Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Low Cost High Tech Centrifuge

You can make a centrifuge by taking a piece of tubing with one end sealed, filling it with the liquid which you wish to centrifuge and taping it to the side of a single beater egg beater. Turn the crank and the tubing spins around rapidly thus causing the tubing to be an effective centrifuge tube.

Lacking this inexpensive egg beater, you could use an electric one by putting only one beater in place.

Go to this YouTube video and see it work.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stress and Aging

Every time a cell divides, protective tips (telomeres) on the ends of its chromosomes shorten. This causes cell aging. Without these protective coverings, cell divisions are less accurate and are limited in number. In the 1980’s, Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn et al discovered telomerase, a protein which allows recovery in telomere lengths.

Now, Dr. Rita Effros and associates at UCLA have shown how stress with its concomitant production of cortisol can increase the rate of aging in immune cells. One of the multiple functions of cortisol is to reduce the production of telomerase and thus cause premature shortening of the telomeres.

A longer summary of this information can be found at http://www.eurekalert.org and the original article, UCLA Study Identifies Mechanism behind Mind-Body Connection, in the May 2008 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wow! Cheap Effective Treatment for Osteoporosis

As men and women age, there are reductions in those hormones which keep bones strong. As a result, half of the women and one-fourth of the men over 50 will have bone fractures.

How does this work?

Without proper levels of these hormones, some immune cells called T-Lymphocytes can reduce the number of your cells which build up bone (Osteoblasts) and increase the action of those which break down bone (Osteoclasts).

In this study with mice, low dosage of aspirin was found to regulate the activity of these T-cells so that more of the bone building cells were created and the activity of the cells which broke down bone was reduced.

Perhaps someday soon, the same low dosage of aspirin which helps prevent heart damage will also be used to improve bone health.

This study was done at USC School of Dentistry, with associates from UCLA, NIDCR/NIH, Australia, Japan and USC.

A longer summary of this article can be found at
www.Eurekalert.org .

To see the original article, go to PLoS ONE
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002615 .

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Want to gain weight? Increase your iron level.

At least it works for yeast. As much as we like to believe that humans are unique, even the humble yeast shares many of our genetic pathways.

Drs. Thiele and Geller at Duke University have discovered that if cells are deficient in iron, they respond by shunting the iron from the mitochondria of the cells to other places more critical for life. The cells then make more of their ATP (energy units) from glucose by a much less efficient method -18 times less energy from the same amount of glucose. This can result in lethargy and also poor cognitive development.

A longer summary of this article may be found at http://www.eurekalert.org/ Duke scientists show why cells starved of iron burn more glucose

Earlier research by another group showed that at the age of puberty when women begin losing iron due to menstruation, they need to make sure their iron levels are sufficient. This iron anemia seems to be one of the reasons that men overtake women in math ability at that time.

Good news for Parkinson’s Disease!

Autologous adult stem cells were taken from the olfactory nerve in the nose were harvested, multiplied and transplanted into rats which had undergone a surgical procedure which damaged their dopamine-producing neurons on one side of their brains.

Within three weeks, all of the rats showed dramatic improvement in their Parkinson like behaviors. Subsequent tests showed the presence of dopamine in this area of the brain. None of the rats had tumors such as had developed after transplantation with embryonic stem cells.

A longer summary of this article may be found at http://www.eurekalert.org Adult stem cell findings offer new hope for Parkinson's cure

The original article is from the current issue of the journal Stem Cells.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm Proud to Tell You aboutTwo New Novels

Today, a different side of my life. I will continue to post short summaries of some of those science articles which are of particular interest to me, but today, I want to introduce you to my son, John B. Olson, who is not only a scientist (Ph.D. in biochemistry) but is also a gifted writer of fiction. His fourth novel, Fossil Hunter, is now in the book stores.

You have probably heard of the movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. John wrote Fossil Hunter as a part of that project: to help people understand that Science and religion are not incompatible.

While this mother is bragging, let me tell you about his next book, Shade.

John’s sister and brother and I have been waiting for Melchi and Hailey to come to life for about ten years. Finally it’s happening. Shade will be published this September.

I know of evil in the world, but usually I don’t look in that direction for entertainment. I would not have started reading this book if my son had not written it. But it is so compelling and so well plotted that I dearly love it. There is a clip of it at his http://www.litany.com/ web site if you’d like a little preview.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Alzheimer’s: New Protease Inhibitor Effective in Reducing Plaque Formation and Improving Memory in APP Mice

Maybe this is the treatment we’ve all been hoping for! Ninety-nine per cent of humans with Alzheimer’s have this same genetic mutation. This has not been tried in humans yet. It seems like mice have all the luck!

New research indicates that the cause of Alzheimer’s in most (99%) humans is an incorrect splicing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) by a protease named Cathepsin B (CatB). The small peptides that are formed are toxic to brain cells. These peptide particles combine to form Amyloid Beta plaques which are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

There is not complete agreement as to whether the resulting Amyloid Beta plaque is toxic or not.

The CatB enzyme which incorrectly splits the APP has been blocked in mice bred to have the mutation causing their Alzheimer-like disorder by the enzymes, E64d and CA074Me. This resulted in improved memory and reduced Amyloid Beta plaque.

There was no mention of deleterious side effects.

No human trials have been announced.

You can see a more complete summary of this article by going to http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-03/uoc--pad031108.php

To see the article itself, go to the March 21 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, online March 14 at

Thank you Professor Vivian Y. H. Hook and colleagues, Mark Kindy and Gregory Hook for this research.