Heart gone haywire blamed in some sudden infant deaths

An electrical problem in the heart may cause one out of 20 cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), researchers have reported.
The problem is similar to a heart condition called long Q-T syndrome that contributes to sudden death in young people and adults. In long Q-T syndrome, the heart electrically recharges itself too slowly or in a disorganized fashion in preparation for the next heartbeat. When combined with a trigger, such as intense emotion or physical exertion, a long Q-T heart can go out of control and cause cardiac arrest and sudden death.

Bone marrow cell transplant treats clogged leg arteries

Bone marrow cells implanted into blood-starved legs formed new blood vessels, increased blood flow and prevented amputation in people with peripheral artery disease, researchers have reported. “This is the first multicenter and double-blind clinical study to prove the clinical efficacy of growing new blood vessels using bone marrow cell transplantation,? says the study’s lead author Hiroya Masaki M.D., Ph.D. He hopes that transplanting bone marrow cells will establish a new therapy for peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Study Shows Pre-Menopausal Females Protected From Heart Injury

Despite recent reports that hormone therapy does not offer protection for post-menopausal females against heart disease and heart attack, researchers from Duke University Medical Center have determined in mouse studies that non-hormone treated pre-menopausal females are, in fact, better protected from cardiac damage following ischemia compared to their male counterparts. The findings suggest that research should continue toward finding better ways to treat post-menopausal women to maintain such cardiac protection, the researchers said.

Accidental finding could lead to full-spectrum solar cell

Researchers have found that the electrical properties of the semiconductor indium nitride are different from what been previously thought — by a wide margin. The result is that an alloy incorporating the material can convert virtually the full spectrum of sunlight — from the near infrared to the far ultraviolet — to electrical current. “It’s as if nature designed this material on purpose to match the solar spectrum,” said one researcher involved.

Transplanted muscle cells can take root in damaged hearts

The first direct evidence that muscle cells transplanted from within a heart patient’s body could help heal their damaged heart muscle is being reported today. In the study, a small sample of cells from patients’ thigh muscles were taken, and “satellite” myoblast cells were isolated and grown in culture until they multiplied. These cells were then injected into the hearts of four patients who were receiving heart-assisting implants to help them survive until they could get a heart transplant. The results showed that the injected cells not only survived in their new environment, but began to form muscle fibers.

Hostility may be better predictor of heart disease than smoking, cholesterol

Hostility may predict heart disease more often than traditional coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors like high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and weight, according to research reported on in the November issue of Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). Using a sample of 774 older White men (average age was 60) from the Normative Aging Study, lead researcher Raymond Niaura, Ph.D., and colleagues sought to determine whether hostility was an independent influence or a contributing factor in CHD development. Hostility levels, blood lipids, fasting insulin, blood pressure, body measurement index (BMI), weight-hip ratio (WHR), diet, alcohol intake, smoking and education attainment were assessed over a three year period beginning in 1986.

Key to global warming prediction within reach

The search for a Holy Grail of climate science may be nearing an end, if an MIT-led project is launched by NASA to measure soil moisture?data needed to predict global change, assess global warming and support the Kyoto Protocol. That measurement has been missing from the array of clues?rainfall, atmospheric chemistry, humidity and temperature?used by scientists to predict change in the local and global climate. Using soil moisture, they can calculate evaporation?the process that links the water, energy and carbon cycles?giving them a better understanding of global change.

Gene Researchers Close In On Nicotine’s ‘Evil Cousin’

Nicotine isn’t all bad, despite its addictive qualities and its presence in tobacco products, increasingly taboo in these health-conscious times. As a chemical compound, nicotine even has beneficial properties. It’s used around the world as a relatively cheap, environmentally friendly insecticide, repelling bugs that attack tobacco and other plants, and – contrary to popular misconceptions – it is not a carcinogen. Take a nicotine molecule and snip off a methyl group, though, and you’ve got nicotine’s evil cousin: nornicotine.

Cell Transfer Restores Sperm Production in Infertile Mice

Scientists have successfully restored sperm production in once-infertile mice by transplanting specialized cells that are critical to sperm development. The research, reported on the Web site of the journal Biology of Reproduction, may give scientists a better understanding of how Sertoli cells ? which surround spermatogenic stem cells ? nourish sperm production and the survival of stem cells.

Assisted Reproduction May Be Linked to Birth Defect Syndrome

Scientists have discovered that in vitro fertilization (IVF) appears to be associated with a rare combination of birth defects characterized by excessive growth of various tissues. After studying data from a national registry of patients with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS), the researchers found that IVF-initiated conception was six times more common than in the general population.

Mitochondrial DNA as a Cancer Biomarker

As part of a national effort to identify biomarkers for early detection of cancer, the federal National Institute for Standards and Technology is developing safer, faster, and more efficient methods for sequencing the DNA from mitochondria, the tiny energy factories of cells. Mutations within the DNA of mitochondria — a circular strand containing more than 16,000 nucleotide base pairs — have been implicated in a variety of cancers. In one small study by Johns Hopkins University, for example, such mutations were found in lung cancer cells but not the normal cells of the same patients. NIST researchers are working to validate the mitochondrial DNA sequence measurement technology and increase the speed of the sequencing protocol. They hope that this will lead to improved methods that could be used in clinical applications.

Algorithm Predicts Interactions Between Unsolved Protein Structures

Researchers in New York have developed an algorithm that can predict interactions between proteins whose structures are unsolved. The computational tool takes protein interaction prediction to a new level because it works on proteins on which little structural information exists, providing three-dimensional models of the protein-protein complex and identifying the amino acid residues that interact. Said the team’s lead researcher: “The overall goal is to develop personalized medicine, which is based on understanding how a drug affects you versus how it affects me.”