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The researchers from Turku Centre for Biotechnology discovered an unexpected link between cancer and autism

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Researchers from Turku Centre for Biotechnology have observed that a protein called SHANK prevents the spread of breast cancer cells to the surrounding tissue. The SHANK protein has been previously studied only in the central nervous system, and it is known that its absence or gene mutations are related to autism. The research was conducted at Turku Centre for Biotechnology. The novel discovery impinges upon the protein called SHANK which has been intensively studied in several processes in central nervous system and gene mutations in SHANK are linked to autism. The same factors can regulate cell shape and adhesion in very different cell types. Our results revealed that gene mutations in SHANK, found in autistic patients, impair SHANKs ability to prevent the adherence of both neurons and breast cancer cells. This once again demonstrates the power of basic research in facilitating our understanding of several human diseases, rejoices Academy professor Johanna Ivaska.

 

Social phobia: indication of a genetic cause

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People with social anxiety avoid situations in which they are exposed to judgment by others. Those affected also lead a withdrawn life and maintain contact above all on the Internet. Around one in ten people is affected by this anxiety disorder over the course of their life. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now found evidence for a gene that is believed to be linked to the illness. It encodes a serotonin transporter in the brain. Interestingly, this messenger suppresses feelings of anxiety and depressiveness. The scientists want to investigate this cause more precisely and are thus looking for more study participants. The results will be published in the journal “Psychiatric Genetics”.

 

High-grade Dysplasia in Anogenital Warts of HIV-Positive Men

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Do anogenital lesions of HIV-positive men that clinically appear as benign warts contain areas of dysplasia, and if so, what are the virological characteristics of those lesions? Findings  In this case series, a high proportion of anogenital warts contained areas of high-grade and low-grade dysplasia or even invasive cancer. Some of these lesions contained only low-risk-HPV types. Dysplasia was absent in all lesions of immunocompetent control patients.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced anogenital lesions are very frequent in men who have sex with men (MSM) who are HIV-positive (HIV+). Anogenital warts (AGWs) are considered benign lesions caused by low-risk HPV-types, whereas anogenital dysplasias are potential cancer precursors associated with high-risk HPV-types. Both types of lesions can usually be distinguished clinically.

 

New Marine Science iBook “Harmful Algal Blooms” to b e Launched to Boost Ocean Literacy in European Schools

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A marine science iBook entitled “Harmful Algal Blooms” has been developed as part of NUI Galway’s contribution to an EU-funded European research project Sea Change. The project aims to raise European citizens’ awareness of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean, or “Ocean Literacy”. The iBook will be launched by Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research on Monday 13 March at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

 

BBrain Awareness Week 2017 ­

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13 March 2017 — 18 March 2017

 

Location: Trieste - Gorizia, Italy

Venue: Various

Ticket prices: Free

Artificial intelligence, language, time perception, nutrition, vaccines: these are some of the themes that will be covered from the 13th to 18th of March in Trieste - and for the first time also in Gorizia - for Brain Awareness Week. The local initiative is organised by the Interdisciplinary Laboratory of SISSA in Trieste and the BRAIN Centre of the Department of Life Sciences of the University of Trieste, in collaboration with the Science Centre Immaginario Scientifico and the Municipality of Trieste. Performances, panel discussions, educational laboratories, workshops, scientific cafés, conferences, visits to laboratories: a broad range of appointments for everyone and for all ages.

 

Petrol and jet fuel alternatives are produced by yeast cell factories

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The structure of the FAS enzyme (left), and foreign enzymes embedded into the chambers of FAS (right).


There have been many attempts to modify this stubborn little enzyme, but none have succeeded. Until now. With new findings from Chalmers University of Technology, the fatty acid synthase (FAS) enzyme has started to produce sustainable chemicals for biofuels. The results were recently published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. We are in great need of sustainable and clean alternatives to oil-derived products. One of the choices at hand is to produce chemicals and biofuels from sustainable biomass. To do this, a research team at Chalmers University of Technology is hard at work trying to design yeast cell factories that can actually produce the chemicals we need in a sustainable way. The group has now had a major breakthrough, having developed a novel method of modifying the fatty acid synthase (FAS) enzyme so that it can create new products.

 

A backup copy in the central brain: How fruit flies form orientation memory

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Gaseous neurotransmitters play an important role in the short-term orientation memory of Drosophila / Scientist decode biochemical processes . Insects have a spatial orientation memory that helps them remember the location of their destination if they are briefly deflected from their route. Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have examined how this working memory functions on the biochemical level in the case of Drosophila melanogaster. They have identified two gaseous messenger substances that play an important role in signal transmission in the nerve cells, i.e., nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide. The short-term working memory is stored with the help of the messenger substances in a small group of ring-shaped neurons in the ellipsoid body in the central brain of Drosophila.

 

Hormonal contraceptives and hair dyes increase breast cancer risk

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In her recent doctoral dissertation, researcher Sanna Heikkinen from the University of Helsinki and Finnish Cancer Registry evaluates the contribution of the use of hormonal contraceptives and hair dyes to the spectrum of breast cancer risk factors. The analysis included self-reported survey data from 8000 breast cancer patients and 20 000 controls from Finland. According to the results, use of hormonal intrauterine device was associated with 52% increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women, when compared to women who had used copper intrauterine device.

 

Measurements by school pupils paved way for key research findings

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With their measurements and samples, nearly 3,500 schoolchildren have assisted a research study on lakes and global warming, now published in the journal Scientific Reports. The results show that water temperatures generally remain low despite the air becoming warmer. This helps to curb the emission of greenhouse gases. How often is water warmer than air? Gesa Weyhenmeyer, Professor of Aquatic Biogeochemistry at Uppsala University, asked herself this question when she analysed thousands of measurements. They were taken in late summer and autumn 2016 by compulsory school pupils at senior level (years 7–9) from 66 schools in Sweden.

 

Regression of devil facial tumour disease following immunotherapy in immunised Tasmanian devils

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Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a transmissible cancer devastating the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) population. The cancer cell is the ‘infectious’ agent transmitted as an allograft by biting. Animals usually die within a few months with no evidence of antibody or immune cell responses against the DFTD allograft. This lack of anti-tumour immunity is attributed to an absence of cell surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-I molecule expression. While the endangerment of the devil population precludes experimentation on large experimental groups, those examined in our study indicated that immunisation and immunotherapy with DFTD cells expressing surface MHC-I corresponded with effective anti-tumour responses. Tumour engraftment did not occur in one of the five immunised Tasmanian devils, and regression followed therapy of experimentally induced DFTD tumours in three Tasmanian devils. Regression correlated with immune cell infiltration and antibody responses against DFTD cells. These data support the concept that immunisation of devils with DFTD cancer cells can successfully induce humoral responses against DFTD and trigger immune-mediated regression of established tumours. Our findings support the feasibility of a protective DFTD vaccine and ultimately the preservation of the species.

 

A new research points out that climate change will increase fire activity in Mediterranean Europe

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In the forthcoming decades, risks of summer fire may increase in Mediterranean Europe. A recent study published in Scientific Reports, led by researchers of the University of Barcelona in collaboration with several other research institutions, shows that the direct effect of climate change in regulating fuel moisture (droughts leading to larger fires) is expected to be dominant, regarding the indirect effect of antecedent climate on fuel load and structure -that is, warmer/drier conditions that determine fuel availability. The researchers drew this conclusion after analyzing a set of empirical models linking the summer Burned Area to the climatic indicators. These models are also promising for developing a seasonal forecast system supporting fire management strategies.

 
 
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