UCLA links gene to lactose intolerance

Researches at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine have linked the inability to digest lactose to two genetic mutations that hinder the lactase-phlorizin hydrolase gene, which may cause someone to be lactose intolerant.

With this information, new techniques could be developed for simpler diagnostic tests using DNA from a blood sample to identify those who are lactose intolerant.

At least one of the variants was found in 196 Finnish, and 40 Italian, German, or South Korean individuals in the study. The second mutation was present in 220 of these cases.

Eighteen percent of the 938 Finnish blood donors tested positive for the gene as well, which is consistent with results from a previous similar study. Analogous results were also found after testing French, North American, and African American individuals.

This lead Dr. Peltonen, one of the investigators, to conclude that the mutation must be very old and the original form probably became mutated thousands of years ago when humans started dairy culture.

UK invests $15 million in “genetic knowledge parks”

Britain”s $15 million plan to create a network of “genetic knowledge parks” was announced last Wednesday in effort to keep the country at the cutting edge of the genetics revolution.

Government funds will be used to build six parks that would provide a range of diagnostic test for single and multi-factorial gene disorders. The centers would also facilitate research on drug treatments and methods to monitor disease progression.

The research would also spawn new companies specializing in genetic technologies.

Lung cancer less likely for those with special enzyme

The odds of developing lung cancer may be lessened for those who carry a particular genetic polymorphism, according to researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Individuals who have a genetic mutation of the myeloperoxidase enzyme have a lower risk of lung cancer relative to those with the more common type of enzyme, according to Dr. Brian Weinshenker and his colleagues.

The enzyme is found in white blood cells that congregate in the lungs of smokers due to inflammation. Researchers correlate the degree of the MPO enzyme concentration to lung cancer risk.

Their investigation evaluated the DNA of 307 patients with lung cancer and a similar group of 307 people who did not have lung cancer. Of the patients, those with two copies of the genetic variant, representing about 3 percent of the population, had a 60 percent reduced risk of developing lung cancer.

Having only one varient is reported to be only a slight reduction in risk and smoking is a reported sevenfold increase in lung cancer risk.

Mice aid in spinal cord recovery

Researchers at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia say that the key to spinal cord injury recovery is not in an enhanced regenerative capacity but in limiting the scarring process that follows.

In mice, where there was no physical barrier of scar tissue to inhibit progress, neurons on both sides of the injury site were able to grow and restore connections with each other over a period of 2 to 3 weeks with considerable recovery and function.

Investigators confirmed that is scar tissue, a protein matrix, that inhibits the ability of neurons to regrow their axons across the injury site.

The research suggests that drugs able to biochemically block scar-tissue formation have potential.

Compiled by

Daily Staff Reporter April Effort.

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