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Interesting Development  Einstein researchers, Dr. Zaven Kaprelian and MSTP student Arlene Bravo-Ambrosio, have identified the control points at the molecular level that facilitate how motor neurons extend their signal-carrying axons out of the spinal cord during development. Motor neurons carry signals from the central nervous system and instruct muscles to move. Understanding the molecular underpinnings of this key process in the development of the vertebrate nervous system lays the groundwork for future rational design of therapies for the recovery of motor function in the injured and diseased spinal cord and brain.  The duo reported their findings in the journal Development.  Ms. Bravo-Ambrosio was lead author on the paper; she is an M.D.-Ph.D. student in Dr. Kaprielian’s laboratory. Dr. Kaprielian is professor of pathology and of neuroscience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

New Approach to Chew On  In the March 30 online issue of Diabetologia, Drs. Preeti Kishore and Meredith Hawkins report that xylitol, a sugar derivative found in chewing gum, can help prevent metabolic complications associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D).  Circulating fatty acids (FA), a breakdown product from fat, are increased in obesity. These FAs hasten the progression of T2D by contributing to skeletal muscle insulin resistance, where the body’s inability to respond to insulin prevents glucose uptake by cells.  The investigators found that xylitol was able to prevent FA-induced insulin resistance and had a renewing effect on cell uptake and conversion of glucose for energy, suggesting a potentially exciting therapeutic approach for treating T2D.  Drs. Kishore and Hawkins are both members of Einstein's Diabetes Research and Training Center.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Appetite for Destruction  In a recent issue of EMBO Reports, Dr. Rajat Singh in collaboration with Drs. Jeffrey Pessin and Gary Schwartz found that impaired autophagy with age in a specific type of neuron within the brain decreases the availability of a hormone that contributes to control of food intake and energy expenditure, leading to obesity. Autophagy is a process by which a cell degrades its own components, and these new findings present an interesting target for strategies to address obesity and metabolic syndrome in aged populations. Drs. Singh and colleagues further discussed the connection between autophagy and metabolic syndrome in a review article published in the journal Diabetes.Dr. Singh is assistant professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology. Dr. Pessin is professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology, director of Einstein’s Diabetes Research Center and holds the Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Professorial Chair in Diabetes Research. Dr. Schwartz is professor of medicine and of neuroscience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Good Business  On Monday, May 7, 2012, at 10 a.m., the Einstein-Montefiore Institute for Clinical & Translational Research & the offices of biotechnology and business development at Einstein will present “Medical Innovation & Business: The Technology Commercialization Initiative at Montefiore.” All members of the Einstein and Montefiore communities are invited to hear Richard Kosman, director of the office of business development, discuss this initiative. The presentation will take place in Montefiore’s Cherkasky Auditorium, located at 111 E. 210th Street, Bronx, NY (Gun Hill Rd. entrance).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

A Glowing ‘Orange’  By tagging intracellular proteins with fluorescent proteins (FPs), scientists can study molecular processes in living cells. Dr. Vladislav Verkhusha and colleagues report in a recent issue of the Journal of American Chemical Society that they’ve designed a novel orange FP called LSSmOrange. It offers an extremely large difference between the wavelength of light it absorbs and the wavelength at which it fluoresces. As a result, LSSmOrange significantly broadens the usefulness of rapid microscopy imaging employing several different FPs to image living cells and tissues. When used with other FPs, LSSmOrange allows researchers to simultaneously track and quantify multiple populations of intracellular objects and to detect brief protein co-localization and protein-protein interactions. LSSmOrange will also help in designing fluorescent biosensors for studying the relationships among several biochemical activities in a living cell. Dr. Verkhusha is professor of anatomy and structural biology, a co-director of Einstein’s Fluorescent Proteins Resource Center, and a member of Einstein’s Gruss-Lipper Biophotonics Center.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Live and Let Die  In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Richard Kitsis demonstrated that the two kinds of cell death – apoptosis, a process by which cells are intentionally deleted and promptly cleaned up, and necrosis, wherein dying cells and their deteriorating contents leak out and cause bystander damage – may actually share a “unified death machinery,” despite being markedly different processes.  Dr. Kitsis’ laboratory genetically manipulated the Bax protein to show that in addition to its appreciated role in apoptosis, Bax also is a key regulator of necrosis.  These insights lead the way to a better understanding of complex pathological processes such as heart attacks and strokes that involve both forms of a cell death. They also suggest potential new therapeutic strategies for cancer, where augmented tumor cell death is the goal.  Dr. Kitsis is professor of medicine and of cell biology, director of Einstein’s Wilf Family Cardiovascular Research Institute, and holds the Dr. Gerald and Myra Dorros Chair in Cardiovascular Disease. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

An Essential Factor  In a recent issue of the journal Blood, Drs. Sanjeev Gupta and Antonia Follenzi successfully challenge the long-held view that bone marrow transplantation is of little value in the treatment of hemophilia A, the more common form of this rare bleeding disorder. Their research found that, following transplantation therapy, an essential clotting factor (FVIII) appeared in the blood of hemophiliac mice, protecting these mice from bleeding challenges. The authors also traced the source of FVIII to circulating and liver-resident macrophages, a kind of white blood cell, as well as to stem cells within the bone marrow. The study thus illuminates potential new treatment avenues for hemophilia A. The College of Medicine has filed a patent application related to this research that is available for licensing to partners interested in further testing and developing this treatment. Dr. Gupta is professor of medicine and of pathology, and holds the Eleazar & Feige Reicher Chair in Translational Medicine; Dr. Follenzi is visiting assistant professor of pathology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

In Living Color ­­ Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have revolutionized optical microscopy by allowing studies of living cells and tissues. In the June 16 online issue of Nature Methods, Dr. Vladislav Verkhusha and research fellow Dr. Daria Shcherbakova describe four new near-infrared FPs they’ve developed that allow for multicolor imaging of tissues deep within humans and other mammals. Such FPs are ideal for in vivo imaging because wavelengths in the near-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (650 nm to 900 nm) pass right through hemoglobin, melanin and water. The scientists derived the new FPs from photoreceptors called phytochromes that bacteria use to detect light. To test the performance of the four new FPs, the researchers took mouse breast cancer cells that expressed each FP and injected those cells into the mammary glands of mice, where the cancer cells grew into tumors. The FPs proved to be highly sensitive probes, allowing the tumors to be detected at very early stages. The near-infrared FPs could open up new possibilities for simultaneously labeling two or more tissues and for tracking several cell populations in a living animal. Dr. Verkhusha is professor of anatomy and structural biology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Virus Entry & Exit  The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded $1.5 million over four years to Dr. Margaret Kielian for her investigation into the methods used by viruses to infect hosts. In order to function, viruses must find a way to enter host cells so they can reproduce. Viruses within the cell must then find a way to exit so the cycle can repeat. Using biochemical and imaging techniques, Dr. Kielian’s study will identify the human molecules that interact with the virus during these steps. She will then examine the ways that viruses use those interactions to promote their own survival. By revealing the interplay between a virus and its host cell, this study may uncover new ways of understanding viral infections and developing anti-viral therapies. Dr. Kielian is a professor of cell biology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Tough to Stomach —  Dr. Anne Muesch has been awarded $2.5 million over five years by the National Cancer Institute to study how a bacterium that colonizes the gastric mucosa, known as Helicobacter pylori, causes gastritis and increases the risk of stomach cancer. Gastric carcinoma is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths and the fourth most common cancer in the world. A gene expressed in particularly virulent strains of H. pylori, called cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA) induces loss of polarity (organization of cell shape and structures), increased migration and destruction of gastric epithelial cells, in part by inhibiting a conserved cell polarity determinant, the serine/threonine kinase Par1. Dr. Muesch’s group has identified 76 putative epithelial Par1 substrates in an unbiased screen that they will evaluate for their involvement in the disruption of epithelial polarity upon CagA expression and H. pylori infection. She is associate professor of developmental & molecular biology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
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