Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Monday, August 10, 2020
Sunday, August 9, 2020
Research has long supported a link between cancer treatments such as chemotherapy that can weaken the heart and subsequent cardiovascular disease in patients. The effectiveness of modern treatments means “patients are living longer, but they’re also experiencing complications,” says Kathryn Moore, the director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at NYU Langone Health. Far less work has been done investigating how cancer responds in turn to a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI). A new study by Moore and her colleagues reports that breast cancer patients who experience a heart attack are 60 percent more likely to die from their cancer than patients who don’t.
The team’s experiments in mice explain why that might be. Tumors in mice that experienced a simulated heart attack grew larger than those in mice that did not, and a subsequent analysis of immune cells taken from bone marrow, plasma, and tumors revealed a large-scale epigenetic reprogramming of their genomes that allowed the cancer to thrive.
The neuroligin-3 gene is found to have been altered, leading to a reduction in the effect of the oxytocin hormone. This alteration may be the cause for many of the social difficulties in people with autism. While it is caused by multiple factors, this particular alteration could lead scientists toward a treatment to help with the social difficulties faced.
Oxytocin is a hormone that affects mammalian social behavior and interaction. Using mice, the researchers examined how the mutation in the neuroligin-3 gene affected the signaling pathway for oxytocin, and thus how it affected the behavior of the mice in social situations. Researchers are confident that this alteration is reversible with a treatment involving an inhibitor of protein synthesis. In the mice, behavior became normal, which gave scientists hope that this treatment could help people dealing with social difficulties relating to autism. Overall, this study may lead to the elimination of social difficulties in people with autism, which would make for a better quality of life for many.
Related Article: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-causes-autism
Friday, August 7, 2020
A new link between the mutation rate of DNA and genome size has been found by researchers in Japan and Australia. They found that in prokaryotes, organisms with higher rates of mutation lose genes more rapidly, which shortens their genomes. Prior to this study, it was widely believed that population size determined prokaryotic genome size. Now, population size is thought to only play a part in this phenomenon, as prokaryotes in larger populations have even been found to have evolved shorter genomes.
Scientists conducted this study by looking at the lineages of various prokaryotic organisms. An evolutionary tree was created for each one, where researchers would then find where the strains diverged from one another. After modeling gene loss, they estimated the rate of mutation, pressure, and population size in order to compare it to the amount of genes lost. A majority of the strains had relationships between rate of mutation and gene loss.
Cause and ways in which these losses occurred are still unknown and under evaluation. There could potentially be a survival-related reason as to why prokaryotes speed up their rate of mutation to shorten their genome, but this is unknown as of late. This study has sparked new questions pertaining to prokaryotic genome size and how it may impact them in the future. It could lead to further discovery and explanation in the vast and diverse group known as prokaryotes.