Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, many researchers have begun to focus on proteomics—the study of an organism's complete complement of proteins.
Among them are researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, who are using the hospital's new $2.6 million Proteomics Center to examine how proteins function in and around cells. Their work could yield big dividends in medicine, such as diagnosing genetic diseases in newborns and identifying proteins that are "markers" of various cancers and other diseases.
To help explain how proteins are sequenced and identified, Children's has created an interactive feature that takes you through the entire process, step by step. You can view it at www.childrenshospital.org/research/proteomics.
One in 10 children with sickle cell anemia has a stroke by age 20. Since treatment can prevent this complication, children often undergo transcranial Doppler studies, which gauge stroke risk by measuring blood flow in the brain. One problem: many children with abnormal findings don't have strokes, while many with normal findings do.
Now, Children's Hospital Boston researcher Marco Ramoni, PhD, and colleague Paola Sebastiani report a powerful stroke predictor: genetic analysis with Bayesian networks, a statistical tool that disentangles relationships among multiple variables and computes the probability of a given outcome.
The researchers started with 80 genes previously linked to stroke or factors that affect stroke, then narrowed this list to 25 variations in 11 genes. These variations, combined with fetal hemoglobin values, predicted stroke with 98 percent accuracy.
All marathoners are taught to drink enough water so they don't dehydrate. But a study by Children's Hospital Boston cardiac fellow Chris Almond, MD, and his colleagues, cautions runners not to overdo it on the water. In fact, the study showed that over-hydration can be worse than not drinking enough water, especially among non-elite runners.
Conducted on 488 runners in the 2002 Boston Marathon, the study found that 13 percent finished the race with mild hyponatremia, or low salt concentration in the blood caused by excessive fluid intake. In rare instances hyponatremia can be fatal.
Runners who gained weight during the race as a result of excess fluid intake were at especially high risk, as were slower and slimmer runners.
"Aerobic exercise is so important to good health," says Almond. "By shedding some light on this rare but important complication of endurance activity, we hope to help make marathon running safer."