Archive for June 29, 2008

Florida Park Ranger Killed When Tree Falls on Truck

MICANOPY, Fla. — A state park ranger died when a tree crashed through the roof of his pickup truck during a storm Saturday afternoon.

The accident happened just after 2 p.m. at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, south of Gainesville.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Ranger Nathan Howell’s Ford Ranger was stopped on Puggy Road because it was blocked by a downed tree. As Howell sat in the vehicle, a second tree fell atop the pickup, causing the roof to collapse.


There were some strong thunderstorms that came through here today. I heard a WHAM! in the front yard. Dang, that lightening was close! I looked out the front window and a tree was down. It had fallen at an angle and had therefore missed coming through the roof.

This young man did what I would have done in a storm like that which is to wait until conditions clear to try to move. He probably had his emergency flashers on to warn anybody coming along of the danger, for Puggy Road has a campground on it.

My deepest sympathies to his family.

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Vandals Spray Paint 60 Cars, Some with Anti-Obama Message

ORLANDO, Fla. — Vandals have spray-painted 60 city vehicles in Orlando, some with messages against Sen. Barack Obama.

The cars were parked across from city hall late Saturday night. Investigators say the culprits tagged notes such as “Obama smokes crack” and a racial epithet. They even left business cards on each vehicle. Vandals have business cards?

Witness Mike Lowe first told police about the damage. He saw three cars with anti-Obama messages, while the others were just heavily painted.

“I’m driving by and every car I see has been hit with spray paint,” Lowe said told WKMG-TV. “There is so much damage to them. There is (sic) messages written on them and the vandals left their business card, which is crazy.”

The business cards disparage both Obama and Sen. John McCain but have messages of support for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Anybody know where the Clintons were this weekend?

Police also found that many of the vehicles had open gas tanks. No doubt young activists making a political statement vandalizing city vehicles that the taxpayers will have to pay for. Or maybe they were just common thieves.

Orlando police are investigating.


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Scientists Isolate Toxic Key to Alzheimer Disease in Human Brains

Scientists have long questioned whether the abundant amounts of amyloid plaques found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s actually caused the neurological disease or were a by-product of its progress. Now, using new research techniques, scientists have shown that a two-molecule aggregate (or dimer) of beta-amyloid protein fragments may play a role in initiating the disease. The study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, suggests a possible new target for developing drug therapies to combat the irreversible and progressive disorder.

Ganesh M. Shankar, Ph.D., and Dennis J. Selkoe, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, conducted the study in collaboration with other researchers at Harvard and in Ireland at University College Dublin, Beaumont Hospital and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, and Trinity College Dublin. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of NIH, funded the study which appears online in the June 22, 2008, Nature Medicine.

Alzheimer’s disease is marked by the build-up of plaques consisting of beta-amyloid protein fragments, as well as abnormal tangles of tau protein found inside brain cells. Early in the disease, Alzheimer’s pathology is first observed in the hippocampus, the part of the brain important to memory, and gradually spreads to the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain. In this study, researchers tested cerebral cortex extracts from brains donated for autopsy by people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as those without dementia. The extracts contained soluble one-molecule (monomer), two-molecule (dimer), three-molecule (trimer) or larger aggregates of beta-amyloid, as well as insoluble plaque cores. The researchers then injected the extracts into normal rats or added the extracts to slices of normal mouse hippocampus.

Shankar, Selkoe and colleagues discovered that both the soluble monomers and the insoluble plaque cores had no detectable effect on the hyppocampal slices. However, the soluble dimers induced certain key characteristics of Alzheimer’s in the rats. The dimers impaired memory function, specifically the memories of newly learned behaviors. In the mouse hippocampal slices, the dimers also reduced by 47 percent the density of the dendrite spines that receive messages sent by other brain cells. The dimers seemed to be directly acting on synapses, the connections between neurons that are essential for communication between them.

To confirm this effect, the researchers then injected certain antibodies against beta-amyloid protein fragments. These latched onto and inactivated the dimers, preventing their toxic effects in the animal models. However, much work remains to be done before inactivation of dimers could move into the clinic.

“Scientists have theorized for many years that soluble beta-amyloid may be critical to the development and progression of this devastating disease. Now these researchers have isolated a candidate causative agent from brains of people with typical Alzheimer’s and directly tested it in an animal model,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “While more research is needed to replicate and extend these findings, this study has put yet one more piece into place in the puzzle that is Alzheimer’s.”

The animal findings were consistent with what the researchers found when they examined the brain tissues of people who had been clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and those without dementia. They detected soluble dimers and some trimers of amyloid in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s, but none or very low levels in those free of the disorder. Some people free of the disorder, however, did have insoluble amyloid plaques in their brains.

“These findings may help explain why people with normal cognitive function are sometimes found to have large amounts of amyloid plaques in their brains, which has been a puzzle for some time,” said Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, Ph.D., director of the NIA Division of Neuroscience. “Their findings noted that the brain of an individual who was never clinically diagnosed with dementia was found with abundant insoluble Alzheimer’s plaques, but no soluble beta-amyloid.”

Selkoe and Shankar noted that further insights into the early stages of this disease process may answer questions not only about Alzheimer’s, but also about age-related memory impairments. “The approaches we used to isolate dimers and the widespread availability of tissues from brain banks, open new avenues of investigation into how these aggregates induce Alzheimer’s disease,” said Selkoe. “We still need to find out why dimers in particular are so destructive to neurons.”

Source: National Institute of Health

Very interesting. I hope the antibody research can be perfected and replicated in human studies.

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