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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.
In a breakthrough study, scientists have found that common painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen may actually dissolve the brain lesions -- or amyloid plaques -- that are one of the definitive hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. The findings are reported in the March 31 issue of Neuroscience. Principal investigator Jorge R. Barrio, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has used FDDNP, a new chemical marker developed in his laboratory at UCLA, to visually zero in on the brain lesions present in Alzheimer's disease. He discovered that common over-the-counter pain medications -- known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- bind to amyloid plaques, and may help dissolve existing plaques and prevent the formation of new ones.
Chemists report in the Feb. 28 issue of Science a room-temperature chemical method for producing a new form of carbon called carbon nanoscrolls. Nanoscrolls are closely related to the much touted carbon nanotubes -- which may have numerous industrial applications -- but have significant advantages over them, said Lisa Viculis and Julia Mack, the lead authors of the article and graduate students in the laboratory of Richard B. Kaner, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez announced more than four years ago that a monstrous black hole resides at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, 24,000 light years away, with a mass more than 2 million times that of our sun. Some astronomers greeted the announcement with skepticism, and proposed exotic forms of matter as alternatives. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting Feb. 16 in Denver, Ghez reported that the case for the black hole has been strengthened substantially, and that all of the proposed alternatives can be excluded.
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.