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Ward Plunet
59,626 followers
59,626 followers
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In surprising reversal, scientists find a cellular process that stops cancer before it starts

Just as plastic tips protect the ends of shoelaces and keep them from fraying when we tie them, molecular tips called telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes and keep them from fusing when cells continually divide and duplicate their DNA. But while losing the plastic tips may lead to messy laces, telomere loss may lead to cancer. Salk Institute scientists studying the relationship of telomeres to cancer made a surprising discovery: a cellular recycling process called autophagy—generally thought of as a survival mechanism—actually promotes the death of cells, thereby preventing cancer initiation.
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Study shows dopamine plays a role in musical pleasure

An international team of researchers has found evidence of dopamine in the brain playing a role in the pleasure people feel when they listen to music. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes experiments they carried out with volunteers who were given a dopamine precursor or antagonist and what they found.
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Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?

The idea that slavish application of SPF 50 might be as bad for you as Marlboro 100s generated a flurry of short news items, but the idea was so weird that it didn’t break through the deadly-sun paradigm. Some doctors, in fact, found it quite dangerous. “I don’t argue with their data,” says David Fisher, chair of the dermatology department at Massachusetts General Hospital. “But I do disagree with the implications.” The risks of skin cancer, he believes, far outweigh the benefits of sun exposure. “Somebody might take these conclusions to mean that the skin-cancer risk is worth it to lower all-cause mortality or to get a benefit in blood pressure,” he says. “I strongly disagree with that." It is not worth it, he says, unless all other options for lowering blood pressure are exhausted. Instead he recommends vitamin D pills and hypertension drugs as safer approaches.
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Staying fit can cut your risk of heart attack by half

Poor cardiorespiratory fitness could increase your risk of a future heart attack, even if you have no symptoms of a lifestyle illness today, a new study has found. "We found a strong link between higher fitness levels and a lower risk of heart attack and angina pectoris over the nine years following the measurements that were taken," says researcher Bjarne Nes, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG).
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*Paper proposes new way to understand how the neocortex works
by Numenta*

Scientists at Numenta propose a major new theory about how the human brain works. While neuroscientists have amassed an enormous amount of detailed factual knowledge about the brain, there remains no unifying theory as to what intelligence is and how the brain produces it. In their paper, "A Framework for Intelligence and Cortical Function Based on Grid Cells in the Neocortex," Numenta researchers describe a broad framework for understanding what the neocortex does and how it works. The paper appears in the journal Frontiers in Neural Circuits. The key insight described in the paper relates to a type of neuron called grid cells. Grid cells exist in an older part of the brain that learns maps of environments. As you move, grid cells keep track of the location of your body relative to these maps. Numenta researchers deduced that grid cells also must exist throughout the neocortex. These "cortical grid cells" track the locations of your sensors as they move relative to the objects in the world. The authors propose that cortical grid cells allow the neocortex to learn models of objects similar to how the older part of the brain learns maps of environments. The paper proposes how we learn the structure and behavior of objects based on locations and location spaces defined by cortical grid cells.
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Researchers identify drug against the formation of metastasis

The most deadly aspect of breast cancer is metastasis, cancer cells spreading throughout the body. Researchers at the University and the University Hospital of Basel have now discovered a substance that suppresses the formation of metastases. In the journal Cell, the team of molecular biologists, computational biologists and clinicians reports on their interdisciplinary approach. The development of metastasis is responsible for more than 90 percent of cancer-related deaths, and patients with a metastatic disease are considered incurable. The interdisciplinary team led by Prof. Nicola Aceto from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel has identified a drug that suppresses the spread of malignant cancer cells and their metastasis-seeding ability.
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The molecule that helps exercise protect the brain from Alzheimer’s

Sometimes data behaves so nicely, lining up just the way you want it to. In 2012, irisin was identified as a molecular messenger induced by exercise. In 2013, irisin was found to stimulate genes in the hippocampus, a region of the brain essential for making and storing memories. In 2017, epidemiological studies indicated that exercise could slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other kinds of dementia. And this week—you guessed it—new research demonstrated that exercise alleviates AD and slows memory loss by sending irisin to the brain. Irisin is sent from muscles to various tissues throughout the body during exercise. It was initially found to promote fat metabolism, turning white fat cells into brown ones, which burn more energy. It was only later recognized that it also plays a role in the brain.

link: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/01/exercise-induced-hormone-may-provide-some-protection-against-alzheimers/
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New Caledonian crows found able to infer weight of an object by watching how it behaves in the wind

A team of researchers with members affiliated with the University of Auckland, the University of Cambridge, Bertha von Suttner University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has found evidence that suggests New Caledonian crows can infer the weight of an object by watching how it behaves in the wind. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes experiments they carried out with crows they captured and what they found.
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First-in-human trial of senolytic drugs encouraging

Researchers publish the first data on the treatment of an age-related disease with drugs called senolytics. The results in patients with deadly idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are encouraging and indicate the feasibility of larger clinical trials.
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Artificial Intelligence Can Detect Alzheimer’s Disease in Brain Scans Six Years Before a Diagnosis

Using a common type of brain scan, researchers programmed a machine-learning algorithm to diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s disease about six years before a clinical diagnosis is made – potentially giving doctors a chance to intervene with treatment. No cure exists for Alzheimer’s disease, but promising drugs have emerged in recent years that can help stem the condition’s progression. However, these treatments must be administered early in the course of the disease in order to do any good. This race against the clock has inspired scientists to search for ways to diagnose the condition earlier. “One of the difficulties with Alzheimer’s disease is that by the time all the clinical symptoms manifest and we can make a definitive diagnosis, too many neurons have died, making it essentially irreversible,” says Jae Ho Sohn, MD, MS, a resident in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UC San Francisco.
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