Archive by category | Journal club

Tales of Brown Fat

Three new studies published in the April 9, 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine show conclusive proof that adult humans do indeed have appreciable amounts of brown adipose tissue. Why is this important? For at least two reasons: 1) it puts to rest the issue that adult humans have this cell type (more on this below), and 2) if the numbers or the activity of these cells could be increased it could help in the fight against obesity.  Read more

Gene associations galore

Gene associations galore

This week’s issue of JAMA struck me as pretty interesting. They normally publish stuff that’s too clinical or epidemiological for my taste and in comparison to what we publish, but this time they had a themed issue on genomics with four articles reporting associations between gene variants and diseases of different systems.  Read more

Point of no return?

Point of no return?

Modeling Parkinson disease in animals has been very hard. The chemical models (6-OHDA and MPTP) are good to study cell replacement therapies, but not so great for pathogenesis. And the genetic models have failed to give the mouse something like true Parkinson disease — there may be alpha-synuclein aggregates or structures akin to Lewy bodies, but no cell death, or vice versa. To add to the debate, Silke Nuber and her colleagues just published in J. Neurosci. a conditional model of Parkinson in which alpha-synuclein expression can be switched off by feeding the animals doxycyclin. This is an image from the paper, showing the expression of the transgene in the two divisions of the substantia nigra of the mice.  Read more

Gout gene

Gout gene

Gout is an inflammatory disease that results from the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints. It tends to be somewhat common in people with high levels of uric acid in the blood, which is, in turn, often the result of reduced renal excretion of the acid. How does this chain of events come about? Two papers in Nature Genetics give us a clue: Veronique Vitart and her colleagues and Angela Doring and her colleagues independently identified variants in the gene SLC2A9 that are linked to variability in uric acid concentrations.  Read more