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Effects of DNA Repair Mechanisms, Oestrogen and Environmental Chemicals on Risk for Breast Cancer | Dr Joseph Jerry
All women are exposed to oestrogen from puberty through menopause. Oestrogen is a natural hormone that is important for breast development and the maintenance of tissues in women but is also linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. As many as 1 in 8 women in the USA will be diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetime, and the majority of these breast cancers are sensitive to oestrogen. Dr Joseph Jerry and his collaborators at the University of Massachusetts are studying the environmental exposures and genetic differences that alter the consequences of exposure to oestrogens.
Mechanical ventilation is a medical treatment that artificially enables the body to breathe. Despite being a potentially life-saving intervention, there are concerns it can cause damage to vital organs, such as the brain and lungs. Dr Thiago Bassi from Simon Fraser University in Canada, has undertaken a review of published studies in this field. His findings indicate a potential link between ventilator usage and cognitive impairment whilst highlighting the need for further research.
Covalent drugs are molecules that irreversibly bind to specific, targeted sites in the body. They work to inhibit the disease-causing functions of certain proteins by preventing them from interacting with other substances. This is a highly promising field of drug development and the focus of Dr Mikail Abbasov from Cornell University, New York, USA. By creating and utilising new technologies and through collaborative research, Dr Abbasov has mapped novel molecular targets for potential covalent drugs to treat ailments ranging from cancer to autoimmune diseases.
Cancer can be caused by genetic mutations or epigenetic alterations, which are changes to the way DNA is processed, rather than to the DNA itself. These changes can be brought about by obesity, and more specifically, oxidative stress and consequent reactive oxygen species. However, the molecular mechanisms by which this occurs are not well understood. Dr Aliccia Bollig-Fischer from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan is studying these processes and paving the way for the development of novel cancer therapeutics.
Discovery of Neurotrophic Factor-α1 Reveals New Treatment Strategies for Stress-induced Neurodegenerative Diseases and Depression | Dr Y. Peng Loh
Stress produces numerous negative effects on the human body. Lying deep within the brain, one particularly sensitive area is the hippocampus, where chronic exposure to stress hormones can lead to the degeneration and death of neurons. Thankfully, the brain holds defence mechanisms that block some of these negative effects. Deciphering these mechanisms with the aim of better treating neurodegenerative diseases and depression is Dr Y. Peng Loh from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the USA.
Although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a commonly occurring psychiatric disorder, the underlying genetic basis has until recently, remained poorly defined. Drs Christie Burton, Jennifer Crosbie, and Russell Schachar at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, and Dr. Paul Arnold at the University of Calgary and The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education and their extensive network of collaborators conducted a genome-wide association study to address this key gap. These researchers are the first to empirically demonstrate that OCD and obsessive-compulsive traits have a shared genetic risk, and start to pinpoint the genetic basis of this.
Medical professionals require years of training before they can describe ultrasound images of developing foetuses. Dr Mohammad Alsharid and colleagues from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford suggest that this task could one day be carried out by machine learning algorithms. In their latest study, the team showed how neural networks, trained by the expert knowledge of real sonographers, could convert subtle features within the images into accurate, readable captions.
Peer review is a key component in the determination of funding allocation, especially within the science and technology sectors. However, the literature evaluating this process is sparse, often focusing on outcomes rather than the methodology. Dr Tiffani Conner and her colleagues from Oak Ridge Associated Universities in the USA have researched which specific skills are most desirable in a reviewer and how these can be enhanced, whilst also evaluating the impact of review format.
Preterm birth refers to the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of completed gestation. An estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely each year and sadly, this prevalence is rising. Approximately 1 million die as a result of premature birth, and those who survive are at risk of lifelong disabilities. Dr Buxton and his team at the University of Nevada, Reno, are studying the role of the smooth muscle of the uterus to elucidate its role in preterm labour and birth.
There is an urgent need for prognostic tools that can accurately predict the outcomes of patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Dr Fatima Rehman and her colleagues investigated the relationship between breast cancer prognosis and the secretion of a biological marker called Galectin-3 to drive forward the development of optimised treatment regimes. This work was conducted at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Pakistan.
Bacterial growth depends on the complex interactions of a multitude of chemical components. Microbiologists have long attempted to predict bacterial growth according to culture media components, and have employed a variety of mathematical and computational models to this end. Dr Bei-Wen Ying and her colleagues at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, successfully applied machine learning to understand the contribution of media culture components to bacterial growth. Their work makes a significant contribution to growth prediction and demonstrates that machine learning can be employed in the exploration of the complex dynamics that regulate living systems.
Strategies to Ensure the Worldwide Elimination of Tetanus in Mothers and Neonates | Dr Syed Ahsan Raza
The potentially fatal impact of tetanus on mothers and infants is a serious issue in developing countries. Dr Syed Ahsan Raza at Baylor College of Medicine and Dr Bilal Avan at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have recently published their perspectives and insights into this important issue.
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