What's the buzz.


Native Americans have traditionally eaten dried chokeberries and prepared tea from parts of the plant. However, the chokeberry is enjoying a new claim-to-fame as a potentially powerful antioxidant, and can now be found for sale in the dietary supplement and ‘health food’ aisles of pharmacies and grocery stores.
Scientists say that the reason chokeberry is so healthful is because of its unusually high levels of substances called anthocyanins (from the Greek anthos + kyanos meaning dark blue).
There are many different anthocyanins in these colourful berries, but they all function as antioxidants — originally protecting the chokeberry seed from sunshine-induced oxidative stress.
When we eat them, they also appear to protect our bodies from a variety of damaging situations, including exposure to pollution and metabolically-derived free radicals.

Scientists use zebrafish to study Parkinson’s disease
Scientists have recently developed a zebrafish model for Parkinson’s disease that can be used for understanding the mechanism underlying its development.
The knowledge gained will be helpful for future screening of new drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD), say researchers at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), a biomedical research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
This study describes the first zebrafish model for LRRK2 mutation-related PD. It is able to overcome some limitations of other animal models of LRRK2 and demonstrates that zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish that can often be found in aquariums, can be used to study the development of human diseases.

To explore the biological functions of LRRK2, the research team, led by GIS Group Leader Dr Liu Jianjun, studied this gene in zebrafish by blocking its normal function. This resulted in Parkinsonism-like phenotypes in zebrafish, including locomotive defects and loss of neurons, similar to those of PD patients.

It was found from the study that the defects of the fish can be rescued by expressing the normal protein of LRRK2. Significantly, the administration of Levo-dopa (L-dopa), a compound that is widely used to treat PD, can also rescue the locomotive defects caused by the modification of the zebrafish LRRK2 protein.

World’s smallest, lightest telemedicine microscope
Aydogan Ozcan, a UCLA engineer, has created a miniature microscope, the world’s smallest and lightest for telemedicine applications.

The microscope builds on imaging technology known as LUCAS (Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell Monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging), which was developed by Ozcan.

Instead of using a lens to magnify objects, LUCAS generates holographic images of microparticles or cells by employing a light-emitting diode to illuminate the objects and a digital sensor array to capture their images.
The technology can be used to image blood samples or other fluids, even in Third World countries.

“This is a very capable and yet cost-effective microscope, shrunk into a very small package. Our goal with this project was to develop a device that can be used to improve health outcomes in resource-limited settings,” Ozcan said.

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