NIH establishes National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

In a move to re-engineer the process of translating scientific discoveries into new drugs, diagnostics, and devices, the National Institutes of Health has established the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The action was made possible by Congress’ approval of a fiscal year 2012 spending bill and the president’s signing of the bill, which includes the establishment of NCATS with a budget of $575 million.

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

NIH Scientists Find a Potential New Strategy for Treating Cancer

Recent findings in mice suggest that blocking the production of small molecules produced in the body, known as epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs), may represent a novel strategy for treating cancer by eliminating the blood vessels that feed cancer tumors. This research is the first to show that EETs work in concert with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein known to induce blood vessel growth. Together, EETs and VEGF promote metastasis, or the spread of cancer, by encouraging the growth of blood vessels that supply nutrients to cancer cells.

Blood vessel growth

Math Disability Linked to Problem Relating Quantities to Numerals

Children who start elementary school with difficulty associating small exact quantities of items with the printed numerals that represent those quantities are more likely to develop a math-related learning disability than are their peers, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The children in the study who appeared to have difficulty grasping the fundamental concept of exact numerical quantities — that the printed numeral 3, for example, represents three dots on a page — went on to be diagnosed with math learning disability by fifth grade.

Child with a math problem

Other early factors correlated with a math learning disability were difficulty recalling answers to single-digit addition problems, distractibility in class, and difficulty understanding that more complex math problems can be broken down into smaller problems that can be solved individually.

NIH-funded Study Finds Dyslexia Not Tied to IQ

Regardless of high or low overall scores on an IQ test, children with dyslexia show similar patterns of brain activity, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health. The results call into question the discrepancy model — the practice of classifying a child as dyslexic on the basis of a lag between reading ability and overall IQ scores.

Dyslexic child having difficulty reading

Scientists Correct Sickle Cell Disease in Adult Mice

National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded scientists have corrected sickle cell disease in adult laboratory mice by activating production of a special blood component normally produced before, but not after, birth.

Sickle cell disease is a recessive genetic disorder caused by a single base mutation in the gene for hemoglobin, beta locus (HBB). Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. People living with sickle cell disease have two copies of an altered gene that produces sickle hemoglobin instead of normal adult hemoglobin. Sickle hemoglobin changes shape after releasing its oxygen, causing the red blood cell to become stiff, misshapen and sticky, and slowing blood flow to tissues. This process damages organs and causes pain.

Normal hemoglobin vs sickle cell