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November 11, 2009, 8:12 AM CT

Discovery in worms may lead to better cancer treatment

Discovery in worms may lead to better cancer treatment
Research on this microscopic worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) may offer a drug target for cancer treatment.

Credit: Ian Chin-Sang and Tony Papanicolaou
Scientists at Queen's University have found a link between two genes involved in cancer formation in humans, by examining the genes in worms. The groundbreaking discovery provides a foundation for how tumor-forming genes interact, and may offer a drug target for cancer therapy.

"When cancer hijacks a healthy system, it can create tumors by causing cells to divide when they shouldn't," says Ian Chin-Sang, a developmental biologist at Queen's and lead researcher on the study. "Certain genes control the normal movement and growth of cells, and by studying how these genes interact, we can understand what is abnormal when cancer is present".

There is an important gene in humans called PTEN that acts as a tumor suppressor. When the PTEN gene function is lost, it can lead to cancers. For example, 70-80 per cent of all prostate cancers have lost PTEN function. Another gene family, called Eph receptors, often shows high levels in cancers, but a correlation between PTEN and Eph Receptors in cancer formation has never been shown. The Queen's study shows the remarkable relationship between these genes in worms.

When the research team increased Eph receptor levels in worms, the PTEN levels diminished and the worms died prematurely. When they decreased the Eph receptor level in the worm, the PTEN levels went up and the worm lived longer than normal. The team believes the same principals are applicable to humans.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:55 AM CT

The world's most common operation

The world's most common operation
As a number of as 10 million people around the world suffer from cataracts. Thomas Kohnen of the Goethe University in Frankfurt and his coauthors discuss cataract surgery with the implantation of an artificial lens in the current issue of Deutsches rzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106[43]: 695�).

Blindness is commonly due to opacification of the lens. In Gera number of alone, more than 600,000 cataract operations are performed each year. Cataracts can be either congenital or acquired; age-related opacification of the lens is the most common type. The main symptom of cataract is slowly progressive worsening of vision, but glare disability and nearsightedness can also be signs of the disease.

Cataract operations are now commonly performed on an outpatient basis. The eye is anesthetized, pretreated with antibiotics, and surgically opened. New approaches permit the operation to be performed through an incision smaller than 2 mm. In the phacoemulsification technique, the lens is emulsified and aspirated away through a vibrating hollow needle. The surgeon then implants an intraocular artificial lens. Patients without any other diseases of the eye can achieve a visual acuity of 1.0 or even better. Special optical designs for the artificial lens can further optimize the quality of vision and thereby improve patient satisfaction.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:52 AM CT

Stem cells help paralyzed rats to walk

Stem cells help paralyzed rats to walk
Hans Keirstead, Jason Sharp and colleagues have found that human embryonic stem cells restore limb function in rats with neck spinal cord injuries.
Photo by Kerrin Piche Serna / University Communications
The first human embryonic stem cell therapy approved by the FDA for human testing has been shown to restore limb function in rats with neck spinal cord injuries - a finding that could expand the clinical trial to include people with cervical damage.

In January, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration gave Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., permission to test the UC Irvine therapy in individuals with thoracic spinal cord injuries, which occur below the neck. However, trying it in those with cervical damage wasn't approved because preclinical testing with rats hadn't been completed.

Results of the cervical study currently appear online in the journal Stem Cells. UCI scientist Hans Keirstead hopes the data will prompt the FDA to authorize clinical testing of the therapy in people with both types of spinal cord damage. About 52 percent of spinal cord injuries are cervical and 48 percent thoracic.

"People with cervical damage often have lost or impaired limb movement and bowel, bladder or sexual function, and currently there's no effective therapy. It's a challenging existence," said Keirstead, a primary author of the study. "What our treatment did to injured rodents is phenomenal. If we see even a fraction of that benefit in humans, it will be nothing short of a home run".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:48 AM CT

New direction for HIV vaccine research

New direction for HIV vaccine research
A very close and detailed study of how the most robust antibodies work to block the HIV virus as it seeks entry into healthy cells has revealed a new direction for scientists hoping to design an effective vaccine.

"Our study clearly showed that we've been overlooking a very important component of antibody function," says S. Munir Alam, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and main author of the paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Alam, a member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute and study senior author Bing Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, studied two potentially powerful antibodies against HIV, 2F5 and 4E10. Both of these are rare, broadly neutralizing antibodies, meaning that they can block many different strains of the HIV virus. They accomplish that by binding to the "Achilles heel" of the virus the so-called outer coat membrane proximal region a part of the outer protein coating next to the viral membrane that opens up and is exposed to the antibodies for just a few minutes during the process of cell fusion and infection.

But the problem for infection control is that such powerful antibodies are rare in HIV infection, and current experimental vaccines have been unable to generate such antibodies. In addition, the window of opportunity for such antibodies to act is very narrow.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:40 AM CT

Handwriting is real problem for children with autism

Handwriting is real problem for children with autism
Handwriting skills are crucial for success in school, communication, and building children's self-esteem. The first study to examine handwriting quality in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has uncovered a relationship between fine motor control and poor quality of handwriting in children with ASD, as per research reported in the November 10, 2009, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study, conducted by scientists at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, compared handwriting samples, motor skills, and visuospatial abilities of children with ASD to typically developing children. The scientists observed that overall, the handwriting of children with ASD was worse than typically developing children. Specifically, children with ASD had trouble with forming letters, however in other categories, such as size, alignment, and spacing, their handwriting was comparable to typically developing children. These findings build on prior studies examining motor skills and ASD conducted in 2009 by Kennedy Krieger researchers.

Parents of children with ASD are often the first ones to observe their child's poor handwriting quality. This study identifies fine motor control as a root source of the problem and demonstrates that children with ASD may not experience difficulties across all domains, just forming letters. By identifying handwriting as a legitimate impairment, parents, teachers and therapists will now be able to pursue techniques that will improve children's handwriting.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:34 AM CT

New imaging techniques pave way for cancer drugs

New imaging techniques pave way for cancer drugs
A recently devised method of imaging the chemical communication and warfare between microorganisms could lead to new antibiotics, antifungal, antiviral and anti-cancer drugs, said a Texas AgriLife Research scientist.

"Translating metabolic exchange with imaging mass spectrometry," was published Nov. 8 in Nature Chemical Biology, a prominent scientific journal. The article describes a technique developed by a collaborative team that includes Dr. Paul Straight, AgriLife Research scientist in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Dr. Pieter Dorrestein, Yu-Liang Yang and Yuquan Xu, all at the University of California, San Diego.

"Microorganisms encode in their genomes the capacity to produce a number of small molecules that are potential new antibiotics," Straight said. "Because we do not understand the circumstances under which those molecules are produced in the environment, we see only a small fraction of them in the laboratory".

An example is the antibiotic erythromycin, which is often prescribed for people who are allergic to penicillin, Straight said.

"We know that Saccharopolyspora erythraea, the bacteria from which erythromycin is derived, encodes the capacity to produce numerous other small molecules that might be potentially valuable drugs," he said. "Conventional microbial culture and drug discovery techniques uncovered erythromycin. Other potentially useful metabolites may require some unconventional methods for identification".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:30 AM CT

Making ice cream a functional food

Making ice cream a functional food
A comfort food, a tasty treat, an indulgence ice cream conjures feelings of happiness and satisfaction for millions. Ice cream scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered ways to make ice cream tastier and healthier and have contributed to ice cream development and manufacturing for more than a century. Today, MU scientists are working to make ice cream into a functional food, adding nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants and pro-biotics to premium ice cream.

"The idea of putting a functional ingredient into a food instead of just using the nutrients found in the food naturally takes a multi-functional approach," said Ingolf Gruen, MU professor of food chemistry and ice cream researcher in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "Food provides calories and comfort people want to indulge. We're working on making ice cream satisfying and healthy".

Adding nutrients such as pro-biotics, which are already found in some dairy products, and fiber to ice cream can improve digestive health. A number of diseases are caused by inflammation that starts in the intestines, Gruen said. Improving digestive health with functional foods might reduce that inflammation. Eventhough functional foods have health benefits, there are a number of challenges to adding nutrients to ice cream.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:27 AM CT

Not enough amyloid beta protein?

Not enough amyloid beta protein?
John Morley, M.D., led a team of Saint Louis University researchers who found not enough amyloid beta protein in healthy brains causes forgetfulness. Dr. Morley is director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University.

Credit: Saint Louis University

While too much amyloid beta protein in the brain is associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, not enough of the protein in healthy brains can cause learning problems and forgetfulness, Saint Louis University researchers have found.

The finding could lead to better medications to treat Alzheimer's disease, said John Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatrics at Saint Louis University and the lead researcher on the study.

"This research is very exciting because it causes us to look at amyloid beta protein in a different way," Morley said.

"After 20 years of research, what we found goes totally against long-standing beliefs about amyloid beta protein. Our results indicate that amyloid beta protein itself isn't the bad guy. The right amount of amyloid beta protein happens to be very important for memory and learning in those who are healthy".

Scientists observed that young, healthy mice that received low doses of amyloid beta protein showed improvement in recognizing objects and successfully navigating through a maze. On the other hand, mice that received a drug that blocked amyloid beta protein had learning impairment.

"You can't totally wipe out amyloid beta protein. If you do this, you are going to create dementia," Morley said. "In treating Alzheimer's disease, we have to be careful not to lower amyloid beta too much because it will cause as a number of problems as if you had an excess of amyloid beta protein".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:25 AM CT

Waiting time for chest pain

Waiting time for chest pain
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health scientists will present Nov. 10 on a range of topics at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in Philadelphia, including a study that examined compliance with national recommendations that a doctor screen chest pain patients within 10 minutes of their arrival to the Emergency Department (ED).

Additional public health research findings from Emory researchers are highlighted below.

Disparities in emergency room waiting times for chest pain patients

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend an electrocardiogram be performed and shown to a doctor within 10 minutes of a chest pain patient's arrival to the emergency department (ED). Emory scientists examined disparities in waiting times to see a doctor for patients complaining of chest pain.

They observed that only 30 percent of all chest pain patients were seen within the recommended 10 minutes. In addition, racial disparities affected all chest pain patients. African Americans were seen by an ED doctor later than whites, scientists noted.

Data were extracted from the 2003-2006 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

Untangling the Web: An exploratory look at the impact of parental discipline and primary caregiver support on high-risk taking behavior........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:23 AM CT

Short meditation could improve pain

Short meditation could improve pain
Living with pain is stressful, but a surprisingly short investment of time in mental training can help you cope.

A newly released study examining the perception of pain and the effects of various mental training techniques has observed that relatively short and simple mindfulness meditation training can have a significant positive effect on pain management.

Though pain research during the past decade has shown that extensive meditation training can have a positive effect in reducing a person's awareness and sensitivity to pain, the effort, time commitment, and financial obligations mandatory has made the therapy not practical for a number of patients. Now, a newly released study by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shows that a single hour of training spread out over a three day period can produce the same kind of analgesic effect.

The research appears in an article by UNC Charlotte psychology experts Fadel Zeidan, Nakia S. Gordon, Junaid Merchant and Paula Goolkasian, in the current issue of The Journal of Pain

"This study is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of such a brief intervention on the perception of pain," noted Fadel Zeidan, a doctoral candidate in psychology at UNC Charlotte and the paper's main author. "Not only did the meditation subjects feel less pain than the control group while meditating but they also experienced less pain sensitivity while not meditating".........

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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