Researchers find genes for depression

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have completed the first survey of the entire human genome for genes that affect the susceptibility of individuals to developing clinical depression. George S. Zubenko, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and adjunct professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and his team have located a number of chromosomal regions they say hold the genetic keys to a variety of mental illnesses, including major depression and certain addictions. The survey was done in 81 families identified by individuals with recurrent, early-onset, major depressive disorder (RE-MDD), a severe form of depression that runs in families. The Pitt team’s findings are published today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

Researchers find a new way to potentially thwart anthrax

In a new study, NYU School of Medicine researchers have found what may be an Achilles’ heel of deadly anthrax — a system that the bacteria use to communicate their presence to others of their kind. The researchers, Martin Blaser, M.D., the Frederick King Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine, and Professor of Microbiology and graduate student Marcus Jones, describe a “quorum-sensing system” in anthrax that is a type of bacterial “calling card.” Disrupting this system may open new avenues to prevention and treatment of anthrax, says Dr. Blaser.

Professor says volcanic eruptions in Costa Rica 'inevitable'

It might be 500,000 years or five years, but the Central Valley of Costa Rica will definitely experience major volcanic activity again, according to Phillip B. Gans, professor of geology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He presented a study of volcanic rocks of Costa Rica in his recent talk at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Researchers use nano-particles to deliver gene therapy

Researchers have developed a new system to improve the delivery of genes, which could have the potential cure for several genetically transmitted diseases. Under the direction of Prashant Kumta, a professor of materials science, engineering and biomedical engineering, researchers are creating nano-particles capable of delivering DNA-based therapies for potential use in a variety of cancers and several genetic diseases. “We have developed a new system that will help physicians deliver their genetic life-saving payloads into enough cells to do some good,” said Kumta, who has applied for a patent on the non-viral gene delivery system.