Research Capacity-Building in Africa
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Stress really may turn your hair grey, new scientific research shows

Stress really may turn your hair grey, new scientific research shows | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it

There could be some truth in the anecdotal belief that stress can turn your hair grey. The appearance of grey hairs after periods of stress or skin damage could be the result of depletion of stem cells from the base of the hair follicle, according to a new study in mice.


The study, reported in Nature Medicine , may also point to new methods of treatment for skin pigmentation disorders such as vitiligo or piebaldism.

Hair and skin are both pigmented by melanin, produced by cells called melanocytes,which in turn are produced by melanocyte stem cells that live in a region at the very base of the hair follicle called the bulge.

 

Dr Mayumo Ito and colleagues from New York Universityfound that when the skin is damaged or irradiated, these melanocyte stem cells help to repair skin damage by leaving the bulge and travelling to the skin to replenish the store of melanocytes in the outer layer of the skin.

 

However in the process, they leave the bulge without its own supply of melanocyte stem cells.

 

The discovery that the stem cells migrate without replicating is a surprise, says Associate Professor Rick Sturm, principle research fellow at the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland.

 

"Normally stem cells only stay where they're supposed to be, in the bulge region, the cells divide and the daughter cells go into the hair follicle to create the hair pigment," says Sturm, who was not involved in the study.

 

However in the case of a skin injury or UV exposure, as occurred in this mouse experiment, the stem cells appear to migrate out without replicating. "When that happens, if you lose the stem cells from the bulge region, you lose the capacity to make melanin... so they get this small number of hair follicles around the injury which become white," explains Sturm.


The discovery could lead to treatments for conditions such as vitiligo -- depigmentation of the skin -- and to prevent hyperpigmentation, which is too much pigment in the skin. "If we can know more about how melanocytes migrate from hair follicle area to the epidermis, we may get the ability to promote this process for the treatment of hypopigmentation disorders," says Ito.


"Our results suggest that melanocyte migration from the hair follicle to the epidermis may partly contribute to skin pigmentation, thus inhibition of this migration process may be a novel approach to prevent UV induced hyperpigmentation, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation commonly seen after surgery."



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Breakthrough imaging technique depicts breast tumors in 3D with great clarity and reduced radiation

Breakthrough imaging technique depicts breast tumors in 3D with great clarity and reduced radiation | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it
Like cleaning the lenses of a foggy pair of glasses, scientists are now able to use a technique developed by UCLA researchers and their European colleagues to produce three-dimensional images of breast tissue that are two to three times sharper than those made using current CT scanners at hospitals. The technique also uses a lower dose of X-ray radiation than a mammogram.

 

These higher-quality images could allow breast tumors to be detected earlier and with much greater accuracy. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. The most common breast cancer screening method used today is called dual-view digital mammography, but it isn't always successful in identifying tumors, said Jianwei (John) Miao, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and researcher with the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.

 

Recognizing these limitations, the scientists went in a new direction. In collaboration with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France and Germany's Ludwig Maximilians University, Miao's international colleagues used a special detection method known as phase contrast tomography to X-ray a human breast from multiple angles. They then applied equally sloped tomography, or EST — a breakthrough computing algorithm developed by Miao's UCLA team that enables high-quality image-reconstruction — to 512 of these images to produce 3D images of the breast at a higher resolution than ever before. The process required less radiation than a mammogram.

 

http://tinyurl.com/8e55vpt


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Researchers at Brown University create first wireless, implantable brain-computer interface

Researchers at Brown University create first wireless, implantable brain-computer interface | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it

Researchers at Brown University have succeeded in creating the first wireless, implantable, rechargeable, long-term brain-computer interface. The wireless BCIs have been implanted in pigs and monkeys for over 13 months without issue, and human subjects are next.

 

A tether limits the mobility of the patient, and also the real-world testing that can be performed by the researchers. Brown’s wireless BCI allows the subject to move freely, dramatically increasing the quantity and quality of data that can be gathered — instead of watching what happens when a monkey moves its arm, scientists can now analyze its brain activity during complex activity, such as foraging or social interaction. Obviously, once the wireless implant is approved for human testing, being able to move freely — rather than strapped to a chair in the lab — would be rather empowering.

 

Inside the device, there’s a li-ion battery, an inductive (wireless) charging loop, a chip that digitizes the signals from your brain, and an antenna for transmitting those neural spikes to a nearby computer. The BCI is connected to a small chip with 100 electrodes protruding from it, which, in this study, was embedded in the somatosensory cortex or motor cortex. These 100 electrodes produce a lot of data, which the BCI transmits at 24Mbps over the 3.2 and 3.8GHz bands to a receiver that is one meter away. The BCI’s battery takes two hours to charge via wireless inductive charging, and then has enough juice to last for six hours of use.


One of the features that the Brown researchers seem most excited about is the device’s power consumption, which is just 100 milliwatts. For a device that might eventually find its way into humans, frugal power consumption is a key factor that will enable all-day, highly mobile usage. Amusingly, though, the research paper notes that the wireless charging does cause significant warming of the device, which was “mitigated by liquid cooling the area with chilled water during the recharge process and did not notably affect the animal’s comfort.” Another important factor is that the researchers were able to extract high-quality, “rich” neural signals from the wireless implant — a good indicator that it will also help human neuroscience, if and when the device is approved.


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Benjamin Johnson's curator insight, March 21, 2013 10:36 PM

Let science open the doors for gaming!

 

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With drug-loaded nanogel, Yale researchers attack cancerous tumors

With drug-loaded nanogel, Yale researchers attack cancerous tumors | Research Capacity-Building in Africa | Scoop.it

Yale University scientists have developed a new mechanism for attacking cancerous tumors that intensifies the body’s immune response while simultaneously weakening the tumor’s ability to resist it. Tumors — in this case metastatic melanomas, or spreading skin cancers — are adept at overcoming their host’s natural defenses, in part by emitting agents that disrupt production and operation of the immune system.

 

The Yale team developed a new biodegradable nanoparticle that delivers a combination of two very different therapeutic agents to tumor sites, gradually releasing the agents into the tumor vasculature. One agent, a large soluble protein called a cytokine, stimulates the body’s innate immune response. The other, a small-molecule inhibitor, interferes with the tumor’s ability to suppress the immune response. Other drug combinations are possible.

 

In tests on live mice, the double-loaded particle, called a nanogel, significantly delayed tumor growth and increased survival, the researchers report. They administered the nanogels intravenously and, in separate experiments, directly into the tumors. Further animal tests are planned.


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