Nasa faces contamination dilemma over Mars water investigations

Nasa scientists may still be celebrating their discovery of liquid water on Mars, but they now face some serious questions about how they can investigate further and look for signs of life on the red planet.

The problem is how to find life without contaminating the planet with bugs from Earth.

Researchers at the space agency are keen for the Curiosity rover to take a closer look at the long dark streaks created by liquid water running down craters and canyon walls during the summer months on Mars.

But the rover is not sterile and risks contaminating the wet areas with earthly bugs that will have hitched a ride to the planet and may still be alive.

 

Link to article at The Guardian

Compatible Company: A guide to culturing cells with viruses in mind

Viruses infect just about every living organism, be it man, mouse, flea, or bacterium. These parasites cannot reproduce in isolation: they need to get inside the hosts’ cells. That’s why virologists need cell cultures, but to wield those cultures well they must understand both viruses and host cells.

It’s not as simple as tossing the two together in a flask or petri dish, notes Charu Kaushic, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. As a postdoc, she studied the innate immune system using epithelial cells from the human female reproductive tract. When she started her own lab, Kaushic decided to investigate how the sexually transmitted viruses HIV and herpes simplex 2 interact with those same cell types. Establishing the cell culture system—completely characterizing the cells, working out viral dosing and readouts, and achieving reproducible, publishable results—took thee years (reviewed inMethods, 55:114-21, 2011).

 

 

Link to full article on The Scientist

Body’s ‘chemical calendar’ discovered

The way the body can track the passing of the seasons in a “chemical calendar” has been discovered by scientists.

The team, reporting in Current Biology, found a cluster of thousands of cells that could exist in either a “summer” or “winter” state.

They use the lengthening day to switch more of them into summer mode and the opposite when the nights draw in.

The annual clock controls when animals breed and hibernate and in humans may be altering the immune system.

A team from the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh analysed the brains of sheep at different times of the year.

 

Link to full article

Video of Cambridge Biomedical Presentation

Cambridge Biomedical and MSD held a very sucessfull joint seminar in Technology Square, Cambridge on Monday 21st September at the headquarters of MassBio

 

During the seminar Dr Sarah Bond from Cambridge Biomedical presented  “Comparing MSD Electrochemiluminescent Detection Technology to Traditional ELISA for Clinical Applications”.

 

Watch the video on our YouTube channel

The whitepaper is also available  on our website here

More Evidence Proves Coffee Doesn’t Harm Your Heart, Karolinska Institute Study

No Link Between Coffee Consumption And Common Type Of Irregular Heartbeat

There is no association between coffee consumption and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. The research includes a meta-analysis of four other studies, making it the largest study its kind, involving nearly 250,000 individuals over the course of 12 years.

Moderate coffee consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Its association with atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate, has been unclear.

AF is the most frequent form of irregular heartbeat, causing a substantially increased risk of stroke, heart failure and all-cause mortality. It has previously been speculated that high coffee consumption may increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

 

Link to BioSpace

Tai Chi Linked To Improved Physical Capacity In Certain Common Long Term Conditions

The ancient Chinese exercise Tai Chi is linked to improved physical capacity among older adults with certain common long term conditions, indicates a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Among people with breast cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), these improvements were not at the expense of worsening pain or breathlessness, the findings show.

Tai Chi consists of slow, gentle, flowing movements that aim to boost muscle power, balance, and posture. It also includes mindfulness, relaxation, and breath control.

 

Link to full article at BioSpace

Healthier lifestyles ‘could cut cancer cases by a third’

Preventable cancers

Data from the World Cancer Research Fund suggests that 20,000 cases of breast cancer and about 19,000 cases of bowel cancer could be stopped each year with small changes in lifestyle.

In 2013, there were more than 351,000 new cases of cancer in the UK.

The WCRF said 84,000 could have been prevented.

Head of research Dr Rachel Thompson said simple changes to diet and lifestyle could make “a huge difference” in the battle against cancer.

“Even minor adjustments, like 10 to 15 extra minutes of physical activity each day, cutting down on alcohol, or limiting your intake of high calorie foods and sugary drinks, will help decrease your cancer risk,” she said.

Link to full story on BBC

Long sleep and high blood copper levels go hand in hand

People who sleep fewer than 6 hours or more than 10 hours per night suffer from low-grade inflammation more often than people who sleep 7-8 hours per night. This was observed in a University of Eastern Finland study focusing on the health and lifestyle habits among middle-aged men.

“Earlier studies have found a relation between reduced sleep and low-grade inflammation,” says Maria Luojus, MHSc, one of the study researchers.

Link to full article on Science Daily

Body, Heal Thyself: Reviving a decades-old hypothesis of autoimmunity

Generations of in-depth research into human anatomy, histology, and basic physiology have largely explained the physical manifestations of diseases affecting nearly every organ of the body. From cardiology to gastroenterology and pulmonology, form implies function. It is no mystery, for example, why a blood clot between the heart and lungs causes shortness of breath, problems with oxygenation, and strain on the muscles of the heart.

Yet there remains an entire class of illnesses that present systemically, do not respect the boundaries of organ systems, and wreak havoc on quality of life and longevity. And we still have little idea of what starts the vicious cascade in the first place. This category of maladies is called autoimmune disease, and it is our fundamental lack of knowledge about these disorders that so greatly hinders our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat them.

The scope of the problem is tremendous. The NIH has estimated that more than 23 million Americanssuffer from autoimmune diseases—a burden associated with a health-care cost of $100 billion per year. And the morbidity and mortality attributable to autoimmune conditions cannot be ignored. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a 60 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, for example. And patients with systemic sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that causes thickened, tight skin and disruption of the normal structure and function of organs such as the heart, lungs, GI tract, and kidneys, experience a loss of life expectancy of 16 years in men and 34 years in women.

 

Link to full story at TheScientist

Lower Blood Pressure Guidelines Could Be ‘Lifesaving,’ Federal Study Says

Declaring they had “potentially lifesaving information,” federal health officials said on Friday that they were ending a major study more than a year early because it has already conclusively answered a question cardiologists have puzzled over for decades: How low should blood pressure go?

The answer: way lower than the current guidelines.

For years doctors have been uncertain what the optimal goal should be for patients with high blood pressure. The aim of course is to bring it down, but how far and how aggressively remained a mystery. There are trade-offs — risks and side effects from drugs — and there were lingering questions about whether older patients needed somewhat higherblood pressure to push blood to the brain.

The study found that patients who were assigned to reach a systolic blood pressure goal below 120 — far lower than current guidelines of 140, or 150 for people over 60 — had their risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes reduced by a third and their risk of death reduced by nearly a quarter.

Link to full story on NYT