Posts Tagged: molecular biology

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

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

Science of Sake

Science of Sake

Mutation threatening high-quality brewing yeast identified Biologists at Hiroshima University, located in the historic sake brewing town of Saijo, have identified the genetic mutation that could ruin the brew of one particular type of yeast responsible for high-quality sake.  The research was part of an academic-government-industry collaboration involving the National Institute of Brewing (Japan), the Asahi Sake Brewing Company (Niigata), the Brewing Society of Japan, The University of Tokyo, The University of Pennsylvania, and Iwate University. Two types of sake considered especially high-quality are called daiginjo-shu and junmai-daiginjo-shu and are often made using the yeast K1801.  Different brewing yeasts, whether for beer, wine, or sake, create different tastes in the… Read more

Untwist scoliosis by clipping wings of an overactive ladybird

Untwist scoliosis by clipping wings of an overactive ladybird

People with scoliosis, a twisting of the spine that can occur as a birth defect or more commonly starts during the teen years, are now closer to a genetic explanation for their condition. An overactive gene, called ladybird homeobox 1 (LBX1), is the start of a genetic chain reaction that causes the spine to grow abnormally. The report from collaborations at Hiroshima University, Kyoto University, RIKEN, and Kanazawa University is the first to demonstrate the functional association of scoliosis with LBX1. “A genetic test called the ScoliScore AIS Prognostic Test already exists for adolescents recently diagnosed with scoliosis to predict if the curve of the spine will get worse, which… Read more

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

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 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