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September 23, 2010, 6:56 AM CT

Less pain for learning gain

Less pain for learning gain
Researchers long have recognized that a number of perceptual skills important for language comprehension and reading can be enhanced through practice. Now research from Northwestern University suggests a new way of training that could reduce by at least half the effort previously thought necessary to make learning gains.

The research also appears to be the first behavioral demonstration of metaplasticity -- the idea that experiences that on their own do not generate learning can influence how effective later experiences are at generating learning.

"Previous to our work much of the research into perceptual learning could be summed up as 'no pain, no gain,'" says Beverly Wright, first author of a study in the Sept. 22 Journal of Neuroscience and communication sciences and disorders professor at Northwestern. "Our work suggests that you can have the same gain in learning with substantially less pain".

The findings could lead to less effortful therapies for children who suffer from language learning impairments involving perceptual skills. And they hold potential for members of the general population with an interest in enhancing perceptual abilities -- for musicians seeking to sharpen their sensitivity to sound, people studying a second language or physicians learning to tell the difference between regular and irregular heartbeats.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:52 AM CT

Convenience stores with unhealthy food

Convenience stores with unhealthy food
Most studies of the food choices available near public schools have focused on fast food outlets rather than the full range of options available to schoolchildren. A newly released study by scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health examined the patterns of exposure to a broad range of food outlets for school children in New York City.

The study, "Disparities in the Food Environments of New York City Public Schools," is reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Volume 39, Issue 3, and cited as the "Editor's Choice" in the September issue.

Using 2006-2007 data for New York City school locations, the paper describes the prevalence of five types of food outlets near schools. These included national chain and local fast-food restaurants, pizzerias, small grocery stores or bodegas, and convenience stores within 400 meters (437 yards) of public schools.

The scientists observed that 92.9% of students had a small grocery store within 400 meters of their school; these stores typically carry fewer healthy food options than larger grocery stores. In addition, 70.6% had a pizzeria within 400 meters, 48.9 % were that close to a convenience store, 43.2% were within 400 m. of a national chain fast-food restaurant, such as McDonald's or Burger King, and 33.9% were within 400 m. of a local fast-food chain restaurant.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:42 AM CT

Losing your religion is unhealthy

Losing your religion is unhealthy
People who leave strict religious groups are more likely to say their health is worse than members who remain in the group, as per a Penn State researcher.

The percentage of people who left a strict religious group and reported they were in excellent health was about half that of people who stayed in the group, said Christopher Scheitle, senior research assistant, in sociology.

"Prior research showed some association between belonging to a religious group and positive health outcomes," Scheitle said. "We got interested in what would happen to your health if you left a religious group. Would people demonstrate any negative health outcomes?".

About 40 percent of members of strict religious groups reported they were in excellent health, as per the study. However, only 25 percent of members in those groups who switched to another religion reported they were in excellent health. The percentage of the strict religious group members who dropped out of religion completely and said their health was excellent fell to 20 percent. The difference between switchers and non-switchers, in reference to health, is statistically significant for the strict groups. The scientists reported their findings in the current issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:35 AM CT

New TB Vaccine In Clinical Trial

New TB Vaccine In Clinical Trial
At an international gathering of TB vaccine scientists in Tallinn today, the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation announced it will initiate a clinical trial of an investigational live recombinant tuberculosis vaccine to be led by scientists at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The announcement was made at the Second Global Forum on TB Vaccine Development.

Building on more than a decade of global scientific research, Aeras researchers have engineered a new investigational vaccine, called AERAS-422, which will undergo clinical trials to evaluate its properties for interrupting TB at all stages of infection, including initial infection, latency and reactivation.

"Moving our lead in-house vaccine from the laboratory into clinical testing is an important milestone for Aeras and its partners. Finding a potential replacement for the currently available TB vaccine, which was invented almost 90 years ago, is a primary goal in our mission," said Thomas G. Evans, MD, Aeras' Chief Scientific Officer. "Based on data from pre-clinical studies, we are cautiously optimistic about the potential of this vaccine candidate to be safer and more immunogenic than the currently available vaccine".

The new vaccine, called AERAS-422, is a modernized version of the currently used TB vaccine - Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG). BCG is widely viewed as insufficient in preventing pulmonary TB, and this trial is part of a wider global effort to develop safer and more immunogenic TB vaccines that would be effective against all forms of TB.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 22, 2010, 7:32 AM CT

High-dose aspirin for headache and migraine

High-dose aspirin for headache and migraine
An inexpensive, hundred-year-old treatment for pain - aspirin - is effective in high doses for the therapy of severe headache and migraine caused by drug withdrawal, as per a newly released study by scientists with the UCSF Headache Center. Study participants were administered aspirin through an IV and 25 percent of the time they reported a significant reduction in pain - three points on the 10-point pain scale. (A difference of three points downgrades a headache from severe to moderate, moderate to mild, or from mild to pain-free). Participants reported a more modest pain reduction about 40 percent of the time.

The findings are noteworthy because high-dose intravenous aspirin is not widely available for headache sufferers in the United States, the authors say. Aspirin also is nontoxic, non-addictive, non-sedating, has few side effects for adults, and is less expensive than drug regimens such as triptans that physicians typically prescribe to headache patients to combat severe pain.

The study was reported in the September 21, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"These results tell migraine sufferers, their doctors and insurance providers that high-dose intravenous aspirin is a beneficial way to treat difficult withdrawal headaches via a medicine that is not addictive or toxic," said Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, lead investigator of the study, professor and director of the UCSF Headache Center. "We hope to make this inexpensive treatment more available to patients seeking therapy for severe pain." .........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 22, 2010, 7:16 AM CT

Women with heavy roommates gain less

Women with heavy roommates gain less
A new University of Michigan study finds that college women with roommates who weigh more than average gain less weight during their freshman year than women with slimmer roommates: half a pound versus 2.5 pounds.

That compares to the typical freshman weight gain of 2.5-to-6 pounds-much less than the mythical "Freshman 15".

"This finding seems counterintuitive, but there are some good explanations for why it appears to be happening," said Kandice Kapinos, an assistant research scientist at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

As per Kapinos, a labor and health economist, heavier roommates are more likely than average-weight women to diet. They also exercise more often and are more likely to use weight loss supplements and purchase college meal plans that limit access to food.

"It's not really the weight of your roommate that's important, but the behaviors your roommate engages in," Kapinos said. "These behaviors are what may really be 'contagious.'".

Kapinos conducted the study with Marquette University economist Olga Yakusheva. The study is the first to assess college weight gain using a natural experiment occurring on most college campuses in the United States-randomized roommate assignments.

"Prior studies have suggested that having an obese spouse, friend or sibling increases one's likelihood of becoming obese," Kapinos said. "But these relationships are obviously not random. People pick their friends and spouses, and they often select people who are similar to themselves. And even though we don't pick our siblings, we share a genetic inheritance and an early environment that may influence adult weight".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

Genetic variants modifying breast cancer risk

Genetic variants modifying breast cancer risk
Individuals with disrupting mutations in the BRCA1 gene are known to be at substantially increased risk of breast cancer throughout their lives. Now, discoveries from an international research team led by Mayo Clinic scientists show that some of those persons may possess additional genetic variants that modify their risk. These new findings enhancing individualized medicine appear in the current Nature Genetics

"These findings should be useful in helping determine individual risk for breast cancer in BRCA1 carriers," says Fergus Couch, Ph.D., Mayo investigator and senior author of the study. "It also provides insights into hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer in the general population".

Genetic mutations in the BRCA1 gene give carriers of these mutations an increased risk for developing breast cancer. To determine if any genetic variations would modify or alter this risk among large populations of the mutation carriers, the scientists conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that ultimately spanned 20 research centers in 11 different countries.

They first studied 550,000 genetic alterations from across the human genome in 1,193 carriers of BRCA1 mutations under age 40 who had invasive breast cancer and compared the alterations to those in 1,190 BRCA1 carriers of similar age without breast cancer. The 96 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) discovered were subsequently studied in a larger sample population of roughly 3,000 BRCA1 carriers with breast cancer and 3,000 carriers without cancer. Scientists found five SNPs linked to breast cancer risk in a region of chromosome 19p13.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:18 AM CT

New genetic links to ovarian cancer risk

New genetic links to ovarian cancer risk
An international consortium of researchers has discovered new genetic variants in five regions of the genome that affect the risk of ovary cancer in the general population, as per two separate studies published recently (Sunday), online in Nature Genetics

The consortium, including researchers from the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia, based the new work on their earlier research comparing 10,283 women with ovary cancer to 13,185 women without the disease. That effort had found a stretch of DNA on chromosome 9 containing single DNA letter variations (SNPs) linked to ovary cancer risk.

The scientists have now found additional stretches of DNA on chromosomes 2, 3, 8, 17 and 19 after grouping patients as per the type of ovary cancer they had developed. Four out of five of the new DNA variations were more common in women who had developed the most common and aggressive form of disease, known as serous ovary cancer.

Andrew Berchuck, MD, professor of gynecologic oncology at Duke University Medical Center and head of the steering committee of the international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC), says the associations of these genetic variants with ovary cancer were discovered using genome-wide association studies (GWAS).

"Since the critical validation of these findings waccording toformed by a large consortium of researchers from around the world, we see this research as a triumph of science without borders for the benefit of women everywhere."........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:16 AM CT

Possible alternate therapy for asthma

Possible alternate therapy for asthma
A drug usually used for the therapy of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) successfully treats adults whose asthma is not well-controlled on low doses of inhaled corticosteroids, reported scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

"This study's results show that tiotropium bromide might provide an alternative to other asthma therapys, expanding options available to patients for controlling their asthma," said NHLBI Acting Director Susan B. Shurin, M.D. "The goal in managing asthma is to prevent symptoms so patients can pursue activities to the fullest".

As per the study, adding tiotropium bromide to low doses of inhaled corticosteroids is more effective at controlling asthma than doubling inhaled corticosteroids alone, and as effective as adding the long-acting beta agonist salmeterol. The results were published online today in the New England Journal (NEJM) and presented at the Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society in Barcelona, Spain.

Increasing inhaled corticosteroids or supplementing them with long-acting beta agonists like salmeterol are the two preferred therapy options available for adults whose asthma is poorly controlled on low doses of inhaled corticosteroids. However, higher doses of corticosteroids do not improve symptoms for all patients and can have significant side effects, while long-acting beta agonists have come under scrutiny for their risk of worsening asthma symptoms that could result in hospitalization and, rarely, death.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 20, 2010, 7:13 AM CT

How HIV resists AZT

How HIV resists AZT
Rutgers scientists have discovered how HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, resists AZT, a drug widely used to treat AIDS.

The scientists, who report their findings in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, believe their discovery helps scientists understand how important anti-AIDS therapys can fail and could help AIDS scientists develop more effective therapy for the disease.

"What we've found is the detailed way in which the mutations act to promote the resistance," said author Eddy Arnold, Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and a resident faculty member of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine. "Instead of blocking the actions of AZT, the virus actually removes it, and it does so by using ATP, one of the most common cellular molecules. This is an outstanding example of how sneaky HIV can be in thwarting the efficacy of therapeutic drugs".

AZT was once the only therapy for AIDS, and it remains an important therapy, especially in preventing the transmission of the virus from infected mothers to their unborn children.

Scientists knew almost from the beginning that the virus developed resistance to AZT, and that this resistance had to do with mutations, but the way the mutations worked to resist the drug was mysterious.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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