What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Blood tests can give clues to dying cells

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College say that monitoring blood for tiny particles released by cells lining the lungs may help clinicians diagnose emphysema in its earliest stages.

The particles, called endothelial microparticles (EMPs), are shed during the disease process as tiny blood vessels in the lungs, called pulmonary capillaries, are injured and die. “This study confirmed that levels of EMPs are elevated in the blood samples of smokers, consistent with the concept that emphysema is associated, in part, with the death of cells lining the pulmonary capillaries, and suggesting that the early development of emphysema might be monitored with blood tests to measure EMP levels,” said Ronald Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Four biomarkers that may help diagnose asthma

Researchers in Australia have identified four novel biomarkers that may aid in the diagnosis and management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to a study, the biomarkers may be used in different combinations to successfully identify patients with either of the airway diseases.

The researchers relied on proteomics, an emerging field of science that focuses on the structure and functions of an organism’s proteins.

Scientists shed new light on proteins in brain fluids

Scientists have discovered that proteins in fluids bathing the brain are essential for building it.

The finding promises to advance research related to neurological disease, cancer and stem cells. The fluid surrounding the brain was generally considered to be a sort of salt-solution that simply maintained the brain’s ionic balance.

Recent reports of fluctuating proteins in the fluid suggested otherwise. Thus, a
multi-institutional research teams at the Children’s Hospital in Boston decided to take a closer look at what proteins in the fluid do. They found that when embryos and their brains are growing, a type of protein that tells brain cells to multiply increases in the so-called cerebrospinal fluid.

Brain cells in the cortex -- the part of the brain responsible for cognition, learning and memory -- multiply and move to their appropriate position between the second and third trimester of embryonic development in humans.