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December 8, 2009, 8:39 AM CT

Genetic variations and risk of recurrence

Genetic variations and risk of recurrence
Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

Eighteen single-point genetic variations indicate risk of recurrence for early-stage head and neck cancer patients and their likelihood of developing a second type of cancer, scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reported at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference.

The team examined 241 single nucleotide polymorphisms - variations of a single DNA building block in a gene - in eight genes involved in the creation of micro RNA (miRNA), small bits of RNA that regulate genes, and 130 miRNA binding sites on host genes where miRNAs exert their effects on regulating gene expression.

"We focus on miRNA pathways because these small molecules regulate between one third and half of genes," said senior author Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

"Genetic variations in miRNA biogenesis genes and miRNA binding sites have been linked to the risk of having multiple solid tumors, so we hypothesized that these variations might be linked to the risk of recurrence or secondary primary tumors in these patients," Wu said.

About 10 percent of patients have a recurrence, and 15-25 percent go on to develop secondary primary tumors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 8, 2009, 8:05 AM CT

Coffee won't sober them up

Coffee won't sober them up
People who drink may want to know that coffee won't sober them up, as per new laboratory research. Instead, a cup of coffee may make it harder for people to realize they're drunk.

What's more, popular caffeinated "alcohol-energy" drinks don't neutralize alcohol intoxication, suggest the findings from a mouse study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

"The myth about coffee's sobering powers is especially important to debunk because the co-use of caffeine and alcohol could actually lead to poor decisions with disastrous outcomes," said co-author Thomas Gould, PhD, of Temple University, in extending the research to what it means for humans.

"People who have consumed only alcohol, who feel tired and intoxicated, appears to be more likely to acknowledge that they are drunk," he added. "On the other hand, people who have consumed both alcohol and caffeine may feel awake and competent enough to handle potentially harmful situations, such as driving while intoxicated or placing themselves in dangerous social situations".

In the laboratory, caffeine made mice more alert but did not reverse the learning problems caused by alcohol, including their ability to avoid things they should have known could hurt them, as per the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 8, 2009, 7:42 AM CT

Hidden sensory system in the skin

Hidden sensory system in the skin
The human sensory experience is far more complex and nuanced than previously thought, as per a groundbreaking newly released study reported in the December 15 issue of the journal Pain (http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959%2809%2900526-0/abstract). In the article, scientists at Albany Medical College, the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University report that the human body has an entirely unique and separate sensory system aside from the nerves that give most of us the ability to touch and feel. Surprisingly, this sensory network is located throughout our blood vessels and sweat glands, and is for most people, largely imperceptible.

"It's almost like hearing the subtle sound of a single instrument in the midst of a symphony," said senior author Frank Rice, PhD, a Neuroscience Professor at Albany Medical College (AMC), who is a leading authority on the nerve supply to the skin. "It is only when we shift focus away from the nerve endings linked to normal skin sensation that we can appreciate the sensation hidden in the background." .

The research team discovered this hidden sensory system by studying two unique patients who were diagnosed with a previously unknown abnormality by main author David Bowsher, M.D., Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool's Pain Research Institute. These patients had an extremely rare condition called congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they were born with very little ability to feel pain. Other rare individuals with this condition have excessively dry skin, often mutilate themselves accidentally and commonly have severe mental handicaps. "Eventhough they had a few accidents over their lifetimes, what made these two patients unique was that they led normal lives. Excessive sweating brought them to the clinic, where we discovered their severe lack of pain sensation," said Dr. Bowsher. "Curiously, our conventional tests with sensitive instruments revealed that all their skin sensation was severely impaired, including their response to different temperatures and mechanical contact. But, for all intents and purposes, they had adequate sensation for daily living and could tell what is warm and cold, what is touching them, and what is rough and smooth".........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


December 7, 2009, 10:22 PM CT

Fit teenage boys are smarter

Fit teenage boys are smarter
In the first study to demonstrate a clear positive association between adolescent fitness and adult cognitive performance, Nancy Pedersen of the University of Southern California and his colleagues in Sweden find that better cardiovascular health among teenage boys correlates to higher scores on a range of intelligence tests and more education and income during the later part of life.

"During early adolescence and adulthood, the central nervous system displays considerable plasticity," said Pedersen, research professor of psychology at the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. "Yet, the effect of exercise on cognition remains poorly understood".

Pedersen, main author Maria berg of the University of Gothenburg and the research team looked at data for all 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 who enlisted for required military service at the age of 18.

In every measure of cognitive functioning they analyzed from verbal ability to logical performance to geometric perception to mechanical skills average test scores increased as per aerobic fitness.

However, scores on intelligence tests did not increase along with muscle strength, the scientists found.

"Positive associations with intelligence scores were restricted to cardiovascular fitness, not muscular strength," Pedersen explained, "supporting the notion that aerobic exercise improved cognition through the circulatory system influencing brain plasticity".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 7, 2009, 9:47 PM CT

Craving a Cigarette?

Craving a Cigarette?
A new University of Pittsburgh study reveals that craving a cigarette while performing a cognitive task not only increases the chances of a person's mind wandering, but also makes that person less likely to notice when his or her mind has wandered.

The paper, titled "Out for a Smoke: The Impact of Cigarette Craving on Zoning Out During Reading," provides the first evidence that craving disrupts an individual's meta-awareness, the ability to periodically appraise one's own thoughts.

The research is reported in the recent issue of "Psychological Science".

Pitt professor of psychology Michael Sayette and his colleagues Erik Reichle, associate professor and chair of Pitt's cognitive program in psychology, and Jonathan Schooler, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recruited 44 male and female heavy smokers to take part in the study. All smoked nearly a pack a day and refrained from smoking for at least six hours before arriving at the lab.

Participants were assigned at random to either a crave-condition or low-crave group. Those in the latter group were permitted to smoke throughout the study; members of the crave-condition group had to abstain. Participants were asked to read as a number of as 34 pages of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" from a computer screen. If they caught themselves zoning out, they pressed a key labeled ZO. Every few minutes, a tone sounded, and they were asked via the computer, "Were you zoning out?" to which they responded by pressing a "Yes" or "No" key. After 30 minutes, a reading comprehension test was administered.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 7, 2009, 9:32 PM CT

Spices halt growth of breast cancer stem cells

Spices halt growth of breast cancer stem cells
A newly released study finds that compounds derived from the spices turmeric and pepper could help prevent breast cancer by limiting the growth of stem cells, the small number of cells that fuel a tumor's growth.

Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have observed that when the dietary compounds curcumin, which is derived from the Indian spice turmeric, and piperine, derived from black peppers, were applied to breast cells in culture, they decreased the number of stem cells while having no effect on normal differentiated cells.

"If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors," says main author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., R.D., clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Cancer stem cells are the small number of cells within a tumor that fuel the tumor's growth. Current chemotherapies do not work against these cells, which is why cancer recurs and spreads. Scientists think that eliminating the cancer stem cells is key to controlling cancer. In addition, decreasing the number of normal stem cells - unspecialized cells that can give rise to any type of cell in that organ - can decrease the risk of cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 11:34 PM CT

Soy peptide lunasin has anti-cancer properties

Soy peptide lunasin has anti-cancer  properties
Two new University of Illinois studies report that lunasin, a soy peptide often discarded in the waste streams of soy-processing plants, may have important health benefits that include fighting leukemia and blocking the inflammation that accompanies such chronic health conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

"We confirmed lunasin's bioavailability in the human body by doing a third study in which men consumed 50 grams of soy protein--one soy milk shake and a serving of soy chili daily--for five days. Significant levels of the peptide in the participants' blood give us confidence that lunasin-rich soy foods can be important in providing these health benefits," said Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition.

In the cancer study, de Mejia's group identified a key sequence of amino acids--arginine, glycine, and aspartic acid, (the RGD motif)--that triggered the death of leukemia cells by activating a protein called caspase-3.

"Other researchers have noted the cancer-preventive effects of the RGD sequence of amino acids so it's important to find proteins that have this sequence," she said.

The researchers also verified lunasin's ability to inhibit topoisomerase 2, an enzyme that marks the development of cancer, and they were able to quantify the number of leukemia cells that were killed after therapy with lunasin in laboratory experiments.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 11:23 PM CT

Adult stem cells to repair heart attack damage

Adult stem cells to repair heart attack damage
Adult stem cells may help repair heart tissue damaged by heart attack as per the findings of a newly released study to be reported in the December 8 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology Results from the Phase I study show stem cells from donor bone marrow appear to help heart attack patients recover better by growing new blood vessels to bring more oxygen to the heart.

Rush University Medical Center was the only Illinois site and one of 10 cardiac centers across the country that participated in the 53-patient, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase I trial. Rush is now currently enrolling patients for the second phase of the study.

Scientists say it is the strongest evidence thus far indicating that adult stem cells can actually differentiate, or turn into heart cells to repair damage. Until now, it has been believed that only embryonic stem cells could differentiate into heart or other organ cells.

"The results point to a promising new therapy for heart attack patients that could reduce mortality and lessen the need for heart transplants," said Dr. Gary Schaer, head of the Rush Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and study principal investigator at Rush.

In phase I of the study, a group of 53 patients who had heart attacks in the prior ten days received adult mesenchymal stem cells and were kept under close study for two years.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 8:21 AM CT

CT imaging taken post avastin

CT imaging taken post avastin
Using routine computed tomography (CT) imaging to analyze form and structural changes to colorectal liver metastasis after bevacizumab and chemotherapy may predict overall survival, as per research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings appear in the Dec. 2 issue of JAMA

When combined with chemotherapy, the angiogenesis inhibitor bevacizumab, also known as Avastin, is linked to both improved survival in those with metastatic colorectal cancer and higher rates of pathologic response in patients undergoing surgical resection of colorectal liver metastases. The monoclonal antibody was approved for use in the front line setting of metastatic colorectal cancer in 2004.

However, the treatment presents a unique set of challenges, explains Jean-Nicolas Vauthey, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Surgical Oncology.

"We've known for years that tumor shrinkage is not necessarily a strong indicator of survival in this patient population, and this has been an area of much controversy and study within the cancer community," explained Vauthey, the study's corresponding author. "Some of these tumors are so aggressive and may immediately start to grow when a patient goes off bevacizumab-containing chemotherapy".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 8:18 AM CT

Annual screening with breast ultrasound or MRI

Annual screening with breast ultrasound or MRI
Results of a large-scale clinical trial presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) provide the first good evidence of the benefit of annual screening ultrasound for women with dense breasts who are at elevated risk for breast cancer. In addition, the study confirmed that MRI is highly sensitive in depicting early breast cancer.

"We observed that annual screening with ultrasound in addition to mammography significantly improves the detection of early breast cancer," said lead researcher Wendie A. Berg, M.D., Ph.D., breast imaging specialist at American Radiology Services, Johns Hopkins Green Spring Station in Lutherville, Md., "and that significantly more early breast cancer can be found when MRI is performed, even after combined screening with both ultrasound and mammography. However, both ultrasound and MRI increase the risk of false-positive findings".

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer need to begin screening at a younger age, because they often develop cancer earlier than women at average risk. However, women below age 50 are more likely to have dense breast tissue, which can limit the effectiveness of mammography as a screening tool.

Multicenter trials have shown that MRI enables radiologists to accurately identify tumors missed by mammography and ultrasound. The American Cancer Society recommends that some groups of women with a high risk of developing breast cancer should be screened with MRI in addition to their yearly mammogram beginning at age 30. However, MRI is not for everyone.........

Posted by: Janet      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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