Biomedical Laboratory Science

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gut Bacteria, Antibiotics, and the Rise of Type 1 Diabetes

Breaking research investigates antibiotic use in children and the later development of type 1 diabetes. Could antibiotics be altering the gut biome and impacting future health?

In America, more than 30 million people have a diabetes diagnosis.

Of these cases, around 5 percent are classed as type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in young adults and children, is an autoimmune disorder; it is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes.

The individual's immune system attacks and destroys specific cells within the pancreas - islet cells - that create insulin.

With the following decrease in insulin, blood glucose builds up and damages nerves and blood vessels.

The wide usage of antibiotics may be affecting children's microbiomes and future immune systems.

The Genetic Components of Rare Diseases

Techniques for determining which genes or genetic variants are truly detrimental

Last fall, the conclusion of the 1000 Genomes Project revealed 88 million variants in the human genome. What most of them mean for human health is unclear. Of the known associations between a genetic variant and disease, many are still tenuous at best. How can scientists determine which genes or genetic variants are truly detrimental?

Patients with rare diseases are often caught in the crosshairs of this uncertainty. By the time they have their genome, or portions of it, sequenced, they’ve endured countless physician visits and tests. Sequencing provides some hope for an answer, but the process of uncovering causal variants on which to build a treatment plan is still one of painstaking detective work with many false leads. Even variants that are known to be harmful show no effects in some individuals who harbor them, says Adrian Liston, a translational immunologist at the University of Leuven in Belgium who works on disease gene discovery.

CROSS COMPARE: Each model organism has its own vocabulary that researchers use to describe
an array of characteristics. The Monarch Initiative has mapped phenotype descriptions used in model
systems to human clinical features. The Initiative’s Exomiser software employs this mapping strategy
to help users better understand human genetic disorders by widening the pool of gene-function
associations. ROBINSON ET AL., GENOME RES, 24:340–48, 2014.
Source: the-scientist

Stroke Could be Better Predicted with Biomarker Discovery

Stroke is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States, affecting more than 795,000 Americans every year. But what if doctors were better able to predict who is likely to have a stroke, providing greater opportunity for prevention? Researchers have uncovered four biomarkers that could help do just that.

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers found that individuals who had higher levels of four inflammatory biomarkers in their blood were at greater risk for stroke than those with lower levels.

Study co-author Dr. Ashkan Shoamanesh, of McMaster University in Canada, and colleagues say that - while further research is needed to determine whether these biomarkers could be used in clinical practice - their findings could pave the way for better prevention and treatment of stroke.

Stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain is reduced, causing brain cell death.

Researchers have pinpointed four biomarkers that they say could help predict stroke risk.

Software for Image Analysis

Profiles of five programs for quantifying data from Westerns, dot blots, gels, and colony cultures

When you’re looking at bands on a Western blot, it’s often obvious which lane has a lot of protein or a little. But it’s not always easy to tell with the naked eye precisely how two bands compare. Plus, looks can deceive. For example, if a lane widened or a band developed a “smile” as the gel ran, a protein-heavy band might look faint.

That’s where imaging software can help, by putting numbers on the density of a band. Just draw a box around your band and the program will tell you the pixel density. Some programs do much more, such as quantifying the number of colonies on a petri dish or the intensity of fluorescent signals in a 96-well plate. “It’s just an improvement on the eyeball,” says Jeff Silk, president of Silk Scientific, in Orem, Utah, which sells gel analysis software.

Researchers have plenty of options for software to bolster their own vision, ranging from freebies that work with any type of image to expensive programs or ones that are specific to their imaging machinery. Unlike Photoshop or other general image-editing software, these dedicated programs can often automatically detect where each lane starts and ends or sum up multiple bands. They can also winnow away background signal, which arises from a variety of causes such as nonspecific binding of antibodies to the entire blot or overexposure when imaging.

Source: the-scientist

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Test That Differentiates Between Bacterial, Viral Infections in Development

An international team of scientists - led by researchers at Imperial College London - has discovered two genes that are switched on when a child has a bacterial infection. This revelation could allow the team to develop a rapid test for doctors' surgeries and hospitals to identify infections such as meningitis, and assist with the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

The study, published in JAMA, found that the two genes, called IFI44L and FAM89A, only shifted to an "on" state when a bacterial infection was present. This knowledge could enable doctors to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections, and identify early cases of severe infections that could be deadly.

While viral infections are more common than bacterial infections, bacterial infections are often more serious.

Meningitis, septicemia, and pneumonia all occur as a result of a bacterial infection. Differentiating between these potentially life-threatening conditions and viruses can allow health providers to provide quicker, more accurate treatments.

Doctors usually have to send samples away to diagnose bacterial or viral infections. The new test
could provide a rapid way for doctors to test patients immediately.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Here's How Often Your Body Parts Get Replaced in Your Lifetime

Chances are good you think you're more or less the same person you were last week. But the lining of your gut is totally different, and the hairs on your head are 2.5 millimeters longer.

The human body's ability to replace worn out cells with shiny new ones is key to the long lifespans we're so used to. There are a couple things we keep all our lives, like the visual cortex, but almost everything wears out and gets replaced, at least for part of our lives. And some things, like our hair and nails, just grow and grow and grow.

We've gathered together scientists' estimates scientists of how quickly we go through different types of cells. Many of these ages have been established using a technique called bomb-pulse dating, which uses the traces of atomic radiation we each carry to determine how old cells are.

TI_GRAPHICS_Cellular Ages

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gallstones Raise the Risk of Heart Disease by a Fifth

A new meta-analysis, using data from hundreds of thousands of individuals, finds that gallbladder disease and heart disease are more intertwined than previously thought. The reasons behind this connection are, as yet, unclear.

Gallstones are small, hard deposits that form in the gallbladder - an organ that sits below the liver.

In wealthier countries, they are a common occurrence, affecting 10-15 percent of all adults.

Gallstones are thought to be produced due to an imbalance in the makeup of bile - a digestive aid produced by the liver and concentrated in the gallbladder.

Although generally small and often symptomless, over the years, gallstones can grow to the size of pebbles.

Gallstones' links to heart disease run deeper than previously thought.
Source: medicalnewstoday

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