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Researchers in Uruguay and Oregon have discovered a previously unknown type of neural cell that appears to be closely linked to the progression of amytrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and they believe it will provide an important new approach to therapies.

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A person’s vulnerability to nicotine addiction appears to have a genetic basis, at least in part. A region in the midbrain called the habenula (from Latin: small reins) plays a key role in this process, as Dr. Inés Ibañez-Tallon and her team from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have now shown. They also shed light on the mechanism that underlies addiction to nicotine.

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Dr. Emil Kozarov and a team of researchers at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine have identified specific bacteria that may have a key role in vascular pathogenesis, specifically atherosclerosis, or what is commonly referred to as “hardening of the arteries” – the number one cause of death in the United States.

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A novel potential therapy based on a natural human protein significantly slows muscle damage and improves function in mice who have the same genetic mutation as boys with the most common form of muscular dystrophy, according to a paper published online Dec. 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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It’s a medical Catch-22: carotid artery surgery can itself cause stroke, but so can asymptomatic carotid disease if left untreated.

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