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May 20, 2009, 5:04 AM CT

Promise for epilepsy treatment

Promise for epilepsy treatment
University of Minnesota McKnight professor and Director of Center for Neuroengineering Bin He has developed a new technique that has led to preliminary successes in noninvasive imaging of seizure foci. He's technique promises to play an important role in the therapy of epileptic seizures.

To view a video explaining the procedure, visit: http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/newsservice/Multimedia_Videos/bin_he.htm.

He's research, called Functional Neuroimaging, has completed its first round of testing in epilepsy data collected at the Mayo Clinic. He's medical device images the brain while epilepsy patients have a seizure and then allows surgeons to identify the network where the seizure is caused.

Approximately one-third of people who suffer from epileptic seizures cannot be treated by medication, and this process could lead to further advancements in surgical therapy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 15, 2009, 5:25 AM CT

Heart disorder and Alzheimer's disease

Heart disorder and Alzheimer's disease
Scientists at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City think that they have made a breakthrough correlation between atrial fibrillation, a fairly common heart rhythm disorder, and Alzheimer's disease, the leading form of dementia among Americans.

In a study presented Friday, May 15, at "Heart Rhythm 2009," the annual scientific sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston, scientists unveiled findings from the study of more than 37,000 patients that showed a strong relationship between atrial fibrillation and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, which drew upon information from the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study, a vast database from hundreds of thousands of patients treated at Intermountain Healthcare hospitals, found:

Patients with atrial fibrillation were 44 percent more likely to develop dementia than patients without the heart disorder.

Younger patients with atrial fibrillation were at higher risk of developing all types of dementia, especially Alzheimer's. Atrial fibrillation patients under age 70 were 130 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's.

Patients who have both atrial fibrillation and dementia were 61 percent more likely to die during the study period than dementia patients without the rhythm problem.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 13, 2009, 5:14 AM CT

How to build a bigger brain

How to build a bigger brain
Push-ups, crunches, gyms, personal trainers people have a number of strategies for building bigger muscles and stronger bones. But what can one do to build a bigger brain? .

Meditate.

That's the finding from a group of scientists at UCLA who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. As per a research findings reported in the journal NeuroImage and currently available online (by subscription), the scientists report that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group.

Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus all regions known for regulating emotions.

"We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior," said Eileen Luders, main author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. "The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have these exceptional abilities." .

Research has confirmed the beneficial aspects of meditation. In addition to having better focus and control over their emotions, a number of people who meditate regularly have reduced levels of stress and bolstered immune systems. But less is known about the link between meditation and brain structure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 11, 2009, 9:24 PM CT

Genetic cause of of breast cancer

Genetic cause of of breast cancer
The discovery of tumor-suppressor genes has been key to unlocking the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation the hallmark of cancer. Often, these genes will work in concert with others in a complex biochemical system that keeps our cells growing and dividing, disease free.

Now scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have observed that defects in one gene, called p18, may override the rest, eventually leading to cancer.

This discovery, combined with new laboratory techniques, will help researchers identify and test new therapys for luminal-type tumors, which account for between 70 and 80 percent of all breast cancers, but are generally slower growing than other types.

The results of the research appear in the May 2009 issue of Cancer Cell

Defects in the p18 gene have been observed in different types of human cancer. Senior study author Yue Xiong, Ph.D., William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of biochemistry and biophysics, observes, "When this gene is not expressed or is deleted, cells have no braking mechanism. They will continue to grow and divide until they turn into cancer".

Xiong and colleagues specifically targeted the role that p18 plays in the development of luminal breast cancers. Using genetically-engineered mice with deletion of p18 genes, they created a highly reliable model of human breast cancers. The scientists tested their model by analyzing the gene in samples from approximately 300 human patients with breast cancer, proving that the decreased expression of the p18 gene is highly correlated with the development of luminal tumors.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 11, 2009, 9:22 PM CT

Brain's problem-solving function at work

Brain's problem-solving function at work
A new University of British Columbia study finds that our brains are much more active when we daydream than previously thought.

The study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that activity in numerous brain regions increases when our minds wander. It also finds that brain areas linked to complex problem-solving previously thought to go dormant when we daydream are in fact highly active during these episodes.

"Mind wandering is typically linked to negative things like laziness or inattentiveness," says main author, Prof. Kalina Christoff, UBC Dept. of Psychology. "But this study shows our brains are very active when we daydream much more active than when we focus on routine tasks".

For the study, subjects were placed inside an fMRI scanner, where they performed the simple routine task of pushing a button when numbers appear on a screen. The scientists tracked subjects' attentiveness moment-to-moment through brain scans, subjective reports from subjects and by tracking their performance on the task.

The findings suggest that daydreaming which can occupy as much as one third of our waking lives is an important cognitive state where we may unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 4, 2009, 5:10 AM CT

Memory in Alzheimer's disease

Memory in Alzheimer's disease
Even very early in Alzheimer's disease, people become less efficient at separating important from less important information, a newly released study has observed.

Knowing this, clinicians appears to be able to train people in the early stages of Alzheimer's to remember high-value information better, as per a report in the recent issue of Neuropsychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Remembering what's most important is central to daily life. For example, if you went to the grocery store but left your shopping list at home, you'd at least want to remember the milk and bread, if not the jam. Or, when packing for a trip, you'd want to remember your wallet and tickets more than your slippers or belt.

Participants in the study were recruited from the Washington University in St. Louis Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. They included 109 healthy elderly adults (average age of almost 75), 41 people with very mild (very early) Alzheimer's disease (average age of almost 76), 13 people with mild (early) Alzheimer's (average age of almost 77), and 35 younger adults (all 25 or under, average age of almost 20).

The scientists asked participants to study and learn neutral words that were randomly assigned different point values. When asked to recall the items, participants were asked to maximize the total value. All participants, even those with Alzheimer's, recalled more high-value than low-value items. However, the Alzheimer's groups were significantly less efficient than their healthy age peers at remembering items as per their value. It meant they no longer maximized learning and memory, which in healthy people are fairly efficient processes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 30, 2009, 5:18 AM CT

Magnetic stimulation therapy for migraine

Magnetic stimulation therapy for migraine
A new UCSF study examining the mechanism of a novel treatment that uses magnetic pulses to treat chronic migraine sufferers showed the therapy to be a promising alternative to medication.

The treatment is called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. Study findings were presented today (April 29, 2009) during the annual American Academy of Neurology scientific meeting in Seattle.

In a prior randomized controlled clinical study by Ohio State University Medical Center, TMS was used to treat patients who suffer from migraine with aura, a condition in which a variety of mostly visual sensations come before or accompany the pain of a migraine attack. The study showed that TMS therapy was superior to the placebo given to the control group. Patients were pain-free at follow-up intervals of 2, 24 and 48 hours.

In the newly released study, conducted in rats, UCSF scientists focused on understanding the mechanism of action of TMS treatment -- how the therapy interacted with the brain to produce the pain-free outcomes of patients in the prior study.

The UCSF research identified potential opportunities to enhance therapy strategies in patients. One example, the study team noted, was that factors such as time and peak intensity of stimulation appears to be important components in the brain's response to TMS.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:02 AM CT

Preventing migraine

Preventing migraine
When migraine strikes, because of severe pain, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound, sufferers are effectively disabled for up to 72 hours. Since they are forced to stop what they are doing until the pain and other symptoms subside, migraine causes a significant loss in productivity at work and the personal lives of those affected. Migraineurs particularly the 25% of migraineurs who experience more than three migraine attacks per month are looking to drug developers to provide new drugs to prevent migraine attacks before they start. In the U.S. alone, approximately 30 million people suffer from migraines and the cost to employers has been estimated at $13 billion annually in lost productivity. Currently, several types of drugs, like generic beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants and anti-epileptic drugs, some of which are used off-label, are given to prevent migraines. However, a number of patients have only a partial response to these products, a number of of which have troubling side effects. Nevertheless, a number of migraine patients use existing drugs, illustrating how badly new drugs are needed.

Given the role of glutamate in the pathophysiology of migraine, the future of migraine prophylaxis, may lie in modulating one of the receptors in the glutamate system, mGluR5.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:00 AM CT

Stroke predictors in black patients

Stroke predictors in black patients
Predictors of atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) might offer physicians a better way to prevent stroke in blacks, as per a newly released study done by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

AF is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that usually causes poor blood flow to the body, as well as symptoms of heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Despite low reported prevalence of AF a main risk factors for stroke in black patients, they suffer strokes five times more often than white patients and die from them two times more often.

That paradox might result from limitations in the methods (electrocardiograms (ECG) or self-report) used to detect AF, said Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., M.Sc. M.S., associate director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center (EPICARE) at the School of Medicine and main author of the study.

"The limitations stem from the fact that AF is intermittent in at least 30 percent of patients, and most patients are not aware if they have AF or not," Soliman said. "Trying to detect AF using an ECG, or simply counting on patients to know if they have it, leads to under-diagnosis of the condition most of the time. Our research suggests that being proactive in predicting it appears to be a better approach".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 28, 2009, 5:23 AM CT

Novel role of protein in generating amyloid-beta peptide

Novel role of protein in generating amyloid-beta peptide
A defining hallmark of Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of the amyloid β protein (Aβ), otherwise known as "senile plaques," in the brain's cortex and hippocampus, where memory consolidation occurs. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a novel protein which, when over-expressed, leads to a dramatic increase in the generation of Aβ. Their findings, which indicate a potential new target to block the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain, would be reported in the May 1 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry

"The role of the multi-domain protein, RANBP9, suggests a possible new therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease," said David E. Kang, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego and director of this study.

The neurotoxic protein Aβ is derived when the amyloid precursor protein (APP) is "cut" by two enzymes, β-secretase (or BACE) and γ-secretase (or Presenilin complex.) However, inhibiting these enzymes in order to stop the amyloid cascade has a number of negative side effects, as these enzymes also have various beneficial uses in brain cells. So the scientists looked for an alternative way to block the production of amyloid beta.

In order for cleavage to occur, the APP needs to travel to cholesterol-enriched sites within the cell membrane called RAFTS, where APP interacts with the two enzymes. It is this contact that the scientists sought to block.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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