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Recent developments at Burnham Institute for Medical Research, May 2009
Date:5/12/2009

The research was published in BioTechniques. In addition, Drs. Vincent Chen, Jeff Price, Mark Mercola and colleagues have described new tools and methods for tracking the development of heart muscle cells in human embryonic stem cell cultures and for purifying large numbers of these cells for large-scale applications and pre-clinical trials. This research was published in PLoS ONE.

Link between diabetes drug and Alzheimer's disease

The laboratory of Dr. Huaxi Xu has reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that the commonly prescribed diabetes medication metformin increases the production and deposition of amyloid protein in the brain. The implication of this finding is that this drug may be potentially harmful when used as a monotherapy in elderly diabetic patients. However, the effect appears cancelled in the presence of insulin, suggesting that a combination therapy might be safe. Dr. Xu's laboratory also described how the amyloid precursor protein in diseased neurons influences the intracellular trafficking of other proteins involved in cell signaling and processing of the amyloid precursor protein itself in the Journal of Cell Biology. This study adds new insight into the mechanisms that control production of the amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Potential drug target for Alzheimer's disease

A chemical reaction occurs in Alzheimer's disease involving free radical attack on a molecule called Drp1, which is important for the integrity of mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cell. The free radicals cause excessive activity of Drp1 that, in turn, cause the mitochondria to fragment. Once this happens, the energy of the nerve cell is compromised and connections to other nerve cells are lost and eventually the nerve cells die. The chemical reaction mediated by free radicals (in this case a form of nitric oxide or NO) is called S-nitrosylat
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Contact: Josh Baxt
jbaxt@burnham.org
858-795-5236
Burnham Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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