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Archive - Jun 25, 2013

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Palm-Sized Microarray Can Grow 1,200 Individual Microbe Cultures

A new palm-sized microarray that holds 1,200 individual cultures of fungi or bacteria could enable faster, more efficient drug discovery, according to a study published June 25, 2013 in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston have developed a microarray platform for culturing fungal biofilms, and validated one potential application of the technology to identify new drugs effective against Candida albicans biofilms. (Image shows a generic microarray, not the newly developed one.) The nano-scale platform technology could one day be used for rapid drug discovery for treatment of any number of fungal or bacterial infections, according to the authors, or even as a rapid clinical test to identify antibiotic drugs that will be effective against a particular infection. "Even though we have used the antifungal concept for development, it is a universal tool," says co-author Dr. Jose Lopez-Ribot of the University of Texas at San Antonio. "It opens a lot of possibilities as a new platform for microbial culture. Any time you need large numbers of cultures, this has a big advantage over other methods. The possibility exists to use this same technology for pretty much any other organism," he says. Microbiology and medicine have become increasingly reliant on micro- and nano-scale technologies because of the increased speed and efficiency they can offer, but until now the cultivation of microorganisms has mostly been conducted on larger scales, in flasks and in trays called micro-titer plates. The microarray technology enables the user to rapidly compare hundreds or thousands of individual cultures of bacteria or fungi, a big benefit in the search for new drugs to treat infections.

Vitamin D Reduces Blood Pressure and Relieves Depression in Women with Type 2 Diabetes

In women who have type 2 diabetes and show signs of depression, vitamin D supplements significantly lowered blood pressure and improved their moods, according to a pilot study at Loyola University Chicago Niehoff School of Nursing. Vitamin D even helped the women lose a few pounds. The study was presented at the American Diabetes Association 73rd Scientific Sessions in Chicago. "Vitamin D supplementation potentially is an easy and cost-effective therapy, with minimal side effects," said Sue M. Penckofer, Ph.D., R.N., lead author of the study and a professor in the Niehoff School of Nursing. "Larger, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the impact of vitamin D supplementation on depression and major cardiovascular risk factors among women with Type 2 diabetes." Dr. Penckofer recently received a four-year, $1.49 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health to do such a study. Dr. Penckofer and her Loyola co-investigators plan to enroll 180 women who have type 2 diabetes, symptoms of depression, and insufficient levels of vitamin D. Women will be randomly assigned to receive either a weekly vitamin D supplementation (50,000 International Units) or a matching weekly placebo for six months. The study is titled "Can the Sunshine Vitamin Improve Mood and Self Management in Women with Diabetes?” About 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes, and the incidence is projected to increase to 1 in 4 persons by 2050. Women with type 2 diabetes have worse outcomes than men. The reason may be due to depression, which affects more than 25 percent of women with diabetes. Depression impairs a patient's ability to manage her disease by eating appropriately, exercising, taking medications, etc.

Study Reveals Role of Prostate Cancer Protein in Tumor Microenvironment

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute have uncovered for the first time the vital role a well-known protein plays in the stroma, the cell-lined area outside of a prostate tumor. Researchers have long understood the function of the protein, caveolin-1 (Cav-1), in prostate cancer, including its role in treatment resistance and disease aggressiveness. However, prior to this study, little was known about the role of Cav-1 within the stroma. The study, published online on May 31, 2013 in the Journal of Pathology, found that a decreased level of the Cav-1 protein in the stroma indicated tumor progression — a function opposite to the known role of Cav-1 within a tumor. Inside the tumor, an increased level of this protein signifies tumor progression. These human tumor findings suggest that patients whose prostate tumor is surrounded by a stroma with decreased levels of the Cav-1 protein may have an overall worse prognosis and a higher chance of disease relapse. "How a prostate tumor communicates with its microenvironment, or stroma, is a vital process we need to understand to assess the aggressiveness of a patient's disease and potential response to treatment," said Dolores Di Vizio, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Urologic Oncology Research Program and senior investigator of the study. "This research suggests that the cells surrounding a prostate tumor are equally as important as the tumor itself in helping understand the complexity of a man's disease. This early-stage research may provide a new, future marker that may ultimately aid diagnosis and treatment, and personalize prostate cancer therapy." In addition to understanding the role of Cav-1 in the tumor microenvironment, researchers discovered that the loss of Cav-1 causes an increase of cholesterol in the stroma.