Monday, 27 July 2020

Croatian Scientists Discover Gene That Protects Against Alzheimer's

July 27, 2020 – A breakthrough by Croatian-led team has far-reaching implications for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's

A team of Croatian-led scientists have discovered a gene that protects against Alzheimer's disease. The remarkable discovery was made by a Croatian-led team at Queen Mary University of London in collaboration with scientists at The Croatian Institute for Brain Research, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb. The discovery has far-reaching implications for both the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's is a degenerate brain disease that can be brought on by dementia. The main challenge in testing treatment drugs in trials is that participants need to already have symptoms. But, once people have symptoms, it is usually too late for treatments to have a significant effect, as many brain cells have already died.

Because of an extra chromosome they carry, people with Down's Syndrome have a 70% chance of developing the disease. So, the Croatian-led team took hair cells from people who have Down's Syndrome and genetically re-engineered to become stem cells. The stem cells were then grown into brain cells in a laboratory dish.

Queen Mary University of London © John Winfield

Studying the cells, the scientists were able to see Alzheimer’s-like pathology develop rapidly. They were then able to take two drugs and test their effectiveness in inhibiting the progression of the disease. Within six weeks, they proved that the drugs prevented the onset of Alzheimer’s-pathology.

The research also found proof of an Alzheimer’s suppressor gene (BACE2) that exists naturally within the brain. By increasing the activity of the gene, it is hoped Alzheimer's can be slowed in its progression or eventually prevented altogether. The research has far-reaching implications for testing those who may eventually develop Alzheimer's and on testing drugs for the prevention and treatment of the disease.

The team at The Blizard Institute, Barts & The London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University of London was lead by Croatian Professor Dean Nižetić. The international team that published their findings included another young Croatian scientist, Ivan Alić, who worked alongside Nižetić in London, plus Željka Krsnik, Goran Šimić, Ivica Kostović and Dinko Mitrečić from The Croatian Institute for Brain Research, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Split: Miroslav Radman Bringing Scientists to Conference, Focus on Cancer

As Slobodna Dalmacija/Sandra Barcot writes on the 5th of May, 2019, the world-renowned scientist Miroslav Radman is set to bring around a hundred scientists from across the world to Split. The international group of scientists will be part of the second International Progress in Biomedical Research conference.

From June the 17th to June the 21st, at Split's "Mediterranean Institute for Life Research" (MedILS), numerous respected experts from various areas of importance to human health will discuss, share experiences, and get better acquainted with the latest research on the extension of human life, the finding of remedies for the treatment of diseases that pose a serious threat to human life, and further educate themselves in general.

Split will play host to the leading scientists who will hold lectures on the molecular and cellular biology of diseases, with special emphasis placed on the fields of neuroscience, immunology, the metabolism, and diseases that is responsible for the misery, suffering and deaths of many in the modern day - cancer.

The participants of this year's conference in Split will focus on the concepts and challenges within each of these scientific areas through lectures on the latest technologies in genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, cancer signaling, therapy development, DNA recovery and immunotherapy.

The conference is organised by the Mediterranean Institute for Life Research and the University of Toronto, more specifically by Professor Miroslav Radman (MedILS), Professor Mladen Merćep (MedILS) and Professor Igor Štagljar (University of Toronto).

The first conference of its sort, which was held in July last year in Split, also gathered together some one hundred scientists from the field of biomedical research dealing with the topic of understanding the function of the gene, the therapeutic importance of the gene, ie the gene for extending human life and the aging of human skin.

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Click here for the original article by Sandra Barcot for Slobodna Dalmacija

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Pig Brains Partly Revived at Yale, Led by a Croatian Scientist

Biggest science news in international media today is that a group of scientists based at the Department of Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine, managed to restore some of the brain functions of slaughtered pigs several hours after the pigs' deaths. The results of the study were published today in Nature scientific journal. And while everyone loves a real-life Frankenstein story before bedtime, TCN would not be covering this somewhat grizzly topic if the main author of the study wasn't a Croatian scientist, Professor Nenad Šestan!

And not only that, but three other authors of the article are easily identifiable as having Croatian heritage, and a quick internet search confirms that they've all started their professional careers in Zagreb: Zvonimir Vrselja, Mario Škarica and Mihovil Pletikos. If you're surprised by the seemingly high number of Croatian neuroscientists at Yale, you really shouldn't be, as Professor Paško Rakić, one of the leading neuroscientists of his time, has been a member of Yale faculty for over 40 years! (yes, he is 86 now and still working at Yale).

Rakić was instrumental in getting Šestan a position at Yale when he was a young, very successful and ambitious scientist, and his work in the past decade has proven Rakić right, that it was a good idea to give him the opportunity to flourish at one of the world's leading universities and research facilities.

As for the results published in Nature today, we mentioned that it made the rounds in major international media, so let's just mention some: NPR, Vox, WaPo, CNN and many, many others. To help put those terrified of the news a bit at ease, the Yale research team is careful to say that none of the brains regained the kind of organized electrical activity associated with consciousness or awareness. However, the results the team lead by a Croatian scientist published showed that a surprising amount of cellular function was either preserved or restored.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

First ''Scientific Destination'' in Croatia Being Constructed in Zagorje

The Zagorje castle, with a welcome 126 million kuna in investment, is becoming a tourist attraction.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of March, 2019, in beautiful Zagorje, the very first scientific destination in Croatia is being built. Krapina-Zagorje County has launched a public tender for the architectural solution for the reconstruction of the castle and gardens of Stubički Golubovec.

This old Zagorje gem is otherwise one of the best preserved Croatian castles and the place in which this year's Seljačka buna will be held will be transformed into a "scientific centre". This is a new type of institution for Croatia, one that unites the functions of the museum, an entertainment park, and the innovation centre for the popularisation of science.

The county is planning to move the Science Educational and Entertainment Centre (ZEZ) to the castle's grounds. This is the same project that was supported by the City of Zagreb six years ago, it was ready to invest 200 million kuna into the project, transforming the castle into an Italian pavilion at the Zagreb Fair, but after much talk, nothing happened. A likely story.

Krapina-Zagorje County announced the plans for the creation of the centre last year, in addition, it has also announced the first tender for the beginning of its eventual realisation. The tender is a somewhat modest one, worth 1.5 million kuna, but is an introduction to an eventual investment which is currently estimated at a massive 126 million kuna.

A similar centre exists in Finland, Heureka near Helsinki, attracting an average of 280,000 visitors per year, it has become the most popular recreational destination in the country. In 2012, the AHHAA Science Centre in Estonia (with more than 500,000 visitors) was the strongest tourist attraction in that country, too. This new addition to Croatia could bring fruit, and a lot of it.

The are more and more similar institutions popping up in Europe. If this move in Croatia manages to see the numbers Finland saw, it would mean that ZEZ would exceed the number of visitors to Dubrovnik and its museums, which according to MDC's data on visits to Croatian museums in 2017, came in fourth place. With half a million visitors to the science centre in Estonia, ZEZ would become the most visited cultural destination in Croatia, overtaking the incredible Pula Arena (486,966 visitors), Diocletian's Cellars in Split (357,745) and Klović's Palace in Zagreb (314,767 visitors).

Željko Kolar, Krapina-Zagorje County's prefect, says that when taking into account examples from other countries and cities across Europe, the opening of the ZEZ Zagorje Centre represents a great development potential.

"Krapina-Zagorje County, Donja Stubica and the ZEZ cooperative, as partners in the project, realised that there's a need to popularise science and education in Croatia, and that the establishment of a scientific educational and entertainment centre would provide a good basis for that very popularisation of science and education, scientific institutions, and the economy, supporting entrepreneurship and directing young people towards science,'' stated Kolar.

He added that they are entering the modernisation project slowly because they want to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the castle and the gardens.

Davor Komerički, ZEZ's initiator, says he is now finally satisfied with the pace at which things are moving. He pointed out that the gross value of the project stands at 126 million kuna, and 85 percent can be funded from EU funds.

"We've been developing this project for a long time, and we started it in 2010, and when the EU evaluated projects that Croatia could apply for EU funds for before the accession of Croatia [to the EU], our project was one of the 20 best rated ones. We were in the eighth place out of all of the projects from Croatia,'' Komerički noted.

He also stated that their aim is to prepare the necessary documentation by September in order to retrieve the aforementioned funds. "If everything goes to plan, in two years Zagorje's ZEZ centre will be open in the castle," Komerički said.

According to the currently available data, Zagorje's ZEZ centre will occupy 5,000 square metres, of which 3,200 will be in the castle area itself. An additional space of 1,800 square metres will be built next to it. There will also be a science park with exhibits in an arboretum of 5,000 square metres. The centre itself will have as many as 30 different facilities.

"The goal is to be self-sustainable, both energetically and financially. In addition to being a great tourist bait for Zagorje, it's located just 200 metres from the section of road that connects Zagreb with Stubičke Toplice,'' Komerički said.

"Krapina-Zagorje County is the best continental destination of 2018, and with this project we'll further develop our tourism offer, of the county and of the entire region,'' Željko Kolar added, stating that he expects a major impact of the centre on both tourism and the economy in Krapina-Zagorje.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.


Click here for the original article by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ruder Boskovic Institute's "Green Chemists" Continue to Impress

The scientists at Zagreb's Ruder Boskovic Institute are happy with their impressive developments, and the processes which follow will pave the way for the further use of their findings in the wider chemical industry.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of January, 2019, talented scientists working at the prestigious Ruder Boskovic Institute's green synthesis laboratory, the so-called ''green chemists'' Stipe Lukina and Ivan Halasz Ph.D., in cooperation with their colleagues from the European Synchrotron in Grenoble (ESFR), have managed to develop some brand new instruments designed for studying mechanochemical processes, thus opening up the path for their faster application in the chemical industry.

In layman's terms, these new processes are based on X-ray diffraction, and for the very first time, the newly developed method has enabled chemical reactions to be detected during trituration. The latest results have already been published in two highly respected scientific papers; one in Chemical Communications, and the other in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The Ruder Boskovic Institute's scientists stated that thanks to these developments, they have managed to explain some of the features of mechanochemical reactions when they resemble reactions in solutions.

The use of isotopically labeled solids, coupled with spectroscopic methods, showed up what was previously ''hidden'' chemical reactivity.

In yet another display of Croatian talent which stretches across the board, from sport to the arts, to medicine and science, the praiseworthy work done by the scientists from Zagreb's Ruder Boskovic Institute has been properly recognised by the wider academic community and is currently in the top five percent of all published works in the world according to the sheer level of interest it has attracted since its initial publication.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated Made in Croatia and lifestyle pages for much more.


Click here for the original article by Lucija Spiljak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 26 October 2018

''Secrets of Ston's Underworld'' Speleological Research Begins on Pelješac

What secrets does the Municipality of Ston hide underground?

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Discovery Made by Croatian Scientists Will Enter World's Textbooks

The subject is interdisciplinary research in which Croatian scientists have combined cell biology and genetics with theoretical physics and the most advanced techniques of microscopy.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Davorka Budimir's Political Elite in Croatia - Modern Day Shadows of the Past

Meet Davorka Budimir, author of Political Elite in Croatia.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Touch Me Festival Zagreb - Where Art meets Science & Technology

An engaging trienniale, Touch Me is a kid friendly non commercial festival that explores the relationship between art and contemporary scientific research taking place October 6th - 18th in Zagreb

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