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July 7, 2010, 6:51 AM CT

Proteins that regulate blood pressure

Proteins that regulate blood pressure
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified key players in a little-known biochemical pathway that appears to regulate blood pressure. The findings, published in the early online version of Cardiovascular Research, have evolved from studies conducted by Jeffrey S. Isenberg, M.D., Eileen M. Bauer, Ph.D., and their colleagues at Pitt's Vascular Medicine Institute.

"Identifying and unraveling this important pathway for blood pressure regulation could lead to a better understanding of who will get hypertension and why, as well as allow us to develop better drugs to treat these patients," Dr. Isenberg said. "Poorly controlled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks and heart failure, stroke and kidney failure".

The pathway he and collaborator David D. Roberts, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), have been exploring involves nitric oxide (NO) signaling. The cells that line blood vessels, called the endothelium, produce NO in a few biochemical steps. NO promotes blood vessel dilation and increases blood flow. On the other hand, endothelial dysfunction, along with loss of NO production, is known to be involved in the development of a number of forms of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:21 AM CT

New tool to rule out coronary heart disease

New tool to rule out coronary heart disease
A simple new rule can help primary care physicians rule out coronary heart disease in patients with chest pain, states a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100212.pdf.

Chest pain is common, yet it is challenging for primary care physicians to reliably identify serious cardiac disease while protecting patients from unnecessary interventions.

The authors developed a clinical decision rule called the Primary Care CHD Score ("Marburg Heart Score") with five predictors that can be easily identified during a patient's visit: age/gender, known clinical vascular disease, pain worse with exercise, patient assumes cardiac origin of pain and pain not reproduced with palpitation.

"The aim of our study was to develop a simple, valid, and usable prediction score based on signs and symptoms to help physicians rule out coronary heart disease (CHD) in chest pain patients presenting in primary care," write Dr. Stefan Bsner, University of Marburg, Marburg, Gera number of and coauthors.

In a related commentary (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100808.pdf, Richard Stevens and Daniel Lasserson of University of Oxford, UK, write "the challenge is correctly identifying and referring the patient with coronary heart disease while minimizing the number of referrals of patients who do not have CHD, to reduce the harm of unnecessary investigation and burden on healthcare resources." The authors suggest this decision rule shows promise for improving the diagnosis of CHD.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:19 AM CT

Kids now see more ads for fast food

Kids now see more ads for fast food
Children saw fewer television advertisements for certain foods, including those for sweets and beverages, in 2007 compared with 2003, as per a report posted online today that will appear in the September print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, children now see more fast-food ads, and racial gaps in exposure to all food advertising have increased.

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report concluded that there was good evidence that television advertising influences the short-term eating habits of children age 2 to 11, and moderate evidence that advertising influences their usual dietary intake, as per background information in the article. In 2006, 10 major U.S. food companies pledged to devote at least half of their child-targeted advertising to healthier products or encouraging good nutrition and healthy lifestyles, an effort called the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. By 2009, 16 companies had signed on. "Given that each company defined their own better-for-you products and also had different definitions of what constituted children's programming, key questions remain," the authors write.

To assess trends in food advertising before and after the initiative, Lisa M. Powell, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago studied television ratings data from Nielsen Media Research for the calendar years 2003, 2005 and 2007.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:18 AM CT

Protein associated with Alzheimer's disease

Protein associated with Alzheimer's disease
Higher concentrations of clusterin, a protein in the blood plasma, may be linked to the development, severity and progression of Alzheimer's disease, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Individuals with Alzheimer's disease display several findings in their blood and cerebrospinal fluid that may reflect neuropathological changes, as per background information in the article. For instance, in cerebrospinal fluid, individuals with Alzheimer's disease have lower levels of amyloid-beta peptides and higher levels of total and phosphorylated tau concentration, which reflect the formation of hallmark plaques and tangles in the brain. Similarly, numerous articles have suggested that levels of certain metabolites and proteins in the plasma might represent responses to brain changes in Alzheimer's disease, but none have been replicated.

Madhav Thambisetty, M.D., Ph.D., of Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and his colleagues used a combined proteomic and neuro-imaging approach to identify plasma proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease pathology. Participants in two studiessome with Alzheimer's disease, some with its precursor mild cognitive impairment and some with no dementiaunderwent standardized clinical evaluations and brain imaging scans. Their blood plasma was then assessed for proteins that appears to be linked to Alzheimer's disease.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:15 AM CT

Revolutionary therapy slows advanced breast cancer

Revolutionary therapy slows advanced breast cancer
A novel treatment designed to attack tumors in patients with a genetic mutation in either BRCA1 or BRCA2, slowed tumor growth in 85 percent of advanced patients with breast cancer treated in a small study, scientists report in the July 6 issue of the Lancet

"That is really an enormous response rate in a population of patients who have received a median of three previous therapies," says co-author of study Susan M. Domchek, MD, associate professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and director of the Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

"This is the first time that we have been able to take the genetic reason a person has developed cancer and make it a target," Domchek says. "Most of the time we look at what is going on in the tumor itself and then figure out how to target it. But in this situation, the women all had an inherited mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and we could exploit that weakness in the tumor. It is a strategy that may cause fewer side effects for patients".

The new agent, called olaparib, inhibits a protein called poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Both PARP and the BRCA proteins are involved in DNA repair. And while cells seem to be able to do without one or the other, inhibiting PARP in a tumor that lacks a BRCA gene is too much for the cells, and causes them to die.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:12 AM CT

About teenage drinking

About teenage drinking
An African study has observed a link between a difficult childhood and alcohol consumption as a teenager. Scientists writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health studied the association between adverse childhood experiences and drunkenness among 9,189 adolescents aged 12-19 years living in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda.

Dr. Caroline Kabiru and a team of researcher from the African Population and Health Research Center , Nairobi, Kenya conducted the study. They noted, "Overall, 9% of adolescents reported that they had been drunk in the 12 months preceding the survey. In general, respondents who had lived in a food-insecure household, lived with a problem drinker, been physically abused, or been coerced into having sex were more likely to report drunkenness".

There has previously been little research into the determinants of alcohol use among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers' work is supported by similar studies in other parts of the world, which also draw a link between adverse childhood experiences and future drinking. Speaking about the findings, Dr. Kabiru said, "Early therapy for traumatic childhood experiences appears to be an essential component of interventions designed to prevent alcohol abuse among adolescents".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:11 AM CT

Virtual food in eating disorders

Virtual food in eating disorders
This is the VR environment used in the experiment.

Credit: Gorini et al., Annals of General Psychiatry

Food presented in a virtual reality (VR) environment causes the same emotional responses as real food. Scientists writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Annals of General Psychiatry compared the responses of people with anorexia and bulimia, and a control group, to the virtual and real-life snacks, suggesting that virtual food can be used for the assessment and therapy of eating disorders.

Alessandra Gorini from the Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy, worked with an international team of scientists to compare the effects of the exposure to real food, virtual food and photographs of food in a sample of patients affected by eating disorders. She said, "Though preliminary, our data show that virtual stimuli are as effective as real ones, and more effective than static pictures, in generating emotional responses in eating disorder patients".

The 10 anorexic, 10 bulimic and 10 control participants, all women, were initially shown a series of 6 real high-calorie foods placed on a table in front of them. Their heart rate and skin conductance, as well as their psychological stress were measured during the exposure. This process was then repeated with a slideshow of the same foods, and a VR trip into a computer-generated diner where they could interact with the virtual version of the same 6 items. The participants' level of stress was statistically identical whether in virtual reality or real exposure.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:08 AM CT

Advances in chemotherapy of ovarian patients

Advances in chemotherapy of ovarian patients
Investigators at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have discovered a way that may help ovary cancer patients who no longer respond to conventional chemotherapy.

A scientific paper that would be reported in the recent issue of the journal Gynecologic Oncology describes how the inhibition of a protein, CHEK1, appears to be an effective element to incorporate into therapies for women with ovary cancer.

The research led by TGen's Dr. David Azorsa, a Senior Investigator, and Dr. Shilpi Arora, a Staff Scientist, observed that inhibiting CHEK1 by a small molecule known as PD 407824, enabled ovary cancer cells to be attacked again by cisplatin, a widely used platinum-based chemotherapy drug for women with ovary cancer.

"PD 407824 is only available for laboratory research, but other drugs inhibiting CHEK1 are already used to treat patients in the clinic," said Dr. Raoul Tibes, one of the paper's senior a co-authors and an Associate Investigator in TGen's Clinical Translational Research Division.

The prognosis remains poor for patients with ovary cancer, which kills nearly 14,600 women in the U.S. annually. The standard therapy for cancer of the ovaries, which produce human egg cells, is surgical removal of the cancer, followed by chemotherapy.........

Posted by: Joslyn      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:06 AM CT

Music for stroke rehabilitation

Music for stroke rehabilitation
Music treatment provided by trained music therapists may help to improve movement in stroke patients, as per a new Cochrane Systematic Review. A few small trials also suggest a wider role for music in recovery from brain injury.

More than 20 million people suffer strokes each year. A number of patients acquire brain injuries that affect their movement and language abilities, which results in significant loss of quality of life. Music therapists are trained in techniques that stimulate brain functions and aim to improve outcomes for patients. One common technique is rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS), which relies on the connections between rhythm and movement. Music of a particular tempo is used to stimulate movement in the patient.

Seven small studies, which together involved 184 people, were included in the review. Four focused specifically on stroke patients, with three of these using RAS as the therapy technique. RAS treatment improved walking speed by an average of 14 metres per minute in comparison to standard movement treatment, and helped patients take longer steps. In one trial, RAS also improved arm movements, as measured by elbow extension angle.

"This review shows encouraging results for the effects of music treatment in stroke patients," said lead researcher Joke Bradt of the Arts and Quality of Life Research Center at Temple University in Philadelphia, US. "As most of the studies we looked at used rhythm-based methods, we suggest that rhythm appears to be a primary factor in music treatment approaches to treating stroke."........

Posted by: Jennifer      Read more         Source


July 2, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

DNA mutation as cause of cancer

DNA mutation as cause of cancer
What if we could understand why cancer develops? We know that certain risk factors, such as smoking or excessive sun exposure, can increase the chances of developing this terrible disease, but cancer can form in any tissue, and the cause is not always clear. One idea that has emerged is that for a cell to transform into a cancer cell it must suffer a large number of mutations affecting different genes needed to control cell growth. As per a research findings published this week in Science, Brandeis University scientists have observed that the process of repairing DNA damage also unexpectedly increases the rate of mutations and changes the kinds of mutations that arise.

Surprisingly, as cells progress toward full-blown cancer they begin to suffer alterations of the normal DNA replication process, leading to an increased amount of DNA damage, particularly chromosome breaks. Thus there is an increased need for cells to accurately repair these breaks.

Biologist James Haber, graduate student Wade Hicks and undergraduate Minlee Kim report that the repair of damaged strands of DNA, specifically by a process known as gene conversion, can cause higher-than-normal levels of mutation; in fact, 1,400 times as high as spontaneous mutations in cells.

"It has been hard to imagine how cells could accumulate so a number of mutations in the few generations that they undergo cell division on the way to becoming malignant," Haber said. "We believe that the elevated rate of mutation at sites where DNA has been broken appears to be an important source of these gene changes." .........

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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