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Blood vessel formation method identified

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          HEALTH TIPS - Thursday, February 1, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"

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          Scientists use RNA to 'turn on' genes

DALLAS, -- U.S. medical researchers say they've developed 
a laboratory technique using RNA to activate genes. The 
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center research-
ers, led by pharmacology Professor David Corey, Assistant 
Professor Bethany Janowski and graduate student Rosalyn 
Ram, say their technique might result in therapeutics for 
conditions in which nudging a gene awake would help 
alleviate disease. Corey said the study's results are 
significant because they demonstrate the most effective 
and consistent method to date for coaxing genes into mak-
ing the proteins that carry out all of life's functions 
-- a process formally called gene expression. "In some 
disease states, it's not that gene expression is com-
pletely turned off, but rather the levels of expression 
are lower than they should be," Janowski said. As a 
result, there is an inadequate amount of a particular 
protein in the body. "If we can bring the level up a 
few notches, we might actually treat or cure the 
disease," The study appears online in the journal 
Nature Chemical Biology and will appear in an upcoming 
print edition of the journal.
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         Blood vessel formation method identified

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, -- Swedish research scientists say they 
have discovered a heretofore unidentified mechanism that 
determines how the body forms blood vessels. New blood 
vessels are formed when a "shoot" sprouts from an already 
existing vessel. The shoots lengthen, branch off and con-
tact other vessels as they form communicating networks of 
channels. The process is called "angiogenesis" and is 
important in fetal development and normal tissue forma-
tion in connection with such activities as healing of 
wounds and the menstrual cycle. However, the process also 
plays a critical part in morbid tissue formation, such as 
in cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases. All therapies
have so far targeted the Vascular Endothelial Growth 
Factor, which controls several important functions during 
the formation of blood vessels. But now scientists at 
Stockholm's Karolinska Institute and the biotech company 
AngioGenetics AB have shown another factor called Delta-
like 4 has a similarly fundamental role in blood vessel 
formation. The finding is detailed in the journal 


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             Earwax tied to genes, underarm odor

TOKYO,  -- Japanese researchers say the type of wax in a 
person's ear is determined by genetics. Earwax comes in 
two types, wet and dry. The wet form predominates in 
Africa and Europe and the dry form predominates among East 
Asians. Populations of Southern and Central Asia are rough-
ly half and half, the New York Times reported. The study, 
reported in the Monday issue of Nature Genetics, found that 
the switch of a single DNA unit in the gene determines 
whether a person has wet or dry earwax. The researchers, 
led by Koh-ichiro Yoshiura of Nagasaki University, studied 
the gene in 33 ethnic groups around the world. The wet form 
was likely to have been the ancestral form before modern 
humans left Africa 50,000 years ago. The dry form was de-
tected almost universally in tests of northern Han Chinese 
and Koreans and is quite common in Native Americans. The 
researchers also found that earwax type and armpit odor 
are correlated. Populations with dry earwax tend to sweat 
less and have little or no body odor.

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