Health & Medicine

Breaking the Loop Leading to Muscular Fibrosis

A team of UC Davis researchers is on a mission to solve a key mystery in the formation of muscular fibrosis. The researchers are studying why special stem cells known as fibro-adipogenic progenitors (FAPs) get derailed from normal muscle regeneration following injury, and instead produce excess material that can lead to fibrosis. The team may have unlocked a way to prevent these cells from getting stuck in an endless loop of collagen production, causing fibrotic muscles. 

Making Prosthetics More Lifelike

David Brockman, a retired CalFire captain and avid outdoorsman, built a deck in the backyard of his home last year, without the use of his dominant right hand, which he lost in an accident. The prosthetic hand he used instead was a crude but functional steel hook-and-harness device.

Brockman has tried other artificial limbs, including a high-tech prosthesis called a myoelectric. It looks like a hand and works by using electrical signals from muscles in the forearm. But that one just didn’t work for him.

Understanding Healthy Function of Tau, Protein Associated with Dementia

In Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative dementias, proteins that normally play a role in healthy brain tissue turn bad, clumping together to form insoluble plaques and tangles as neurons wither and die. Exactly how these proteins are connected to disease — and whether they can be targeted in some way to slow, stop or reverse its progression — remains a challenging problem.

Study Reveals How the Ovarian Reserve is Established

Fertility is finite for mammalian females. From birth, females possess a limited number of primordial follicles that are collectively called the ovarian reserve. Within each follicle is an oocyte that eventually becomes an egg. But with age, the viability of the ovarian reserve decreases.

“Despite its fundamental importance, our understanding how the ovarian reserve is established and maintained remains poor,” said UC Davis Professor Satoshi Namekawa, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

Tenuous Tethers: Study Provides Live View into Interchromosomal Dynamics During Meiosis

In the choreography of meiosis—the process responsible for sex cell division in all eukaryotic life—the pairing of homologous chromosomes (homologs) is essential. Errors in this process can lead to an incorrect number of chromosomes in sex cells, which can result in birth defects and miscarriages. Despite being studied for more than 100 years, mysteries about the process still abound.

Study Highlights Molecular Targets Integral to Breast Cancer Treatment

It’s estimated that over 281,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. And about one in seven women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

For those with breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) mutations, the risk of developing breast cancer is much higher. Between 45 and 69 percent of those with this genetic mutation will develop breast cancer by 70 to 80 years of age. 

A Map of Mouse Brain Metabolism in Aging

The first atlas of metabolites in the mouse brain has been published by a team led by UC Davis researchers. The dataset includes 1,547 different molecules across 10 brain regions in male and female laboratory mice from adolescence through adulthood and into advanced old age. The work is published Oct. 15 in the Nature Communications. The complete dataset is publicly available at https://mouse.atlas.metabolomics.us/.

Genome Center Passes 1 Million COVID-19 Tests, Helping Keep Positivity Rates Low

UC Davis’ asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program completed its 1 millionth test last week, a little more than a year since the campus began offering tests to on-campus students, faculty and staff in mid-September 2020.

“Our asymptomatic testing program was the original foundation of the university’s COVID-19 strategy and, along with vaccination, continues to be central to our mitigation efforts,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan.

UC Davis Launches Neuroscience Consortium

Last month, the University of California, Davis, officially launched a consortium called the UC Davis Neuroscience Consortium (UCDNC) to leverage the strength, breadth and depth of one of the largest neuroscience communities in the world. The consortium brings together nearly 300 researchers from eleven centers and 41 departments — integrating biologists, chemists, social scientists, engineers, computer scientists and clinicians.

Assistant Professor Gerald Quon Receives NIH New Innovator Award

Gerald Quon, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Genome Center, has received a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award will support the development of a computational framework for characterizing how genetic variants associated with the risk of psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder work at the at the cellular level.

Hippocampus Is the Brain’s Storyteller

People love stories. We find it easier to remember events when they are part of an overarching narrative. But in real life, the chapters of a story don’t follow smoothly one from another. Other things happen in between. A new brain imaging study from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, shows that the hippocampus is the brain’s storyteller, connecting separate, distant events into a single narrative. The work is published Sept. 29 in Current Biology.

Engineers Invent Machine to Shake up UC Davis’ COVID-19 Testing

UC Davis engineers have invented shaking and inversion machines that are a critical part of the UC Davis Genome Center’s award-winning asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. These machines, designed and built by biological and agricultural engineering (BAE) development engineer Dennis Sadowski, professor Stavros Vougioukas and postdoctoral researcher Zhenghao Fei in just six weeks, help treat saliva samples so they can be tested for the virus.