Archives Of Health News Blog From Medicineworld.Org
January 28, 2011, 7:39 AM CT
Memory training for addiction treatment
Warren K. Bickel is a professor and director of the Center for Substance Abuse at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke, Va.
Credit: Virginia Tech photo
People with addictions to stimulants tend to choose instant gratification or a smaller but sooner reward over a future benefit, even if the future reward is greater. Reduced value of a future reward, called "delay discounting" by neuroscientists, is the major challenge for therapy of addiction. A newly released study in the February 2011 (Vol. 69, Issue 3) Biological Psychiatry appears to present a strategy for increasing the value of future rewards in the minds of addicts.
"The hope is for a new intervention to help addicts," said Warren K. Bickel, professor and director of the Center for Substance Abuse at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute effective Feb 1. 2011. Bickel will also be a professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech.
Bickel did the research when he was the Wilbur D. Mills Chair of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention and director of the Center for Addiction Research and the Center for the Study of Tobacco Addiction at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
"It is a major coup for us to be able to attract Dr. Bickel to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Roanoke. He is a renowned research leader in understanding the strategies used by the human brain during addiction and his latest work is providing valuable new insights into potential therapeutic strategies for rehabilitating the addicted human brain," said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the research institute.........
The type of bacteria that colonize the placenta during pregnancy could be linked to preterm birth and other developmental problems in newborns as per research reported in the current issue of the online journal mBio�.
"The fetal inflammatory response appears to contribute to the onset of preterm labor, fetal injury and complications, underlying lifetime health challenges facing these children," say the scientists from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Boston. "Our data suggest that placental colonization by specific groups of organisms can increase or decrease the risk of a systemic inflammatory condition".
Preterm birth occurs in nearly a half million pregnancies in the United States alone. Despite improved care, preterm and particularly extremely low-gestational-age newborns continue to be at a considerably higher risk of morbidity, mortality and developmental problems. Much of this risk is attributable to imbalanced inflammatory responses of the fetus and newborn.
The systemic fetal inflammatory response to intrauterine exposures, particularly intrauterine infections, is regarded as an important contributor to the onset and often lifelong consequences of preterm labor, fetal injury and early organ damage. Approximately half of all placentas delivered before the second trimester and 41% of those delivered by Caesarean section harbor microorganisms detectable by culture techniques.........
ocial DominanceNew research from the University of Copenhagen and Harvard University has observed that infants less than one year old understand social dominance and use relative size to predict who will prevail when two individuals' goals conflict. The findings are presented this week in the journal Science.
Lotte Thomsen, assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Psychology and research fellow in Harvard's Department of Psychology, is the main author of the article "Big and Mighty: Preverbal Infants Mentally Represent Social Dominance", which is being reported in the well-respected scientific journal Science this week.
Thomsen's work suggests we appears to be born with - or develop at a very early age - some understanding of social dominance and how it relates to relative size.
Big and mighty.
"As we have tried to communicate with the title of our paper "Big & Mighty", what we have shown is that even pre-verbal infants understand social dominance and use relative size as a cue for it. To put it simply, if a big and a small guy have goals that conflict, preverbal infants expect the big guy to win over the little guy," Thomsen says.........
Visionaries in the field of cardiac therapeutics have long looked to the future when a damaged heart could be rebuilt or repaired by using one's own heart cells. A study reported in the recent issue of Circulation, a scientific journal of the American Heart Association, shows that heart stem cells from children with congenital heart disease were able to rebuild the damaged heart in the laboratory.
Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, surgeon in the Division of Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery at Children's Memorial Hospital and assistant professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who headed the study, believes these results show great promise for the growing number of children with congenital heart problems. With this potential treatment option these children may avoid the need for a heart transplant.
"Due to the advances in surgical and medical therapies, a number of children born with cardiomyopathy or other congenital heart defects are living longer but may eventually succumb to heart failure," said Kaushal. "This project has generated important pre-clinical laboratory data showing that we appears to be able to use the patient's own heart stem cells to rebuild their hearts, allowing these children to potentially live longer and have more productive lives." .........
Disasters-both natural and manmade-can strike anywhere and they often hit without warning, so they can be difficult to prepare for. But what happens afterward? How do people cope following disasters? In a new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, George Bonanno, Chris R. Brewin, Krzysztof Kaniasty, and Annette M. La Greca review the psychological effects of disasters and why some individuals have a harder time recovering than do others.
Individuals exposed to disaster may experience many psychological problems including PTSD, grief, anxiety, and increased substance abuse, but the evidence shows that less than 30% of adults experience severe, lasting levels of these problems. The majority of people exposed to a disaster experience passing distress but return to psychological health. In other words, people tend to be psychologically resilient.
But why do individuals respond to disasters so differently? There appears to be many factors that influence how people react following disasters, such as age and socioeconomic status. For example, children react to disasters differently than do adults: Initially they tend to show more extreme psychological distress than do adult disaster survivors, but as with adults, such severe psychological problems are often only temporary. At the other end of the age spectrum, elderly adults tend to overcome disasters with fewer psychological costs than do younger adults. Economic resources may also play a role in people's outcomes to disasters. Low socioeconomic status is consistently identified as a predictor of PTSD. Economically underdeveloped areas' lack of infrastructure hampers the ability of emergency response teams to provide aid and death tolls tend to be larger in poorer nations than in wealthier nations following natural disasters.........
Scientists from McGill University's Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC), the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC), the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School have discovered a gene signature that can accurately predict which patients with breast cancer are at risk of relapse, thereby sparing those who are not from the burdens linked to unnecessary therapy.
For years, clinicians have been faced with the problem that breast cancer cannot be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. Some cancers respond to specific therapys while others do not. Close to 50 per cent of patients with breast cancer belong to a group - defined as "estrogen receptor positive/lymph node negative (ER+/LR-)"- that is at low risk of relapse. The majority of patients in this group may not require any therapy beyond the surgical removal of their tumour, while a small minority should receive additional therapy.
"The added information provided by our test would enable oncologists to identify those at very low risk of relapse, for whom the risk-benefit ratio might be in favour of withholding chemotherapy, and to identify patients in this low-risk group who would benefit from more aggressive therapys," explains Dr. Alain Nepveu, GCRC and RI MUHC researcher and co-author of the study. "Since a number of therapys are linked to short- and long-term complications including premature menopause, cardiotoxicity and the development of secondary cancers, risks must be balanced against the potential benefit for each patient to avoid unnecessary suffering, needless expense and added burdens on the health-care system".........
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Retired NFL players use painkillers at a much higher rate than the rest of us, as per new research conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The scientists say the brutal collisions and bone-jarring injuries linked to football often cause long-term pain, which contributes to continued use and abuse of painkilling medications.
The study is published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It involved 644 former NFL players who retired from football between 1979 and 2006. Scientists asked them about their overall health, level of pain, history of injuries, concussions and use of prescription pain pills.
The study observed that 7 percent of the former players were currently using painkilling opioid drugs. That's more than four times the rate of opioid use in the general population. Opioids are usually prescribed for their analgesic, or pain-relieving, properties. Medications that fall within this class of drugs include morphine, Vicodin, codeine and oxycodone.
"We asked about medications they used during their playing careers and whether they used the drugs as prescribed or whether they had ever taken them in a different way or for different reasons," says principal investigator Linda B. Cottler, PhD, professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Washington University. "More than half used opioids during their NFL careers, and 71 percent had misused the drugs. That is, they had used the medicine for a different reason or in a different way than it was prescribed, or taken painkillers that were prescribed for someone else".........
Major roadblock in regenerative medicine eliminated
Human embryonic stem cells in culture created by UCLA researchers
In regenerative medicine, large supplies of safe and reliable human embryonic stem (hES) cells are needed for implantation into patients, but the field has faced challenges in developing cultures that can consistently grow and maintain clinical-grade stem cells.
Standard culture systems use mouse "feeder" cells and media containing bovine sera to cultivate and maintain hES cells, but such animal product-based media can contaminate the cells. And because of difficulties in precise quality control, each batch of the medium can introduce new and unwanted variations.
Now, a team of stem cell biologists and engineers from UCLA has identified an optimal combination and concentration of small-molecule inhibitors to support the long-term quality and maintenance of hES cells in feeder-free and serum-free conditions. The scientists used a feedback system control (FSC) scheme to innovatively and efficiently select the small-molecule inhibitors from a very large pool of possibilities.
The research findings, published recently in the journal Nature Communications, represent a major advance in the quest to broadly transition regenerative medicine from the benchtop to the clinic.
"What is significant about this work is that we've been able to very rapidly develop a chemically defined culture medium to replace serum and feeders for cultivating clinical-grade hES cells, thereby removing a major roadblock in the area of regenerative medicine," said Chih-Ming Ho, the Ben Rich-Lockheed Martin Professor at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.........
Washington University in St. Louis Anti-Notch therapies are being evaluated for cancer. When Washington University scientists disrupted Notch1 signaling in mice, they developed vascular tumors, primarily in the liver, which filled with blood (shown) and eventually led to massive hemorrhages and death.
A study by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has raised safety concerns about an investigational approach to treating cancer.
The strategy takes aim at a key signaling pathway, called Notch, involved in forming new blood vessels that feed tumor growth. When scientists targeted the Notch1 signaling pathway in mice, the animals developed vascular tumors, primarily in the liver, which led to massive hemorrhages that caused their death.
Their findings are reported online Jan. 25 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation and will appear in the journal's February issue.
Many anti-Notch therapies now are being reviewed in preclinical and early clinical trials for cancer. They target Notch1 as well as the three other signaling pathways in the Notch receptor family. The current research did not study any of these specific therapies in mice but instead focused on the potential side effects of chronically disrupting the Notch1 signal in individual cells.
"Our results suggest that anti-Notch1 strategies are bound to fail," says Raphael Kopan, PhD, professor of developmental biology and of medicine at the School of Medicine. "Without the Notch1 signal, cells in the vascular system grow uncontrollably and produce enlarged, weakened blood vessels. Eventually, the pressure within those vessels exceeds their capacity to hold blood, and they rupture, causing a dramatic loss of blood pressure, heart attack and death".........
Women who have experienced hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause may have a 50 percent lower risk of developing the most common forms of breast cancer than postmenopausal women who have never had such symptoms, as per a recent study by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The results of the first study to examine the relationship between menopausal symptoms and breast cancer risk are available online ahead of the February print issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
The protective effect appeared to increase along with the number and severity of menopausal symptoms, as per senior author Christopher I. Li, M.D., Ph.D., a breast cancer epidemiologist in the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division.
"In particular we observed that women who experienced more intense hot flushes � the kind that woke them up at night � had a especially low risk of breast cancer," he said.
Li and his colleagues suspected a link between menopause misery and decreased breast cancer risk because hormones such as estrogen and progesterone play an important role in the development of most breast cancers, and reductions in these hormones caused by gradual cessation of ovarian function can impact the frequency and severity of menopausal symptoms.........
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.