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Study focuses on anxious adolescent mice

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            HEALTH TIPS - Tuesday, March 13, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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       Study focuses on anxious adolescent mice

NEW YORK, -- U.S. neuroscientists have found
stress might cause anxiety in adolescents due to an atypical
response to a neurosteroid. Sheryl Smith and colleagues at 
the Downstate Medical Center in New York City said tetra-
hydropregnanalone, or THP, is produced in response to stress
and normally acts to reduce anxiety. But, in adolescent
mice, THP acts on an unusual type of inhibitory receptor to
increase it. The researchers said if a similar mechanism 
occurs in humans, it might explain why stress causes so much
anxiety in teenagers. Smith said further research is needed
to determine whether THP has similar effects on GABA 
receptors and anxiety in human teenagers as in adolescent
mice. The study appears in the current issue of the journal
Nature Neuroscience.
  

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      Scientists view antigen peptide binding

WORCESTER, Mass., -- U.S. scientists have developed a method
that allows viewing of peptide binding by antigen-
presenting cells when they generate an immune response.
During an immune response, antigenic peptides are loaded on-
to major histocompatibility complex, or MHC, proteins. The
MHC-bound peptides are then displayed to T cells, which 
leads to the production of antibodies.Lawrence Stern, 
Barbara Imperiali and colleagues at the University of 
Massachusetts Medical School have developed modified pep-
tides that undergo a 1,000-fold increase in fluorescence
when they bind to MHCs in vivo. Using that method, the 
authors investigated the ability of a type of antigen-
presenting cell, the dendritic cell, to bind peptides 
during different developmental stages and discovered 
immature dendritic cells can efficiently display peptides.
The research is detailed in the April issue of the journal
Nature Chemical Biology.
  

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      Study identifies leukemia therapy targets

MEMPHIS, -- U.S. researchers have identified previously un-
suspected mutations that contribute to the formation of 
pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. St. Jude Children's
Research Hospital scientists scanned 350,000 locations 
across the genome from 242 patients to identify the new 
targets for improved therapy. The investigators said their
discovery not only suggests novel methods for treating pedi-
atric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, but also 
provides way of identifying unsuspected mutations in adult
cancers. ALL, the most common cancer in children, is a tumor
in which immature white blood cells that normally develop
into immune system cells, called B or T lymphocytes, instead
multiply rapidly and overwhelm the normal blood cells the
body needs to survive. The study found 40 percent of ALL
patients had deletions or mutations in one of three so-
called "master genes" that control the normal different-
iation of immature progenitor cells into mature B lymph-
ocytes. Dr. James Downing, senior author of the study,
said the results demonstrate it's possible to significantly
speed the identification of the genetic lesions that are
the underlying cause of ALL, as well as many other cancers.
The research appears in the online edition of the journal
Nature.

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