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February 27, 2007, 8:04 PM CT

Computer Model Mimics Neural Processes

Computer Model Mimics Neural Processes An MIT model for object recognition takes as input the unlabeled images of digital photographs from the street scene database (top) and generates automatic annotations (bottom row).
For the first time, MIT researchers have applied a computer model of how the brain processes visual information to a complex, real world task: recognizing the objects in a busy street scene. The scientists were pleasantly surprised at the power of this new approach.

"People have been talking about computers imitating the brain for a long time," said Tomaso Poggio, the Eugene McDermott Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. "That was Alan Turing's original motivation in the 1940s. But in the last 50 years, computer science and AI (artificial intelligence) have developed independently of neuroscience."

"Our work is biologically inspired computer science," said Poggio, who is also co-director of the Center for Biological and Computational Learning.

"We developed a model of the visual system that was meant to be useful for neuroresearchers in designing and interpreting experiments, but that also could be used for computer science," said Thomas Serre, a postdoctoral associate in Poggio's lab and lead author of a paper on the work in the March 2007 IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence.

"We chose street scene recognition as an example because it has a restricted set of object categories, and it has practical social applications," said Serre.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 27, 2007, 7:38 PM CT

Association Between Gene And Intelligence

Association Between Gene And Intelligence
A team of scientists, led by psychiatric geneticists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has gathered the most extensive evidence to date that a gene that activates signaling pathways in the brain influences one kind of intelligence. They have confirmed a link between the gene, CHRM2, and performance IQ, which involves a person's ability to organize things logically.

"This is not a gene for intelligence," says Danielle M. Dick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author on the study. "It's a gene that's involved in some kinds of brain processing, and specific alterations in the gene appear to influence IQ. But this single gene isn't going to be the difference between whether a person is a genius or has below-average intelligence."

Dick's team comprehensively studied the DNA along the gene and observed that several variations within the CHRM2 gene could be correlated with slight differences in performance IQ scores, which measure a person's visual-motor coordination, logical and sequential reasoning, spatial perception and abstract problem solving skills. When people had more than one positive variation in the gene, the improvements in performance IQ were cumulative. The study's findings are available online in Behavioral Genetics and will appear in an upcoming print issue of that journal.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 26, 2007, 8:04 PM CT

Circadian Rhythm In Swim Performance

Circadian Rhythm In Swim Performance
A new study investigating the potential of a circadian rhythm in athletic performance adds further confirmation that it exists. The finding is being reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology, one of 11 peer evaluated scientific publications issued monthly by the American Physiological Society (APS) (www.The-APS.org). The authors of "Circadian Variation in Swim Performance," are Christopher E. Kline, J. Larry Durstine, J. Mark Davis, Teresa A. Moore, Tina M. Devlin, Mark R. Zielinski, and Shawn D. Youngstedt, all from the Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

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Background


Circadian rhythms are generated within the body, and are "re-set" almost every 24 hours. Human circadian rhythms originate from the tiny hypothalamus residing in the back of the brain. The hypothalamus, working with the endocrine system, drives a number of of our behavioral and physiological rhythms.

Scientists have speculated that there may be a circadian rhythm inherent in athletic performance and point to research showing that athletic performance varies based on time-of-day. Other studies have shown that peak performance occurs in early evening, at approximately the peak of the body temperature rhythm. Additional studies have observed that morning is the worst time for athletic performance.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 23, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

Opening And Closing The Genome

Opening And Closing The Genome
At any given time, most of the roughly 30,000 genes that constitute the human genome are inactive, or repressed, closed to the cellular machinery that transcribes genes into the proteins of the body. In an average cell, only about one in ten genes is active, or expressed, at any given moment, with its DNA open to the cell' transcriptional machinery.

A dynamic cast of gatekeeper enzymes controls this access to the DNA, adding and removing particular molecules to open or close the genome to transcription as needed. Fully explicating the complex interplay among these enzymes and the molecules they manage has been a primary goal for researchers seeking to understand the mechanisms governing gene control. These mechanisms are vital for health-- when they go wrong, diseases like cancer can result.

In study published online February 22 in Cell, scientists at The Wistar Institute identify an important new player in this gene-control system, an enzyme responsible for removing certain molecules, or marks, involved in opening or closing chromatin, the material that makes up chromosomes. The activity of this enzyme is believed to be widespread in the genome, likely affecting a number of genes.

"This enzyme removes methyl groups from a specific location where they facilitate opening of the chromatin for gene expression, and therefore this enzyme maintains a repressed state of gene expression," says Ramin Shiekhattar, Ph.D., a professor at The Wistar Institute and senior author on the Cell study. Currently, Shiekhattar is also a professor at the Center de Regulacio Genomica in Barcelona. "When the enzyme is not present, however, the marks are not removed, and the chromatin remains open for transcription".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 13, 2007, 8:48 PM CT

Genetic Testing Of Degenerative Eye Disease

Genetic Testing Of Degenerative Eye Disease
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Genetic testing for eye disease is providing vital information about complex retinal diseases, particularly when used to confirm a clinicians diagnosis.

In a newly published review of such tests that were conducted over a five-year period at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, researchers were able to confirm a clinicians diagnosis in half of the cases. The testing took place in the laboratory of Radha Ayyagari, Ph.D., director of Kelloggs Ophthalmic Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory.

In the recent issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, Ayyagari and her colleagues report on 350 genetic tests conducted since 1999, when the U-M Ophthalmic Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory became one of the first laboratories in the nation to receive government approval for ophthalmic testing under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA). For each test described in the current study, researchers analyzed one or more of eight genes known to cause diseases of the retina.

Of the 350 tests, 266 were performed to confirm a clinicians diagnosis, by far the most common use of genetic testing for eye disease. Another 75 tests sought to determine whether an individual was a carrier of a disease, and nine tests were used to predict the likelihood that an individual with a family history of a given eye disease would go on to develop it.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


February 13, 2007, 7:51 PM CT

Protein targets antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Protein targets antibiotic-resistant bacteria
A new type of protein discovered by Queens University scientists may be useful in developing therapys for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as those that cause food poisoning and typhoid.

By solving the structure and activity of the protein called YihE or RdoA a team of professors and students from the departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology has opened up possibilities for new drug development.

Our group is the first to solve the structure and to begin to understand the function of this particular protein, says Dr. Nancy Martin (Microbiology & Immunology), who coordinated the study with Dr. Zongchao Jia (Biochemistry). It turns out to be a potentially good target in a wide range of bacteria that cause infectious diseases. Because of the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of a number of different types of bacteria, such as salmonella, she notes, new approaches to antibiotic treatment are needed.

The Queens findings appear in the on-line edition of the journal Molecular Microbiology.

Also on the team, from Biochemistry, are PhD student Jimin Zheng and post-doctoral fellow Vinay Singh; and Microbiology & Immunology Masters student Chunhua He.

The group is studying sensory pathways used by bacteria that enter our bodies and move from the stomach into the gastro-intestinal tract. If we can block the sensory pathway, then the bacteria cant adapt to that change in their environment, and wont be able to infect, says Dr. Martin.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 11, 2007, 9:06 PM CT

Technology To Captures Tumors'genetic Profile

Technology To Captures Tumors'genetic Profile
A study led by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University provides the first demonstration of a practical method of screening tumors for cancer-related gene abnormalities that might be treated with "targeted" drugs.

The findings, published online today on the Nature Genetics Web site, may help relieve a bottleneck between scientists' expanding knowledge of the genetic mutations linked to cancer and the still nascent ability of doctors to use that knowledge to benefit patients. The results constitute an important step toward the era of "personalized medicine," in which cancer treatment will be guided by the particular set of genetic mutations within each patient's tumor, the authors suggest.

"It's universally recognized that cancer is a disease of the genome, of mutations within genes responsible for cell growth and survival, and a great deal of effort has gone into finding those mutations, to the point where several hundred to a thousand are now known," said the study's senior author, Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute. "The challenge has been how to determine which of them are involved in each of the hundreds of kinds of cancer that occur in humans -- and to develop accurate, affordable methods of detecting key mutations in tumor samples. This study suggests that such a method is feasible on a large scale".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 9, 2007, 4:33 AM CT

New Model for Testing and Discovery of Anti-HIV Drugs

New Model for Testing and Discovery of Anti-HIV Drugs
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine are the first to show that a mouse protein, whose human equivalent is correlation to defense against HIV-1, inhibits the infection and spread of a mouse tumor virus. The study, which appeared online January 28 in advance of its print publication in Nature, provides a new model for the discovery and evaluation of anti-HIV drugs. HIV-1, like the mouse tumor virus, is a retrovirus which infects immune system cells. However, unlike HIV-1, the mouse virus causes breast cancer in mice.

"Our study is the first to show that the mouse equivalent to the human protein, called APOBEC3, actually inhibits a retrovirus in a live animal," says lead author Susan R. Ross, PhD, Professor of Microbiology. The study is based on a mouse strain that does not have the gene for mouse APOBEC3, developed by co-author Boris Matija Peterlin, PhD, University of California at San Francisco.

In this study, normal mice and mutant mice were injected with mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV). Using a sensitive test for virus infection, the scientists observed that lymph nodes from mutant mice were more infected than normal mice. At six days after injection, the lymph nodes near the injection site in mutant mice had four times more of the breast cancer-causing virus. By 18 days after infection, the virus had spread to other sites in the mice, and spleen cells from the mutant mice were seven-fold more infected by MMTV than spleen cells from normal mice. The research team is currently waiting to see if mutant mice develop breast cancer at a greater rate than normal mice.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 2, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

Stem Cells to Repair Damaged Hearts

Stem Cells to Repair Damaged Hearts
Rush University Medical Center is one of the first medical centers in the country, and currently the only site in Illinois, participating in a novel clinical trial to determine if a subject's own stem cells can treat a form of severe coronary artery disease.

The Autologous Cellular Therapy CD34-Chronic Myocardial Ischemia (ACT34-CMI) Trial is the first human, Phase II adult stem cell treatment study in the U.S. designed to investigate the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of blood-derived selected CD34+ stem cells to improve symptoms and clinical outcomes in subjects with chronic myocardial ischemia (CMI), a severe form of coronary artery disease.

"What we're hoping is that these stem cells will be able to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels to bring more blood and oxygen to the heart muscle, so that these patients will have a better quality of life and less chest pain," said Dr. Gary Schaer, director of the Rush Cardiac Catheterization Lab and study investigator.

Myocardial ischemia is a serious heart condition that involves narrowing of coronary arteries and results in limited blood flow to the heart. The disease affects hundreds of thousands of new people each year. A person who suffers from chronic myocardial ischemia continues to experience insufficient flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart despite optimum medical intervention.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 2, 2007, 5:02 AM CT

Helium Helps Patients Breathe Easier

Helium Helps Patients Breathe Easier
It makes for bobbing balloons and squeaky voices, but now helium is also helping people with severe respiratory problems breathe easier.

Scientists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have discovered that by combining helium with 40 per cent oxygen allowed patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to increase their exercise capacity by an average of 245 per cent. COPD is a disease of the lungs caused by smoking and includes the conditions of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

This was the first study to demonstrate that helium-hyperoxia (40 per cent oxygen, 60 per cent helium) improves the exercise tolerance of COPD patients to a greater extent than oxygen alone, which is currently used for treating patients with this disorder. People with severe COPD typically struggle for every breath while exercising and any improvements that could be made to their ability to perform exercise could have significant clinical implications.

The results of the study were published recently in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine.

Patients with COPD have difficulty breathing out and often air is trapped in the lungs at the end of each breath; this has been shown to be one of the primary reasons for the shortness of breath experienced by these patients. Combining the helium and hyperoxia slows down the frequency of breathing while making the air easier to breathe. This combined effect reduces the amount of air trapped in the lungs during exercise.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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