NEWS FROM EMBO SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS THE EMBO JOURNAL EMBO Molecular Medicine RESEARCH ARTICLE SCIENTIFIC REPORT EDITORIAL RESEARCH ARTICLE Naturally occurring protein Antibiotic treatment increases Towards an Telomerase gene therapy has a role in chronic pain Researchers in France and Sweden have discovered how one of the body’s own proteins is involved in generating chronic pain in rats. The findings also suggest therapeutic interventions to alleviate long-last- ing pain. Chronic pain is persistent and often difficult to treat. It is due, at least in part, to changes in molecular signalling events that take place in neurons, alterations that can ultimately disrupt the transmission of nerve signals from the spinal cord to the brain. “We are fortunate to have a wide range of technologies that allow us to look more precisely at the molec- ular events that lead to the onset of chronic pain in animals,” said Marc Landry, lead author of the study and Professor at the University of Bordeaux. “Our results show that the levels of the naturally occur- ring protein 14-3-3 zeta are higher in the spinal cord of rats that have chronic pain. Moreover, we have been able to demonstrate how 14-3-3 zeta triggers changes in the signalling pathway that leads to the symptoms of chronic pain.” Impairment of GABAB receptor dimer by endogenous 14-3-3 zeta in chronic pain conditions Sophie Laffray, Rabia Bouali-Benazzouz, Marie-Amélie Papon, Alexandre Favereaux, Yang Jiang, Tina Holm, Corentin Spriet, Pascal Desbarats, Pascal Fossat, Yves Le feuvre, Marion Decossas, Laurent Héliot, Ulo Langel, Frédéric Nagy, Marc Landry The EMBO Journal Read the paper: doi: 10.1038/emboj.2012.161 the severity of asthma in young mice Treatment with the antibiotic vancomycin increases the sever- ity of allergic asthma in young mice, researchers in Canada have revealed. The results are consistent with the hygiene hypothesis that links the loss of beneficial bacteria in the community of microorgan- isms in the gut, collectively known as the microbiota, to the onset of asthma. “We administered antibiotics to mice of different ages to determine if there was a link between the make- up of the microbial community in the gut and the extent of experi- mentally induced allergic asthma,” said Brett Finlay, Professor at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia, Canada. “Treatment of young mice with the antibiotic vancomycin reduced the diversity of microbes in the gut, significantly altered the composition of the bacte- rial population, and increased the susceptibility of young animals to experimentally induced asthma.” Early life antibiotic-driven changes in microbiota enhance susceptibility to allergic asthma Shannon L. Russell, Matthew J. Gold, Martin Hartmann, Benjamin P Willing, Lisa Thorson, Marta Wlodarska, Navkiran Gill, Marie-Renée Blanchet, William Mohn, Kelly McNagny, Brett Finlay EMBO Reports Read the paper: embor201232a.html doi:10.1038/embor.2012.32 “Oceans Systems Biology” The two-and-a-half-year TARA OCEANS expedition finished on 31 March when the ship and crew reached Lorient, France. The arrival completed a journey of 60 000 miles across all the major oceans of the world to sample and investi- gate microorganisms in the largest ecosystem on the planet. “Life and evolution started in the oceans, yet we know very little about the distribution of marine biodiversity,” said Eric Karsenti, senior scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and Co-Director of the TARA OCEANS project. “If it were not for these microorganisms we would not exist. First, we are their evolution- ary descendants and second they generate the atmosphere of the Earth.” The next phase of the project, which involves analysing the scien- tific data and building predictive computational models, has already begun. TARA Oceans is recruiting about 20 postdoctoral researchers at multiple locations to support the data analysis, interpretation and model building. Further details are available at tara_oceans Towards an “Oceans Systems Biology” Karsenti E. Molecular Systems Biology Read the editorial: msb20128.html doi:10.1038/msb.2012.8 slows ageing, improves health in mice Gene therapy allows older mice to live longer, healthier lives. Mice that received a single gene-therapy treatment to deliver telomerase to different cells in the body showed drastic improvements in health, fitness and longevity. “Gene therapy is typically thought of as a way to deliver genes into cells to correct genetic defects or diseases. However, if we consider that ageing is, at least in part, the consequence of defective gene function, gene therapy is also a valid strategy to delay ageing or to increase lifespan,” said Maria Blasco, one of the lead authors of the study and Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre. “Our results show that telomerase gene therapy is not only a viable anti-ageing intervention but it also has remarkably benefi- cial effects on health and fitness without increasing the incidence of cancer.” Telomerase gene therapy in adult and old mice delays ageing and increases longevity without increasing cancer Bruno Bernardes de Jesus, Elsa Vera, Kerstin Schneeberger, Agueda M Tejera, Eduard Ayuso, Fatima Bosch, Maria A. Blasco EMBO Molecular Medicine Read the paper: doi/10.1002/emmm.201200245/full doi: 10.1002/emmm.201200245 ©2012 EMBO EMBOencounters | Summer 2012 | 11 © 2012 The EMBO Journal © 2012 EMBO reports | Krahl / Finlay / Russell © F.Aurat / Tara Expéditions © 2012 CNIO