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April 30, 2009, 5:18 AM CT

Magnetic stimulation therapy for migraine

Magnetic stimulation therapy for migraine
A new UCSF study examining the mechanism of a novel treatment that uses magnetic pulses to treat chronic migraine sufferers showed the therapy to be a promising alternative to medication.

The treatment is called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. Study findings were presented today (April 29, 2009) during the annual American Academy of Neurology scientific meeting in Seattle.

In a prior randomized controlled clinical study by Ohio State University Medical Center, TMS was used to treat patients who suffer from migraine with aura, a condition in which a variety of mostly visual sensations come before or accompany the pain of a migraine attack. The study showed that TMS therapy was superior to the placebo given to the control group. Patients were pain-free at follow-up intervals of 2, 24 and 48 hours.

In the newly released study, conducted in rats, UCSF scientists focused on understanding the mechanism of action of TMS treatment -- how the therapy interacted with the brain to produce the pain-free outcomes of patients in the prior study.

The UCSF research identified potential opportunities to enhance therapy strategies in patients. One example, the study team noted, was that factors such as time and peak intensity of stimulation appears to be important components in the brain's response to TMS.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 30, 2009, 5:14 AM CT

Tiny differences in our genes make the big picture

Tiny differences in our genes make the big picture
By examining very small differences in people's genes, researchers from Cornell University have developed a new tool for identifying big events in human history and pinpointing the origins of specific gene mutations. This research, reported in the recent issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), helps shed light on times when the human population moved close to extinction and helps researchers close in on gene mutations that make some demographic groups more likely to develop diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, among others.

"We know that a number of diseases are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors," said Kirk E. Lohmueller, one of the scientists involved in the work from Cornell University. "To find the genes that contribute to disease, it's very helpful to know the demographic history of the population being studied. Accurate estimates of population events help inform the search for mutations that might have been helpful and necessary for survival at the time, but no longer necessary and potentially harmful today".

In their work, Lohmueller and his colleagues confirmed the existence of a major decline in European populations (called a "bottleneck") 32,500-47,500 years ago. They used computer simulations to model the expected correlation among segments of DNA containing very small genetic mutations that only involve a single letter of the genetic code (called "single nucleotide polymorphisms" or SNPs). Previous to this development, methods used to identify major population events relied on the frequency patterns of individual SNPs, while ignoring the patterns of specific groups of SNPs. This work shows that looking at groups of SNPs helps us better understand what happened long before there was a human historical record.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 30, 2009, 5:09 AM CT

Folic acid may help treat allergies, asthma

Folic acid may help treat allergies, asthma
Folic acid, or vitamin B9, essential for red blood cell health and long known to reduce the risk of spinal birth defects, may also suppress allergic reactions and lessen the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms, as per new research from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

In what is thought to bethe first study in humans examining the link between blood levels of folate the naturally occurring form of folic acid and allergies, the Hopkins researchers say results add to mounting evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation. Recent studies, including research from Hopkins, have found a link between folate levels and inflammation-mediated diseases, including heart disease. A report on the Hopkins Children's findings appears online ahead of print in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology

Cautioning that it's far too soon to recommend folic acid supplements to prevent or treat people with asthma and allergies, the scientists emphasize that more research needs to be done to confirm their results, and to establish safe doses and risks.

Reviewing the medical records of more than 8,000 people ages 2 to 85 the researchers tracked the effect of folate levels on respiratory and allergic symptoms and on levels of IgE antibodies, immune system markers that rise in response to an allergen. People with higher blood levels of folate had fewer IgE antibodies, fewer reported allergies, less wheezing and lower likelihood of asthma, scientists report.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:29 AM CT

Accumulation of visceral fat and depression

Accumulation of visceral fat and depression
Numerous studies have shown that depression is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but exactly how has never been clear.

Now, scientists at Rush University Medical Center have shown that depression is linked with the accumulation of visceral fat, the kind of fat packed between internal organs at the waistline, which has long been known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The study is posted online and would be reported in the recent issue of Psychosomatic Medicine

"Our results suggest that central adiposity which is usually called belly fat is an important pathway by which depression contributes to the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes," said Lynda Powell, PhD, chairperson of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush and the study's principal investigator. "In our study, depressive symptoms were clearly correlation to deposits of visceral fat, which is the type of fat involved in disease".

The study included 409 middle-aged women, about half African-American and half Caucasian, who were participating in the Women in the South Side Health Project (WISH) in Chicago, a longitudinal study of the menopausal transition. Depressive symptoms were assessed using a common screening test, and visceral fat measured with a Computerized axial tomography scan. Eventhough waist size is often used as a proxy for the amount of visceral fat, it is an inaccurate measure because it includes subcutaneous fat, or fat deposited just beneath the skin.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:23 AM CT

New gene variant for autism

New gene variant for autism
UCLA scientists, in partnership with 30 research institutions across the country, have identified a new gene variant that is highly common in autistic children. And when scientists scrutinized the activity of the gene, known as CDH10, in the fetal brain, they discovered that it is most active in key regions that support language, speech and interpreting social behavior.

Published April 28 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature, the two findings suggest that CDH10 plays a critical role in shaping the developing brain and may contribute to a prenatal risk of autism.

A variant is a gene that has undergone subtle changes from the normal DNA yet is shared by a significant portion of the population.

"While this gene variant is common in the general population, we discovered that it occurs about 20 percent more often in children with autism," said study author Dr. Daniel Geschwind, director of the UCLA Center for Autism Treatment and Research. "A major change like this in the genetic code is too common to be a simple mutation it is a risk factor in the origin of the disease."

Using the largest population sample to date, the researchers systematically scanned the DNA of 3,100 individuals from 780 families nationwide. Each family had at least two autistic children.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:22 AM CT

Dairy better for bones than calcium

Dairy better for bones than calcium
A Purdue University study shows dairy has an advantage over calcium carbonate in promoting bone growth and strength.

Connie Weaver, distinguished professor and head of the food and nutrition department, observed that the bones of rats fed nonfat dry milk were longer, wider, more dense and stronger than those of rats fed a diet with calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is the most common form of calcium used in calcium-fortified foods and supplements.

Weaver said the study, funded by the National Dairy Council, is the first direct comparison of bone properties between calcium from supplements and milk. It would be reported in the August print issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and is online at http://www.jbmronline.org/.

"A lot of companies say, 'If you don't drink milk, then take our calcium pills or calcium-fortified food,'" Weaver said. "There's been no study designed properly to compare bone growth from supplements and milk or dairy to see if it has the same effect".

Data from Purdue's Camp Calcium, a research effort that studies how calcium and other nutrients affect bone growth, show that between the ages of 9 and 18 people require 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day for optimal bone growth. This is the equivalent of about 4 cups of milk or yogurt or the equivalent from cheese or other sources, Weaver said. After the age of 9, due mostly to peer pressure, the gap between the calcium youths need and actually get widens, she said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:09 AM CT

Treating Skin Cancer without the Knife

Treating Skin Cancer without the Knife
In a case study of a type of melanoma skin cancer typically found on chronically sun-exposed skin, Saint Louis University scientists observed that imiquimod, a topical cream, produced good results for patients when used together with surgery to treat the cancer, potentially helping doctors cut less.

The study, published in Dermatologic Surgery, looked at two cases of the most common type of melanoma of the head and neck, lentigo maligna (LM), a type of "melanoma-in- situ", the earliest stage of melanoma. This early form, known as LM, precedes the more invasive form, lentigo maligna melanoma (LMM), and the progression of LM to LMM typically occurs after 10 to 15 years. Though surgical removal of LM is most often used to treat the non-invasive form of the cancer, it can have high local recurrence rates.

In two patients who had both LM and LMM, researchers used imiquimod in conjunction with surgery. In both patients, surgery was first done to remove the area of known invasive disease, followed by the topical cream to the outer area of LM. This approach was chosen with patients who did not want extensive surgery due to the large size of the melanoma on their scalp and face. These cases, along with other recent studies, suggest that imiquimod may help to reduce the area needing surgery, manage the LM and hopefully minimize its recurrence.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:02 AM CT

Preventing migraine

Preventing migraine
When migraine strikes, because of severe pain, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound, sufferers are effectively disabled for up to 72 hours. Since they are forced to stop what they are doing until the pain and other symptoms subside, migraine causes a significant loss in productivity at work and the personal lives of those affected. Migraineurs particularly the 25% of migraineurs who experience more than three migraine attacks per month are looking to drug developers to provide new drugs to prevent migraine attacks before they start. In the U.S. alone, approximately 30 million people suffer from migraines and the cost to employers has been estimated at $13 billion annually in lost productivity. Currently, several types of drugs, like generic beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants and anti-epileptic drugs, some of which are used off-label, are given to prevent migraines. However, a number of patients have only a partial response to these products, a number of of which have troubling side effects. Nevertheless, a number of migraine patients use existing drugs, illustrating how badly new drugs are needed.

Given the role of glutamate in the pathophysiology of migraine, the future of migraine prophylaxis, may lie in modulating one of the receptors in the glutamate system, mGluR5.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 29, 2009, 5:00 AM CT

Stroke predictors in black patients

Stroke predictors in black patients
Predictors of atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) might offer physicians a better way to prevent stroke in blacks, as per a newly released study done by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

AF is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that usually causes poor blood flow to the body, as well as symptoms of heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Despite low reported prevalence of AF a main risk factors for stroke in black patients, they suffer strokes five times more often than white patients and die from them two times more often.

That paradox might result from limitations in the methods (electrocardiograms (ECG) or self-report) used to detect AF, said Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., M.Sc. M.S., associate director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center (EPICARE) at the School of Medicine and main author of the study.

"The limitations stem from the fact that AF is intermittent in at least 30 percent of patients, and most patients are not aware if they have AF or not," Soliman said. "Trying to detect AF using an ECG, or simply counting on patients to know if they have it, leads to under-diagnosis of the condition most of the time. Our research suggests that being proactive in predicting it appears to be a better approach".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 28, 2009, 5:23 AM CT

Novel role of protein in generating amyloid-beta peptide

Novel role of protein in generating amyloid-beta peptide
A defining hallmark of Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of the amyloid β protein (Aβ), otherwise known as "senile plaques," in the brain's cortex and hippocampus, where memory consolidation occurs. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a novel protein which, when over-expressed, leads to a dramatic increase in the generation of Aβ. Their findings, which indicate a potential new target to block the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain, would be reported in the May 1 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry

"The role of the multi-domain protein, RANBP9, suggests a possible new therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease," said David E. Kang, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego and director of this study.

The neurotoxic protein Aβ is derived when the amyloid precursor protein (APP) is "cut" by two enzymes, β-secretase (or BACE) and γ-secretase (or Presenilin complex.) However, inhibiting these enzymes in order to stop the amyloid cascade has a number of negative side effects, as these enzymes also have various beneficial uses in brain cells. So the scientists looked for an alternative way to block the production of amyloid beta.

In order for cleavage to occur, the APP needs to travel to cholesterol-enriched sites within the cell membrane called RAFTS, where APP interacts with the two enzymes. It is this contact that the scientists sought to block.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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