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Portuguese Science

Scientists discovered a new player in mental diseases

2014-07-25
Por Catarina Amorim
João Filipe Oliveira
João Filipe Oliveira
Astrocytes, the cells that make the background of the brain and support neurons, might be behind mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, according to new research by a Portuguese team from the ICVS at the University of Minho. The study, in this month Molecular Psychiatry, shows how a simple reduction of astrocytes in the prefrontal cortex (which is linked to cognition) can kill its neurons and lead to the cognitive deficits that characterise several mental diseases. Although malfunctioning astrocytes have been found in psychiatric patients before, it was not clear if they were a cause or a consequence of the disease. 

. Este artigo foi escrito por Catarina Amorim
no âmbito de um projecto para a divulgação da ciência portuguesa

Portuguese Science

One parasite three diseases

Por Catarina Amorim

2014-05-25
Mónica Botelho
Mónica Botelho
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease that infects 243 million people worldwide, and kills about 200 thousand every year. The infection is contracted through contaminated waters, and in the developing world, where is most common, is 2nd only to malaria in rates of infection and public health impact. To make things worse, women, already one of the most vulnerable groups in these regions, often develop infertility secondary to the infection. This in places where female role remains centred on being a mother, and gynaecological medical care is next to inexistent. But there is good news from a study by scientists in Portugal and Angola: Julio Santos, Monica Botelho and colleagues have foundcatechols (molecules similar to oestrogen, the female sex hormone) in the urine of infected females, that seem to be produced by the parasite and associated with the infertility. If these results are confirmed - and catechols are already known to exist in the blood of schistosomiasis patients - testing for these molecules in the urine, could be an easy and non-intrusive way to identify infected women in risk of infertility to fast track towards urgent medical care.

Portuguese Science

When bad news are good news for neurodegenerative diseases

Por Catarina Amorim

2014-04-21
Carolina Lemos
Carolina Lemos
Some genetic diseases caused by an abnormal repeat in the DNA are known to become more severe with each new generation - this dreadful trait is called anticipation. Now a study by Portuguese researchers from Porto University has proved, for the first time, the existence of anticipation in diseases caused by a different type of errors that not a DNA repeat, in this case the fatal neurodegenerative disorder Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy (FAP). 

Portuguese Science

So we have no free will, but at least we are influencing half of the world

2014-03-05
Por Por Catarina Amorim
Jorge Pacheco
Jorge Pacheco
In times of internet and cheap travel we consider ourselves part of a global society, but how connected this really makes us will surprise many. A Portuguese research group has found that social networks are allowing us to influence people everywhere, and not only those that we know, but also people that we never or will ever meet, what is nothing short of extraordinary. 

Portuguese Science

Is this the next vaccine revolution? Scientists make major breakthrough in vaccine design

Por Catarina Amorim

2014-02-05
Exemplo de design computacional elaborado por Bruno Correia para o
Exemplo de design computacional elaborado por Bruno Correia para o "Ciência Hoje" em 2011 (clique para aumentar)
Vaccines are the safest, cheapest and most effective way to protect against infectious diseases. But to make a good one is still a challenge, and traditional approaches are now stretched to the limit while fatal diseases, like HIV and malaria, remain without vaccine. But a major breakthrough that turns vaccine design on its head is being published in Nature on the 6th of February; a computational method that, from the protective antibodies of patients designs the vaccine specific to induce them (and protect against the disease).

Portuguese Science

In climate control birds of a feather should not flock together

Por Catarina Amorim

2014-01-28
Jorge Pacheco é o terceiro autor do estudo
Jorge Pacheco é o terceiro autor do estudo
Despite widespread scientific consensus that the major cause of climate change is an increase in greenhouse gases from human action, a global treaty to stop the emissions seems impossible to attain. A major obstacle has been an incapacity to agree on the obligations of poor versus rich nations. In fact, while the 1997 Kyoto Protocol only set emissions targets for developed countries, the present mood is different, with every country being asked to play its part, even if nobody seems to be able to reach a consensus on how to do it. 

Portuguese Science

Stopping Alzheimer before the first symptoms
might be closer than thought

2013-08-13
Por Catarina Amorim
Luís Maia
Luís Maia
New research just out in the journal Science Translational Medicine opens the door for the development of treatments capable of stopping Alzheimer’s disease (AD) before its first symptoms, that is to say before any crucial damage occurs. In fact, if AD is a devastating disorder it is also an extremely slow one; it takes more than 10 years for the first symptoms to appear making this preclinical period (pre-symptoms) the ideal time to intervene. 

And now a study from the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen and the Hospital de Santo António-CHP, Porto, Portugal could be the first step towards that – Luís Maia and Stephan Kaeser found that changes occurring in the cerebrospinal fluid (the liquid around the spine and the brain also designed as CSF) of two animal models of AD parallel disease progression, and as such can be used to monitor the disease without resorting to symptoms.

Portuguese Science

City birds develop a new personality from their rural cousins

Por Catarina Amorim

2013-06-28
Catarina Miranda
Catarina Miranda
In a report out on the 1st of October in the journal Global Change Biology researchers describe how urban populations of blackbirds show different personality from their rural cousins, and that this appears to result from changes in their genetics and not just from a behavioural (reversible) adaptation. If the genetic changes are confirmed - and already one other study seems to do so – these results are an alert for the major impact that urbanization is having on our wildlife. This result is particularly worrying if we think that blackbirds started living in cities less than 200 years ago, what is nothing in evolutionary terms. The study by Catarina Miranda and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany and the Science and Technology Foundation, Portugal is also helping to understand what not so long ago was considered an “urban myth” – that non-human animals have personalities.

Nova população de células estaminais pode ser a resposta
à falta de reservas dos bancos de sangue

Portuguese Science

2013-06-19
Por Catarina Amorim *
Sandra Pinho
Sandra Pinho
Sandra Pinho, uma cientista portuguesa a trabalhar no Albert Einstein College em Nova Iorque,  identificou em humanos uma população de células capaz de expandir o numero de células estaminais hematopoieticas (as células estaminais que dão origem a todas as células do sangue, desde plaquetas a glóbulos vermelhos ou brancos).

O trabalho tem o potencial de poder ajudar a resolver o problema crónico de falta de dadores nos bancos sanguíneos, mas também nos casos em que é necessário transplantar directamente as células estaminais hematopoieticas de forma a gerar de novo todo o sistema sanguíneo (tal como acontece nas leucemias ou anemias crónicas). O estudo vai ser publicado no dia 1 de julho noJournal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) mas está disponível online desde hoje na página da revista.

* com Sandra Pinho. Este artigo foi escrito por Catarina Amorim
no âmbito de um projecto para a divulgação da ciência portuguesa

New therapeutic approach to protect the brain in old age (and stop Alzheimer's)

Portuguese science

2013-04-12
Por Catarina Amorim
Marta Amaral
Marta Amaral
A collaboration between scientists in the UK, Portugal and Germany have solved the structure of KYNURENINE 3-MONOOXYGENASE (KMO), a protein implicated in neurodegenerative diseases linked to aging like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. The study, which will appear in the journal «Nature» on the 11th of April, also identifies the binding place to block KMO, opening the door to a promising new therapeutic approach for a group of diseases that despite affecting millions still have no cure or treatment.
 
“Neurodegenerative diseases linked to old age are rising non-stop and KMO-targeted approaches should be particularly valuable because they could treat, not one, but several of these conditions” says Marta Amaral the first author of the study.

Discovered new marker that identifies
gastric cancers with different prognoses

2013-02-17
Por Catarina Amorim
A collaboration between Portuguese and Italian scientists has discovered new subgroups of stomach cancer patients with different disease’s characteristics, an information that is hoped will help improving the clinical management of a disease that still kills a dismaying 3 out of 4 patients. The study by Giovanni Corso and Joana Carvalho from Carla Oliveiras’ team and colleagues searched for somatic (acquired after birth) abnormalities in the molecule E-cadherin (an important tumour suppressor), linking these to the patients’ disease history. The results led to the identification of several GC groups with different disease characteristics and even survival chances, including one with the worst prognoses of all. This new information is hoped to be the first step towards better therapeutic decisions to improve the patients’ quality of life and maybe even their survival. The study comes from the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), Portugal and the University of Siena, Italy and will be published in the March edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Portuguese Science

Social skills are the key to bacteria evolution

2012-12-13
Por Catarina Amorim
Teresa Nogueira
Teresa Nogueira
Bacteria have lived for millions of years in our planet where with an impressive capability to adapt, they now colonise virtually every environment, including us. But as tiny one-cell organisms they had to learn to work together to be powerful enough to act on the environment and other organisms. And now, new research has discovered that their evolution is triggered exactly by these interactions, as scientists from Centre for Environmental Biology at the University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Institute Pasteur in Paris show that bacteria’s genes for secreted proteins (the ones that mediate the interactions with the outside) evolve faster than any others in the genome. The fast changing pace of these secreted proteins also suggests that they are the basis for bacterial adaptation, and should be the first stop for researchers looking for new ways to fight bacterial infection, exploit their resources or simply trying to understand these organisms better. The work by researchers Teresa Nogueira, Marie Touchon and Eduardo P. C. Rocha has just been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

New study discovers why Parkinson´s disease affects the memory

2012-08-22
Por Catarina Amorim
Tiago Outeiro
Tiago Outeiro
The recent discoveries that α-Synuclein(α-Syn) protein, a central player in Parkinson´s disease (PD) brain destruction, could not only pass from one neuron to another but also exist outside neuronal cells has led to major rethink on the disease. In addition, it has opened as well a world of possibilities to finally understand many of the questions that have eluded scientists for decades. And in fact, a study looking at α-Syn effects out of the cell has found that it interferes with the normal functioning of the hippocampus, the brain area for memory and learning, what might finally explain the cognitive and memory problems seen in so many PD patients. The work from the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Lisbon University also shows that among the many forms of the protein, are its oligomers (aggregation of small number of α-Syn) that are toxic, something that has been the focus of much debate and might now help solve the biggest mystery of PD, the mechanism by which the affected neurons are killed. The study will be published soon in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Portuguese develop software that can radically change city planning worldwide. And is free

2012-08-20
Por Catarina Amorim*
Jorge Pacheco e Francisco C. Santos
Jorge Pacheco e Francisco C. Santos
A team of Portuguese researchers developed a mathematical tool that can classify any region in the world according to its pattern of development into one of 5 types - each with specific characteristics and predictable behaviours - that call for different interventions and policy measures. The discovery, just out in Nature’s Scientific Reports, represents a major step towards a new type of city planning - objective and, most importantly, independent of the personal visions, interests and ever changing politics .

Portuguese Science

New hope for neurodegenerative disease

Portuguese team from the Centre for Neurosciences at the University of Coimbra was able to halt the brain degeneration in mice, by blocking a molecule called calpain

2012-07-23
Por Catarina Amorim *
Foto de  de Eadweard Muybridge feita no sec XIX e que compara movimentos normais com aqueles de doentes com ataxia (2 ultimas filas) (Boston_Public_Library)
Foto de de Eadweard Muybridge feita no sec XIX e que compara movimentos normais com aqueles de doentes com ataxia (2 ultimas filas) (Boston_Public_Library)
Researchers have moved a step closer to find a treatment for the fatal neurodegenerative disorder Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) after a Portuguese team from the Centre for Neurosciences at the University of Coimbra was able to halt the brain degeneration in mice, by blocking a molecule called calpain. Calpain are known to cut ataxin-3 (the mutant protein behind MJD) into fragments, and the study, which will be published in the journal Brain, proves that these fragments are crucial to trigger the neurodegeneration.

Portuguese Science

Human bipedalism – was it all about food?

2012-05-02
Por Catarina Amorim *
(Foto e vídeo cortesia da revista Current Biology)
(Foto e vídeo cortesia da revista Current Biology)
Our ancestors might have start walking on two feet in order to carry food more efficiently suggests new research in the journal Current Biology. Bipedalism (walk on two feet) is one of the key features that distinguish us from chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest relatives, but it is also an adaptation that radically changed our evolution when it released our ancestors’ hands to all kind of jobs. Despite its importance the reason why the behaviour first appeared remains a mystery. But now a study by researchers from Portugal, the UK and Japan, using wild chimpanzees as a proxy model for early hominids, discovered that limited availability of highly desired foods turns the animals bipedal in order to be able to carry more items quicker. Since the circumstances where bipedalism occurs among chimpanzees probably parallel the challenges faced by first hominids, the results suggest that a need to collect and carry food was crucial in the evolution of the upright posture among hominids.

The immune system, more than meets the eye?

2010-04-22
Por Catarina Amorim*
Cells of the immune system (Créditos: Jeanne Kelly)
Cells of the immune system (Créditos: Jeanne Kelly)
For some years now a small group of scientists have been pioneering a revolutionary idea – that the vertebrate immune system could have a role in the regulation of iron in the body. And now, a work soon to be published in the journal Immunology, shows that human lymphocytes (white blood cells) actually produce hepcidin, the most important protein in the regulation of iron levels in the body. What was also unexpected was the fact that hepcidin affected lymphocyte multiplication – which occurs for example during an infection – showing that the two systems seem to be much more interlinked than even previously imagined.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

A yeast contribution for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Authors of the original paper: Tiago Outeiro e Susan Lindquist

2010-01-15
Por Catarina Amorim *
Tiago Fleming Outeiro
Tiago Fleming Outeiro
Susan Lindquist (imagem licenciada por  Creative Commons)
Susan Lindquist (imagem licenciada por Creative Commons)
Scientists have just identified several molecules capable of reversing the brain abnormalities of Parkinson’s disease (PD), while also uncovering new clues for its origin in a study just published in the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms¹. PD is characterised by abnormal deposits of a brain protein called alpha-synuclein throughout the damaged brain regions, but exactly what they do there is not clear. The fact that their numbers and spreading are associated disease progression has made them, however, a major point of interest in PD research. The work now published suggests that these deposits are actually a normal physiological process to purge unwanted proteins but, when “overloaded”, they can also cause of the cellular abnormalities seen in PD neurons and, ultimately, neural death.

* This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Mosquitoes capable of spreading the West Nile virus exist in large numbers in the south of Europe

Authors of the original paper: Bruno Gomes e João Pinto

2009-12-14
Por Catarina Amorim*

Bruno Gomes e João Pinto
Bruno Gomes e João Pinto
Potentially fatal mosquito-borne West Nile fever (WNF) can become much more widespread in Europe than previously thought, say scientists in a new report just out in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology(1). The disease in temperate climates is carried by a population of Culex pipiens mosquitoes that only bites birds - the disease reservoir host - but Bruno Gomes and colleagues from the Centre for Malaria and Tropical diseases and Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Portugal found high numbers of hybrids between this population and another one that bites on humans. These hybrids, by feeding on both humans and birds, can act as a bridge transmitting the disease to humans. The study was done in Portugal and follows recent reports of infected mosquitoes and several disease cases in this country.

* This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Need a helping hand? Just infect a stranger with a cooperative gene!

Authors of the original paper: Teresa Nogueira e Eduardo Rocha

2009-11-15
Por Catarina Amorim *

Eduardo Rocha
Eduardo Rocha
Cooperation is seen in every corner of life from microbes to humans, many times with no obvious advantages to those that provide it at high costs. Given the existence of “freeloading cheaters” ready to exploit the resources of those cooperating, why is it that cooperation persist?

In an article now published in the journal Current Biology(¹)

Teresa Nogueira
Teresa Nogueira
Nogueira and colleagues suggest that in bacteria this can result from highly mobile genes that “jump” from one cell to the next carrying the cooperative traits, effectively turning everyone into a cooperator.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Calcium is crucial to mend a broken heart say scientists

Authors of the original paper: João Ferreira-Martins
e Carlos Rondon-Clavo

2009-10-15
Por Catarina Amorim *
João Martins
João Martins

Calcium is crucial for heart regeneration by cardiac stem cells following cardiovascular problems say scientists in an article to be published in the journal Circulation Research¹ this 9th of October. The study also identifies the body molecules controlling calcium levels in the stem cells and reveals, how their manipulation, can lead to the formation of new cardiac tissue. The work, that follows the recent surprising discovery of stem cells within the heart, can have important implications in the regenerative medicine of this organ in patients with cardiovascular diseases.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Discovered key gene for the formation of new neurons

Author of the original paper: Luísa Pinto

2009-09-13
Por Catarina Amortim *
Luísa Pinto (clique para ampliar)
Luísa Pinto (clique para ampliar)

Scientists discovered a gene - called AP2gamma – crucial for the neural development of the visual cortex, in a discovery that can have implications for the therapeutics of neural regeneration as well as provide new clues about how the brain evolved into higher sophistication in mammals. The article will come out on the 13th of September in the journal Nature Neuroscience¹.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Scientists develop a new approach for cancer treatment

Authors of the original paper: David Dingli
e Jorge Pacheco

2009-09-01
Por Catarina Amorim*
Da esquerda para a direita: David  Dingli, FACC Chalub, FC Santos, S Van Segbroeck and Jorge M Pacheco
Da esquerda para a direita: David Dingli, FACC Chalub, FC Santos, S Van Segbroeck and Jorge M Pacheco

A new paradigm in the way we look at cancer with important implications on how we treat it is about to be published in the British Journal of Cancer¹ by Portuguese, Belgian and American researchers. The group use a mathematical approach to reveal how - by changing the dynamics of interaction between the cancer cells and those of the affected tissue – it is possible to control and even potentially cure the disease. Even more interesting is the fact that this new approach can be used in any number of pathologies where different cells interact.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Cicadas – singing a different song

Author of the original paper: José Alberto Quartau

2009-08-17
Por Catarina Amorim*
José Alberto Quartau
José Alberto Quartau

Cicadas - better known for providing the soundtrack of our hot summer are remarkably interesting animals, they are the longest living insects – 17 years for some species – but spent 99% of this time underground to then emerge for a few weeks, reproduce and finally die. Now a study of north-African and Mediterranean cicadas by scientists in Portugal and the UK uncover yet more interesting data on the group by revealing that these species although differentiated by their mating calls (and genetically) are, nevertheless, morphologically indistinguishable.

**This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here.

Portuguese scientists discover mechanism how chronic stress leads to bad choices in life

Author of the original paper: Nuno Sousa

2009-08-04
Por Catarina Amorim*
Nuno Sousa
Nuno Sousa

Every day we make a multitude of decisions based on the consequences of our actions (goal-orientated responses). In an always changing environment this capacity is crucial but, because it is complex, it also requires a lot from the brain. So repeated actions - like to press the elevator button to our floor - become linked to other type of neural responses, which are automatic and so less demanding. And if necessary it is always possible to switch back to the first kind of response. But research by Portuguese scientists to be published on the 31st of July in the journal Science¹ now reveals that chronic stress – too many times a feature of modern life - interfere with this switching capacity, by freezing individuals into automatic/habit responses mode.

**This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science. Find all the articles here . Read about this project here

Discovered – key gene for bone development that when mutated lead to dwarfism

Authors of the original paper: Belinda Xavier e Luisa Bonafe

2009-07-08
Por Catarina Amorim*
Belinda Xavier
Belinda Xavier

Scientists have just discovered the gene behind Recessive Omodysplasia, a rare skeletal disease characterised by short-limbed dwarfism and craniofacial anomalies. The work, just published in the American Journal of Human Genetics¹, reports the identification, on chromosome 13, of a gene - GPC6 – that is shown to be crucial for normal bone development. The research will allow a better comprehension, as well as prevention, of the disease, by permitting, for example, the screening of potential mutation carriers for pregnancy advise but, and most importantly, will also help to understand better bone development and its molecular bases.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science: http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455  

A diaphanous control during embryo formation

Authors of the original paper: Catarina Homem e Mark Peifer

2008-04-07
Por Catarina Amorim *
Catarina Homem
Catarina Homem

A gene called Diaphanous (or Dia) has just been uncovered as a major regulator during embryo formation. The research now published in the journal Development shows how Dia mutations in fruit flies embryos result in a serious of defects during morphogenesis (process by which cells differentiate into tissues and structures), including loss of adhesion, abnormal movements and even migration of cells from one tissue to another. The discovery contributes to a better understanding of how tissue and organ formation is regulated and, consequently, to, one day, be able to intervene therapeutically. Furthermore, the loss of adhesion and abnormal mobility that occurs when Dia is mutated is very similar to what happens during cancer metastases formation, suggesting that this gene might also have a role in cancer.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science" http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455"

Ver também http://www.cienciahoje.pt/index.php?oid=25781&op=all

Identified key gene behind embryonic stem cells capability to develop into any type of cell

Authors of the original paper: Alexandre Gaspar Maia e Miguel Ramalho-Santo

2009-07-08
Por Catarina Amorim*
Alexandre Gaspar Maia
Alexandre Gaspar Maia

A gene crucial for embryonic stem cell pluripotency (the capability to differentiate into any type of cell) is described in the next issue of the journal Nature1. The gene - called Chd¹ – seems to act by maintaining the genetic material open and, in this way, poised to express any gene. Chd1 is also shown to be fundamental when re-activating differentiated tissue cells in order to create new stem cells. The discovery has implications, not only for a better understanding of stem cells unique characteristics, but also for the process of obtaining them from tissue-specific cells avoiding all the problems associated with embryonic stem cells.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science: http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455  

Food calories - independently of its taste - are directly recognised by the brain, says new research

Authors of the original paper: Albino J. Oliveira-Maia e Ivan E. de Araujo

2008-03-27
Por Catarina Amorim *
Albino Maia
Albino Maia

We all know how pleasurable it is too eat a chocolate and how difficult it is, once we started, to stop. Scientists know that it is the recognition of its sweet taste in the mouth, activating the brain to produce dopamine – a neurotransmitter associated with strong feelings of pleasure – that leads to a desire for more. But while this hedonistic effect of food in the brain is well known, new research reveals that calories - per se - can do exactly the same. The study, to be published on the 27th of March issue of the journal Neuron, reveals that not only can calories induce dopamine release - independently of food palatability- but also, that this is done through activation of a same brain area responsive to sweet tastes.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science" http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455"

ND - Ver entrevista com Albino Maia em http://www.cienciahoje.pt/index.php?oid=25727&op=all

Scientists follow live infection by food-poisoning bacteria Listeria

Authors of the original paper: Ana Camejo e Didier Cabanes

2009-05-29
Por Catarina Amorim *
Didier Cabanes e Ana Camejo
Didier Cabanes e Ana Camejo

Scientists in Portugal and France managed to follow the patterns of gene expression in food-poisoning bacteria Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) live during infection for the first time. The work about to be published in PLoS Pathogens¹ shows how the bacterial genome shifts to better adapt to infection by activating genes involved in virulence and subversion of the host defences, as well as adaptation to the host conditions. This is the first time that the molecular interactions between L. monocytogenes and its host, as they occur during the different steps of infection, are followed in real time paving the way, not only to the development of new therapies against this potentially lethal bacterium, but also for the study of other pathogen/host interactions.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science: http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455

A new "2 in 1" anticoagulant is isolated from a tick

Authors of the original paper:Sandra Macedo-Ribeiro, Pedro José Barbosa Pereira

2008-02-19
Por Catarina Amorim *
Sandra Ribeiro (clique para ampliar)
Sandra Ribeiro (clique para ampliar)
Pedro Pereira (clique para ampliar)
Pedro Pereira (clique para ampliar)

The discovery of a new anticoagulant with promising therapeutic value is reported on the 20th of February issue of the journal PLoS ONE(1). Boophilin – as it was named - is particularly interesting due to a capability to block thrombin – probably the most important (and difficult to inhibit) protein in blood clotting – as well as a second pro-coagulant molecule making it the first bivalent thrombin-inhibitor ever described. This specific bivalence suggests that boophilin can be a very effective anti-coagulant even at small quantities, opening the door to the development of new more specific and effective, and so also safer, blood thinning therapies.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science" http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455"

New clues on the link between Helicobacter pylori and stomach cancer

Authors of the original paper: Ana Machado, Céu Figueiredo, Raquel Seuca e LeneJuel Rasmussen

2009-05-08
Por Catarina Amorim *
Ana Machado
Ana Machado
Céu Figueiredo
Céu Figueiredo

Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is considered one of the most important risk factors for stomach (or gastric) cancer with as much as 65% of all cases linked back to the bacteria, although exactly how this occurs is not fully clear. But now researchers in Denmark, Portugal and France, publishing in the journal Clinical Cancer Research¹, show that H. pylori infection contribution to cancer can be linked to at least three independent molecular pathways, which, when disturbed by infection, lead to mutations in the patients’ gastric tissues.

* This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science: http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455

A few more pieces for the puzzle that is Alzheimer's disease

Authors of the original paper: Ivo Martins, Inna Kuperstein, Joost Schymkowitz e Frederic Rousseau

2008-01-10
Por Catarina Amorim *
Ivo Martins
Ivo Martins

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects as much as 10% of the world population above 65 years of age but after years of research it is still not understood exactly how the disease appears and, even less, how to treat it. But work just published in The EMBO Journal (1) opens the door to new ways for disease intervention by showing that lipids found throughout the brain can dissolve the large insoluble protein plaques characteristic of the disease, releasing their soluble protofibrillar components, and also that it is the soluble components and not the insoluble plaques that provoke neural death.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science" http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455"

Scientists discovered a new molecular mechanism linking viral infection to cancer susceptibility

Author of the original paper: Pedro Machado Simas

2009-04-14
Por Catarina Amorim*
Pedro Simas
Pedro Simas

Portuguese scientists discovered a new molecular mechanism that allows gamma herpes viruses to chronically infect patients and helps to explain why these patients present an abnormally high incidence of the lymphocyte (or white blood cell) cancer lymphoma, particularly when their immune system is compromised.

The research, just published in the advance online edition of The Embo Journal ¹, reveals how these viruses mimic the host molecular machinery to shutdown NF-kB –a key regulatory protein complex involved in cell division and death – on infected lymphocytes, and how this - probably by disrupting the cells normal regulatory systems - creates the conditions for the development of lymphomas.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science: http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455  

In Embryonic Stem Cells gene inactivation can have a totally new meaning

Author of the original paper: Ana Pombo

2007-11-25
Por Catarina Amorim *
Ana Pombo com Miguel Casanova, co-autor do paper (clique para ampliar)
Ana Pombo com Miguel Casanova, co-autor do paper (clique para ampliar)

Embryonic stem cells (ESC) can both self-renew or differentiate into the many cells of the organism and it is crucial to understand the mechanism behind this capability if we want to use them in clinic. Developmental regulator genes are responsible for the activation of many ESC differentiation-pathways and, as such, they are a fundamental key to understand them. And now, research about to be published in Nature Cell Biology, reveals that these genes -always believed to be inactive in ESC before differentiation start - when apparently silent (non-active) are in fact poised, already on the first steps of gene activation only unable to go further due to the presence of repressor molecules.

*This article is the result of a project for the divulgation of portuguese science" http://www.cienciahoje.pt/1455"

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