Posts Tagged: medicine

Genetic cause of neurological disease identified

Genetic cause of neurological disease identified

Using the genetic information of two different families with three generations of disease, researchers have identified a new mutation responsible for a degenerative and ultimately fatal movement disorder. Through induced pluripotent stem cell techniques, researchers also grew neurons from one patient in the laboratory to be used in future experiments. Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) is a genetic disease that causes wasting away of the cerebellum, the portion of the brain responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement, like walking, speaking, and even the direction of our eyes. Currently, SCA has no cure or treatment. The mutations responsible for about 30 percent of cases are still unidentified. Two different families with SCA sought… Read more

The tortoise and the hare of spinal neural circuits

The tortoise and the hare of spinal neural circuits

After an injury, practicing movements at different speeds improves certain nerve functions Changes in one circuit of nerves, but not another, in the spinal cord depend on how quickly muscles must move to complete a task, according to results from the Human Motor Control Laboratory of Professor Kozo Funase, PhD, at Hiroshima University.  The results could influence physical therapy routines for patients struggling to control their bodies after a stroke or spine injury. Multiple different types of circuits of nerves control the communication between motor and sensory nerves in the spine.  One, called presynaptic inhibition, works like a gate to control incoming sensory information and prevents muscle spasms.  Another, called… Read more

New targets for reducing nerve pain identified

New targets for reducing nerve pain identified

A specific molecule involved in maintaining pain after a nerve injury has been identified and blocked in mice by Hiroshima University researchers.  These results reveal a promising therapeutic strategy for treating neuropathic pain. Mice with an injury to their sciatic nerve showed less pain after multiple injections of a drug that blocks the activity of a molecule called high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1).  Researchers also discovered that a single dose of a drug to block the activity of a different molecule, called matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9), could also alleviate pain from the injury. The chemical pathways that these drugs use to inhibit HMGB1 or MMP-9 are different from common pain relievers, like… Read more

Pathway to better metabolism discovered in fat cells

Pathway to better metabolism discovered in fat cells

Control over obesity and diabetes may be one step closer thanks to a Hiroshima University study in fat tissue. The research team of Professor Kazunori Imaizumi, PhD, at Hiroshima University has mapped the activation pathway for a protein responsible for burning excess energy in the body. If the pathway can be confirmed in living animal studies, control of this pathway may lead to treatments for obesity and related metabolic diseases.  Researchers studied mouse fat cells growing in a dish using a combination of chemical treatments and protein measurements. Part of the pathway involves a protein found only in brown fat cells.  Fat cells are classified as either brown or white.  White… Read more

New electronic stethoscope and computer program diagnose lung conditions

New electronic stethoscope and computer program diagnose lung conditions

The classic stethoscope has entered the digital age. Medical researchers have created a computer program that connects to an electronic stethoscope to classify lung sounds into five common diagnostic categories. The Respiratory Sounds Visualizer computer program and the new electronic stethoscope with a high sensitivity for lung sounds were developed by a team of three physician researchers at Hiroshima University and Fukushima Medical University, in collaboration with the industrial company Pioneer Corporation. Recorded lung sounds of 878 patients were classified by respiratory specialist doctors.  The researchers then turned these diagnoses into templates to create a mathematical formula that evaluates the length, frequency, and intensity of lung sounds.  The computer program… Read more

New genetic cause of gastric and prostate cancer identified

New genetic cause of gastric and prostate cancer identified

Researchers at Hiroshima University have opened the door to finding a new class of cancer-causing genetic variations. Using a combination of pre-existing electronic databases and their own experiments with cancerous and healthy cells, researchers linked stomach (gastric) and prostate cancer to a specific type of DNA called transcribed-ultraconserved regions (T-UCRs).  This approach will likely reveal more links between T-UCRs and other cancers in the future. Modern research studies, like this one led by Professor Wataru Yasui, the Dean of the Institute and Graduate School of Biomedical & Health Sciences at Hiroshima University, are enhancing traditional understandings of cancer genetics. The human genome is made of lots of DNA, but only… Read more

A Japanese multicenter clinical study on the prevention of stroke recurrence by statin

A Japanese multicenter clinical study on the prevention of stroke recurrence by statin

The results of “The Japan Statin Treatment Against Recurrent Stroke (J-STARS)” study led to the hypothesis that statins reduce the occurrence of strokes due to larger artery atherosclerosis. J-STARS examined whether pravastatin, a traditional statin widely used in the clinic, reduces the recurrence of strokes and respective subtypes in non-cardioembolic stroke patients. The study also examined whether the use of pravastatin favorably impacts the occurrence of other vascular events, and stroke-related functional outcomes were explored. Statins are widely used to reduce cholesterol levels in blood. High cholesterol levels are associated with cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, so statins are thought to be beneficial for stroke prevention. However, these findings are… Read more

Studying cancer DNA in blood may help personalize treatment in liver cancer

Studying cancer DNA in blood may help personalize treatment in liver cancer

  Fragments of cancer DNA circulating in a patient’s bloodstream could help doctors deliver more personalized treatment for liver cancer, Japanese researchers report. The new research may help address a particular challenge posed by liver cancers, which can be difficult to analyze safely. One serious risk of existing biopsy methods is that doctors who want to obtain a tumor sample for analysis might cause the cancer to spread into the space around organs. “Doctors need non-invasive methods that will allow them to safely study cancer progression and characterize the genomic features of a patient’s tumor,” said Professor Kazuaki Chayama, a principal investigator in this study. “Testing for these circulating DNA… Read more

Sendai virus defends against a threat

Sendai virus defends against a threat

A research group at Hiroshima University demonstrated the mechanism by which the Sendai virus (SeV) escapes the host immune system. The researchers examined the crystal structure of the complex of SeV C protein and transcription factor STAT1, and found that SeV C protein inhibits the signal transduction pathway of interferon gamma. This discovery will allow the design of drugs that can be used to overcome recover from damage caused by interferon, wherein the drug acts by inhibiting the binding between C protein and STAT1. Researchers are now trying to screen low molecular weight compounds for developing new anti-viral drugs. SeV, a prototype of the paramyxovirus, causes respiratory diseases in rodents…. Read more

A study of antidepressants reveals how treatment helps depression management

A study of antidepressants reveals how treatment helps depression management

  Researchers in Japan have shown that several different classes of antidepressants increase early growth responses in astrocytes, star-shaped glial cells, which could help develop new treatments. Amitriptyline is a prototypical antidepressant that is currently used worldwide. Generally, effects of antidepressants such as amitriptyline in depressive patients become evident after treatment for a few weeks. However, no study has investigated the reasons why effects are not immediately evident. Previous studies have shown that amitriptyline increases the mRNA expression of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) in rat astrocytes, not neurons, slowly over 24 hours. However, the cellular mechanism that leads to the expression of FGF2 following amitriptyline treatment remains unclear. In… Read more