Researchers identify two major gene mutations that link to dementia, tracking down the best science reads of the year and could body fat be to blame for breast cancer in post-menopausal women?

UCLA Scientists Link Specific Gene Mutations to Dementia

(BioSpace, 12/4/2018, Mark Terry)

In Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, scientists believe there are two primary mechanisms, amyloid-beta and tau. Most of the research has been around amyloid-beta, but there is also more data being generation about tau including a recent one out of California. Researchers with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Health Sciences have identified two major groups of genes that, when mutated, results in overproduction of the tau protein, at least in mice. They published their research in the journal Nature Medicine. The research was primarily conducted on mouse models of dementia. They then searched a database of the genetic effects of experimental drugs to try to find ones that might affect the loss of neurons. The UCLA team identified MAPT and GRN genes. Their focus, however, was on frontotemporal dementia, which is a type of early-onset dementia. The processes involved are similar to those observed in Alzheimer’s disease and another type of dementia called supranuclear palsy.

The Ten Best Science Books of 2018

(SMITHSONIAN.COM, 12/6/2018, Jay Bennett)

In just the past year, new discoveries about the origins of our species have been published (something you can really get your teeth into), geneticists continue to unlock the workings of our continuant DNA, dramatic finds upended our understanding of life in the deep past, and spacecraft have flown to many unexplored corners of the solar system. Whether you want to look inward at the science of human heredity, or outward to Pluto and beyond, the best science books of the year will teach you something that humanity itself is only just starting to learn.

Body fat levels linked to breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women

(CNN Health, 12/6/2018, Naomi Thomas)

Older women with excess body fat, even if they have what’s considered a normal body-mass index, could be at greater risk for breast cancer, according to a study in the medical journal JAMA Oncology. The American Cancer Society says estrogen-dependent cancers, called ER-positive breast cancer in the study, occur when the receptor proteins in or on cells attach to the hormone estrogen and rely on it to grow. The researchers studied 3,460 American women between the ages of 50 and 79 who had gone through menopause. Of those women, 146 developed ER-positive breast cancer, and the researchers looked for a relationship between excess body fat and the development of this cancer.

 

 

—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola