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June 17, 2010, 7:10 AM CT

Remission during pregnancy?

Remission during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a number of women experience remission of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and uveitis. Now, researchers have described a biological mechanism responsible for changes in the immune system that helps to explain the remission.

The expression of an enzyme known as pyruvate kinase is reduced in immune cells in pregnant women in comparison to non-pregnant women, as per Howard R. Petty, Ph.D., biophysicist at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center and Roberto Romero, M.D., of the National Institutes for Health.

The study, which appears online ahead of print in the recent issue of the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, also reports that expression of the enzyme is lower in pregnant women in comparison to those with pre-eclampsia, a condition with inflammatory components.

The study is significant because the newly discovered mechanism points to a pathway that could be targeted for therapy. "It appears to be possible to design drugs that mildly suppress pyruvate kinase activity as a means of replicating the immune status of normal pregnancy," says Petty.

In addition to pre-eclampsia, he believes that rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and uveitis may eventually yield to similarly designed drugs.

In his search to explain the phenomenon, Petty knew to look for a metabolic pathway or mechanism with two characteristics. It had to "dial down" the intensity of the normal immune response, an action needed so that a pregnant woman does not reject the fetus, which has proteins from the father that are "foreign" to the mother. At the same time, such a mechanism must support cell growth needed by the developing fetus.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 16, 2010, 7:26 AM CT

Mediterranean-style diet improves heart function

Mediterranean-style diet improves heart function
A study of twins shows that even with genes that put them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, eating a Mediterranean-style diet can improve heart function, as per research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

Using data from the Emory Twins Heart Study, scientists observed that men eating a Mediterranean-style diet had greater heart rate variability (HRV) than those eating a Western-type diet. Heart rate variability refers to variation in the time interval between heart beats during everyday life - reduced HRV is a risk factor for coronary artery disease and sudden death.

"This means that the autonomic system controlling someone's heart rate works better in people who eat a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet," said Jun Dai, M.D., Ph.D., study author and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet - one characterized by low saturated fats and high in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, cereals and moderate alcohol consumption - reduces a person's heart disease risk. But until now, the way the diet helps reduce the risk of coronary disease remains unknown.

Dai and her colleagues analyzed dietary data obtained from a food frequency questionnaire and cardiac data results from 276 identical and fraternal male twins. They scored each participant on how closely his food intake correlated with the Mediterranean diet; the higher the score, the greater the similarity to a Mediterranean-style diet.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 16, 2010, 7:22 AM CT

Personalized treatment for melanoma

Personalized treatment for melanoma
Identification of a key player in a signaling pathway involved in the development of melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer may offer hope for new targeted melanoma therapies.

Ann Richmond, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center report that a signaling molecule, known as IKKβ, is essential for melanoma tumor development in a mouse model of the disease. The results, published June 7 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, also point to ways of targeting therapies that inhibit IKKβ toward the patients most likely to benefit from them based on their genetic profile.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and incredibly difficult to treat successfully once the tumor has spread beyond the skin.

Previous studies have shown that the NF-κB signaling pathway centered on the protein NF-κB, which regulates gene expression is abnormally activated in tumor cells; the pathway is turned "on" constantly, even at times it should be turned "off." This activation often results from abnormal activation of another enzyme in the pathway, IKKβ.

Just how NF-κB contributes to tumor progression has been unclear. And with drugs that inhibit this pathway entering clinical trials, a clearer picture of its function in tumor progression is needed.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 16, 2010, 7:21 AM CT

Linking diabetes and cancer

Linking diabetes and cancer
A new consensus statement of experts assembled by the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society reviews emerging evidence that suggests cancer incidence is linked to diabetes as well as certain diabetes risk factors and therapys. The new report reviews the state of science concerning the association between diabetes and cancer incidence/prognosis; risk factors common to both diseases; possible biologic links between diabetes and cancer risk; and whether diabetes therapys influence the risk of cancer or cancer prognosis. In addition, the report outlines key unanswered questions for future research.

Diabetes and cancer are common diseases that have a tremendous impact on health worldwide. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that people with diabetes are at a significantly higher risk of a number of forms of cancer. Type 2 diabetes and cancer share a number of risk factors, but potential biologic links between the two diseases are not completely understood. Moreover, evidence from findings based on observation suggests that some medications used to treat hyperglycemia are linked to either an increased or reduced risk of cancer. Against this backdrop, the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society convened a consensus development conference in December 2009. After a series of scientific presentations by experts in the field, the writing group independently developed a consensus report to address important questions: Is there a meaningful association between diabetes and cancer incidence or prognosis? What risk factors are common to both cancer and diabetes? What are possible biologic links between diabetes and cancer risk? And do diabetes therapys influence cancer risk or cancer prognosis?.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 16, 2010, 7:20 AM CT

Alcohol effect on fetal development

Alcohol effect on fetal development
It's long been known that alcohol use in pregnancy can lead to children with mental retardation and birth defects, but scientists who study fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) have not made definitive progress on preventing the disorder, detecting it early, or effectively treating it, say scientists from Georgetown University Medical Center.

In the issue of Developmental Neuroscience, four first-year medical students at Georgetown University School of Medicine looked into the science and clinical therapy of FAS, and observed that eventhough there is much ongoing study, no new medical strategies exist to change the grim outcome that can occur when a fetus is exposed to alcohol.

"Eventhough there is a lot of research in the field to determine how alcohol acts on the developing brain, there is not much translation into the clinic," says Sahar Ismail, now a second year medical student. "What surprised us the most was the lack of sensitive and specific diagnostic tools to identify children with FAS, given its prevalence and harmful effects on the child, family, and society."

Working with her on the study were medical students Stephanie Buckley, Ross Budacki, and Ahmad Jabbar each student contributed equally. Their study was a project for the Sexual Development and Reproduction Module under directorship of G. Ian Gallicano, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 16, 2010, 7:19 AM CT

How does that taste to you?

How does that taste to you?
Low-salt foods appears to be harder for some people to like than others, as per a research studyby a Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences food scientist. The research indicates that genetics influence some of the difference in the levels of salt we like to eat.

Those conclusions are important because recent, well-publicized efforts to reduce the salt content in food have left a number of people struggling to accept fare that simply does not taste as good to them as it does to others, pointed out John Hayes, assistant professor of food science, who was lead investigator on the study.

Diets high in salt can increase the risk of hypertension and stroke. That is why public health experts and food companies are working together on ways to help consumers lower salt intake through foods that are enjoyable to eat. This study increases understanding of salt preference and consumption.

The research involved 87 carefully screened participants who sampled salty foods such as broth, chips and pretzels, on multiple occasions, spread out over weeks. Test subjects were 45 men and 42 women, reportedly healthy, ranging in age from 20 to 40 years. The sample was composed of individuals who were not actively modifying their dietary intake and did not smoke cigarettes. They rated the intensity of taste on a usually used scientific scale, ranging from barely detectable to strongest sensation of any kind.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 14, 2010, 10:27 PM CT

Turning a painkiller into a cancer killer

Turning a painkiller into a cancer killer
Sulindac
Without knowing exactly why, researchers have long found that people who regularly take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin have lower incidences of certain types of cancer. Now, in a study appearing in Cancer Cell on June 15, researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) and their colleagues have figured out how one NSAID, called Sulindac, inhibits tumor growth. The study reveals that Sulindac shuts down cancer cell growth and initiates cell death by binding to nuclear receptor RXRα, a protein that receives a signal and carries it into the nucleus to turn genes on or off.

"Nuclear receptors are excellent targets for drug development," explained Xiao-kun Zhang, Ph.D., professor at Sanford-Burnham and senior author of the study. "Thirteen percent of existing drugs target nuclear receptors, even though the mechanism of action is not always clear".

RXRα normally suppresses tumors, but a number of types of cancer cells produce a truncated form of this nuclear receptor that does just the opposite. This study showed that shortened RXRα enhances tumor growth by stimulating other proteins that help cancer cells survive. Luckily, the scientists also observed that Sulindac can be used to combat this deviant RXRα by switching off its pro-survival function and turning on apoptosis, a process that tells cells to self-destruct.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 14, 2010, 10:22 PM CT

link between IVF treatments and autism?

link between IVF treatments and autism?
The first "test tube baby" was born in 1978. With advances in reproductive science, an estimated one percent of all American babies are now born each year through in vitro fertilization (IVF). But IVF and other assisted fertility therapys appears to be solving one problem by creating another, suggests new evidence from Tel Aviv University.

In a recent study, Dr. Ditza Zachor of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine reported a strong link between IVF and mild to moderate cases of autism. Her findings were presented last month at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia.

As per her research at the Autism Center at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel, which Dr. Zachor directs, 10.5% of 461 children diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum were conceived using IVF, a significantly higher number than the 3.5% autism rate in the general Israeli population.

Other factors in play

While the study doesn't draw any definitive conclusions, it presents some urgent questions, says Dr. Zachor. "It's too early to make a serious deduction based on that evidence alone," she says, citing other birth-related factors in her study, such as low birth rate and prematurity. Dr. Zachor's ongoing research will attempt to separate out these risk factors to come up with more precise numbers for autism and other prenatal conditions in IVF.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 14, 2010, 10:13 PM CT

Apple juice improves behavior in Alzheimer's patients

Apple juice improves behavior in Alzheimer's patients
Apple juice can be a useful supplement for calming the declining moods that are part of the normal progression of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's Disease (AD), as per a research studyin American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias (AJADD), published by SAGE.

In the AJADD study, after institutionalized AD patients consumed two 4-oz glasses of apple juice a day for a month, their caregivers reported no change in the patients' Dementia Rating Scale or their day-to-day abilities. What did change, however, was the behavioral and psychotic symptoms linked to their dementia (as quantified by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory), with approximately 27% improvement, mostly in the areas correlation to anxiety, agitation, and delusion.

Typically alzheimer's disease is characterized by a progressive loss of memory, decline in cognitive function, behavioral changes, and the loss in ability to do daily activities, all of which causes a significant caregiver burden and increased health care costs. While pharmacological therapys can provide temporary reduction in AD symptoms, they're costly and cannot prevent the ultimate decline in cognitive and behavioral function. That's why the authors considered it important to discover any possible nutritional interventions.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 14, 2010, 10:11 PM CT

Predicting success with cancer drugs

Predicting success with cancer drugs
Scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare have discovered a biomarker that could help in the therapy of patients with an aggressive type of lung cancer.

Using a particular biomarker, scientists might better predict which patients with small cell lung cancer are resistant to existing drug therapies, and which ones could benefit from new therapies tailored to their specific needs, as per a scientific paper published recently in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

"There is a need for predictive biomarkers that can aid researchers in designing future clinical trials, to help identify therapys that might be effective for these patients who most likely will be resistance to existing drug therapies, " said Dr. Glen J. Weiss, the paper's senior author and Director of Thoracic Oncology at TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare. TCRS is a partnership between TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare that helps bring new therapies quickly to patients at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center in Scottsdale.

Nearly 220,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with lung cancer, which is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., annually killing nearly 160,000 patients.........

Posted by: Scott      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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