Natural Science

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194June 11, 2014

Gum Disease Bacteria Selectively Disarm Immune System, Penn Study Finds

blurb: 
In a new study, University of Pennsylvania researchers show that bacteria responsible for many cases of periodontitis cause an imbalance in the microbial community in the gums, with a sophisticated, two-prong manipulation of the human immune system.

The human body is comprised of roughly 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. In healthy people, these bacteria are typically harmless and often helpful, keeping disease-causing microbes at bay. But, when disturbances knock these bacterial populations out of balance, illnesses can arise. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, is one example.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 9, 2014

Penn Research Develops ‘Onion’ Vesicles for Drug Delivery

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University of Pennsylvania researchers have shown that a certain kind of molecule that has tree-like branches can self-assemble into drug delivery vehicles that have multiple with concentric layers of membranes.

One of the defining features of cells is their membranes. Each cell’s repository of DNA and protein-making machinery must be kept stable and secure from invaders and toxins. Scientists have attempted to replicate these properties, but, despite decades of research, even the most basic membrane structures, known as vesicles, still face many problems when made in the lab.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604June 2, 2014

University of Pennsylvania Establishes Penn Center for Innovation

President Amy Gutmann today announced the launch of the Penn Center for Innovation, a new initiative that will provide the infrastructure, leadership and resources needed to transfer promising Penn inventions, know-how and related assets into the marketplace for the public good.   

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194May 21, 2014
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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194May 20, 2014

Penn Team Identifies Promising New Target for Gum Disease Treatment

blurb: 
University of Pennsylvania researchers have been searching for ways to prevent, half and reverse periodontitis. In a report published in the Journal of Immunology, they describe a promising new target: a component of the immune system called complement.

Nearly half of all adults in the United States suffer from the gum disease periodontitis, and 8.5 percent have a severe form that can raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and pregnancy complications.

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194May 15, 2014

Penn Vet Study Reveals Salmonella’s Hideout Strategy

blurb: 
A study led by researchers in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine reveals how some Salmonella bacteria hide from the immune system, allowing them to persist and cause systemic infection.

The body’s innate immune system is a first line of defense, intent on sensing invading pathogens and wiping them out before they can cause harm. It should not be surprising then that bacteria have evolved many ways to specifically evade and overcome this sentry system in order to spread infection.

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Media Contact:Kim Menard | Kim.Menard@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-662-6183May 15, 2014

Penn Researchers Show Human Learning Altered by Electrical Stimulation of Dopamine Neurons

blurb: 
A new study may hold potential for rehabilitation after injury or for treating addictive behaviors.

Stimulation of a certain population of neurons within the brain can alter the learning process, according to a team of neuroscientists and neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604May 9, 2014

Two Penn Professors Receive Humboldt Awards

Two University of Pennsylvania professors have been awarded Humboldt Research Awards to fund year-long collaborations with colleagues in Germany.

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194May 8, 2014

Plant Hormone Has Dual Role in Triggering Flower Formation, Penn Study Finds

blurb: 
A new paper by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published in the journal Science has revealed that a plant hormone once believed to promote flower formation in annual plants also plays a role in inhibiting flowers from forming. The dual role of this hormone, gibberellin, could be exploited to produce higher-yielding crop plants.

Flowers aren’t just pretty to look at, they are how plants reproduce. In agricultural plants, the timing and regulation of flower formation has economic significance, affecting a crop’s yield.

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Media Contact:Jeanne Leong | jleong@upenn.edu | 215-573-8151May 8, 2014