Pediatric Anesthesia Causes Brain Damage in Infant Rats

A team of researchers has found that drugs commonly used to anesthetize children can cause brain damage and long-term learning and memory disturbances in infant rats. The researchers report their findings in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. “We frequently perform surgical procedures on children, including premature infants, and those procedures have become increasingly more complex and take longer to perform,” says the study’s lead author Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Virginia Health System. “That means many pediatric patients are being exposed to anesthetic drugs more frequently and for longer periods of time. Our results would suggest that might be problematic.”

Leukemia-Related Protein is a Master Editor of the ‘Histone Code’

Rearrangements of the mixed lineage leukemia gene, MLL, are associated with aggressive leukemias in both children and adults. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that one portion of the MLL protein is an enzyme that “edits” the so-called histone code, a series of modifications to proteins associated with DNA that influence how and when certain genes are turned on and off. Their findings are presented in the November issue of Molecular Cell.