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NIH Research Matters

June 2009 Archive

June 29, 2009

Photo of grey blotch obscuring view of 2 children.

Targeting Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Researchers have identified a key molecular player in a type of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The discovery may lead to better methods of early detection and treatment for this leading cause of blindness.

Electron micrograph of a cell packed with round granules.

A Broader Role for Amyloids

Amyloids are best known for their role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. A new study finds that amyloids may also have a normal biological function.

Image of skin tissue shows clusters of green cells linked to red nerve fibers.

Merkel Cells Give You a Light Touch

If you can feel the softness of silk or the fuzziness of a peach, you can definitely thank your Merkel cells, scientists say. A new study confirms what researchers have long suspected—that cells in the skin called Merkel cells are essential to the sense of light touch.

June 22, 2009

Photo of an man.

Touted “Depression Risk Gene” May Not Add to Risk After All

A gene variation long thought to increase a person's risk for major depression when paired with stressful life events may actually have no effect, according to a new analysis. The result challenges a common approach to studying depression risk factors.

Photo of four young boys..

Prevention Program Reduces Problem Behaviors in Fifth Graders

A new study found that elementary school children in a character development program were more likely to steer clear of substance abuse, violent behavior or sexual activity by fifth grade than those who were not offered the program.

Image of yellow dots in red brain cell.

Scientists Identify Culprit in Huntington's Disease

Scientists have solved why a faulty protein accumulates in cells throughout the body in people with Huntington's disease, but only kills certain brain cells. It has an accomplice. The discovery provides a potential target to treat or slow the progression of Huntington's.

June 15, 2009

Photo of an older man and a physician.

Treatment Options for Those with Diabetes and Heart Disease

For most patients with diabetes and stable heart disease, intensive drug therapy is as effective as prompt surgery in preventing death, heart attack and stroke, according to a large clinical study. But in a subset of patients with more severe artery blockage, prompt bypass surgery seems best for reducing major cardiovascular risks.

Image of human brain tissue with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Researchers Discover How Prion Protein Damages Brain Cells

Scientists have gained a major insight into how the rogue protein responsible for mad cow disease and related neurological illnesses destroys healthy brain tissue.

Illustration of an immune attack.

Common Diabetes Drug Boosts Immune Memory

In a new mouse study, researchers were able to boost the immune system's memory by using the anti-diabetic drug metformin. The unexpected finding could transform strategies for vaccine development.

June 8, 2009

Photo of a boy's face.

Common Medication Ineffective for Children with Autism

The medication citalopram is often prescribed for children with autism to reduce repetitive behaviors. But now a new clinical study shows that the drug is no more effective than a placebo and leads to more adverse effects. The finding highlights the need for rigorous trials to evaluate potential treatments for children with autism.

Image of red and white blood cells.

Scientists Discover New Genetic Immune Disorder in Children

Researchers have identified a rare but devastating genetic condition that affects children around the time of birth. Most of the children responded quickly to a synthetic form of the protein that's abnormal or missing in the condition.

June 1, 2009

Photo of human skin.

Unexpected Microbe Diversity on Human Skin

A new study of the skin's microbiome—all of the DNA, or genomes, of all of the microbes that inhabit human skin—reveals that our skin is home to a much wider array of bacteria than previously thought. The accomplishment provides a new foundation for developing strategies to treat and prevent difficult skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and antibiotic-resistant infections.

Scanning electron micrograph of a human egg.

Scientists Detect Key Proteins Needed for Ovulation

Researchers have identified 2 proteins that are essential for ovulation in mice. The finding has implications for treating infertility and may also offer new options for preventing pregnancy by blocking release of the egg.

Image of a colony of red blood cells.

Flow Forces Promote Embryonic Blood Cell Formation

Researchers have discovered that cells in an embryo are prompted to develop into blood cells by the force of rushing fluid being pushed by the beating heart. The finding has important implications for developing stem cell therapies for blood diseases.

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About NIH Research Matters

Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Assistant Editors: Vicki Contie, Carol Torgan, Ph.D.

NIH Research Matters is a weekly update of NIH research highlights from the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health.

ISSN 2375-9593

This page last reviewed on December 3, 2012

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