Syndicate content

Archive - Oct 22, 2015

Immune Signaling Protein NLRP1 Also Senses High Energy Intake & Could Help Fight Against Obesity and Diabetes; NLRP1 Found Key to Production of Lipid-Regulating Hormone Interleukin-18

n a new study, researchers have shown that a protein called NLRP1 (nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat containing family, pyrin domain ccontaining 1) (image) is switched on when increased dietary energy (food) intake triggers a cell to become "unstable." Activation of this protein sets off a chain of events that instructs cells to use up their fat stores to prevent excess fat accumulating. The new research, directed by Dr. Seth Masters from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Dr. Andrew Murphy and Dr. Michael Kraakman from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute (also in Melbourne), with obesity expert Mark Febbraio from the Garvan Institute (in Sydney), was published online on October 22, 2015 in Cell Metabolism. The article is titled “IL-18 Production from the NLRP1 Inflammasome Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome.” Dr. Masters said that NLRP1 is a biological sensor that could hold the key to developing new ways of treating obesity and type 2 diabetes. "NLRP1 is a biological sensor that can respond to and prevent obesity and metabolic syndrome, which are causing a dramatically increasing burden of disease throughout the world," Dr. Masters said. "The sensor is activated if it detects that the body's energy intake is too high. When the sensor is activated, it tells cells to burn fat stores to prevent excess build-up of fat. We showed that without NLRP1, fat stores continue to build up, especially with a high-energy diet, leading to obesity." Dr. Masters said that NLRP1 has been more commonly known for its role in the immune system. "However it is becoming increasingly clear that immune signalling proteins also have an important role in regulating metabolism." Dr.

Scientists Study Ants to Develop Cheaper, More Efficient Transport Systems for Human Use

Using mathematical modeling and field data, researchers at the mathematics department at Uppsala University in Sweden have found the basic rules that allow ants to build efficient and low-cost transport networks without discarding robustness. The study was published online on October 21, 2015 in an open-access article in the Royal Society journal Interface. The article is titled “Local Cost Minimization in Ant Transport Networks: From Small-Scale Data to Large-Scale Trade-Offs.” We live in a world that is deeply interconnected. Nowadays, transportation networks are fundamental to exchange resources and information from one point to another, from one person to another. Every day we travel on roads, we use electricity and water that are carried from distant plants, and we connect to the internet to read about facts happened on the other side of the world. Ideally, we would like to be able to travel between cities via the shortest route possible, but sometimes we have to follow long detours. Almost everyone in his life has experienced an electricity black out: sometimes the breakdown of a cable is enough to compromise the distribution of electricity in a whole suburb. However, we all know how expensive it is to install new cables at home, and we can imagine the cost of building a highway. Thus, network planners struggle to build transportation systems that are efficient and robust, but also not too expensive, trying to find the best compromise between competing design goals. Searching for inspiration, researchers have turned towards nature, observing the spontaneous formation process of natural transportation networks, from ant trails to leaf veins.

Simple New Test to Accurately Predict Probability of Post-Partum Diabetes Developing in Women Who Experience Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common conditions that can occur during pregnancy. Although the symptoms generally disappear after delivery, women suffering from gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing postpartum diabetes in the following years. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany have now developed an accurate method of predicting the probability of developing this progressive disease following childbirth. Their findings were published online on October 19, 2015 in the journal Acta Diabetologica. The article is titled “Development of a Simple Tool to Predict the Risk of Postpartum Diabetes in Women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.” For their study, the scientists from the Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF), Helmholtz Zentrum München, which is one of the partners of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), collected data from 257 cases of gestational diabetes that occurred between 1989 and 1999 and were followed up for a period of 20 years after delivery. One hundred and ten (110) of the women observed during this period developed postpartum diabetes. In order to be able to predict in whic during this period developed postpartum diabetes. In order to be able to predict in which mother the disease would manifest itself after delivery, the team headed by Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler (at right in image), Director of the Institute of Diabetes Research, tested various parameters that are known to play a significant role in the genesis of the disease. “Body mass index (BMI) and genetic predisposition both play a role in our calculation, as does the question of whether the mother breast-fed her baby and whether her gestational diabetes had to be treated with insulin,” explains Meike Köhler (at left in image), first author of the study.

Japanese Animal Biologist Wins 2015 Van Meter Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Understanding of Thyroid Hormones and the Mysteries of Seasonal Reproduction

Takashi Yoshimura, Ph.D., a professor at the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University in Japan, has won the 2015 Van Meter Award for his contributions to thyroid research. The Van Meter Award, which was established in 1930 is presented by the American Thyroid Association (ATA) to a young clinical scientist who has made outstanding contributions to research on the thyroid gland and thyroid hormones. “When I first started research, I had never imagined that I would be carrying out research on thyroid hormones. As we were unraveling the mystery of seasonal sensing in animals, we found that the thyroid hormone and the thyroid-stimulating hormone play an important role,” Dr. Yoshimura said. “Through further studies, I wish to continue to uncover the sophisticated survival strategies of animals.” Dr. Yoshimura’s achievements consist of a series of discoveries made in birds, mammals, and fish on elucidating the role of thyroid hormones in seasonal reproduction. His research is expected to lead to advances in understanding and improving human reproductive health and mood disorders related to seasonal changes. In a little more detail, Dr. Yoshimura’s remarkable contributions to thyroid research relate to a series of fascinating discoveries made in birds, mammals, and fish that link photoreceptors in the brain to thyroid hormone-based regulation of seasonal reproduction. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and is a Professor in the Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences and Director of the Avian Bioscience Research Center at University of Nagoya, Japan. Sparking Dr.