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NIH Research Matters

March 2010 Archive

March 29, 2010

Photo of a doctor with a patient.

Comparing Models that Assess Breast Cancer Risk

A new study found that models for assessing breast cancer risk perform only slightly better when they include common inherited genetic variants recently linked to the disease. For now, recommendations for breast cancer screening or treatments that are based on such models will remain unchanged for most women.

Brain image with 2 small red and yellow patches.

Psychopathic Traits Linked to Brain Reward System

People who scored high on a test that measures impulsive and antisocial traits had exaggerated brain responses to certain “rewards,” like winning money or taking stimulant drugs. The new study provides evidence that a dysfunctional brain reward system may underlie vulnerability to a personality disorder known as psychopathy.

Confocal microscope image of red spots on green tips of chromosomes.

Gene Rejuvenates Mouse Embryonic Stem Cell Immortality

Researchers have discovered a key to mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell rejuvenation in a gene called Zscan4. If a similar mechanism also operates in human cells, the finding could have major implications for aging research, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine and cancer biology.

March 22, 2010

Photo of a doctor holding an arm in a blood pressure cuff.

Insights into Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Adults with type 2 diabetes are over twice as likely to die from heart disease as those without diabetes. But studies about how tightly to manage blood pressure and lipid levels have been inconclusive. Two related clinical trials will now help guide doctors.

Illustration of DNA.

Whole-Genome Analyses Pinpoint Disease Genes in Families

Two independent research teams have, for the first time, used whole-genome sequencing to diagnose disease at the molecular level in families with a genetic disorder. The results offer a preview of the potential benefits of using genome sequencing and personalized medicine as a routine part of medical care.

Microscopic image of a mosquito gut after a blood meal.

Mosquito Defense Mechanism Protects Malaria Parasite

Scientists have discovered that a protective barrier in the mosquito’s midgut also serves to protect the parasite that causes malaria. Breaking this barrier activates the mosquito’s immune system and may help defeat these parasites before they infect people.

March 15, 2010

Electron micrograph of rod-shaped bacteria.

Gut Bacteria May Influence Metabolic Syndrome

A new study in mice supports recent findings that gut microbes may contribute to metabolic syndrome. It also suggests that part of the immune system plays a role in the development of metabolic syndrome.

Photo of a family cooking.

Gene Linked to Food Allergy-Related Disorder

Scientists have linked a region of a human chromosome with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a recently recognized disorder that can cause difficulty eating and is associated with allergies to certain foods. They've also identified a gene that’s likely involved in the disorder.

Scanning electron micrograph of pill-shaped organelle filled with folded membranes.

Unexpected Diversity in Mitochondrial DNA

A new approach for analyzing DNA shows that each person's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is surprisingly variable in different body tissues. The finding may eventually prove useful for spotting and monitoring cancer, as it leads to telltale mtDNA variations that can be detected in the bloodstream.

March 8, 2010

Photo of a girl blowing on a dandelion.

Best Treatment Differs for Kids With Asthma

Most children who have trouble controlling their asthma with low-dose inhaled corticosteroids show improvement by increasing the dose or adding another medication, a new study finds. But the best option differs for each child.

Microscopic image of dark staining surrounding an open space.

Prion Found to Damage Brain Arteries

Scientists investigating how prion diseases destroy the brain have observed a new form of the disease in mice that doesn’t cause the sponge-like brain deterioration typically seen in these disorders. Instead, they found damage to brain arteries that resembled a disease related to human Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo of an older couple standing in the snow.

Dry Air May Spur Flu Outbreaks

Researchers have long puzzled over why flu becomes so much more active in winter. A new study reveals that dry air is one likely culprit.

March 1, 2010

Photo of a young man talking.

First Genes Tied to Stuttering

Researchers have identified 3 genes as a source of stuttering. The speech disorder can stem from a glitch in cell metabolism, the results suggest, which may point to new approaches for treatment.

Electron micrograph of a mosquito head.

How Mosquitos Get a Whiff of Humans

By transplanting odor-sensing genes from mosquitoes into frog eggs and fruit flies, scientists have pinpointed dozens of odor receptors that help mosquitoes sniff out their human prey. The findings could lead to new methods for repelling or trapping malaria-spreading mosquitoes through their sense of smell.

Image of the interior of an artery.

How Junk DNA Affects Heart Disease

Researchers have figured out how a mysterious DNA region previously tied to heart disease may exert its effect. The discovery could open the door to new prevention and treatment strategies.

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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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