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Entries in University of California (3)

Thursday
Jun072012

Skin Cells May Offer New Hope for Alzheimer's

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A team of scientists has discovered what could be a novel source for researching and potentially treating Alzheimer's disease and other conditions involving the destruction of brain cells.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco-affiliated Gladstone Institutes converted skin cells from mice and humans into brain stem cells with the use of a protein called Sox2. Using only this protein to transform the skin cells into neuron stem cells is unusual. Normally, the conversion process is much more complex.

Neuron stem cells are cells that can be changed into the nerve cells and the cells that support them in the brain. The neuronal stem cells formed in this study are unique because they were prepared in a way the prevented them from becoming tumors, which is what often happens as stem cells differentiate, explained David Teplow, professor of neurology and director of the Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA. Teplow was not involved in the study, but is familiar with this type of research.

These immature brain stem cells then developed into different types of functional brain cells, which were eventually able to be integrated into mouse brains.

The idea that these cells can become fully functioning brain tissue is significant, the authors explained, because by becoming part of the brain, the cells can replace the cells killed off by the disease process.

These cells also offer a potential way to learn about the mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disorders as well as lead to research into new drugs, explained Dr. Yadong Huang, a study co-author and associate investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease.

"The next step is, we are trying to get these skin cells from patients with this disease so we can reprogram and convert the diseased cells into these neuron stem cells and develop those into neurons in culture," he said.

After that, researchers can study how these diseases develop based on what's observed in culture dishes.

"It's really hard to get neurons from human brains for research, and now, we can generate them," Huang said. "Secondly, we can do some drug screening. If we have patient-specific neurons in culture, we can test some or develop some drugs to see how they work on these neurons."

These neuron stem cells, Huang explained, also don't develop into tumors as other types of stem cells are prone to do.

"This is a significant step forward," said Teplow. "Thus far, the challenges with stem cells have been to make the right cells and also be able to make a cell preparation where the risk of having cells that can form tumors is low." Teplow was not involved in Huang's study.

There are still a number of steps this area of research must undergo determining whether these cells can really replace lost brain cells, but experts are encouraged.

"One of the target areas of the brain in Alzheimer's disease is the hippocampus, where there is tremendous loss of neurons, and there is also loss in the outer part of the brain as it progresses," Teplow said. "If we can introduce these cells into these two areas to replenish cells that are lost, we can theoretically reverse the disease."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar212012

Alternative Medicine May Offer Relief to Chronic Sinusitis Sufferers: Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BERKELEY, Calif.) -- A recent study conducted at the University of California suggests that alternative medicine, used in conjunction with Western treatment may provide relief for patients who suffer from chronic sinusitis, Health Day reports.

The study was relatively small and focused on 11 individuals -- eight men and three women -- aged 32 to 70 who suffer from chronic rhinosinusitis, a condition that causes swollen and inflamed sinuses, facial pain, headaches and impaired breathing.

Dr. Jeffrey Suh, an author of the study, said that incorporating a holistic approach, such as exercise, better sleep, an improved diet, acupuncture and self-administered acupressure along with other traditional treatments can be very beneficial.

Almost 30 million American adults were diagnosed with chronic rhinosinusitis in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study was published in the March edition of the Archives of Otolaryngology.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec222010

Lousy Mood? It Will Improve in a Couple of Decades

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BERKELEY, Calif.) -- Tired of hearing your brain is going to be mush by the time you're old and grey? Well, here's some good news. Your emotions, or how you deal with them, will get better. At least some of them.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have completed a series of studies showing that as we age, we become better at seeing the good things in life and managing our emotions to make the best of a bad scene.

But seniors tend to become sadder and more empathetic and compassionate, possibly because they have faced so many personal and irreversible losses.

"Lots of things about our lives develop early on, and then they decline with age, like our physical agility and our ability to think quickly," psychologist Robert Levenson, senior author of the studies, said in a telephone interview. "But we don't get bad at emotions. We actually start to develop refinements as we get older. Some emotions kind of stay the same, they were designed for the long run, but there are other things that we actually get better at."

The Berkeley work is in line with a hot button issue in the often fuzzy field of psychology and human behavior. It's called emotional intelligence, frequently defined as "the ability to perceive, regulate and communicate emotions -- to understand emotions in ourselves and others."

The Berkeley team produced several studies this year zeroing in on how our emotional intelligence evolves as we age. In two large studies, the psychologists tested 366 people in three age groups, from the 20s to the 40s and 60s. They were tested for how they responded emotionally to three film clips showing neutral, sad and disgusting scenes.

The scientists wanted to determine how good their subjects were at detaching themselves from the emotional nature of the clips, or whether they could see something good even in sad scenes, as well as suppress their disgust at a woman eating part of a horse not normally consumed in the human diet.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio