For papers that will be published online on 22 April 2009
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Enzyme regulator of attention provides insights into ADHD
Scientists have discovered a key enzyme in the brain of rats that helps regulate attention and hyperactivity. The research could help in the development of new medications for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Bill Carlezon and colleagues selectively disrupted the function of protein kinase-A (PKA) in the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain associated with decision making. The rats became hyperactive and were unable to pay attention to hints about how to obtain food. Genetic disruption of a protein which PKA regulates also produced inattention, identifying a pathway within the nerve cells of the prefrontal cortex that might be sluggish in individuals with attention disorders. Additional studies suggested that disruption of PKA did not change the rats' desire for the food, only their ability to pay attention to information needed to obtain it.
Many children struggle with ADHD, a disabling condition that interferes with their ability to focus attention and perform well in school. ‘Our hope is that this will lead to the development of medications that have a more narrow range of actions, without producing the side-effects that detract from the actions of current drug treatments,’ said Bill Carlezon, senior author on the report.
Bill Carlezon (Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA)
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Urine test for kidney disease
Scientists have developed a new test for detecting kidney disease, reports a paper published online this week in Kidney International. The technique will allow researchers and clinicians to identify kidney disease or injury within 15 minutes of testing in both rats and humans.
The test, developed by Vishal Vaidya and colleagues, measures the urinary biomarker of a molecule known as Kim-1, which has been shown to better indicate a range of renal conditions over other conventional biomarkers such as blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, and urinary enzymes. The new assay displays visual indicators in minutes, which is a significant improvement from older analyses which require a large analyzer and take several hours.
The kidney is highly susceptible to injury due to various disease states, a wide range of drugs, environmental pollutants, and other conditions. The incidence of kidney injury is steadily increasing across the population and contributes to high mortality and increasing numbers of individuals with end-stage kidney disease. This assay has potential to diagnose kidney disease quickly and early enough to provide timely therapeutic intervention, and could also be used in the future to safely screen for agents which are potentially nephrotoxic in preclinical and clinical settings.
Vishal Vaidya (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
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Gut hormone aids malnourished dialysis patients
Daily treatment with the gut hormone ghrelin is effective in sustaining an improved appetite in patients on dialysis, suggests a study published online in Kidney International this week.
Malnutrition is a frequent and early feature of chronic kidney disease, and is also associated with increased mortality in dialysis patients. In most cases no cause of malnutrition can be identified, but it may indicate inadequate dialysis or co-morbidity.
Damien Ashby and colleagues found that daily subcutaneous application of the hormone, which regulates hunger through the hypothalamus, increased patients’ appetites without changing energy expenditure. The hormone also had a temporary effect in reducing patients’ blood pressure. Researchers hope that further investigation into long-term application of ghrelin can assist in providing a healthy diet to malnourished dialysis patients.
Damien Ashby (Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK)
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