Comment »Posted on Monday 7 September 2009 at 5:33 pm by Emma Stokes
In Biology, Health & Medicine

The dissertation-ing indeed continues, bring on Friday is all I can say… but in the meantime i’m still writing for UAR. Highlights this week:

Leishmania parasites feed immune cells

W0041701 Phlebotomine sand flyResearchers using mice have shown how the leishmaniasis parasite, transmitted by sand flies, establishes infection. Leishmaniasis is a disfiguring and potentially fatal parasitic infection that affect some 350 million people worldwide.

Contrary to previous research, they found that it is not the sand flies’ saliva that helps the parasite establish an infection, but a secreted gel called PSG. It is produced by the Leishmania parasite, and forms a plug which blocks the gut. This forces the sand fly to regurgitate to dislodge the plug and feed properly, which simultaneously deposits the parasite and some of the gel into the human body.

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Diesel fumes grow new blood vessels?

New findings indicate that the link between diesel exhaust fumes and cancer lies in the ability of particles within the exhaust fumes to cause the growth of new blood vessels, which can aid tumour development.

The team reported a six-fold increase in the formation of new blood vessels in the implanted tissues and aortas of mice exposed to the diesel fumes. In the mice with reduced blood supply, they saw a four-fold increase in new vessels to the hind limbs. The formation of new blood vessels is strongly associated with tumor growth; tumours grow rapidly, consuming large quantities of oxygen and nutrients.

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Key protein in obesity related diseases

It is well known that obesity can lead to health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and it is thought that this is due to low-grade inflammation.

Scientists believe they may have found the protein which causes this inflammation using mice. The protein, called angiopoietin-like protein 2 (Angptl2), is a fat-derived protein. The team showed that the levels of Angptl2 are raised in the fatty tissue of GM mice, especially in tissue with a low oxygen supply.

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