Entries in Researchers (4)


Study: Extreme Thinness is Genetic

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Extreme thinness is genetic, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Imperial College London and Switzerland's University of Lausanne found that a group of “skinny genes”—28 genes to be exact— form part of chromosome 16.

The same research team made a discovery in 2010 that people without these genes are 43 times more likely to be morbidly obese.

DNA of over 95,000 people were studied and scientists found that genetic duplication affected one in 2000—making men 23 times and women five times more likely to be underweight.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers Develop Particle to Attack Superbugs

Chad Baker/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- IBM researchers in San Jose are developing a small solution for a big medical problem. They are cooking up a nano particle to attack superbugs like MRSA which are resistant to traditional antibiotics.

MRSA is a growing strain of drug-resistant bacteria which kills an estimated 19,000 Americans every year. The big breakthrough is 50,000 times smaller than the thickness of human hair.  This happens to be a new class of antimicrobials that are designed to  fight pathogens and infectious disease. The researchers working with these nano particles jokingly refer to them as ninja particles because their attack is fast, effective and precious. The particles have an electromagnetic quality, searching out the cell walls of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Lab tests indicate the nano particles destroy MRSA without affecting healthy or red blood cells.

IBM has partnered with scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore. The hope is that a name known for computer technology can find it's niche in modern medicine. Researchers say they are now talking with pharmaceutical companies. The next goal is to take their science from the lab to human testing.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers Discover Biological Pathway Linked to PTSD

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Although most people exposed to the horrors of war, trauma or abuse recover emotionally, up to 20 percent develop post-traumatic stress disorder -- a debilitating psychiatric disorder marked by flashbacks and nightmares.

The biological basis for PTSD remains unclear. But a new study offers clues about why some people rebound from horrific events while others relive them, and may lead to predictive tests and even treatments.

To tease out factors that contribute to PTSD risk and resilience, researchers led by Dr. Kerry Ressler, associate professor at Emory University in Atlanta, studied a group of 64 highly traumatized civilians (not veterans) treated at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, some of whom developed PTSD.

"In a lot of very impoverished, high-violence neighborhoods, we see high rates of trauma, and rates of PTSD can be as high as in veterans," Ressler said.

Based on previous evidence that the hormone-like molecule known as PACAP was important in the brain's response to stress, the researchers measured PACAP levels in the blood of their subjects. To their surprise, PACAP levels were higher in people with PTSD, and correlated with the severity of symptoms. But the boost was only significant in women.

"When we started we didn't have any expectation that there was going to have a gender specificity to it," Kessler said. "We were just looking and found a smaller effect, and then we split it by gender and found that the whole effect was in females."

The team repeated the experiment in a group of 74 traumatized women. Again, PACAP levels correlated with PTSD symptoms -- especially those considered essential for a diagnosis of PTSD: intrusive flashbacks, avoidance of trauma reminders and increased startle response.

"These data may begin to explain sex-specific differences in PTSD diagnosis, symptoms and fear physiology," Ressler and his colleagues wrote in their report, published Wednesday in Nature.

Women are known to have a higher risk of a range of anxiety disorders. But the finding of elevated PACAP in women with PTSD did more than offer a biological explanation for the gender difference; it pointed to a novel biological pathway underlying the brain's response to fear.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers: Heavy People More Sensitive to Food Smells

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- British researchers have discovered that the heavier a person, the more sensitive they are to the smell of food.

Scientists at the University of Portsmouth say the relationship between weight and food smelling sensitivity might help explain why some are encouraged to eat more.

“It could be that for those people with a propensity to sort of gain weight, it's actually helping them to sustain food intake perhaps a little bit like an appetizer effect,” said team leader Dr. Lorenzo Stafford.

Stafford hopes his research may lead to new ways of thinking about and treating people with weight problems, and it may help to explain why some struggle to stay slim.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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