A new model of leukemia development

Picture 2013-09-11 at 11.25.09 AMStem cell researchers at UC San Francisco have discovered how leukemia cells create a hostile environment for normal immune cells in bone marrow and inhibit the development of healthy cells.

Below is our interview with lead researcher for the project Emmanuelle Passegue who talks about her team’s work.

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The Beautiful Brain: Coping with MS

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“Self Portrait of the Artist’s Brain” – Painting on Silk

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Elizabeth Jameson began creating paintings based off of MRIs and other digital scans of her brain:

“My diagnosis initiated a fascination with these eerie images, which I found frightening, yet mesmerizing. I felt a strong urge to reinterpret my brain scans—to use them in my art to explore the wonder and beauty of all brains, including those with disease.”

As a post-doc in health policy at UCSF, she researched healthcare policy — focusing on families who had been denied healthcare for children with chronic illnesses or disabilities.

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Researchers and Community advocates take on breast cancer together

“Nail salon workers routinely handle products containing many potentially harmful compounds, some of which are carcinogens or have endocrine disrupting effects, yet are virtually unregulated,” said Thu Quach, a research scientist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California in Fremont. “Many of these women work in small shops with poor ventilation for up to 12 hours a day.”

Quach heads an ongoing study, funded by the UC’s California Breast Cancer Research Program to understand possible links between Vietnamese nail salon workers’ exposure to chemicals and health risks, including breast cancer. A widespread misunderstanding is that only women who have cancer in their family tree are at risk. Quach’s research is one of many projects the program funds that are looking at environmental causes of breast cancer and why some ethnic groups are more affected by the disease.

“Our goal is to focus on closing the critical gaps in the breast cancer research field,” said Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch, CBCRP’s director. “One way we’ve accomplished this is by making sure that our research is guided by the knowledge and experience of the people who deal with breast cancer firsthand. We provide opportunities for community members and researchers to partner together to answer their urgent questions in a scientifically rigorous way.”

Over the past 20 years it has partnered with 50 community groups on research priorities and efforts to educate high-risk women on ways to reduce breast cancer risk.

Avoiding Olive Oil Fraud

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UC Davis Olive Center’s Dan Flynn talks to Dr. Oz about what to look for when buying olive oil at the grocery store.

  • Make sure you’re looking at the “harvest” not the “best by” date
  • Buy olive oil in dark bottles since the dark glass protects the oil

We interviewed Dan last summer and he talked a little bit about how they conducted their study on extra virgin olive oil and what is being done to maintain its standards in the industry.

Watch the video here

Thirdhand smoke, what lingers after the smoke clears

Thirdhand smoke is a new frontier, and UC’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program has assembled a group of investigators, including at LBNL and UCSF,  to study the health risks caused by the remnants of cigarette smoke.

“Third hand smoke is what you smell when you go into a hotel room where people have been smoking or what rubs off on your skin when you touch a wall or if you visit somebody’s house and they’ve been smoking.  So that means its not only in the air but its also coming out of surfaces.  Third hand smoke is the residue in tobacco smoking that is in a building after people have smoked.”  – Laura Gundel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Using cell phones to detect harmful bacteria

Picture 2013-01-18 at 4.11.52 PMUCLA scientists have developed a cell phone attachment that acts as a microscope and detects pathogens such as E.coli, which contaminates food and drinking water.

“The platform is actually a microscope installed on the cell phone, but using some spatial microfluid devices, we converted to a specific sensor of bacteria. We envisioned that such a platform running on the cellphone, easy-to-use and cost effective, could be used in field conditions, wherever your cellphones work and ideally the field worker would take some samples.” – Aydogan Ozcan, Researcher, UCLA School of Engineering

High-tech mouthwash being developed at UCLA

mouthewashFor nearly a decade Wenyuan Shi, a researcher at UCLA School of Dentistry, has been developing a revolutionary new mouthwash aimed at effectively eliminating tooth decay. The technology is a partnership with Colgate-Palmolive and from C3-Jian Inc.

“The best analogy I’ve been using is a ‘weeds vs. grass’ with this technology that we call STAMPS (specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides). What it does is it acts like a smart bomb, it only kills the weeds not the grass.” — Wenyuan Shi, UCLA School of Dentistry