Nano-Dissection Identifies Genes Involved in Kidney Disease

131004154808-largeUnderstanding how genes act in specific tissues is critical to our ability to combat many human diseases, from heart disease to kidney failure to cancer. Yet isolating individual cell types for study is impossible for most human tissues.

A new method developed by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Michigan called “in silico nano-dissection” uses computers rather than scalpels to separate and identify genes from specific cell types, enabling the systematic study of genes involved in diseases.

The team used the new method to successfully identify genes expressed in cells known as podocytes — the “work-horses” of the kidney — that malfunction in kidney disease. The investigators showed that certain patterns of activity of these genes were correlated with the severity of kidney impairment in patients, and that the computer-based approach was significantly more accurate than existing experimental methods in mice at identifying cell-lineage-specific genes. The study was published in the journal Genome Research.

Using this technique, researchers can now examine the genes from a section of whole tissue, such as a biopsied section of the kidney, for specific signatures associated with certain cell types. By evaluating patterns of gene expression under different conditions in these cells, a computer can use machine-learning techniques to deduce which types of cells are present. The system can then identify which genes are expressed in the cell type in which they are interested. This information is critical both in defining novel disease biomarkers and in selecting potential new drug targets.

By applying the new method to kidney biopsy samples, the researchers identified at least 136 genes as expressed specifically in podocytes. Two of these genes were experimentally shown to be able to cause kidney disease. The authors also demonstrated that in silico nano-dissection can be used for cells other than those found in the kidney, suggesting that the method is useful for the study of a range of diseases.

The computational method was significantly more accurate than another commonly used technique that involves isolating specific cell types in mice. The nano-dissection method’s accuracy was 65% versus 23% for the mouse method, as evaluated by a time-consuming process known as immunohistochemistry which involves staining each gene of interest to study its expression pattern.

The research was co-led by Olga Troyanskaya, a professor of computer science and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton, and Matthias Kretzler, a professor of computational medicine and biology at the University of Michigan. The first authors on the study were Wenjun Ju, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan, and Casey Greene, now at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and a former postdoctoral fellow at Princeton.


How Stress Can Rewire Brain, Making Benign Smells Malodorous

In evolutionary terms, smell is among the oldest of the senses. In animals ranging from invertebrates to humans, olfaction exerts a primal influence as the brain continuously and subconsciously processes the steady stream of scent molecules that waft under our noses.

And while odors — whether the aroma of stinky socks or the sweet smell of baking bread — are known to stir the emotions, how they exert their influence biologically on the emotional centers of the human brain, evoking passion or disgust, has been a black box.

Now, however, researchers using powerful new brain imaging technologies are peeling back some of the mystery, revealing how anxiety or stress can rewire the brain, linking centers of emotion and olfactory processing, to make typically benign smells malodorous.

Writing today (Sept. 24, 2013) in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team led by Wen Li, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center, reports that the brains of human subjects experience anxiety induced by disturbing pictures and text of things like car crashes and war transform neutral odors to distasteful ones, fueling a feedback loop that could heighten distress and lead to clinical issues like anxiety and depression.

The finding is important because it may help scientists understand the dynamic nature of smell perception and the biology of anxiety as the brain rewires itself under stressful circumstances and reinforces negative sensations and feelings.

“After anxiety induction, neutral smells become clearly negative,” explains Li, who conducted the study with UW-Madison colleagues Elizabeth Krusemark and Lucas Novak, and Darren Gitelman of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “People experiencing an increase in anxiety show a decrease in the perceived pleasantness of odors. It becomes more negative as anxiety increases.”

Using behavioral techniques and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Li’s group looked at the brains of a dozen human subjects with induced anxiety as they processed known neutral odors.

Functional MRI is a technology that enables clinicians and researchers to observe the working brain in action. Before entering the MRI where screens cycle through a series of disturbing pictures and text, subjects were exposed to and rated a panel of neutral smells.
In the course of the experiment, the Wisconsin team observed that two distinct and typically independent circuits of the brain — one dedicated to olfactory processing, the other to emotion — become intimately intertwined under conditions of anxiety. Subsequent to anxiety induction and the imaging process, subjects were asked again to rate the panel of neutral smells, most assigning negative responses to smells they previously rated as neutral.

“In typical odor processing, it is usually just the olfactory system that gets activated,” says Li. “But when a person becomes anxious, the emotional system becomes part of the olfactory processing stream.”

Although those two systems of the brain are right next to each other, under normal circumstances there is limited crosstalk between the two. However, under conditions of induced anxiety, the Wisconsin team observed the emergence of a unified network cutting across the two systems.

The results may have clinical implications in the sense that it begins to uncover the biological mechanisms at play during periods of anxiety. “We encounter anxiety and as a result we experience the world more negatively. The environment smells bad in the context of anxiety. It can become a vicious cycle, making one more susceptible to a clinical state of anxiety as the effects accumulate. It can potentially lead to a higher level of emotional disturbances with rising ambient sensory stress.”

Newton-John clinic opens, Time to Raise a Glass.

OLIVIA Newton-John says her completed cancer centre in Melbourne should be a place where everybody knows your name, and has a drink waiting for you too – if that’s what you want.

Newton-John recently lost her sister to cancer and says the experience taught her how important “loving care and support” is for someone who is dying.

On Friday, after a decade in the making, budget shortfalls and many fundraising campaigns, the star finally opened the final stage of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in the city’s north.

The opening brings online more palliative care beds, more treatment beds and additional research laboratories.

But the cancer survivor says the centre needs to also be about enabling patients to be surrounded by people who know them and care about them.

“(People who) give you all the food you want, that give you a vodka if you want one,” she said.

Newton-John said the marriage of the words “cancer” and “wellness” are important too.

“When you see that you think, ‘I can go from cancer to wellness,'” she said.

Her big dream is that, one day, she can erase “cancer” from the centre’s logo.

“It will be a wellness centre only because we’ll find a cure for cancer.”

12 Little Known Laws of Karma

What is Karma? Karma is the Sanskrit word for action. It is equivalent to Newton’s law of ‘every action must have a reaction’. When we think, speak or act we initiate a force that will react accordingly.
This returning force maybe modified, changed or suspended, but most people will not be able eradicate it. This law of cause and effect is not punishment, but is wholly for the sake of education or learning.
A person may not escape the consequences of his actions, but he will suffer only if he himself has made the conditions ripe for his suffering. Ignorance of the law is no excuse whether the laws are man-made or universal. To stop being afraid and to start being
empowered in the worlds of karma and reincarnation, here is what you need to know about karmic laws.

– “As you sow, so shall you reap”. This is also known as the “Law of Cause and Effect”.
– Whatever we put out in the Universe is what comes back to us.
– If what we want is Happiness, Peace, Love, Friendship… Then we should BE Happy, Peaceful, Loving and a True Friend.

– Life doesn’t just HAPPEN, it requires our participation. – We are one with the Universe, both inside and out.
– Whatever surrounds us gives us clues to our inner state.
– BE yourself, and surround yourself with what you want to have present in your Life.

– What you refuse to accept, will continue for you.
– If what we see is an enemy, or someone with a character trait that
we find to be negative, then we ourselves are not focused on a
higher level of existence.

– “Wherever you go, there you are”.
– For us to GROW in Spirit, it is we who must change – and not the people, places or things around us.
– The only given we have in our lives is OURSELVES and that is the only factor we have control over.
– When we change who and what we are within our heart our life follows suit and changes too.

– Whenever there is something wrong in my life, there is something wrong in me.
– We mirror what surrounds us
– and what surrounds us mirrors us; this is a Universal Truth.
– We must take responsibility what is in our life.

– Even if something we do seems inconsequential, it is very important that it gets done as everything in the Universe is connected.
– Each step leads to the next step, and so forth and so on.
– Someone must do the initial work to get a job done.
– Neither the first step nor the last are of greater significance,
– As they were both needed to accomplish the task.
– Past-Present-Future they are all connected…

– You can not think of two things at the same time.
– When our focus is on Spiritual Values, it is impossible for us to have lower thoughts such as greed or anger.

– If you believe something to be true,then sometime in your life you will be called upon to demonstrate that particular truth.
– Here is where we put what we CLAIM that we have learned, into actual PRACTICE.

– Looking backward to examine what was, prevents us from being totally in the HERE AND NOW.
– Old thoughts, old patterns of behavior, old dreams… – Prevent us from having new ones.

– History repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path.

– All Rewards require initial toil.
– Rewards of lasting value require patient and persistent toil.
– True joy follows doing what we’re suppose to be doing, and waiting for the reward to come in on its own time.

– You get back from something whatever YOU have put into it.
– The true value of something is a direct result of the energy and intent that is put into it.
– Every personal contribution is also a contribution to the Whole.
– Lack luster contributions have no impact on the Whole, nor do they work to diminish it.
– Loving contributions bring life to, and inspire, the Whole.

5 Foods You Should Never Eat Again

When you are trying to get healthy and lose weight, there are certain foods you should avoid. Most of these food are obvious because they contain ingredients that are known to cause weight gain. There are some foods that are not as obvious and can be just as bad for you. These foods are a problem because most people do not know to avoid them and therefore consume them more often then they should. Here are 5 foods that you should never eat again.

1. White Bread

White bread is a staple in most pantries, but the truth is, it doesn’t have any nutritional value. White bread contains a lot of sugar and doesn’t have the ability to keep you satisfied. Even breads that claim to be wheat could contain more sugar than grain and should be avoided. Substitute your white bread for whole grain or whole wheat bread when possible. You can also substitute bread on your sandwiches with lettuce leaves or whole grain tortillas.

2. Fried Foods

Most people know that fried foods are not healthy and should be avoided as much as possible. The problem with fried foods is that many people only associate them
with fast food restaurants and do not realize they also consume them at home. Avoid frying any meal, consider baking or broiling instead. Fried foods are not nutritious and can cause your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to rise. They can also cause you to pack on the pounds.

3. Cream-based Salad Dressings

Many people turn to salads when they are dieting and trying to eat healthy. Salads can be very nutritious and are often low in calories. Salads can become unhealthy when they are covered in cream-based dressings. These types of dressings contain a lot of fat and calories. In fact, there can be more calories in your salad dressing than in the rest of your entire salad. Try oil-based salad dressings instead. Not only do they taste lighter, they have less calories and are better for you.

4. White Rice

Rice is a common ingredient to many recipes and is a popular side dish to many meals. Most people assume that rice is healthy, but the truth is, white rice can cause your body to store fat when it doesn’t need to. It also has no nutritional value. Brown rice is the best option when it comes to rice because it is full of fiber, vitamins and nutrients. It will also keep you satisfied longer so you are less likely to overeat.

5. High Fructose Corn Syrup

There is much debate about whether high fructose corn syrup is good or bad. It can quickly cause you to gain weight and even make you have cravings for more sugar and sugary foods. Overeating sugary foods and foods that are high in fructose corn syrup can even lead to diabetes and other health problems. Avoid any processed sugars and opt for healthier dessert options such as fresh fruits and berries.


Avoiding these foods can help you lose weight and get on the right track to eating healthy. Don’t let these foods sneak onto your menu or into your recipes and make smart substitutions for them as often as possible. Your health and your weight will thank you.

10 Medical Myths

We have all heard them at one time or another. From recommendations of drinking eight glasses of water a day to warnings about staying in from the cold when sick, some medical myths endure no matter how many times they’ve been disproved.  So lets count down the top 10 myths.

10) Myth: Vaccines can cause the flu (and autism).

While the body can react to any shot with a low-grade fever, rumors that a flu shot can cause the flu are an outright lie.The flu shot does contain dead flu viruses but they are, well, dead. A dead virus cannot be resurrected to cause the flu.

As for vaccines causing autism, this myth was started in 1998 by an article in the journal The Lancet. In the study, the parents of eight,yes eight, autistic children said they believed their children acquired autism after they received a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.

Correlation was quickly confused with causation, and since then, rumors have run rampant despite many studies such as a 2002 study in the New England Journal of Medicine of 530,000 (count ’em, 530,000) children that have found nothing to suggest that vaccinations increase the risk of becoming autistic.

Unfortunately, the endurance of this myth continues to eat up time and funding dollars that could be used to make advances in autism, rather than proving, over and over again, that vaccinations do not cause the condition.

9) Myth: Supplements always make you healthier.

An increasing number of studies are finding that vitamin supplementation may not only be ineffectual but may even be dangerous.

For example, people downing vitamins C and E may be predisposing themselves to cancer, according to a study published earlier this year in the journal Stem Cells, as high doses of these antioxidants can cause genetic abnormalities.

Similarly, a study published this year in the journal Cancer Research linked fish oil supplements with cancer in mice. The FDA does not require supplements to be regulated in the same way that drugs are, which can be a real problem.

As a result, the safety of many supplements has not been rigorously studied. Furthermore, the bottles can sport unsubstantiated claims and even make errors in dosage recommendations. There is no need to worry about overdosing, however, if the good-for-you compound is coming from real food, rather than a pill.

A vitamin pill is not the answer, Eating more healthily in general is the answer.

8) Myth: Cold weather makes you sick.

This myth is common around the world, but it is just not true. Studies have shown we may feel more cold symptoms real or imaginary when we are chilled (after all, a cold is called a cold for a reason), but the temperature does not make us more susceptible to viruses.

This has been known since at least 1968, when a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed what happened when researchers exposed chilly people to the rhinovirus (one cause of the common cold).

Whether shivering in a frigid room or stuttering in an icy bath, people were no more likely to get sick after sniffing cold germs than they were at more comfortable temperatures. And if you are already sick, there is no reason you can’t go out into cold weather.

While rest is good for an ill body, chilly temperatures aren’t going to make a difference on recovery time, In fact, while the research is in its early stages, it is possible that being exposed to cold may even help your body in some way.

Some scientists speculate that colds are more common in cooler months because people stay indoors more, interacting more closely with one another and giving germs more opportunities to spread.

7) Myth: We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Motivational speakers and other self-help gurus have been promoting this one since as early as 1907, as a way to encourage people to tap into some latent capacity, But none of these people were basing the proclamation on sound science.

Today, we can take a look at any brain scan, measuring activity at any given time, and have a big laugh at this myth. You just don’t see big dormant areas. So why does the idea still linger in popular culture? I think we like it, We want to think we haven’t reached our full potential.

6) Myth: Sugar turns kids into little monsters.

It can be hard to find a parent that does not believe this, But it is in their heads. In one particularly clever study among a slew of studies finding sugar’s nil effect on unruliness kids were given Kool-Aid sweetened with aspartame, a compound that contains no sugar.

Researchers told half of the parents the Kool-Aid contained sugar, and told the other half the truth. The parents who thought their kids were riding a sugar-high reported their children were uncontrollable and overactive. But a sensor on the kids’ wrists, that measured activity level, said the opposite: The kids were actually acting subdued.

The study was published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology in 1994. Sugar is often given at times when the rules are loosened and there are lots of other kids around like birthday parties and holidays, These factors may be behind the myth’s persistence in popular culture.

5) Myth: You need to stay awake if you’ve had a concussion.

Concussions are relatively common, and while they always merit medical attention, they are rarely severe or life- threatening.

Warnings to stay awake after a concussion most likely grew out of a misunderstanding about a particular type of head injury one that involves brain bleeding where a “lucid period” is followed by a coma or worse.

But this is very uncommon and doesn’t pertain to people with normal concussions, If you’ve been evaluated by a doctor, and he has said that you have a mild regular concussion, you don’t need to worry that someone has to wake you up every hour.

4) Myth: Chewing gum stays in your stomach for 7 years.

While it is true that many of the ingredients in gum, such as elastomers, resins and waxes, are indigestible, that does not mean they hang out in our guts for a subset of eternity.

Plenty of what we eat even things we are recommended to eat, such as fiber is indigestible. But the digestive system is a robust piece of organic machinery, and anything it can’t absorb, it moves along.

Despite the stickiness and strange consistency of gum, it passes right through your digestive tract and into the toilet.

3) Myth: Reading in the dark or sitting too close to the TV ruins your eyesight.

Dim light, or alternatively, staring into the multicolored tube at close range, can undoubtedly make your eyes work so hard they hurt. But there is no evidence that these practices cause long-term damage.

The TV myth may have started in the 1960s, and at that time it may have been true. Some early color TV sets emitted high amounts of radiation that could have caused eye damage, but this problem has long been remedied, and today’s TV and computer monitors are relatively safe.

If you or your child tend to sit so close to the computer or TV it hurts the eyes, it may be time to check for nearsightedness. But sitting too close does not create a need for glasses even if getting glasses can remedy the habit.

2) Myth: You should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

In general, we are not all walking around in a dehydrated state, our bodies are very good at regulating our fluid levels.

The eight-glasses-a-day myth likely started in 1945 when the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council said adults should take in about 2.5 liters of water a day (equivalent to about eight glasses, or two-thirds of a gallon).

While most media outlets reported just that, the council actually went on to explain that most of the 2.5 liters comes from food. The recommendation should be amended to: Drink, or eat, about eight glasses of fluid a day.

1) Myth: You should wait an hour after eating before you go swimming.

This myth has ruined many summer afternoons, forcing young and old to swelter in the heat while cool waters beckoned all because they were careless enough to down a pb&j.

Let the ban be lifted: There is no special reason not to swim after eating. True, any type of vigorous exercise can be uncomfortable (although not dangerous) after an overwhelming feast.

But for most of us whose waterfront dining experience includes sand-dusted chips and soggy sandwiches that is hardly a concern. And cramps can happen anytime, whether you’ve eaten or not.

If you are swimming in waters so rough that a charley horse will mean the death of you, you should probably swim elsewhere. Just don’t forget the picnic!