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UCSF’s Elizabeth Blackburn Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

5 Oct

UCSF’s Elizabeth Blackburn joins an elite group of women scientists that has received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Her award brings the number of female recipients to 10, out of a total of 195 scientists who have received the award since it was established in 1901. Watch the video of today’s Nobel press conference:

links for 2009-02-24

24 Feb

New Theory About the Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease – a Prenatal Link?

22 Feb

pj-ao487_resear_g_20090218123227New research at Genentech provides a provocative theory about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and   suggests potential new targets for therapies to treat it, reports Ron Winslow in the February 19 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

The prevailing view about what causes Alzheimer’s disease is that  deposits called beta amyloid accumulate in the brain, destroying nerve cells and ultimately, the patient’s memory.  Now, new research shows there’s a very different way of looking at the disease.

The Genentech/Salk Institute team of researchers propose that a normal process in which excess nerve cells and nerve fibers are pruned from the brain during prenatal development is somehow reactivated in the adult brain and “hijacked” to cause the death of such cells in Alzheimer’s patients, writes Winslow.

According to Marc Tessier-Lavigne, executive vice president, research drug discovery at Genentech, the new findings offer evidence that “Alzheimer’s is not just bad luck, but rather it is the activation of a pathway that is there for development purposes.”

Genentech has identified potential drug candidates based on the findings and says that it may take many years for any potential treatment to be developed.

The research was published Thursday in the journal Nature.

NOTE: The photos of normal and dead nerve fibers above are from Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.

links for 2009-02-17

17 Feb

links for 2009-02-08

8 Feb

MRI Study Predicts Progression of Alzheimer’s

17 Jan

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Davis have launched a study using MRI scans to detect the onset of Alzheimer’s before patients show the symptoms of cognitive decline. The study also looks at whether MRI scan analysis can be used to predict the likely rate at which Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains will deteriorate, and how quickly they will lose their ability to think and reason. According to the researcher, Dr. Owen Carmicheal:

We hope that using this technique we can provide a method for differentiating people who will experience healthy cognitive aging from those who will experience cognitive decline due to diseases like Alzheimer’s. For those who will experience cognitive decline, we hope to predict its rate of progression.

To learn more, here’s the press release.

Source: UC Davis Press Office