Highlights of the BMC-series: October 2012


October was a busy month for the BMC-series, with the announcement of the Nobel prize winners in Physiology or Medicine, and the highly anticipated Open Access week. To hear more about what we’ve been up to, read on for some exciting highlights from across the series.

Conservation genetics: Koala diversity not affected by hunting
Comparing museum specimens with modern populations reveals little evidence that hunting of koalas in the early 20th century caused the low genetic diversity currently seen in this species, suggesting a more ancient factor is to blame. Author of the study, Professor Alex Greenwood explained “The event which reduced the genetic diversity of koalas must have happened a long time ago, perhaps during the late Pleistocene when the larger species of koala, Phascolarctos stirtoni, became extinct.”

Peer-review: Keeping an eye on quality
BMC Ophthalmology now endorses a free of charge, online peer review course entitled Translating Critical Appraisal of a Manuscript into Meaningful Peer Review, which is run by the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group. The course aims to serve as a resource for health professionals, particularly ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other vision practitioners, who are serving or wish to serve as peer reviewers of the biomedical literature. To enrol on the course or for more information please see their website.

Data notes: Sharing the tree of life
Arlin Stoltzfus and colleagues call for a standardized system for handling information from phylogenetic trees, including centralized data deposition, and user friendly means of data retrieval and integration.

HIV therapy: Earlier initiation of ART needed
A high rate of mortality is observed in the infected partner of African HIV-1 serodiscordant couples, even when CD4 cell counts are above levels that prompt antiretroviral (ART) treatment. In a study of 3295 HIV serodiscordant couples, the authors observed 109 deaths, 74 of which were among HIV-1 infected and 25 of which were among HIV-1 uninfected persons. These results suggest that earlier initiation of ART could have significant clinical benefits.

Cancer metastasis: Hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy for limited brain metastases
Using an individualized treatment approach, a study led by Dr Diana Steinmann identified the most effective and safe dose concept to be used for hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (hfSRT) in patients with primary or recurrent limited brain metastases.

Image of the month:

Pulsatile dry cupping for osteoarthritis of the knee. From Teut, et al., BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Medical genomics: Deregulation of SERCA2 in myocardial infarction
Both mRNA and protein levels of Sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase-2 (SERCA2), a known central player in myocardial contractility, are decreased in myocardial infarction. A new study now shows deregulation of 43 microRNAs in infarcted myocardium that may play a role in the changes in SERCA2 expression.

Pharmacology: Cocaine-induced modulation of Mu-opioid receptors
Cocaine exposure regulates Mu-opioid receptor (MOR) expression in PC12 cells at both the transcriptional and the post-transcriptional level. Nitric oxide and histone deacetylase activity were both involved in the alteration of MOR expression, leading the authors of this study to hypothesize that epigenetic mechanisms may modulate cocaine-induced MOR expression in vivo.

You can keep up to date with all the latest developments across all aspects of biology and medicine published in the BMC-series by following our blog, twitter feed @BMC_series, or individual journal homepages in your research area. We look forward to bringing you further exciting updates over the next month!

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