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January 2, 2009, 10:55 AM CT

Getting better results from anxiety treatment

Getting better results from anxiety treatment
A network of emotion-regulating brain regions implicated in the pathological worry that can grip patients with anxiety disorders may also be useful for predicting the benefits of therapy.

A newly released study appearing online Jan. 2 reports that high levels of brain activity in an emotional center called the amygdala reflect patients' hypersensitivity to anticipation of adverse events. At the same time, high activity in a regulatory region known as the anterior cingulate cortex is linked to a positive clinical response to a common antidepressant medication. The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry

For individuals with anxiety disorders, the anticipation of a bad outcome can be worse than the outcome itself, says Jack Nitschke, assistant professor and clinical psychology expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and main author of the newly released study. Some individuals spend so much time worrying about getting into a negative situation or having a panic attack, he says, that the condition becomes debilitating. "In an extreme situation, they might not even leave their home," he says.

To study how the brain responds to anticipation, scientists at the UW-Madison Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as they viewed a set of negative and neutral images. Patients were shown pre-image cues several seconds before each picture so they would know what to expect: a circle before a neutral image and a minus sign before an aversive image.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 2, 2009, 10:26 AM CT

Chronic pancreatitis pain: Relief with antioxidants

Chronic pancreatitis pain: Relief with antioxidants
Antioxidant supplementation was found to be effective in relieving pain and reducing levels of oxidative stress in patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP), reports a newly released study in Gastroenterology CP is a progressive inflammatory disease of the pancreas in which patients experience abdominal pain (in early stage) and diabetes and maldigestion (in late stage). Pain is the major problem in 90 percent of patients with CP and currently, there is no effective medical treatment for pain relief. Gastroenterology is the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.

In this placebo-controlled, double blind trial, 127 patients, ages 30.5+/-10.5, were assigned to placebo or antioxidant groups. After six months, the reduction in the number of painful days/month was significantly higher in the antioxidant group, compared with the placebo group (7.46.8 versus 3.24, respectively). The reduction in the number of analgesic tablets/month was also higher in the antioxidant group (10.511.8 versus 4.45.8, respectively). Furthermore, 32 percent and 13 percent of patients became pain free in the antioxidant and placebo groups, respectively; the beneficial effect of antioxidants on pain relief was noted early at three months.

"Abdominal pain, the predominant symptom in patients with CP, is difficult to treat. The main reason for a largely ineffective medical therapy is that the mechanism of pain in CP is not well understood," said Pramod Kumar Garg, MD, DM, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and main author of the study. "We are encouraged by our findings, as significant improvement was noted with antioxidants in respect to all the parameters of pain in this study. In addition, reduction in pain resulted in fewer man-days lost, thus providing functional employment gain to the patients. The findings should spur further research in this exciting area".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 31, 2008, 7:18 AM CT

Components of grape-seed may control leukemia

Components of grape-seed may control leukemia
An extract from grape seeds forces laboratory leukemia cells to commit cell suicide, as per scientists from the University of Kentucky. They observed that within 24 hours, 76 percent of leukemia cells had died after being exposed to the extract.

The investigators, who report their findings in the January 1, 2009, issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, also teased apart the cell signaling pathway linked to use of grape seed extract that led to cell death, or apoptosis. They observed that the extract activates JNK, a protein that regulates the apoptotic pathway.

While grape seed extract has shown activity in many laboratory cancer cell lines, including skin, breast, colon, lung, stomach and prostate cancers, no one had tested the extract in hematological cancers nor had the precise mechanism for activity been revealed.

"These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grape seed extract into prevention or therapy of hematological malignancies and possibly other cancers," said the study's main author, Xianglin Shi, Ph.D., professor in the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky.

"What everyone seeks is an agent that has an effect on cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and this shows that grape seed extract fits into this category," he said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 30, 2008, 7:13 AM CT

Anti-fungal drug against asthma

Anti-fungal drug against asthma
Some patients with severe asthma who also have allergic sensitivity to certain fungi enjoy great improvements in their quality of life and on other measures after taking an antifungal drug, as per new research from The University of Manchester in England.

The findings were published in the first issue for January of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

"We knew that a number of people with severe asthma are sensitized to several airborne fungi which can worsen asthma without overt clinical signs. The question was: does antifungal treatment provide any clinical benefit," said David Denning, F.R.C.P., F.R.C.Path., professor of medicine and medical mycology at The University of Manchester and lead investigator of the study.

In 2006, the most recent year for which official statistics are available, there were more than 16 million adults with self-reported asthma in the U.S.; about 20 percent of them have severe asthma.

A small number of severe asthmaticsabout one percent are known to have a syndrome called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, an extreme allergy to Aspergillus fumigatus fungus that is linked to the long-term colonization of their respiratory tracts with the fungus. But a number of more 20 to 50 percent are sensitized to a variety of fungi without showing overt clinical signs or demonstrable colonization. It is these patients with severe asthma with fungal sensitization, or "SAFS", as the scientists named the syndrome, who are most likely to enjoy marked improvement with the antifungal treatment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 28, 2008, 11:15 PM CT

What triggers Alzheimer's disease?

What triggers Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's tangles
A slow, chronic starvation of the brain as we age may be a main triggers of a biochemical process that causes some forms of Alzheimer's disease.

A newly released study from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine has found when the brain doesn't get enough sugar glucose -- as might occur when cardiovascular disease restricts blood flow in arteries to the brain -- a process is launched that ultimately produces the sticky clumps of protein that appear to be a cause of Alzheimer's.

Robert Vassar, main author, discovered a key brain protein is altered when the brain has a deficient supply of energy. The altered protein, called elF2alpha, increases the production of an enzyme that, in turn, flips a switch to produce the sticky protein clumps. Vassar worked with human and mice brains in his research.

The study is reported in the December 26 issue of the journal Neuron

"This finding is significant because it suggests that improving blood flow to the brain might be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent or treat Alzheimer's," said Vassar, a professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School.

A simple preventive strategy people can follow to improve blood flow to the brain is getting exercise, reducing cholesterol and managing hypertension.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 28, 2008, 11:12 PM CT

Take care of that childhood anxiety disorder

Take care of that childhood anxiety disorder
Dr. Graham Emslie reports that anxiety disorders in children and adolescents should be recognized and treated to help prevent educational underachievement, substance abuse and mental disorders in adulthood.

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents should be recognized and treated to prevent educational underachievement and adult substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression, says a nationally recognized child psychiatry expert from UT Southwestern Medical Center.

In an editorial appearing in the Dec. 25 issue of New England Journal (NEJM), Dr. Graham Emslie, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UT Southwestern, urges awareness that children need to be treated for anxiety disorders and recommends that related empirical evidence be integrated into therapy guidelines.

"Anxiety disorders may cause children to avoid social situations and age-appropriate developmental milestones," said Dr. Emslie. "Further, the avoidance cycle can lead to less opportunity to develop social skills necessary for success during the later part of life. Treatment would help children learn healthy coping skills".

Up to 20 percent of children and adolescents are affected by persistent and excessive worry that can manifest as generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and social phobia. Research has shown that failure to identify these disorders early leads to educational underachievement and increased rates of anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse during the later part of life.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 28, 2008, 11:05 PM CT

Insights into the X chromosome matchmaking

Insights into the X chromosome matchmaking
A research group lead by researchers at the University of Warwick has discovered the trigger that pulls together X chromosomes in female cells at a crucial stage of embryo development. Their discovery could also provide new insights into how other similar chromosomes spontaneously recognize each other and are bound together at key parts of analogous cell processes. This is an important mechanism as the binding togetgher of too a number of of too few of a particular chromosome can cause many medical conditions such as Down's Syndrome or Turner's Syndrome.

In our cells most genes are expressed from both types of each chromosome linked gene, but the most notable exception to this rule are X-linked genes in female mammals. During embryo development, in a step necessary to survival, one of the X chromosomes is silenced in each female cell to ensure that the levels of X-derived products are equalized in XX females and XY males, via a process known as X-Chromosome Inactivation (XCI). Recent discoveries have revealed that for that stage in the process to happen the X chromosomes have to quickly pair off (or colocalize) in a way that allows each part of those pairs of X chromosomes to be very close together and be aligned in a particular way. Failure to achieve this close physical colocalization of the two X chromosomes will lead to XCI failure and cell death.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 28, 2008, 11:02 PM CT

Cancer drug bortezomib find new uses

Cancer drug bortezomib find new uses
Scientists have discovered a new treatment for transplant patients, targeting the antibody-producing plasma cells that can cause organ rejection.

Results of the study are reported in the Dec. 27, 2008, edition of the journal Transplantation

Steve Woodle, MD, and his colleagues observed that a cancer drug bortezomib used to treat multiple myeloma, or cancer of the plasma cells, is effective in treating rejection episodes caused by antibodies that target transplanted kidneys and reversing rejection episodes that did not respond to standard therapies.

B-lymphocytes, or B cells, play a large role in the humoral immune response by making immune proteins that attack transplanted organs.

"We found a body of literature demonstrating that bortezomib works well in suppressing transplant rejection in the laboratory," says Woodle, main author of the study and chief of transplant surgery at UC. "Moreover, it worked well in models of autoimmune diseases".

T-lymphocytes, or T cells, are white blood cells that were usually thought to cause the rejection of transplanted organs.

Woodle and his team began searching for agents that targeted plasma cells in 2005.

"It has become clear that plasma cells and the antibodies they produce play a bigger role in rejection than previously thought, and the development of therapies targeting these cells has lagged," he says. "We realized that current therapies don't target the plasma cells which may produce the antibody, in general".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 9:46 PM CT

Genes may influence popularity

Genes may influence popularity
S. Alexandra Burt, assistant professor of psychology and behavioral geneticist
A groundbreaking study of popularity by a Michigan State University scientist has observed that genes elicit not only specific behaviors but also the social consequences of those behaviors.

As per the investigation by behavioral geneticist S. Alexandra Burt, male college students who had a gene linked to rule-breaking behavior were rated most popular by a group of previously unacquainted peers.

It's not unusual for adolescent rule-breakers to be well-liked - prior research has made that link - but Burt is the first to provide meaningful evidence for the role of a specific gene in this process. The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

"The idea is that your genes predispose you to certain behaviors and those behaviors elicit different kinds of social reactions from others," said Burt, assistant professor of psychology. "And so what's happening is, your genes are to some extent driving your social experiences".

The concept - which scientists call "evocative gene-environment correlation" - had been discussed in scientific literature but only in theory. This study is the first to really flesh out the process, establishing clear connections between a specific gene, particular behaviors and actual social situations, she said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 9:22 PM CT

Artificial human bone marrow in a test tube

Artificial human bone marrow in a test tube
Artificial bone marrow that can continuously make red and white blood cells has been created in a University of Michigan lab.

This development could lead to simpler pharmaceutical drug testing, closer study of immune system defects and a continuous supply of blood for transfusions.

The substance grows on a 3-D scaffold that mimics the tissues supporting bone marrow in the body, said Nicholas Kotov, a professor in the U-M departments of Chemical Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering; and Biomedical Engineering.

The marrow is not made to be implanted in the body, like most 3-D biomedical scaffolds. It is designed to function in a test tube.

Kotov, principal investigator, is an author of a paper about the research currently published online in the journal Biomaterials Joan Nichols, professor from the University of Texas Medical Branch, collaborated on a number of aspects of the project.

"This is the first successful artificial bone marrow," Kotov said. "It has two of the essential functions of bone marrow. It can replicate blood stem cells and produce B cells. The latter are the key immune cells producing antibodies that are important to fighting a number of diseases".

Blood stem cells give rise to blood as well as several other types of cells. B cells, a type of white blood cell, battle colds, bacterial infections, and other foreign or abnormal cells including some cancers.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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