Looking for the fountain of youth? Scientists may have found it.

Scientists led by Johan Auwerx from the EPFL, in collaboration with the Netherlands and the US, have found that the mitochondria play an important role in the aging process and that it can be influenced using antibiotics. Mitochondria are responsible for transforming nutrients into proteins, which are used by muscles as energy. The research has identified the exact genes involved in the process and the consequences of varying the amount of protein they encode for. The less protein, the longer the life span.

The study has been carried out on mice and worms, showing that three genes situated on chromosome number two can be manipulated to extend life. A 50% reduction in the expression of these genes led to a 60% increase in life span for both the mice and the worms.

Still a long way to go before it can be tested on humans, but nonetheless, a breakthrough that can revolutionize the world.

For more information, please refer to: Houtkooper, R, Mouchiroud, L, Ryu, D, Moullan, N, Katsyuba, E, Knott, G, Williams, R, & Auwerx, J (2013), ‘Mitonuclear protein imbalance as a conserved longevity mechanism’, Nature, 497, 7450, p. 451


Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist, and his colleagues published a study in 2011 in the journal Current Biology, where they presented a new motion-energy encoding model that largely overcomes the limitations of slow BOLD signals in fMRI. The model describes fast visual information and slow hemodynamics by separate components. The authors recorded BOLD signals in occipitotemporal visual cortex of human subjects who watched natural movies and fit the model separately to individual voxels. Visualization of the fit models reveals how early visual areas represent the information in movies. They also constructed a Bayesian decoder which provides remarkable reconstructions of the viewed movies. These results demonstrate that dynamic brain activity measured under naturalistic conditions can be decoded using current fMRI technology.

This could have tremendous implications for stroke, coma patients or blind patients by creating artificial retinas, for instance.

For the full article, please click here

Youtube movie: Brain Activity Reconstruction

Vascular brain injury can result from conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, have found out that there is an inverse correlation between vascular brain injury and memory and the ability to problem-solve. This means that these types of injury have a greater influence on cognitive impairment of the elderly than the level of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain.

For this study, 61 people from Northern California, aged 65 to 90 years old, were recruited between 2007 and 2012. For more details, please refer to the full article: JAMA Neurology, February 11, 2013

The Biological Internet

October 2, 2012

Bioengineers from Stanford University have used the parasite M13 to create what could be the roots of biological internet: “Bi-Fi”. M13 packages genetic messages: it reproduces inside its host, taking strands of DNA, wrapping them up and sending them, encapsulated in proteins produced by M13, to infect other cells. The strands of DNA can be controlled by engineers, in such a way that, the channel is isolated from the content. This cell-cell communication platform might lead the way to cell programming and even regeneration of tissue organs, according to the authors. For more information, click here


According to a study carried out by researchers from the Centre for PET at Austin Health in Melbourne and Bayer Healthcare using florbetaben-PET imaging on 45 subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), progression to Alzheimer’s disease occurred in 75%of MCI with high florbetaben uptake, compared with 53% of MCI with hippocampal atrophy.Furthermore they also found that 80% of MCI with both high florbetaben uptake and hippocampal atrophy progressed to Alzheimer’s, while 19% of MCI subjects with low florbetaben developed other dementias. The researchers concluded that high florbetaben binding indicated a “very high risk of progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s within two years and was a stronger and more specific risk factor than hippocampal atrophy in this cohort.” For more information, refer to the Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

The journal of Oncology has recently launched its App for the Cancer Management Handbook. The Cancer Management Handbook has been for years an essential resource for physicians, with up-to-date information about treatments and the latest updates in the oncology field. Now, this journal goes a step forward offering an application for tablets, interactive and very easy-to-use.

The number of movies in “3D” has increased a lot in the last couple of years, but not only in the cinemas is 3D becoming important. More and more researchers and medical companies are trying to create 3D visualization of medical images in order to help physicians reconstruct in their minds the organ they are seeing as a 2D representation. This is called spatial cognition and there are big differences in the spatial cognition capabilities of different people. Some companies such as Echopixel technologies and Infinite Z, are already working to integrate 3D visualization into the clinical practice by developing advanced visualization and manipulation tools to be used within well-defined clinical protocols.