Tag Archives: natural defense

Bilirubin Can Prevent Damage from Cardiovascular Disease, MU Researchers Find

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Each year, about 610,000 Americans suffer their first heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart attacks and other symptoms of cardiovascular disease can be caused when blockage occurs in the arteries. In a new study from the University of Missouri, a scientist has discovered a natural defense against arterial blockage: bilirubin.

Bilirubin is typically something parents of newborns hear about when their children are diagnosed with jaundice. Generated during the body’s process to recycle worn-out red blood cells, bilirubin is metabolized by the liver and, usually, leaves the body harmlessly. (Many babies’ livers are not developed enough to metabolize the bilirubin, which results in the infants being diagnosed with jaundice, or high levels of bilirubin in their systems.) Now, MU scientists have found that bilirubin can be used to inhibit the clogging of arteries, and thus prevent the deadly consequences often experienced by individuals with cardiovascular disease. (more…)

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Mystery of Nematode Pest-Resistant Soybeans Cracked by MU Scientists

Gene related to soybeans’ resistance to nematodes also correlates with human diseases

COLUMBIA, Mo. — For 50 years, the world’s soybean crop has depended on the use of cyst nematode resistant varieties of beans, but no one knew how these plants fought off the nematode pests. Now, the secrets of resistant soybean plants are finally coming to light. Surprisingly, one of the genes related to nematode resistance in soybeans also has been associated with human diseases including lymphocytic leukemia, spina bifida and cardiovascular disease, according to a team of University of Missouri researchers and their colleagues whose breakthrough was recently published in the journal Nature.

“Nine years ago, when I began investigating the molecular basis of soybean resistance to nematodes in an effort to identify the genes involved, I never imagined it would be this complex,” said Melissa Mitchum, co-author of the paper and associate professor of plant sciences at the University of Missouri’s Bond Life Sciences Center. “The gene responsible for nematode resistance was completely unexpected. The gene, called serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT), is common in nature and found in different kingdoms including both animals and plants. In humans, mutations in the SHMT gene can lead to a deficiency of folate, a B vitamin that is essential to the production and maintenance of cells, and this has been linked to a variety of diseases.” (more…)

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With Drug-Loaded Nanogel, Yale Researchers Attack Cancerous Tumors

Yale University scientists have developed a new mechanism for attacking cancerous tumors that intensifies the body’s immune response while simultaneously weakening the tumor’s ability to resist it.

“We believe this is a paradigm-changing immunotherapeutic method for cancer therapy,” said Tarek M. Fahmy, a bioengineer at Yale and the project’s principal investigator. “In essence, it’s a one-two punch strategy that seems to work well for melanoma and may work even better with other cancers.” (more…)

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Bees ‘Self-Medicate’ When Infected With Some Pathogens

Research from North Carolina State University shows that honey bees “self-medicate” when their colony is infected with a harmful fungus, bringing in increased amounts of antifungal plant resins to ward off the pathogen.

“The colony is willing to expend the energy and effort of its worker bees to collect these resins,” says Dr. Michael Simone-Finstrom, a postdoctoral research scholar in NC State’s Department of Entomology and lead author of a paper describing the research. “So, clearly this behavior has evolved because the benefit to the colony exceeds the cost.” (more…)

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