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March 9, 2010, 8:24 AM CT

'Biological bypass' for heart disease

'Biological bypass' for heart disease
A new method of growing arteries could lead to a "biological bypass"or a non-invasive way to treat coronary artery disease, Yale School of Medicine scientists report with their colleagues in the recent issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Coronary arteries can become blocked with plaque, leading to a decrease in the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Over time this blockage can lead to debilitating chest pain or heart attack. Severe blockages in multiple major vessels may require coronary artery bypass graft surgery, a major invasive surgery.

"Successfully growing new arteries could provide a biological option for patients facing bypass surgery," said main author of the study Michael Simons, M.D., chief of the Section of Cardiology at Yale School of Medicine.

In the past, scientists used growth factorsproteins that stimulate the growth of cellsto grow new arteries, but this method was unsuccessful. Simons and his team studied mice and zebrafish to see if they could simulate arterial formation by switching on and off two signaling pathwaysERK1/2 and P13K.

"We observed that there is a cross-talk between the two signaling pathways. One half of the signaling pathway inhibits the other. When we inhibit this mechanism, we are able to grow arteries," said Simons. "Instead of using growth factors, we stopped the inhibitor mechanism by using a drug that targets a particular enzyme called P13-kinase inhibitor".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 8, 2010, 9:29 AM CT

Vitamin D and immune defenses

Vitamin D and immune defenses
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system T cells - will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.

For T cells to detect and kill foreign pathogens such as clumps of bacteria or viruses, the cells must first be 'triggered' into action and 'transform' from inactive and harmless immune cells into killer cells that are primed to seek out and destroy all traces of a foreign pathogen.

The scientists observed that the T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant, 'nave' to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.



Chemical Reaction that Enables Activation


In order for the specialized immune cells (T cells) to protect the body from dangerous viruses or bacteria, the T cells must first be exposed to traces of the foreign pathogen. This occurs when they are presented by other immune cells in the body (known as macrophages) with suspicious 'cell fragments' or 'traces' of the pathogen. The T cells then bind to the fragment and divide and multiply into hundreds of identical cells that are all focused on the same pathogen type. The sequence of chemical changes that the T cells undergo enables them to both be 'sensitized to' and able to deliver a targeted immune response.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 8, 2010, 9:12 AM CT

Ritalin boosts learning

Ritalin boosts learning
Doctors treat millions of children with Ritalin every year to improve their ability to focus on tasks, but researchers now report that Ritalin also directly enhances the speed of learning.

In animal research, the researchers showed for the first time that Ritalin boosts both of these cognitive abilities by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine deep inside the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers neurons use to communicate with each other. They release the molecule, which then docks onto receptors of other neurons. The research demonstrated that one type of dopamine receptor aids the ability to focus, and another type improves the learning itself.

The researchers also established that Ritalin produces these effects by enhancing brain plasticity strengthening communication between neurons where they meet at the synapse. Research in this field has accelerated as researchers have recognized that our brains can continue to form new connections remain plastic throughout life.

"Since we now know that Ritalin improves behavior through two specific types of neurotransmitter receptors, the finding could help in the development of better targeted drugs, with fewer side effects, to increase focus and learning," said Antonello Bonci, MD, principal investigator at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center and professor of neurology at UCSF. The Gallo Center is affiliated with the UCSF Department of Neurology.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 8, 2010, 9:08 AM CT

Sleep differences among ethnic groups

Sleep differences among ethnic groups
The 2010 Sleep in America poll released recently by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reveals significant differences in the sleep habits and attitudes of Asians, Blacks/African-Americans, Hispanics and Whites. It is the first poll to examine sleep among these four ethnic groups.

NSF's Sleep in America poll observed that more than three-fourths of respondents from each ethnic group agree that poor sleep is linked to health problems (76-83%). These new findings echo lessons learned by former President Bill Clinton who recently admitted that he has adopted a new lifestyle regimen to sleep seven or more hours on the advice of his doctors.

The poll also shows that all groups report disturbingly similar experiences missing work or family functions because they were too sleepy (19-24%). Among married people or couples living together, all ethnic groups report being too tired for sex frequently (21- 26% of the time).

"As the leading voice of sleep health, we are committed to better understanding people's sleep needs," says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. "By exploring ethnic and family sleep practices we have gained new insight into why we sleep the way we do".

Blacks/African-Americans report the busiest bedtime routines.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 8, 2010, 8:59 AM CT

Genomic test result discussions

Genomic test result discussions
A newly released study has observed that one in three early-stage patients with breast cancer who received genomic testing when deciding about therapy options felt they did not fully understand their discussions with physicians about their test results and their risk of recurrence. About one in four experienced distress when receiving their test results.

Published early online in CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings suggest there is room for improvement in communicating cancer recurrence risks and therapy decisions with patients.

Genomic testing is an increasingly important part of care for patients after they are diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. The test, which looks at 21 genes in breast tumors removed during surgery, can indicate the chance the patient's cancer will recur. Such information can help guide decisions by physicians and patients about chemotherapy therapys. Patients with a high risk of recurrence may opt for more aggressive therapy, while those with lower risk may safely avoid over-treatment and its potential side effects. It can be challenging, however, for physicians to determine the best way to talk to patients about their test results and to use the results to make important therapy decisions with patients. Currently, there is little consensus regarding the most effective method to communicate risk information to patients.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 4, 2010, 9:52 PM CT

Acupuncture may relieve joint pain

Acupuncture may relieve joint pain
A newly released study, led by scientists at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, demonstrates that acupuncture appears to be an effective treatment for joint pain and stiffness in patients with breast cancer who are being treated with usually used hormonal therapies. Results were reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

Joint pain and stiffness are common side effects of aromatase inhibitor treatment, in which the synthesis of estrogen is blocked. The treatment, which is a common and effective therapy for early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer in post-menopausal women, has been shown in prior research to cause some joint pain and stiffness in half of women being treated.

"Since aromatase inhibitors have become an increasingly popular therapy option for some patients with breast cancer, we aimed to find a non-drug option to manage the joint issues they often create, thereby improving quality of life and reducing the likelihood that patients would discontinue this potentially life-saving therapy," said Dawn Hershman, M.D, M.S., senior author of the paper, and co-director of the breast cancer program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and an assistant professor of medicine (hematology/oncology) and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 4, 2010, 9:50 PM CT

Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis

Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis
Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and a team of collaborators have observed for the first time that the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) increases by a number of folds following infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This finding implicates EBV as a contributory cause to multiple sclerosis. The study appears in an advance online edition of the journal Annals of Neurology and will appear in a later print edition.

Hundred of thousands of individuals not infected with EBV were followed up for several years through repeated blood samples collections. Scientists were then able to determine the time when individuals developed an EBV infection and its relation to MS onset. "The recruitment of individuals before they were infected with EBV and following up with them for several years is the critical methodological aspect that makes this study qualitatively different from all prior work," said Alberto Ascherio, senior author of the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

MS is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Women are more likely than men to get the disease and it is the most common neurologically disabling disease in young adults. Eventhough genetic predisposition plays an important role in determining susceptibility, past studies have shown that environmental factors are equally important.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 4, 2010, 9:49 PM CT

Talking Your Way to Happiness

Talking Your Way to Happiness
Is a happy life filled with trivial chatter or reflective and profound conversations? Psychological researchers Matthias R. Mehl, Shannon E. Holleran, and C. Shelby Clark from the University of Arizona, along with Simine Vazire of Washington University in St. Louis investigated whether happy and unhappy people differ in the types of conversations they tend to engage in. Volunteers wore an unobtrusive recording device called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) over four days. This device periodically records snippets of sounds as participants go about their lives. For this experiment, the EAR sampled 30 seconds of sounds every 12.5 minutes yielding a total of more than 20,000 recordings. Scientists then listened to the recordings and identified the conversations as trivial small talk or substantive discussions. In addition, the volunteers completed personality and well-being evaluations.

As reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, analysis of the recordings revealed some very interesting findings. Greater well-being was correlation to spending less time alone and more time talking to others: The happiest participants spent 25% less time alone and 70% more time talking than the unhappiest participants. In addition to the difference in the amount of social interactions happy and unhappy people had, there was also a difference in the types of conversations they took part in: The happiest participants had twice as a number of substantive conversations and one third as much small talk as the unhappiest participants.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 4, 2010, 9:44 PM CT

Key cause of chronic leukemia progression

Key cause of chronic leukemia progression
COLUMBUS, Ohio Scientists have discovered a key reason why a form of leukemia progresses from its more-treatable chronic phase to a life-threatening phase called blast crisis.

The study, led by cancer scientists at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), indicates that chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) progresses when immature white blood cells lose a molecule called miR-328.

Loss of the molecule traps the cells in a rapidly growing, immature state. The cells soon fill the bone marrow and spill into the bloodstream, a tell-tale sign that the disease has advanced to the blast crisis stage.

The research, reported in the March 5th issue of the journal Cell, should provide a better understanding of the blast-crisis stage of CML, and it suggests a possible new therapy strategy for the disease, the scientists say.

"These findings indicate that the loss of miR-328 is probably essential for progression from the chronic phase of the disease to the blast crisis stage," says principal investigator Danilo Perrotti, associate professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics and a member of the OSUCCC-James.

"Our findings also suggest that maintaining the level of this microRNA might represent a new therapeutic strategy for CML blast crisis patients who do not benefit from targeted agents such as imatinib (Gleevec) and dasatinib (Sprycel)," Perrotti says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 2, 2010, 10:13 PM CT

An apple a day?

An apple a day?
A new University of Illinois study touts the benefits of soluble fiberfound in oats, apples, and nuts, for starterssaying that it reduces the inflammation linked to obesity-related diseases and strengthens the immune system.

"Soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cellsthey go from being pro-inflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help us recover faster from infection," said Gregory Freund, a professor in the U of I's College of Medicine and a faculty member in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' Division of Nutritional Sciences.

This happens because soluble fiber causes increased production of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4, he said.

The study will appear in the May 2010 issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity and is available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/08891591.

In the experiment, laboratory mice consumed low-fat diets that were identical except that they contained either soluble or insoluble fiber. After six weeks on the diet, the animals had distinctly different responses when the researchers induced illness by introducing a substance (lipopolysaccharide) that causes the body to mimic a bacterial infection.

"Two hours after lipopolysaccharide injection, the mice fed soluble fiber were only half as sick as the other group, and they recovered 50 percent sooner. And the differences between the groups continued to be pronounced all the way out to 24 hours," said Christina Sherry, who also worked on the study.........

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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