LAB Notes

UF Health focusing on prostate cancer detection through image-guided technology

Urologists and radiologists at University of Florida Health are using a new magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, platform for ultrasound fusion-guided prostate biopsies. This technology has been shown to improve prostate cancer detection and classification in men with a high risk of prostate cancer as well as those with low-risk prostate cancer who are on active surveillance. Patients undergo an MRI of the prostate before their biopsy and any concerning areas seen by the radiologists are fused with the real-time ultrasound images obtained at the time of prostate biopsy.  The urologists can then target the exact location of these suspicious areas with their biopsy needles. As a result of this improved accuracy, patients are less likely to need repeat biopsies. — Alisha Kinman

UF Genetics Institute members make novel Alzheimer’s discovery

UF Health researchers have made a discovery that could provide a novel way to target the brain deterioration associated with amyloid plaque build-up in Alzheimer’s disease. Diego Rincon-Limas, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of neurology and a member of the UF Genetics Institute, along with Todd Golde, Ph.D., director of the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease and a professor in the department of neuroscience, led a team of UF scientists who manipulated a protein that occurs naturally within cells, called Hsp70, that recognizes amyloid plaques as they are misforming, and forces them to form normally. The researchers found that this protein, when deliberately introduced outside the cells where amyloid-B accumulates, is able to bind abnormal forms of amyloid-B and block toxicity.  — Ellison Langford

Understanding why meth users crave the high

UF Health researchers have published new insights into the abnormal firing of neurons in the brain associated with dopamine release after intake of the drug methamphetamine. The study provides new understanding of how to potentially treat methamphetamine addiction and its neurotoxic effects. Dopamine is a chemical messenger released during pleasurable activities such as eating and sex. Lead author Min Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and Danielle Sambo, a neuroscience graduate student, confirmed a long-held hypothesis that methamphetamine extensively releases dopamine in the brain via a carrier called dopamine transporter in what is called a “reverse transport” of dopamine. Using electrophysiology, high-resolution microscopy and biochemistry, the researchers showed that because long-term exposure to methamphetamine decreases firing activity of dopamine neurons, the “reverse transport” process is the central mechanism for methamphetamine stimulation of dopamine release in the brain. . —Michelle Koidin Jaffee