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neurosciencestuff:

Depressed? Researchers identify new anti-depressant mechanisms, therapeutic approaches

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are making breakthroughs that could benefit people suffering from depression.

A team of physician-scientists at UT Southwestern has identified a major mechanism by which ghrelin (a hormone with natural anti-depressant properties) works inside the brain. Simultaneously, the researchers identified a potentially powerful new treatment for depression in the form of a neuroprotective drug known as P7C3.

The study, published online in April’s issue of Molecular Psychiatry, is notable because although a number of anti-depressant drugs and other treatments are available, an estimated one in 10 adults in the U.S. still report depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"By investigating the way the so-called ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin works to limit the extent of depression following long-term exposure to stress, we discovered what could become a brand new class of anti-depressant drugs," said Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Psychiatry at UT Southwestern, and co-senior author of the study.

Ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach and intestines, has several widely known functions, including the ability to stimulate appetite. The latest research builds on a 2008 study led by Dr. Zigman, in which the team discovered that ghrelin exhibited natural anti-depressant effects that manifest when its levels rise as a result of caloric restriction or prolonged psychological stress.

The current findings identify ghrelin’s ability to stimulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons, in animal models. In addition, Dr. Zigman and his colleagues also found that the regenerative process inside the hippocampus – a region of the brain that regulates mood, memory, and complex eating behaviors – is crucial in limiting the severity of depression following prolonged exposure to stress.

"After identifying the mechanism of ghrelin’s anti-depressant actions, we investigated whether increasing this ghrelin effect by directly enhancing hippocampal neurogenesis with the recently reported P7C3 class of neuroprotective compounds would result in even greater anti-depressant behavioral effects," Dr. Zigman said.

The P7C3 compounds were discovered in 2010 by a team of UT Southwestern researchers led by Dr. Steven McKnight, Chair of Biochemistry, Dr. Joseph Ready, Professor of Biochemistry, and Dr. Andrew Pieper, a former UT Southwestern faculty member and co-senior author of the current study. Previous research demonstrated P7C3’s promising neuroprotective abilities in instances of Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and traumatic brain injury. Today, researchers hope that it can have a transformative impact on depression treatment too.

"We found that P7C3 exerted a potent anti-depressant effect via its neurogenesis-promoting properties," said Dr. Pieper, who is now Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "Also exciting, a highly active P7C3 analog was able to quickly enhance neurogenesis to a much greater level than a wide spectrum of currently marketed anti-depressant drugs."

Based on the study’s behavioral findings, researchers believe that individuals with depression associated with chronic stress or with altered ghrelin levels or ghrelin resistance, as has been described or theorized for conditions such as obesity and anorexia nervosa, might be particularly responsive to treatment with highly neuroprotective drugs, such as the P7C3 compounds.

Future studies will examine the ability to apply these findings to other forms of depression, including the possibility of developing clinical trials aimed at identifying whether or not P7C3 compounds have anti-depressant effects in people with major depression, as predicted. The three main types of depressive disorders include major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder.

backwardinduction:

In mathematics, an algebraic set is the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations. Algebraic sets are sometimes also called algebraic varieties, but normally an algebraic variety is an irreducible algebraic set, i.e. one which is not the union of two other algebraic sets. Algebraic sets and algebraic varieties are the central objects of study in algebraic geometry. The word “variety” is employed in the sense which is similar to that of manifold; the difference is that a variety may have singular points, while a manifold may not. In the Romance languages, both varieties and manifolds are named by the same word, a cognate of the word “variety”.

Proven around the year 1800, the fundamental theorem of algebra establishes a link between algebra and geometry by showing that a monic polynomial in one variable with complex coefficients (an algebraic object) is determined by the set of its roots (a geometric object). Generalizing this result, Hilbert’s Nullstellensatz provides a fundamental correspondence between ideals of polynomial rings and algebraic sets. Using the Nullstellensatz and related results, mathematicians have established a strong correspondence between questions on algebraic sets and questions of ring theory. This correspondence is the specifity of algebraic geometry among the other subareas of geometry.

The Twisted Cubic, pictured above, is an algebraic variety.

[Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algebraic_variety]

(via visualizingmath)

Folded DNA makes a 3-D nanostructure that is embedded with lipid molecules. Courtesy Wyss.The lipid molecules attached to the DNA nanostructure act as handles to direct the assembly of a lipid bilayer around the structure. Courtesy Wyss.The end product is a totally lipid bilayer nanostructure that cloaks the DNA nanostructure from an organism's immune system. Courtesy Wyss.Enveloped viruses (bottom) coat themselves with lipids. New lipid-coated DNA nanodevices (top) closely resemble those viruses and evade the immune defenses of mice. Image: Steven Perrault/Harvard.

txchnologist:

Viral Membrane Protects Medical Nanorobots From Immune System

Scientists say they have developed a cloaking device to spirit medical nanorobots of the future past immune systems into diseased cells. Their innovation comes from stealing a powerful weapon viruses wield to infect their hosts.

Some viruses wrap themselves in a protective membrane to avoid detection by their host’s immune system and enter cells they are trying to infect. A team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have been able to construct their own version of a viral membrane.

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(via proofmathisbeautiful)

asylum-art:

Stunning Electric-Blue Flames Erupt From Volcanoes - Olivier Grunewald.

Sulfur Sulfur combusts on contact with air to create stunning blue lava-like rivers of light in the Kawah Ijen crater on the island of Java.Kawah Ijen is one of several volcanoes situated in a 20 km radius in East Java, Indonesia. The caldera of Kawah Ijen harbors a kilometer-wide, turquoise colored, acidic crater lake that leaks sulphurous gases. At night the hot gases burn to emit an eerie blue glow that is unique to Kawah Ijen. The gases emerge from the cracks in the volcano at high pressure and temperature, up to 600°C, and when they come in contact with the air, they ignite, sending flames up to 16 feet high. Some of the gases condense into liquid sulfur, and continues to burn as it flows down the slopes giving the feeling of blue lava flowing.

(via feanorr)

guardian:

The world’s best animal architecture - in pictures

Australian weaver ants building their nest by pulling on leaves and working in chains, in Northern Territory, Australia. The adult builders pull leaves together with their pincers then interweave them with silk threads produced by their larvae. They can build an entire nest in 24 hours. Photograph: Ingo Arndt

(via npr)

policymic:

23 ways feminists have made the world better for women

It may seem like a bizarrely obvious statement, but somewhere between earning women the right to vote, pushing through legislation opening up universities to female students and advancing the Civil Rights movement (to name just a very few examples), feminism has indeed made life much, much better (and as a result, happier) — not just for American women, but American men as well. Far removed from the stereotypical and inaccurate image of the bra-burning activist, feminists have proven time and time again that women’s rights are human rights. And as the Declaration of Independence so elegantly points out, the ideals of life and liberty are intrinsically tied up with that third pursuit: happiness. 

Read the full list | Follow policymic

(via smartgirlsattheparty)