Scientists erase bad memories from brains of mice
Scientists have discovered a treatment that erases traumatic memories from the brains of mice.
According to the study, scientists manipulated the brains to overproduce an enzyme that could erase certain memories while keeping others intact.
The enzyme, called calcium/calmodulin protein kinase II (CaMKII), is also present in humans. The new discovery creates potential treatment for people facing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia and East China Normal University in Shanghai tested the mice by training them to associate environmental cues with an electric shock.
Ordinary mice would freeze in fear when confronted with cues such as a specific tone or cage. Mice whose brains were manipulated did not show fear when given the same cues.
To test whether engineered mice had their traumatic memory permanently erased, researchers gave the mice a drug that reduced the enzymes to normal levels. The mice still did not react in fear when hearing a tone or seeing a cage.
In later experiments, researchers also found that they could choose to erase fearful memories from the mice brains while leaving other recollections.
The author of the study believes the treatment is probably inapplicable to humans as there is currently no practical way of administering additional enzymes into human brains. (latimes.com)
Vaccine decreases children’s hospitalization rates
Doctors recently reported that a vaccine against rotavirus, the leading cause of diarrhea in children, has led to large decreases in hospitalization and emergency room visits.
Before Merck & Co.‘s Rotateq, over 200,000 children visited emergency rooms and over 55,000 were hospitalized due to rotavirus. The virus causes diarrhea and vomiting and kills 1,600 children in the world each day.
Since Rotateq became available in 2006, hospital stays due to rotavirus decreased by 80 to 100 percent. The vaccine is administered three times: at two, four and six months of age.
A newer vaccine – GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix – was released in June and requires only two doses to be completed by age four. Other new and improved vaccines are being created to protect against pneumonia, meningitis and ear infections (in addition to rotavirus). They are not yet available, however, and can still hold potential for dangerous strains.
Doctors advise parents to stick to current vaccines and to avoid using antibiotics whenever possible to prevent bacterial resistance. (The Associated Press)
Higher temperatures create higher risk of illnesses
Scientists are now saying that global warming can lead to increases in water-borne illnesses around the world.
Scientists predict this can occur in a variety of ways. As rainfall becomes heavier and temperatures rise, sewage systems will overflow into oceans and lakes. Also, the increased temperatures will cause bacteria, parasites and algae to thrive, resulting in contamination of drinking water, fresh produce and shellfish. Mosquitoes will continue to increase in numbers and create potential for the spread of West Nile Virus, malaria and dengue fever.
There are approximately 950 U.S. cities that will be most affected as their combined sewage systems carry storm water and sewage in the same pipes. During heavy rains, the sewage spills into lakes and waterways.
The EPA is looking into upgrading combined sewage systems, but the process will be very expensive. (washingtonpost.com)
THUY TRAN compiles Science Scene. She can be reached at email@example.com