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December 23, 2009, 8:04 AM CT

New, virulent strain of MRSA

New, virulent strain of MRSA
The often feared and sometimes deadly infections caused by MRSA - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - are now moving out of hospitals and emerging as an even more virulent strain in community settings and on athletic teams, and raising new concerns about antibiotic resistance.

Right now, the new community-associated strain of MRSA is responsive to more, but sometimes different antibiotics than its hospital relative, experts say. But those antibiotics will almost certainly lose their effectiveness as they are used more widely, and efforts are under way to combat that issue.

A newly released study by pharmacy scientists at Oregon State University has identified two antibiotics that appear less likely to cause future antibiotic resistance, and others that if used would allow resistance to emerge more quickly. This analysis, just reported in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, offers physicians some direction to help deal with this problem until more research can be done, they said.

"The problem with invasive MRSA infections is very real and is now moving from the hospital setting to the community," said George Allen, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "The community-based strain in some ways is even more apt to cause serious problems than those most often acquired in hospitals, and increasing quite dramatically in prevalence.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:59 AM CT

Tylenol against psychological pain?

Tylenol against psychological pain?
Headaches and heartaches. Broken bones and broken spirits. Hurting bodies and hurt feelings. We often use the same words to describe physical and mental pain. Over-the-counter pain relieving drugs have long been used to alleviate physical pain, while a host of other medications have been employed in the therapy of depression and anxiety. But is it possible that a common painkiller could serve double duty, easing not just the physical pains of sore joints and headaches, but also the pain of social rejection? A research team led by psychology expert C. Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology has uncovered evidence indicating that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) may blunt social pain.

"The ideathat a drug designed to alleviate physical pain should reduce the pain of social rejectionseemed simple and straightforward based on what we know about neural overlap between social and physical pain systems. To my surprise, I couldn't find anyone who had ever tested this idea," DeWall said.

As per a research studydue to be reported in the journal Psychological Science, DeWall and his colleagues were correct. Physical and social pain appear to overlap in the brain, relying on some of the same behavioral and neural mechanisms.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:58 AM CT

Success with new anti-cancer drug

Success with new anti-cancer drug
A study conducted at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, Texas, observed that a new drug stopped the growth of breast tumors in mice. This drug is unique in that it works both by stopping the cancer cells from growing and metastasizing to other organs, and by stimulating the immune system to destroy breast cancer cells and keeps them from coming back. This is the only drug that's able to work in both ways, while all other therapys work in one way or another. And, this research initiative not only involves physicians and biologists working together to bring therapys from the laboratory to the bedside, but a unique third component agriculturalists.

Researcher Alexzander Asea, Ph.D., the Effie and Wofford Cain Endowed Chair in Clinical Pathology, and division chief of investigative pathology at Scott & White Healthcare and the Texas A&M Health Science Center, said "we observed that some of the mice were essentially cured".

"All anti-cancer drugs broadly fall into two categories; either directly killing cancer cells (often healthy cells as well), or vaccines that help sick patients by boosting the immune system to better fight off cancer. This new drug works both ways, as a vaccine by taking away the cancer cell ability to grow, multiply and spread to distant organs, and by educating the immune system to recognize the breast cancer cells as 'foreign invaders' that need to be attacked and destroyed and to continue that process over time," Dr. Asea said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:57 AM CT

Nanotechnology Heals Abscesses

Nanotechnology Heals Abscesses
Joshua Nosanchuk, M.D.; Joel M. Friedman, M.D.,
Ph.D.; Adam Friedman, M.D.
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have developed a new approach for treating and healing skin abscesses caused by bacteria resistant to most antibiotics. The study appears in the journal PLoS One.

Abscesses are deep skin infections that often resist antibiotics and may require surgical drainage. For their new therapy strategy, the Einstein researchers developed tiny nanoparticles - smaller than a grain of pollen - that carry nitric oxide (NO), a gas that helps in the body's natural immune response to infection.

When topically applied to abscesses in mice, the particles released NO that traveled deep into the skin, clearing up the infections and helping to heal tissue.

"Our work shows that nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticles developed here at Einstein can effectively treat experimental skin abscesses caused by antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, even without surgical drainage," says Joshua D. Nosanchuk, M.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology.

"This is important," he notes, "because several million people are treated for staph infections every year in the U.S. Increasingly, these infections are caused by methicillin-resistant Staph aureus - or MRSA - the serious and potentially fatal "superbug" that we tackled in this study".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:53 AM CT

Pollution can increase the risk of penumonia

Pollution can increase the risk of penumonia
Elderly adults with long-term exposure to higher levels of pollution are at higher risk for hospitalization for pneumonia, as per scientists in Canada.

"Our study observed that among older individuals, long-term exposure to traffic pollution independently increased their risk of hospitalization for pneumonia," said principal investigator, Mark Loeb, M.D., of McMaster University.

The research would be reported in the January 1 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Pneumonia is a leading cause of sickness and death among elderly adults, and rates of hospitalizations for pneumonia among patients 65 and older have been increasing in recent years.

In addition to traffic pollution linked to roads, Hamilton has a large industrial steel-making complex in the north end of the city, creating a large exposure zone for residents. The scientists recruited 365 elderly adults from Hamilton, Ontario, who had been hospitalized with radiologically confirmed pneumonia in one of Hamilton's four emergency departments between 2003 and 2005. Control subjects from the same catchment areas as the patients were enrolled contemporaneously, and then compared their exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and fine particulate matter less that 2.5 μm (PM2.5) using data from air-quality monitoring stations and land use regression models.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:50 AM CT

Switching off hunger hormone

Switching off hunger hormone
A Faculty of 1000 assessment examines how a stomach-produced hormone that influences the desire to eat and consume alcohol could be switched off to control drinking problems.

The study, carried out by Jerlhag et al. at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, showed that the hormone ghrelin, typically released by the stomach and known to promote appetite and therefore the intake of food, also influences the consumption of alcohol.

The results, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, showed that mice injected with ghrelin and then given the choice of alcohol or water to drink, were more likely to choose alcohol. At the same time, mice treated with ghrelin antagonists, as well as knockout mice (mice with the hormone's receptor removed), proved resistant to the effects of alcohol.

Faculty of 1000 Biology reviewer Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan says the ghrelin-injected mice showed more than a typical appetite for calories in choosing alcohol and the findings might influence therapy strategies for alcoholism.

Professor Berridge says, "These results seem to suggest a role for the effects of ghrelin on the brain in the motivation for alcohol consumption".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 21, 2009, 8:10 AM CT

Metastasis formation in real time

Metastasis formation in real time
Up to 25% of cancer patients develop metastases in the brain often long after successful therapy of the primary tumor. In almost all such cases, the prognosis is poor. The mechanisms responsible for the appearance of brain metastases have long been mysterious. Now a research team led by neurologist Dr. Frank Winkler of LMU Munich has followed, in real time, the steps that lead some tumor cells to establish metastases, while others fail to form new tumors. The team also discovered that, by blocking formation of new blood vessels, the anti-cancer drug Avastin can suppress the emergence of metastases. "We hope that our results will help to optimize existing therapies and allow us to develop new agents that can be targeted against specific stages in the process of metastasis", says Winkler.

(Nature Medicine online, 20. Dezember 2009).

It is not the primary tumor that kills most cancer patients, but the metastases which arise from it. Metastases in the brain are linked to a especially dismal prognosis. These secondary tumors frequently appear in patients who have, or have had, lung, breast or skin cancers. They are very difficult to treat, as existing therapies can only slow, not cure, the disease. Brain metastases are also very distressing for patients, often causing headaches and nausea, but also serious neurological symptoms such as paralysis and loss of the ability to speak. "Unfortunately, brain metastases are now being seen more often than in the past", says Dr. Frank Winkler, who leads the Neurooncology Research Group at the LMU's Neurological Clinic in Munich. "Improvements in the therapy of malignancy have enhanced survival times. But this also means that more patients are at risk of developing brain metastases".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 18, 2009, 7:09 PM CT

The use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana

The use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana
Marijuana is the most usually used illicit drug in the United States. Roughly eight to 12 percent of marijuana users are considered "dependent" and, just like alcohol, the severity of symptoms increases with heavier use. A newly released study has observed that use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana are influenced by a common set of genes.

Results would be reported in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Results from a large annual survey of high-school students show that in 2008, 41.8 percent of 12th graders reported having used marijuana," explained Carolyn E. Sartor, a research instructor at Washington University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "Eventhough a number of may have used the drug on only a few occasions, 5.4 percent of 12th graders reported using it daily within the preceding month".

"The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which mimics natural cannabinoids that the brain produces," added Christian Hopfer, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "The cannabinoid system is critical for learning, memory, appetite, and pain perception. Most users of marijuana will not develop an 'addiction' to it, but perhaps one in 12 will. What is not usually appreciated about marijuana use is that good evidence has emerged that it increases the risk of developing mental illnesses and possibly exacerbates pre-existing mental illnesses".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 18, 2009, 7:04 PM CT

Postural sway among abstinent alcoholics

Postural sway among abstinent alcoholics
Excessive sway during quiet standing is a common and significant consequence of chronic alcoholism, even after prolonged sobriety, and can lead to fall-related injury and even death. A newly released study of residual postural instability in alcohol-abstinent men and women shows that alcoholics improve with prolonged sobriety, but the improvement may not fully erase the problem of instability.

Results would be reported in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Caricatures depict acutely intoxicated individuals with a stumbling, weaving, wobbly gait," said Edith V. Sullivan, professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "With sobriety, gait and balance become stable. However, even with prolonged sobriety, people with long-term chronic alcohol dependence can have difficulty in standing upright. Their balance can be marked by sway that exceeds what most of us experience while standing still in one place, particularly with feet together and hands down by one's side, that is, without use of natural stabilizing factors".

Sullivan said that quantifying the sway can be accomplished by using a force plate to record the sway path in fractions of an inch over fractions of seconds during quiet standing. This provides "sway path tracking" as well as measurement of body tremor, which are micro-movements often reflective of central nervous system damage that can be found both in Parkinson's disease and alcoholism.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 18, 2009, 8:23 AM CT

Bourbon hurts more the next day

Bourbon hurts more the next day
A number of alcoholic beverages contain byproducts of the materials used in the fermenting process. These byproducts are called "congeners," complex organic molecules with toxic effects including acetone, acetaldehyde, fusel oil, tannins, and furfural. Bourbon has 37 times the amount of congeners that vodka has. A newly released study has observed that while drinking a lot of bourbon can cause a worse hangover than drinking a lot of vodka, impairment in people's next-day task performance is about the same for both beverages.

Results would be reported in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"While the toxic chemicals called congeners could be poisonous in large amounts, they occur in very small amounts in alcoholic beverages," explained Damaris J. Rohsenow, professor of community health at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University. "There are far more of them in the darker distilled beverages and wines than in the lighter colored ones. While the alcohol alone is enough to make a number of people feel sick the next day, these toxic natural substances can add to the ill effects as our body reacts to them."

Rohsenow added that few studies have looked at the effects of high- versus low-congener beverages on next-day hangover or performance, and some of those early studies were not careful to wait until breath alcohol levels (BALs) were close to zero before measuring performance, so results may have included some of alcohol's direct effects.........

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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