Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Did genetic links to modern maladies provide ancient benefits?

From the 28 January 2015 press release at University at Buffalo

study finds that humanity’s early ancestors had genetic variations associated with modern disease, and now the question is why

The discovery highlights the importance of balancing selection, a poorly understood evolutionary dance in which dueling forces drive species to retain a diverse set of genetic features.
A hyper-realistic recreation of a Neanderthal.

Credit: From Shaping Humanity, by John Gurche. Image may be republished ONLY in conjunction with stories about the research outlined in this press release.

Caption: A reconstruction ofHomo neanderthalensis, as created by artist John Gurche for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. A study led by University at Buffalo biologist Omer Gokcumen compared the DNA of modern humans to Neanderthals and Denisovans (another ancient hominin). The research found that genetic deletions associated with various aspects of human health, including psoriasis and Crohn’s disease, likely originated in a common ancestor of the three species.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition, can cause rashes that itch and sting.

So why would a genetic susceptibility to this and other ailments persist for hundreds of thousands of years, afflicting our ancient ancestors, and us?

That’s the question scientists are asking after discovering that genetic variations associated with some modern maladies are extremely old, predating the evolution of Neanderthals, Denisovans (another ancient hominin) and contemporary humans.

The study was published this month in Molecular Biology and Evolution.

“Our research shows that some genetic features associated with psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and other aspects of human health are ancient,” says senior scientist Omer Gokcumen, PhD, a University at Buffalo assistant professor of biological sciences.

Some of humanity’s early ancestors had the telltale features, called deletions, while others did not, mirroring the variation in modern humans, the scientists found. This genetic diversity may have arisen as far back as a million or more years ago in a common ancestor of humans, Denisovans and Neanderthals.

The discovery highlights the importance of balancing selection, a poorly understood evolutionary dance in which dueling forces drive species to retain a diverse set of genetic features.

The research raises the possibility that the diseases in question — or at least a genetic susceptibility to them — “may have been with us for a long time,” Gokcumen says.

Why this would happen is an open question, but one possibility is that certain traits that made humans susceptible to Crohn’s and psoriasis may also have afforded an evolutionary benefit to our ancient ancesto

– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/01/034.html#sthash.latn4ejg.dpuf

January 29, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging – University at Buffalo

One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging – University at Buffalo.

Tomorrow’s doctors could use this technology to obtain a super-clear picture of patients’ organs and tissues By Charlotte Hsu

Release Date: January 20, 2015

University at Buffalo researchers and colleagues have designed a nanoparticle detectable by six medical imaging techniques. This illustration depicts the particles as they are struck by beams of energy and emit signals that can be detected by the six methods: CT and PET scanning, along with photoacoustic, fluorescence, upconversion and Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

This transmission electron microscopy image shows the nanoparticles, which consist of a core that glows blue when struck by near-infrared light, and an outer fabric of porphyrin-phospholipids (PoP) that wraps around the core. Credit: Jonathan Lovell

“A patient could theoretically go in for one scan with one machine instead of multiple scans with multiple machines.”
Jonathan Lovell, assistant professor of biomedical engineering
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s technology so advanced that the machine capable of using it doesn’t yet exist.

Using two biocompatible parts, University at Buffalo researchers and their colleagues have designed a nanoparticle that can be detected by six medical imaging techniques:

  • computed tomography (CT) scanning;
  • positron emission tomography (PET) scanning;
  • photoacoustic imaging;
  • fluorescence imaging;
  • upconversion imaging; and
  • Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

In the future, patients could receive a single injection of the nanoparticles to have all six types of imaging done.

This kind of “hypermodal” imaging — if it came to fruition — would give doctors a much clearer picture of patients’ organs and tissues than a single method alone could provide. It could help medical professionals diagnose disease and identify the boundaries of tumors.

“This nanoparticle may open the door for new ‘hypermodal’ imaging systems that allow a lot of new information to be obtained using just one contrast agent,” says researcher Jonathan Lovell, PhD, UB assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “Once such systems are developed, a patient could theoretically go in for one scan with one machine instead of multiple scans with multiple machines.”

When Lovell and colleagues used the nanoparticles to examine the lymph nodes of mice, they found that CT and PET scans provided the deepest tissue penetration, while the photoacoustic imaging showed blood vessel details that the first two techniques missed.

Differences like these mean doctors can get a much clearer picture of what’s happening inside the body by merging the results of multiple modalities.

– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/01/015.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Science360NewsServiceComplete+%28Science360+News+Service%3A+Complete%29&utm_content=Netvibes#sthash.uBpXDk8L.dpuf

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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