Monday, March 27, 2006

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) Reveals Organization of Axons in Brain

Technology Review: Emerging Technologies and their Impact
"Conventional imaging techniques, such as structural MRI, reveal major anatomical features of the brain -- gray matter, which is made up of nerve cell bodies. But neuroscientists believe that some diseases may be rooted in subtle 'wiring' problems involving axons, the long, thin tails of neurons that carry electrical signals and constitute the brain's white matter. With DTI, researchers can, for the first time, look at the complex network of nerve fibers connecting the different brain areas."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"U of M Researchers Identify Cause of Memory Loss"

Academic Health Center, University of Minnesota
"In the past, it was generally accepted that Alzheimer's disease was caused by plaques and tangles, unnatural accumulations of two naturally occurring proteins in the brain: amyloid-beta, which builds into plaques between nerve cells in the brain; and tau, which forms the tangles bundles inside nerve cells.
Ashe's lab proved last year that the tangles are not the cause of memory loss; this latest research shows the plaques aren't a major cause either.
People with Alzheimer's disease exhibit memory impairment before they are formally diagnosed, or before nerve cells in their brains begin to die. Often it can be difficult to tell whether people are experiencing the normal memory impairment that comes with aging or if they are in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers hypothesized that there was a substance in the brain that causes memory decline that is present before the nerve cells die. The researchers used mice whose genetic makeup was manipulated to develop memory loss much in a way people develop subtle memory problems before the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease. Using mice that showed early signs of memory loss and had no plaques or nerve cell loss in the brain, they discovered a form of the amyloid-beta protein that is distinct from plaques. Once extracted and purified, the newly found protein complex was injected into healthy rats. It triggered cognitive impairment in the tested animals, confirming the detrimental effect of this protein on memory.
Ashe's research was done in collaboration with scientists at Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California, and University of California, Irvine."
{Emphasis added.}

"Ringside Seat to the Universe's First Split Second"

"Scientists peering back to the oldest light in the universe have evidence to support the concept of inflation, which poses that the universe expanded many trillion times its size faster than a snap of the fingers at the outset of the big bang."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Thanks to Mitochondrial DNA Airman Lost In 1942 Crash Is Identified

DoD News
"Airman Lost In 1942 Crash Is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. Army Air Forces airman, missing since 1942, have been identified and will soon be returned to his family for burial.

He is Aviation Cadet Leo Mustonen, 22, of Brainerd, Minn. The family has not set a date for his burial.

Mustonen was one of four men aboard a routine navigation training flight that departed Mather Field, Calif., on Nov. 18, 1942. Their AT-7 Navigator aircraft carried about five hours of fuel, and when the plane did not return to base, a search was initiated. It was suspended about a month later with no results.

In 1947, several hikers on Darwin Glacier in the Sierra Nevada mountain range discovered the aircraft wreckage. Human remains of three of the crew found at the site were buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, Calif.

Several other hikers on Mendel Glacier, which is adjacent to Darwin Glacier, discovered frozen human remains, circumstantial evidence and personal effects in October 2005. Park rangers from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and a forensic anthropologist from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) recovered the remains, which were later shipped to the JPAC laboratory in Hawaii.

Scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools in the process. U.S. Army casualty and mortuary officials located and briefed representatives of the families of all four crewmen."