Most of us can spot a genuine smile. There’s just something different about it.
Well it was a French doctor in the 1860s who went to the trouble of stimulating facial muscles with electrical currents to discover just what reveals a genuine smile. It’s two muscles working together. The zygomatic major muscle that turns the corners of the lips up, and the orbicularis oculi muscle that squeezes the eyes into the famous fanned wrinkles also known as crows feet. Now it’s this latter muscle that’s involuntary, so the crows feet smile is considered the real spontaneous emotion and is known as the Duchenne smile.
It turns out the real thing has a lot of power. In this month’s Observer Magazine, Eric Jaffe outlines some fascinating effects of an honest smile. For instance a 30-year long study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that women who displayed the Duchenne smile in their college yearbook photos had greater levels of well-being and marital satisfaction three decades later. Another study published this year in Psychological Science went further, and found that professional baseball players who sported Duchenne smiles in their yearbook photo were only half as likely to die as those who had not.
So during this holiday season, when the cameras and cell phones come out, give it your best, most candid smile…it appears a good thing.
Ubiquitous sugar molecule could be key to repairing deep wound without scarring
Findings presented at American Society for Cell Biology's 50th annual meeting in Philadelphia
Blocking fragments of the sugar molecule hyaluronan that triggers inflammation could be the key to robust healing and less scarring in deep wounds, Canadian researchers reported at the American Society for Cell Biology's 50th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
In laboratory rats, the small peptide, named 15-1, which blocks fragments of the ubiquitous sugar molecule, hyaluronan, promoted wound healing, minimized scarring and forged stronger new tissue. These effects did not occur in the untreated animals in the study, according to Cornelia Tölg, Ph.D., of the London (Ontario) Regional Cancer Program.
With collaborators in Canada and the U.S., Tölg identified peptide 15-1 for its ability to cap molecular receptors in epithelial and dermal cells that react to fragments of the hyaluronan molecule by setting off a cellular pathway linked to inflammation.
A single dose of peptide 15-1 reduced wound contraction, collagen deposits, inflammation and growth of unwanted new blood vessels in lab animals. The researchers said that these findings may have clinical implications for human wound healing.
A major component in skin, hyaluronan has been known to play a complicated although unclear role in closing deep wounds and minimizing fibrotic scarring in repaired tissue.
Until the late 1970s, hyaluronan was considered to be little more than the inert "goo" that filled the extracellular matrix, but has since emerged as a biological star in a wide range of biological processes, from embryonic heart development to tumor metastasis to wound repair.
The relationship between hyaluronan levels and tissue regeneration is paradoxical according to Tölg. Hyaluronan levels are extremely high in developing embryos and newborns, which can recover readily from surgery without scarring. But throughout adult life, levels of intact hyaluronan drop while the proportion of broken hyaluronan molecules increases.
Thus, while the intact hyaluronan molecule promotes strong healing, hyaluronan fragments engage the receptor for hyaluronan-mediated motility (RHAMM), setting off inflammation that can result in fibrotic scarring and weak granulated tissue.
Tölg and colleagues used microscopic beads coated with hyaluronan to pinpoint two small peptides that bound to the shape of the molecule. One of them, peptide 15-1, showed an affinity for fastening itself to hyaluronan fragments, effectively keeping them from the RHAMM.
Co-Authors: C. Tölg, E. Turley, London Regional Program, London, Ontario, CANADA
R. Savani, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX D. Bagli, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
F. Winnik, Université de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, CANADA M. Cowman, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, New York, NY
UCR scientists identify pomegranate juice components that could stop cancer from spreading
Research could lead to new drug therapies to fight cancer
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified components in pomegranate juice that both inhibit the movement of cancer cells and weaken their attraction to a chemical signal that promotes the metastasis of prostate cancer to the bone. The research could lead to new therapies for preventing cancer metastasis.
Performed in the lab of Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology, the research was presented today (Dec. 12, 2010) at the 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology taking place in Philadelphia.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the United States. To date, there is no cure for it. If prostate cancer recurs after treatments of surgery and/or radiation, usually the next treatment is the suppression of the male hormone testosterone, which inhibits the growth of the cancer cells because they need this hormone to grow. But over time, the cancer develops ways to resist hormone suppression therapies, becomes very aggressive, and metastasizes to the bone marrow, lungs, and lymph nodes, usually resulting in the patient's death.
The Martins-Green lab applied pomegranate juice on laboratory-cultured prostate cancer cells that were resistant to testosterone (the more resistant a cancer cell is to testosterone, the more prone it is to metastasizing).
The researchers – Martins-Green, graduate student Lei Wang and undergraduate students Andre Alcon and Jeffrey Ho – found that the pomegranate juice-treated tumor cells that had not died with the treatment showed increased cell adhesion (meaning fewer cells breaking away) and decreased cell migration.
Next, the researchers identified the following active groups of ingredients in pomegranate juice that had a molecular impact on cell adhesion and migration in metastatic prostate cancer cells: phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones and conjugated fatty acids.
"Having identified them, we can now modify cancer-inhibiting components in pomegranate juice to improve their functions and make them more effective in preventing prostate cancer metastasis, leading to more effective drug therapies," Martins-Green said. "Because the genes and proteins involved in the movement of prostate cancer cells are essentially the same as those involved in the movement of other types of cancer cells, the same modified components of the juice could have a much broader impact in cancer treatment."
Martins-Green explained that an important protein produced in the bone marrow causes the cancer cells to move to the bone where they can then form new tumors.
"We show that pomegranate juice markedly inhibits the function of this protein, and thus this juice has the potential of preventing metastasis of the prostate cancer cells to the bone," Martins-Green said.
Next, her lab plans to do additional tests in an in vivo model for prostate cancer metastasis to determine whether the same cancer-inhibiting components that work in cultured cells can prevent metastasis without side effects.