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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

News releases

April 2014arrow

Progressive neurodegenerative disorder linked to R-loop formation, UC Davis researchers find

April 17, 2014

Researchers at UC Davis have identified a new feature of the genetic mutation responsible for the progressive neurodegenerative disorder, fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) — the formation of “R-loops,” which they believe may be associated with the disorder’s neurological symptoms, such as tremors, lack of balance, features of parkinsonism, and cognitive decline.

Dual Role: Key cell division proteins also power up mitochondria

April 17, 2014

An international team led by researchers at UC Davis has shown that the cyclin B1/Cdk1 protein complex, which plays a key role in cell division, also boosts the mitochondrial activity to power that process. This is the first time the complex has been shown to perform both jobs. This newfound ability could make cyclin B1/Cdk1 an excellent target to control cellular energy production, potentially advancing cancer care and regenerative medicine. The research was published online today in the journal Developmental Cell.

SSRI use during pregnancy is associated with risk of autism, developmental delays in male children

April 14, 2014

Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), medications frequently prescribed to treat depression, anxiety and other mental-health disorders, is associated with a higher incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD) in male children, a study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs has found.

The vast majority of injuries and illnesses in agriculture are not counted

April 8, 2014

Federal agencies responsible for tracking workplace hazards fail to report 77 percent of the injuries and illnesses of U.S. agricultural workers and farmers, new research from UC Davis has found. [en español]

UC Davis researchers discover how high blood pressure damages the heart

April 7, 2014

A multidisciplinary research team at UC Davis has found a key biological trigger — a protein known as nitric oxide synthase, or NOS — that makes the heart beat stronger in response to higher blood pressure, along with a way to turn that trigger off when it becomes overactive.

UC Davis clinical trials -- helping revolutionize hepatitis C treatment

April 3, 2014

Jesse De La Cruz didn’t have any hepatitis C symptoms for nearly 15 years. Physicians say that’s fairly typical of an illness also known as “the silent killer.”

New test makes Parkinson's-like disorder of middle age detectable in young adulthood

April 2, 2014

The very earliest signs of a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder, in which physical symptoms are not apparent until the fifth decade of life, are detectable in individuals as young as 30 years old using a new, sophisticated type of neuroimaging, researchers at UC Davis, the University of Illinois and UCLA have found.

New technique quickly identifies molecular makeup of breast tumor cells

April 1, 2014

A new technology can simultaneously detect as many as 100 clinically important protein molecules in breast tumor cells – a quantum advance over conventional methods that can pinpoint only two to four at the same time. The advantages of the new methodology, called multiplexed ion beam imaging (MIBI), is described by a team of scientists at UC Davis and San Francisco and at Stanford, Genentec in the March 23 advance online publication of the journal Nature Medicine.

March 2014arrow

Time, trust and transparency keys to minority biospecimen collection

March 26, 2014

Blood and tumor specimen collection from cancer patients is critical to research into new, more personally targeted therapies. But biospecimen collection among diverse populations lags far behind that of whites. [Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish]

UC Davis physician featured in national health equity project

March 24, 2014

UC Davis professor Christopher Bowlus of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and his liver cancer disparity research, are featured on the Health Equity Research Snapshot of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Nine-year effort concludes to fund breast cancer endowment at UC Davis

March 21, 2014

After nine years and countless fund-raising events, the Placer Breast Cancer Endowment on Thursday reached its goal of $1.5 million for breast cancer research at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Stem cell findings may offer answers for some bladder defects and disease

March 21, 2014

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in coaxing laboratory cultures of human stem cells to develop into the specialized, unique cells needed to repair a patient’s defective or diseased bladder.

Potential lung cancer vaccine shows renewed promise

March 20, 2014

Researchers at UC Davis have found that the investigational cancer vaccine tecemotide, when administered with the chemotherapeutic cisplatin, boosted immune response and reduced the number of tumors in mice with lung cancer. The study also found that radiation treatments did not significantly impair the immune response. The paper was published on March 10 in the journal Cancer Immunology Research, an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) publication.

UC Davis faculty drive efforts to improve CT safety

March 19, 2014

UC Davis clinicians and physicists have recommended new strategies to make computed tomography (CT) safer, including adoption of a new metric for dose measurement, ways to manage exposure protocols that differ by CT brand and specific approaches to reduce exposure during needle biopsies. The recommendations are detailed in papers published in the March issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).

Minority clinical trials participation and analysis still lag 20 years after federal mandate

March 18, 2014

Twenty years after Congress mandated that research funded by the National Institutes of Health include minorities, less than 5 percent of trials participants are non-white, and less than 2 percent of clinical cancer research studies focus on non-white ethnic or racial groups, UC Davis researchers have found. [Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese]

Joint cancer center study finds barriers to minority clinical trial participation

March 18, 2014

A new study involving researchers from UC Davis and four other National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers reveals important barriers that limit minority group participation in cancer clinical trials, findings that will be used to refine and launch more effective strategies to assure that more minorities benefit from clinical trials.

Statewide public cord blood collection program begins

March 17, 2014

Mothers of newborns can now donate their babies’ umbilical cord blood at UC Davis Medical Center and other hospitals throughout the state as part of California’s first comprehensive public system of collecting cord blood for lifesaving transplantations and medical research. [en español]

Electronic health records can be used to predict sepsis risk and mortality

March 14, 2014

UC Davis researchers have found that routine information — blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature and white blood cell count — from the electronic health records (EHRs) of hospitalized patients can be used to predict the early stages of sepsis, a leading cause of death and hospitalization in the U.S. They also determined that just three measures — lactate level, blood pressure and respiratory rate — can pinpoint the likelihood that a patient will die from the disease.

UC Davis nursing school hopes to improve care for cancer patients with social network

March 14, 2014

Several chemotherapy patients at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center will be invited to use tablets with a unique social networking tool as part of their treatment plan.

Microbes in space

March 12, 2014

Microbes collected from Northern California and throughout the nation will soon blast into orbit for research and a microgravity growth competition on the International Space Station (ISS). This citizen science project, known as Project MERCCURI, is led in part by UC Davis microbiologists, who are investigating how microbes from different places on Earth compare to each other and to those found on the International Space Station.

UC Davis MIND Institute joins ranks of elite U.S. neurodevelopmental centers

March 11, 2014

The UC Davis MIND Institute has been named an Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), through a prestigious grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health — a distinction held by only a handful of neurodevelopmental centers nationwide committed to the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and amelioration of developmental disorders such as autism, fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome.

UC Davis researchers one step closer to ovarian cancer marker

March 10, 2014

The hunt is on to find biomarkers that detect cancer, but it’s a challenging process. Early successes often are followed by heartbreaking failures.

Bone turnover markers predict prostate cancer outcomes

March 7, 2014

Biomarkers for bone formation and resorption predict outcomes for men with castration-resistant prostate cancer, a team of researchers from UC Davis and their collaborators have found.

Atypical development in the siblings of children with autism is detectable at 12 months

March 5, 2014

Atypical development can be detected as early as 12 months of age among the siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder, a study published by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute and UCLA has found.

February 2014arrow

UC Davis tests new smartphone app to help patients with mental illness

February 28, 2014

Sacramento-area youth in the early stages of serious mental illness can receive a new smartphone app that helps them detect early warning signs of psychosis, through a one-year, $588,000 grant to the UC Davis Early Diagnosis and Preventive Treatment (EDAPT) Clinic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to study whether harnessing mobile technology improves patient care.

Sloan Fellowship for "designer enzymes"

February 18, 2014

Justin Siegel, a biochemist at the University of California, Davis, who uses computers to develop new "designer enzymes" with properties not found in nature, has been awarded a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship to support his work.

In-hospital formula use deters breastfeeding

February 14, 2014

When mothers feed their newborns formula in the hospital, they are less likely to fully breastfeed their babies in the second month of life and more likely to quit breastfeeding early, even if they had hoped to breastfeed longer, UC Davis researchers have found. [en español or 中文 Chinese

IPHI's Helen Wu receives prestigious research award from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

February 6, 2014

Helen Wu, a research and policy scientist in the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI), has been selected to receive a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Mentored Research Scientist Development Award under its Public Health Services and Systems Research Program.

Tighter economic regulation is needed to reverse obesity epidemic

February 2, 2014

Governments could slow — and even reverse — the growing epidemic of obesity by taking measures to counter fast food consumption, according to a study published today in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.