With humans living longer than ever before, diseases associated with aging are becoming a major focus of medical research. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are a major source of concern to aging adults. This is because such diseases not only lead to death, they do so through a particularly frightening route that includes loss of independence, memory, function, and personality. All adults experience a decline in certain aspects of brain function as they age. Memory, speed of cognition, and reasoning are among the functions most affected . The effects of aging on cognition appear to be due to atrophy of brain tissue in particular regions, especially the prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex , as well as decreased neurotransmitter levels.
Scientists have devised a new computational model that can be used to reveal genetic regulatory elements responsible for development of the human heart and maintenance of its function.
Although the teams focused on the heart, the computational method they developed is broadly applicable to other tissues, and was successfully used to identify regulatory elements for cells of the limbs and brain. Cataloging these regulatory sequences may improve understanding of diseases and lays the groundwork for improved medical treatments.
The research, conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the University of Chicago, is published in the March 2010 issue of Genome Research and is available online.
A new study involving data from more than 20,000 individuals has uncovered several DNA sequences linked to impaired pulmonary function. The research, an analysis that combined the results of several smaller studies, provides insight into the mechanisms involved in reaching full lung capacity. The findings may ultimately lead to better understanding of lung function and diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.