UCSD team looks at body’s clock

A new finding reveals that many of the genes that regulate the daily rhythms of insulin responses can also alter the timing of the body’s circadian clock. This suggests new approaches might be possible to treat disorders that result from chronic disruption of the sleep-wake cycle.

Knowing that a molecular clock controls daily physiological rhythms, UCSD researchers engineered cultured cells to glow yellow when a particular clock gene switched on, thus making the cycle visible.

Next they screened human genes against this model and identified hundreds of genes that altered metabolic timing with insulin signaling showing a pronounced relationship with circadian regulation.

The findings are reported in the journal Cell.

Seeding the future

To protect their systems from network failures and to make sure that data is delivered as fast as possible, popular services such as Google may replicate their data centers on multiple continents and at multiple sites based on proximity to population centers.

This presents two challenges for network systems researchers: interconnecting multiple computers within a single data center and synchronizing individual data centers in wide-area replication.

A UCSD-led team of computer scientists and optical interconnection systems technologists in the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) is developing Scalable Energy Efficient Data Centers (SEED) consisting of novel optical interconnection technologies.

Current state-of-the-art optical communication technologies work well for very short communication distances (hundreds of meters) or relatively long distances (hundreds of kilometers over which metropolitan networks operate), but not in between. The SEED concept could fill in the gap. The UCSD team is based in the Photonics Lab of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Stem cell advance noted

A study by Scripps Research Institute scientists offers hope for children afflicted with cystinosis - a genetic disorder that causes an accumulation of the amino acid cystine within cells, leading to crystal formation with devastating affects on kidney function, the eyes and other body systems. The disease is rare, afflicting an estimated 500 people in the United States and 2,000 worldwide.

In the study, published in the journal Blood, researchers used bone marrow stem cell transplantation to halt cystine accumulation and virtually eliminate cystinosis in a mouse model.

The results have surprised and encouraged scientists, who did not expect a bone marrow stem cell transplant to be so widespread and effective against a defect present in every mouse cell.

Additional studies are needed to demonstrate a similar response in humans.

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.