Posts Categorized: Research News

Recently discovered brain chemical ‘NPGL’ controls appetite and body fat composition

Recently discovered brain chemical ‘NPGL’ controls appetite and body fat composition

Beneficial for our ancestors; potential cause of obesity pandemic NPGL, a recently discovered protein involved in brain signalling, has been found to increase fat storage by the body – even when on a low-calorie diet. In addition, NPGL was shown to increase appetite in response to high caloric food intake, suggesting that perhaps we shouldn’t feel so guilty about gorging on junk food from time to time. This latest discovery by Hiroshima University’s Professor Kazuyoshi Ukena, along with collaborators from Japan and UC Berkeley, adds to our understanding of how the brain regulates energy usage and feeding habits – the control mechanisms of which are not yet fully understood.  … Read more

Latency of seizures determined by diet

Latency of seizures determined by diet

Estrogen-mediated brain protection directly linked to intake of fatty acids found in oils   Scientists are increasingly appreciating estrogen’s role in brain health. Now for the first time, production of estrogen in the brain has been directly linked to the presence of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is found in abundance in fish oils and is also synthesized from alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in some vegetable-based oils. The latest research from Hiroshima University connecting DHA synthesis to estrogen production, and consequentially brain health, backs up further the old adage that a daily intake of fish oil is good for you.   Assistant Professor Yasuhiro Ishihara, from HU’s Laboratory… Read more

How cells control nuclear size becomes clearer

How cells control nuclear size becomes clearer

Could lead to greater understanding of cancer and aging   Over a century since scientists first observed that cells and their nucleus grow at a constant ratio to each other, we are now closer to finding out how. The cell cycle, the process of cell growth and division that sees “daughter” cells enlarge before dividing again, includes the nucleus – the cell’s condensed genetic control center – simultaneously dividing and enlarging hand-in-hand with their cell. The mechanism involved in this in-tandem augmentation has proven one of the great-unanswered questions of cell biology; the bigger the cell the bigger the nucleus, but what controls this proportional enlargement?   Assistant Professor Kazunori… Read more

Highly safe biocontainment strategy hopes to encourage greater use of GMOs

Highly safe biocontainment strategy hopes to encourage greater use of GMOs

Hiroshima University researchers believe their simple phosphite-based control method will convince legislators to get with the times Use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – microorganisms not found in the natural world but developed in labs for their beneficial characteristics – is a contentious issue. For while GMOs could greatly improve society in numerous ways – e.g. attacking diseased cells, digesting pollution, or increasing food production – their use is heavily restricted by decades-old legislation, for fear of what might happen should they escape into the environment. For researchers, aware of their potential, it is important to develop safety strategies to convince legislators they are safe for release. For this reason… Read more

World first: Stem cell treatment for lethal STAT1 gene mutation — shows ‘disappointing’ but promising results

World first: Stem cell treatment for lethal STAT1 gene mutation — shows ‘disappointing’ but promising results

The first ever study assessing how patients with “gain of function” mutation of the STAT1 gene respond to stem cell transplantation has taken place. It involved 15 young patients, from nine different countries, each suffering a range of complications caused by the gene’s mutation. Of these, only six survived a regime of stem cell transplantation – with five completely cured and disease free by the study’s conclusion.   The study was carried out by Dr. Satoshi Okada (Hiroshima University), Professor Jennifer Leiding (University of Florida), Professor Tomohiro Morio (Tokyo Medical and Dental University), and Professor Troy Torgerson  (University of Washington). Dr. Okada, who first discovered the STAT1 gain of function… Read more

Professor leads World Health Organization survey in Cambodia

Professor leads World Health Organization survey in Cambodia

HU’s Professor Junko Tanaka is leading the first nationwide survey of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C prevalence in Cambodia. She was asked to carry out the survey on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) who hope to eradicate the diseases globally by 2030. With the survey work on the ground almost complete, it is hoped that the first results will be available by the end of the year.   Hep B and Hep C are two of the world’s biggest killers. Infection during childhood of Hep B often results in reoccurring infection – increasing the chance of liver cancer and mortality. Professor Tanaka explains that the single best way… Read more

Scientists aim to reduce animals killed in drug testing

Scientists aim to reduce animals killed in drug testing

That’s the hope of Associate Professor Noriyuki Yanaka and researchers at Hiroshima University who have developed a non-invasive way to assess the anti-inflammatory properties of fortified health foods and medications. The team from HU’s Graduate School of Biosphere Science believe their technique for examining fatty tissues will greatly reduce the numbers of lab mice sacrificed and could revolutionize medicinal drug testing. With obesity levels soaring globally, so too are associated metabolic disorders including type-2-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers. Over-nutrition strains the body and can physically damage the bodies naturally occurring fatty tissue. The body responds to this with an influx of macrophage white-blood cells – disease-fighting cells that physically engulf… Read more

Lasers, key to unlocking memory

Lasers, key to unlocking memory

New method uses near infrared light to shed light on memory loss conditions Researchers at Hiroshima University have developed a new laser activated technique for bridging missing links in memory flow. The brainchild of Professor Manabu Abe of Hiroshima Universities Department of Chemistry, it aims to open up the mysterious world of neurotransmission – increasing our understanding of the mechanisms involved and potentially leading to treatments for memory loss conditions.   Gaps in our understanding Memory involves the successful flow of neurotransmitters from neuron to neuron. When memory breaks down, we know there must be a gap in this flow but we currently don’t know where to start in terms… Read more

“Smart” genetic library – making disease diagnosis much easier

“Smart” genetic library – making disease diagnosis much easier

Hiroshima University finds way to determine disease-causing mutations Researchers at Hiroshima University have developed a smart genetic reference library for locating and weeding out disease-causing mutations in populations. The technique and database, developed by Dr. Satoshi Okada, of HU’s Graduate School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, has successfully estimated naturally occurring rare-variants in the STAT1 gene – and determined the diseases that would result. Using alanine scanning – a method for assessing the functional potential of genes, this study, the first of its kind, should assist doctors in diagnosing primary-immunodeficiency in patients.   STAT1 The STAT1 gene plays an important function in host immunity, through its role as a mediator… Read more

Gluten free rice-flour bread could revolutionize global bread production

Gluten free rice-flour bread could revolutionize global bread production

100% natural, 100% gluten free – get ready for the battle of the grain.  Hiroshima University researchers have resolved the science behind a new bread-baking recipe. The method for making gluten-free bread, developed by Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, NARO – uses rice-flour to produce bread with a similar consistency and volume to traditional wheat-flour loaves. While rice-flour breads are not new, up until now their consistencies have either lacked the familiar bubble structure and volume found in wheat-flour bread – or this bubble structure has been artificially induced through additives. This new rice bread is 100% natural, and importantly has a similar consistency expected by consumers used… Read more