to trigger immune responses,” said the study’s senior author, Edward D. Ball, M.D., of the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center. “We have developed a method in which we induce the leukemia cell to change its behavior and stimulate the immune system. At the same time, we persuade the immune system to wake up and attack only the leukemia cells.” The details of this approach, known as adoptive immunotherapy or cellular therapy, are reported in the October issue of the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.
For the first time, a distributed computing experiment has produced significant results that have been published in a scientific journal. Writing in the online edition of Nature magazine, Stanford University scientists describe how they — with the help of 30,000 personal computers — successfully simulated part of the complex folding process that a typical protein molecule undergoes to achieve its unique, three-dimensional shape.