Weekly Roundup: Biotechin.Asia

29 February – 6 March 2016

Feb March 2016

Study shows depression is more than a mental disorder, affects the whole organism

Depression was always considered as a mood disorder characterised by feelings of sadness, low self-esteem and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. While clinical depression was a more severe form of depression marked by persistent low mood throughout the day. However, a team of researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) have proved scientifically for the first time that depression is more than a mental disorder. It causes important alterations of the oxidative stress, and hence should be considered as a systemic disease (something that affects a number of organs and tissues), since it affects the whole organism. Their work was published in the renowned Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. (Click here to read more)

Blocking Enzymes in Hair Follicles Promotes Hair Growth

Androgenetic alopecia (AA) or ‘male pattern baldness’ is one of the most common causes of hair loss . It can occur due to 3 main factors – genetic predisposition, presence of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or the age factor. It is characterized by hair follicle miniaturization, i.e. the hair follicles produce thinner, shorter, more brittle hair with weaker shafts. The hair growth cycle normally consists of 3 phases, i.e. growth (anagen), cessation (catagen), and rest (telogen) phases. In AA, the hair follicles are unable to reenter the anagen or growth phase again and remain in a dormant state. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre have recently discovered a potential cure for AA by establishing that hair growth can be restored by an enzyme that blocks the JAK-STAT pathway in them! (Click here to read more)

Gum disease bacteria linked to esophageal cancer risk

Esophagus is a muscular tube that is instrumental in movement of food from mouth to the stomach. It is lined with two kinds of cells and hence there are two main types of esophageal cancer- Adenocarcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma, the latter being more common in developing countries. This type of cancer progresses rapidly and has a high mortality rate. Like other cancers, the number of risk factors include chemical exposure, diet, heredity and age- however it is still difficult to diagnose this cancer early! Now, a team of researchers from University of Louisville School of Dentistry have made a surprising causal finding in which they found that a bacteria found in the mouth and that is responsible for gum disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis is present in 61% of the cancerous tissues in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). (Click here to read more)

Biohacking and the Do-It-Yourself Biology revolution

The term ‘hack’ evokes varied meanings. Some consider hacking as a sign of technical virtuosity, for some it is a ‘dirty’ word and to some it means danger and illicit activity. So what does it signify? In 1878, two years after Alexander Graham Bell had invented the telephone, a couple of teenage boys whom he had hired to run the switchboards were kicked off because they were more interested in knowing how the phone system worked rather than doing the mundane job of directing the calls to the correct place. In essence, what they were trying to do was “hack” the system to see how it worked. A hacker in the classic sense of the term is someone who has a strong interest in understanding how ‘things’ work at a fundamental level and also enjoys modifying them or tinkering with them as a hobby or for convenience purposes. “Things” may refer to anything from software, electronics, biology, cooking, gardening, work, beauty hacks or even psychology. (Click here to read more)

Study finds key abnormality affecting brain development in people with Down Syndrome

Every cell in the human body consists of a nucleus (except RBC’s and a few others) where the genetic material is stored. It carries 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which is inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. DS occurs in one out of every 691 live births and is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, affecting approximately 400,000 Americans. The underlying developmental and genetic causes of this intellectual disability in DS are not fully known and because of this lack of knowledge, no treatment is currently available. For the first time now, researchers have identified the lifelong changes in gene expression in the brains of people born with Down syndrome (DS). The findings, which appear in the journal Neuron, could lead to possible therapies for DS patients. (Click here to read more)

A Journey In To the History of Micropipettes!

Micropipettes are the lifelines of any life sciences based research laboratory. Every single experiment is invariably dependent on them. They have made life so much easier, haven’t they? Ever wondered how they came into the picture or how did a lab from the 60s used to manage without any? Let’s take this really interesting journey into their invention!. After suffering from tuberculosis as a soldier in the World War II, which probably saved his life, Heinrich Schnitger decided to study medicine, but not to practice medicine itself, but as he once said to control his health while protecting himself from incompetent doctors (One of a kind, wasn’t he!) (Click here to read more)

How a waste product of exercise protects neurons from trauma damage

Researchers led by EPFL have found how lactate, a waste product of glucose metabolism can protect neurons from damage following acute trauma such as stroke or spinal cord injury. Stroke or spinal cord injury can cause nerve cells to receive excessive stimulation, which ultimately damages and even kills them. This process is known as excitotoxicity, and it is one of the reasons why time following such trauma is critical, while it also implicated in progressive neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease.A team of scientists led by EPFL has now discovered that lactate, which is produced in the brain and even muscles after intense exercise, can be used to protect neurons against excitotoxicity. The study is published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. (Click here to read more)

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