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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cambridge researchers have discovered that measuring activity in a region of the brain

Scientists have discovered that people with OCD and their close family members show
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Linked To Brain Activity
under-activation of brain areas responsible for stopping habitual behaviour.
Cambridge researchers have discovered that measuring activity in a region of the brain could help to identify people at risk of developing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). As the current diagnosis of OCD is based on a clinical interview and often does not occur until the disorder has progressed, this could enable earlier more objective detection, and intervention.

The scientists have discovered that people with OCD and their close family members show under-activation of brain areas responsible for stopping habitual behaviour. This is the first time that scientists have associated functional changes in the brain with familial risk for the disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a debilitating condition that affects 2-3% of the population at some point in life. Patients suffer from recurrent intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that are distressing and hard to suppress. Examples include fears of contamination, or that something terrible will happen to a loved one. They also suffer from repetitive rituals (compulsions), which are often designed to neutralise these thoughts. Examples include hand-washing and checking gas hobs. These symptoms cause distress and can occupy hours during the day, interfering with quality of life and the ability to work.
Although OCD tends to run in families, genetic factors responsible for this heritability are not known. Genes may pose a risk for OCD by influencing how the brain develops.
Dr Samuel Chamberlain at the University of Cambridge's Department of Psychiatry used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Located in the frontal lobes the lateral OFC is involved in decision making and behaviour.
Volunteers were asked to look at two pictures on a screen, each image had a house and a face superimposed. The volunteers were asked to use trial and error to work out whether the house or face was the correct target. Volunteers pressed a button to indicate which image they believed to be the target and feedback of 'correct' or 'incorrect' was given on the screen. After the correct target had been identified six times in a row it changed so the volunteer had to learn again. fMRI was used to monitor their patterns of brain activity throughout.
Fourteen volunteers without a family history of OCD, 14 people with OCD and 12 immediate relatives of these patients took the picture test. Later comparison of fMRI images of their brain activity throughout showed under-activation in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and other brain areas in both the OCD patients and their family members.
Dr Chamberlain, who led the study, explains, "Impaired function in brain areas controlling flexible behaviour probably predisposes people to developing the compulsive rigid symptoms that are characteristic of OCD. This study shows that these brain changes run in families and represent a candidate vulnerability factor. The current diagnosis of OCD is subjective and improved understanding of the underlying causes of OCD could lead to more accurate diagnosis and improved clinical treatments.
"However, much work is still needed to identify the genes contributing to abnormal brain function in those at risk of OCD. We also need to investigate not only vulnerability factors, but also protective factors that account for why many people at genetic risk of the condition never go on to develop the symptoms."

Scientists have developed a promising method that could one day replace heart surgery with cell injections

Scientists Re-Create Fully Functional Human Blood Vessels In Mice

Scientists have developed a promising method that could one day replace heart surgery with cell injections that would help reconstruct a damaged blood supply system and restore the normal oxygen flow to the heart.

The secret lies in an experimental implant of progenitor cells taken from human adult blood systems, which later developed into fully functional blood vessels in mice. The premiere was reported in Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association.

By combining two types of progenitor cells, derived either from adult blood and adult bone marrow, or umbilical cord and adult bone marrow, scientists managed to grow healthy blood vessels, although for now at a slow pace.

Progenitor cells are similar with stem cells, but differentiate through their capability of only turning into certain types of cells. Scientists preferred the use of progenitor cells instead of stem cells because of the high controversy surrounding the latter.

If the experiment could prove efficient for humans treatment, it would not only dismiss any ethical concerns regarding the use of stem cells for any type of treatment, but it would create a solution for ischemia, wound healing and acute injuries, as Joyce Bischoff, lead author of the study and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, explained.

The problem that still remains is the slow process of recreating the blood vessels. The experiment took seven days to complete, but scientists want to reduce that time to one or two days, especially considering the delicate nature of heart conditions and the necessity to act rapidly.

"What's really significant about our study is that we are using human cells that can be obtained from blood or bone marrow rather than removing and using fully developed blood vessels," Bischoff said.

A faster process would most certainly give hope for future cardiac procedures without any surgical intervention, and the variety of progenitor cells able to recreate the heart blood vessels easies up the process of finding a compatible donor.

Huawei Corporate Social Responsibility to BUET

Huawei the Global Leader in next generation Telecommunication network signed an agreement on 16th July, 2008 at the Winter Garden of Dhaka Sheration Hotel with Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) providing for setting up a Wireless Communication Laboratory and Training Centre. Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Adviser, Ministry of Education Graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and Prof. M. Tamim, Special Assistant of Chief Adviser, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resource attended the programme as Special Guest. Prof. Dr. A.M.M. Safiullah, Vice-Chancellor, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) also attended the programme as invited Guest. Wonder Wang Deputy Chief Representative, Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd. and Prof. Dr. Aminul Haque, Head, Department of EEE BUET signed the agreement in the presence of Prof. Dr. A.M.M. Safiullah, Vice-Chancellor, BUET and Charged the Affair’s of China Embassy Mr. Wang Yu.

Chief Guest, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Adviser, Ministry of Education told in his speech that University Industry Collaboration is a compulsory part of any university development programme Unfortunately such collaboration is almost absent in our country. He called on our industry and business community to come forward like this joint collaboration programme. Under this agreement as a part of Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd. will donate USD 3 million (BDT 21 crore) GSM equipments to BUET for building up a full fledged GSM Lab in EEE Department for the purpose of hands on practice as well as research and development. It is believed that with the aid of Huawei’s advance technology this lab and training centre will help Bangladesh to develop technically sound Telecom experts. It is to be noted that in December 2007 Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd. also donated BDT 5 crore for Data Communication Equipments to BUET.

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