June 2013

In other news

Does PubMed Central undermine journal usage?
Scientific societies may be at risk of losing their scholarly communities because of the centralization of research papers in PubMed Central, according to a study in the FASEB Journal in April. Consultant Phillip M. Davis conducted a longitudinal retrospective study of 13,233 articles published between February 2008 and January 2011, revealing that full-text HTML and PDF articles are being downloaded increasingly less from journals’ websites than from PubMed Central. This may decrease the ability of journals to maintain groups of interest and to communicate news and events, “drawing readers away from the unique editorial flavor – and critical editorial comment – of the journals’ websites,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the journal in a press release.
In memoriam: William H. Daughaday
William DaughadayWilliam H. Daughaday, one of the world’s leading authorities on endocrinology, died in May at the age of 95. His interest in the field was born during his first year at Harvard Medical School. Daughaday founded Washington University’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center and its successor, the Diabetes Research and Training Center, and helped pioneer the field. He discovered the insulinlike growth factors, unraveled some of their roles and interactions, and developed and applied tests to detect the presence of growth hormone, publishing overall more than 300 scientific articles. Daughaday’s work was very appreciated and highly awarded. “His scientific contributions transformed the field, and he made a huge impact here at Washington University through his research, patient care and the educational programs he developed,” said Victoria J. Fraser, head of the department of medicine. “Bill will always be remembered for his scientific curiosity, intellect and leadership.”
Boston bombing victims aided by biologist-surgeon
Biologist and trauma surgeon Michael Yaffe used his unique set of skills to help the victims of the Boston marathon bombing and talked about the experience with the journal Science. The vivid description that Yaffe, an ASBMB member, makes in the Q&A paints a detailed picture of the “surreal” week, one in which everybody working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center collaborated “like a well-oiled machine” to deal with the incoming trauma cases. He says his science background helped him “take an integrative approach to care,” coordinating all the different medical teams to the patients’ best interests no matter if they were the victims or attackers. “Our role is to heal the wounded. We’re not judges,” says Yaffe.
Epilepsy cured in mice using brain cells
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience their recent findings on a possible cure for nonresponsive epilepsy. They eliminated seizures or reduced their numbers in epileptic mice by transplanting medial ganglionic eminence cells into the hippocampus. These progenitor cells help control the abnormal excitatory brain signals by generating mature inhibitory interneurons, replacing the cells that fail in epilepsy and integrating into them the existing neural circuits in the mice. Besides having no or fewer seizures, the treated mice experienced reductions in hyperactivity and agitation as well as improvements in water-maze test performance.
Single-cell transfection tool enables added control for biological studies
Nanofountain probe electroporation, or NFP-E, is a new method developed by Northwestern University researchers to deliver molecules into cells more efficiently. It is based on nanofountain probe technology (i.e., an array of microfabricated cantilever probes with integrated microfluidic channels) containing an electrode and a fluid-control system. NFP-E creates temporary nanopores in cell membranes by applying a localized electric field to a small portion of a specifically targeted cell. This technique can help scientists deliver molecules to certain cells in more precise doses depending on the duration of the electric pulses, which provides a new level of control over the transfection process. The work was published in the journal Nano Letters.
Study reveals how melanoma evades chemotherapy
Nitric oxide may be the reason melanoma has such a bad prognosis, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently reported. Treating melanoma cells in the lab with drugs that blocked NO, the researchers found that the cells became more responsive to cisplatin. This effect is related to S-nitrosation, a process through which NO alters protein function. At high NO levels, S-nitrosation affects caspase-3 (a proapoptotic compound) and PHD2 (the inhibitor of a pro-survival protein, HIF 1 alpha), keeping the cells alive despite the massive DNA damage caused by cisplatin. “Now we have a mechanistic link between nitric oxide and the increased aggressiveness of melanoma,” said Douglas Thomas at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not part of the research team. The work was led by Luiz Godoy and presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Teodora DonisanThis news roundup was compiled by ASBMB Today contributor Teodora Donisan (teodora.donisan@gmail.com), a medical student at Carol Davila University in Bucharest, Romania. Send links of interest to asbmbtoday@asbmb.org for possible inclusion in future issues.

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