:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-25-2011
Washington State University researchers have taken a promising step toward creating an animal model for decoding the specific brain circuits involved in depression. By electrically stimulating a brain region central to an animal’s primary emotions, graduate student Jason Wright and his advisor Jaak Panksepp saw rats exhibit a variety of behaviors associated with a depressed, negative mood, or affect.
“We might now have a model that allows us to actually know where to look in the brain for changes relevant to depression, and we can monitor how activity in these regions change during states of negative affect and the restoration of positive affect,” says Wright. “There are no other models out there like this.”
The researchers caution that their work comes with a variety of caveats and that there are still many factors that need to be evaluated.
Click here to read more.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-05-2011
Drill primate; Photo credit: San Diego Zoo
Starting with normal skin cells, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have produced the first stem cells from endangered species. Such cells could eventually make it possible to improve reproduction and genetic diversity for some species, possibly saving them from extinction, or to bolster the health of endangered animals in captivity.
A description of the accomplishment appeared in an advance online edition of the journal Nature Methods on September 4, 2011.
For more information click here.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-25-2011
This past week the NIH announced that it was tightening its rules on financial conflict of interest for researchers receiving funding from drug and medical device companies. The new rules include the following revised regulations:
- Require investigators to disclose to their institutions all of their significant financial interests related to their institutional responsibilities.
- Lower the monetary threshold at which significant financial interests require disclosure, generally from $10,000 to $5,000.
- Require institutions to report to the PHS awarding component additional information on identified financial conflicts of interest and how they are being managed.
- Require institutions to make certain information accessible to the public concerning identified SFIs held by senior/key personnel.
- Require investigators to complete training related to the regulations and their institution’s financial conflict of interest policy.
According to the Washington Post, there are over 40,000 scientists who currently receive more than $5,000 in annual funding from the drug and medical device industries.
Despite the NIH’s move towards increasing financial transparency, not all watchdog groups are happy with the measure.
To read more on this story see the Washington Post article and the associated press release from the NIH.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-15-2011
In a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.
The drug works by targeting double stranded RNA which is produced produced only in cells that have been infected by viruses. As part of their natural defenses against viral infection, human cells have proteins that latch onto dsRNA, setting off a cascade of reactions that prevents the virus from replicating itself. However, many viruses can outsmart that system by blocking one of the steps further down the cascade.
In order to solve this problem, the MIT team created Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers (DRACOs) which are comprised of a dsRNA binding protein bound to the apoptotic protein caspase. Thus when infiltrating cells, the apoptotic machinery can turned on selectively in the presence of dsRNA viral material.
For more on this story see new drug could cure nearly any viral infection.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-02-2011
An international consortium of scientists has produced the first systematic network map of interactions that occur between proteins in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Known as an “interactome,” the new Arabidopsis network map defines 6,205 protein-to-protein Arabidopsis interactions involving 2,774 individual proteins. By itself, this map doubles the volume of data on protein interactions in plants that is currently available.
The Consortium’s new network map of Arabidopsis has already provided the foundation for new discoveries involving plant growth and disease resistance.
For more information click here.
Watch-Breaking the Code: Sequencing the Arabidopsis Genome. This video was released in December 2000, when Arabidopsis was first sequenced.