Thursday, 16 April 2015
People working on the distressing condition of Alzheimer's disease may be been concentrating on the wrong feature, according to new studies (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/15/alzheimers-disease-cause-study-caveats-aside-findings-encouraging). To date, scientists have devoted much attention to trying to develop treatments to remove amyloid plaque from the brains of people with the condition (recent studies suggest, unfortunately, that, once the plaque has accumulated, it is too late). One study has recently shown, however, that blocking the uptake of the amino acid arginine by the immune cells that normally protect the brain prevents both the build up of plaque and memory loss in a mouse model. It has been suggested that the build up of pre-plaque sticky proteins destroys memory because the body switches off all neural protein production in an attempt to limit amyloid plaque deposition. If protein production is switched back on, the mice reportedly regained their memories even though their brains appeared abnormal (whether there would be complete recovery of complex memory remains to be assessed). It seems that Altzeimers may be caused by the immune cells protecting the brain going 'rogue'. If this is so, why this happens in some people and not others also needs determining.
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
Monday, 13 April 2015
It's always nice to see ex-students make the big time. Today's 'The One Show' included a quite large section on Dr Dan Forman's studies on the importance of hoverflies as pollinators in the UK. This involved washing the flies to remove pollen from their bodies and then using DNA markers to identify which plants they had been visiting. It appears that these flies are important pollinators especially in the Spring before the bees have got their act together.
Sunday, 12 April 2015
Saturday, 11 April 2015
Interesting news that trained sniffer dogs can detect the metabolites associated with prostate cancer in urine samples with a more than 90% reliability (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/11/dogs-trained-detect-prostate-cancer-accuracy). This compares very well with existing biochemical tests. Yet another success for 'man's best friend'!