Posts Categorized: Research News

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

Understanding money reduces worry about old age

Understanding money reduces worry about old age

People who possess a greater understanding of finance are less likely to fret about life in their twilight years. It seems financial literacy – the ability to understand how money works, enables people to accumulate more assets and income during their lifetime, and so increases confidence for the years ahead. Additionally, financial literacy seemingly engenders a greater perception for risk and enables those who have it to face off later-life’s dilemmas with ease.   These findings, from Associate Professor Yoshihiko Kadoya of Hiroshima University and Mostafa Saidur Rahim Khan of Nagoya University, stem from a study which asked people from across Japan to answer questions assessing their calculation skills, understanding… Read more

New appetite control mechanism found in brain – reason food looks even better when dieting

New appetite control mechanism found in brain – reason food looks even better when dieting

A newly discovered molecule increases appetite during fasting – and decreases it during gorging. The neuron-exciting protein, named NPGL – apparently aims to maintain body mass at a constant, come feast or famine. An evolutionary masterstroke, but not great news for those looking to trim down – or beef up for the summer. Over recent decades, our understanding of hunger has greatly increased, but this new discovery turns things on their head. Up until now, scientists knew that leptin – a hormone released by fatty tissue, reduces appetite, while ghrelin – a hormone released by stomach tissue makes us want to eat more. These hormones, in turn, activate a host… Read more

Promoting parasites: Researchers’ quest to identify freshwater fish parasites in Japan

Promoting parasites: Researchers’ quest to identify freshwater fish parasites in Japan

  Hiroshima University scientists have identified a new species of parasite infecting an invasive freshwater fish on the subtropical island of Okinawa, Japan. The results are part of a project to find parasites that have arrived in Japan with their non-native hosts and understand the role of parasites in natural ecosystems.  Tracking parasites can be one scientific method to monitor ecosystem health and attempt to conserve biodiversity. The project began in 2012 when one of the researchers was trying to fill some of his free time.  Masato Nitta, now a second-year PhD student at Hiroshima University, recognized some invasive fish in the stream that runs through the campus of the… Read more

Hopping to the Frontier: Following a frog’s evolutionary movements

Hopping to the Frontier: Following a frog’s evolutionary movements

  A common species of Asian tree frog may actually be two separate species according to new genetic data collected by an international group of scientists.  If the two groups of frogs are confirmed to be different species, assigning their scientific names may require searching historical records of foreign explorers in Japan during the 1800s. Before the frogs are officially recognized as two separate species, researchers will test if individual frogs from the two groups have unique physical or behavioral features and if they can produce healthy offspring. The project began when researchers at European universities expanded their studies on sex determination and population dynamics in amphibians to include Asian… Read more

Science of Sake in New Food Magazine

Science of Sake in New Food Magazine

In June 2016 we introduced research on the science of sake, a traditional alcoholic drink sometimes called Japanese rice wine.  A more detailed explanation of those results was included in a leading, UK-based food industry magazine called New Food, in October 2016.  You can read full issues of the magazine by visiting their website, http://www.newfoodmagazine.com/magazine/.  To read the article featuring the Hiroshima University research, click the link below to see a PDF version of the article. New Food magazine article from October 2016 featuring Hiroshima University results  

Mathematical analysis reveals architecture of the human genome

Mathematical analysis reveals architecture of the human genome

Mathematical analysis has led researchers in Japan to a formula that can describe the movement of DNA inside living human cells. Using these calculations, researchers may be able to reveal the 3D architecture of the human genome. In the future, these results may allow scientists to understand in detail how DNA is organized and accessed by essential cellular machinery. Previous techniques of studying the genome’s architecture have relied on methods that require killing the cells. This research project, involving collaborators at multiple institutes in Japan, used alternative molecular and cell biology techniques to keep the cells alive and collect data about the natural movement of DNA. DNA is often envisaged… Read more