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Coal plant closure in China led to improvements in children’s health

Coal plant closure in China led to improvements in children’s health

Decreased exposure to air pollution in utero is linked with improved childhood developmental scores and higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a key protein for brain development, according to a study looking at the closure of a coal-burning power plant in China led by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. The study is the first to assess BDNF and cognitive development with respect to prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a component of air pollution commonly emitted from coal burning. Results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE Continue reading

Coal plant closure in China led to improvements in children’s health

Coal plant closure in China led to improvements in children’s health

Decreased exposure to air pollution in utero is linked with improved childhood developmental scores and higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a key protein for brain development, according to a study looking at the closure of a coal-burning power plant in China led by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. The study is the first to assess BDNF and cognitive development with respect to prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a component of air pollution commonly emitted from coal burning. Results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE Continue reading

Blood test may help predict whether a child will become obese

Blood test may help predict whether a child will become obese

Scientists have found that a simple blood test, which can read DNA, could be used to predict obesity levels in children. Researchers at the Universities of Southampton, Exeter and Plymouth used the test to assess the levels of epigenetic switches in the PGC1a gene — a gene that regulates fat storage in the body. Epigenetic switches take place through a chemical change called DNA methylation, which controls how genes work and is set during early life. Continue reading

Cancer treatment revolution potential with new drug

Cancer treatment revolution potential with new drug

A revolution in cancer treatment could soon be underway following a breakthrough that may lead to a dramatic improvement in cancer survival rates. A new study at the University of Warwick, published today in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition , has developed a new drug that can manipulate the body’s natural signalling and energy systems, allowing the body to attack and shut down cancerous cells. Called ZL105, the drug is a compound based on the precious metal iridium. Continue reading

State-of-the-state on genetic-based testing, treatment for breast cancer revealed

State-of-the-state on genetic-based testing, treatment for breast cancer revealed

Dartmouth researchers at its Norris Cotton Cancer Center have compiled a review of the role that information gathered through genetic testing plays in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The paper entitled “Personalized Therapy for Breast Cancer” was accepted on March 17, 2014, for publication in Clinical Genetics . The paper discusses targeted therapies, new biomarkers, and the quality of commercially available testing methods. Continue reading

No longer junk: Role of long noncoding RNAs in autism risk

No longer junk: Role of long noncoding RNAs in autism risk

RNA acts as the intermediary between genes and proteins, but the function of pieces of RNA that do not code for protein has, historically, been less clear. Researchers have ignored these noncoding RNAs until recently for not complying with the central dogma of biology — that a straight line runs from gene to RNA (transcription) to protein (translation) Continue reading

Leukaemia caused by chromosome catastrophe

Leukaemia caused by chromosome catastrophe

Researchers have found that people born with a rare abnormality of their chromosomes have a 2,700-fold increased risk of a rare childhood leukemia. In this abnormality, two specific chromosomes are fused together but become prone to catastrophic shattering. Continue reading

Leukaemia caused by chromosome catastrophe

Leukaemia caused by chromosome catastrophe

Researchers have found that people born with a rare abnormality of their chromosomes have a 2,700-fold increased risk of a rare childhood leukemia. In this abnormality, two specific chromosomes are fused together but become prone to catastrophic shattering. Continue reading

Drugs fail to reawaken dormant HIV infection

Drugs fail to reawaken dormant HIV infection

Scientists at Johns Hopkins report that compounds they hoped would “wake up” dormant reservoirs of HIV inside immune system T cells — a strategy designed to reverse latency and make the cells vulnerable to destruction — have failed to do so in laboratory tests of such white blood cells taken directly from patients infected with HIV. “Despite our high hopes, none of the compounds we tested in HIV-infected cells taken directly from patients activated the latent virus,” says Robert F. Continue reading

Surprising new way to kill cancer cells

Surprising new way to kill cancer cells

Northwestern Medicine scientists have demonstrated that cancer cells — and not normal cells — can be killed by eliminating either the FAS receptor, also known as CD95, or its binding component, CD95 ligand. “The discovery seems counterintuitive because CD95 has previously been defined as a tumor suppressor,” said lead investigator Marcus Peter, professor in medicine-hematology/Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But when we removed it from cancer cells, rather than proliferate, they died.” The findings were published March 20 in Cell Reports Continue reading