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February 2, 2009, 6:21 AM CT

Promise for improved breast cancer treatment

Promise for improved breast cancer treatment
As per a research findings published by Nature Biotechnology online on February 1, 2009, Mount Sinai Hospital scientists have unveiled a new technology tool that analyzes breast cancer tumours to determine a patient's best therapy options. The tool can predict with more than 80 per cent accuracy a patient's chance of recovering from breast cancer.

"Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women," said Dr. Jeff Wrana, Senior Investigator and the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, and an International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Our hope with this technology is to eventually provide individualized analysis to patients with breast cancer and their oncologists so that they are better informed and empowered to select a therapy best suited to them."

The technology, called 'DyNeMo' analyzes networks of proteins in cancer cells. Analysis of more than 350 patients observed that those who survive breast cancer have a different organization of the network of proteins within the tumour cells, compared with patients who succumbed to the illness. DyNeMo can be used to predict the outcome in a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient and then assist clinicians and patients in making informed decisions on therapy. The study was led by the Mount Sinai Hospital team and co-authored by scientists at the University of Toronto and London, England's The Institute for Cancer Research.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Genetic link between sleep disorders and depression

Genetic link between sleep disorders and depression
A study in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP was the first to use twin data to examine the longitudinal link between sleep problems and depression. Results of this study demonstrate that sleep problems predict later depression; the converse association was not found. These findings are consistent with the theory that early therapy of sleep problems may protect children from the development of depression.

Results of the study indicate that the stability of sleep problems across time is mainly caused by genetic factors (46 percent of the genetic influences on sleep at age 10 were the same as those that influenced a child at age 8). The stability of depression is mainly caused by non-shared environmental influences (19 percent of the non-shared environmental influence on depression at age 10 remained the same from the age of eight).

As per main author Alice M. Gregory, senior lecturer in the department of psychology at Goldsmiths College in London, the most surprising result of the study concerned the reasons why there appears to be links between sleep problems and depression at different points in a young person's life.

"We reported in a study previously, that genes were the most important factor in explaining the association between sleep problems and depression in eight year olds," said Gregory. "However, when we examined this issue at age 10, we observed that genes were less important in explaining the association and that environmental influences had become more important. This could be because environmental experiences are becoming more relevant as children grow older and could therefore play a role in both sleep problems and depression".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:16 AM CT

Parkinson's disease genes and manganese poisoning

Parkinson's disease genes and manganese poisoning
The Yeast PARK9 protein (Ypk9) is localized to the vacuole membrane. Shown are yeast cells expressing Ypk9 fused to the green fluorescent protein.

Credit: Alessandra Chesi, Ph.D., and Aaron Gitler, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
A correlation between genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson's disease has been discovered by a research team led by Aaron D. Gitler, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Gitler and his colleagues found a genetic interaction between two Parkinson's disease genes (alpha-synuclein and PARK9) and determined that the PARK9 protein can protect cells from manganese poisoning, which is an environmental risk factor for a Parkinson's disease-like syndrome. The findings appear online this week in Nature Genetics

Manganism, or manganese poisoning, is prevalent in such occupations as mining, welding, and steel manufacturing. It is caused by exposure to excessive levels of the metal manganese, which attacks the central nervous system, producing motor and dementia symptoms that resemble Parkinson's disease.

In Parkinson's patients, the alpha-synuclein protein normally found in the brain misfolds, forming clumps. Yeast cells, the model system in which Gitler studies disease proteins, also form clumps and die when this protein is expressed at high levels. These are the same yeast cells that bakers and brewers use to make bread, beer, and wine.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gitler and his colleagues started looking for genes that could prevent the cell death caused by mis-folded alpha-synuclein in yeast. Eventually they found a few genes to test in animal models and some were able to protect neurons from the toxic effects of alpha-synuclein. "One of the genes that we found was a previously uncharacterized yeast gene called YOR291W. No one knew what it did back in 2006," he recalls.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:10 AM CT

Drug improves learning and memory

Drug improves learning and memory
WASHINGTON A team of Arizona psychology experts, geneticists and neuroresearchers has reported that a safe and effective drug used to treat vascular problems in the brain has improved spatial learning and working memory in middle-aged rats. Eventhough far from proving anything about human use of the drug, the finding supports the scientific quest for a substance that could treat progressive cognitive impairment, cushion the cognitive impact of normal aging, or even enhance learning and memory throughout the life span.

The finding appears in the recent issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association. The drug in question, Fasudil, has been used for more than 10 years to treat vascular problems in the brain, often helping with recovery from stroke.

In this study, the scientists injected hydroxyfasudil, the active form of Fasudil, into middle-aged (17-18 months old) male rats daily starting four days before behavioral testing and continuing throughout testing. Injection made it easy to give the drug to rats, but people take it in pill form.

Rats were tested on the water radial-arm maze, which assessed how well they remembered which of the radiating arms had a reward, a sign of accurate spatial learning and working memory. Rats given a high dose (0.3750 mg per kg of weight) of hydroxyfasudil successfully remembered more items of information than those given a low dose (0.1875 mg per kg). Both dosed groups performed significantly better than control-group rats given saline solution. On this same test, the high-dose group showed the best learning (fewest total errors) and best working memory (measured two different ways).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:07 AM CT

Tumor vessel leakiness and chemotherapy outcome

Tumor vessel leakiness and chemotherapy outcome
Chemotherapy is an integral part of modern cancer therapy, but it's not always effective. Successful chemotherapy depends on the ability of anticancer drugs to escape from the bloodstream through the leaky blood vessels that often surround tumors.

Predicting chemotherapy's efficacy could save thousands of individuals from unnecessary toxicity and the often difficult side effects of the therapys.

As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of the journal Radiology, scientists describe a technique for determining the "leakiness" of tumor blood vessels using a simple digital mammography unit. The scientists designed nanometer-sized capsules containing a contrast agent that could only leak into tumors with blood vessels that were growing and therefore leaky. The digital mammography-based quantification of "leakiness" is closely corcorrelation to the ability of a clinically approved chemotherapy agent to enter the tumor, allowing the scientists to predict the agent's therapeutic efficacy.

"We developed a quantitative way to measure the leakiness of the blood vessels, which is directly associated with the amount of drug that gets to the cancer and in turn determines effectiveness," said Ravi Bellamkonda, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "By simply measuring how much contrast agent reaches the tumor, we can predict how much of a clinically approved chemotherapeutic will reach the tumor, allowing physicians to personalize the dose and predict effectiveness".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:05 AM CT

Nanospheres penetrate melanoma

Nanospheres penetrate melanoma
Chun Li, Ph.D. is a professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Experimental Diagnostic Imaging.
Hollow gold nanospheres equipped with a targeting peptide find melanoma cells, penetrate them deeply, and then cook the tumor when bathed with near-infrared light, a research team led by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center published in the Feb. 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research

"Active targeting of nanoparticles to tumors is the holy grail of therapeutic nanotechnology for cancer. We're getting closer to that goal," said senior author Chun Li, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Experimental Diagnostic Imaging. When heated with lasers, the actively targeted hollow gold nanospheres did eight times more damage to melanoma tumors in mice than did the same nanospheres that gathered less directly in the tumors.

Lab and mouse model experiments demonstrated the first in vivo active targeting of gold nanostructures to tumors in conjunction with photothermal ablation - a minimally invasive therapy that uses heat generated through absorption of light to destroy target tissue. Tumors are burned with near-infrared light, which penetrates deeper into tissue than visible or ultraviolet light.

Photothermal ablation is used to treat some cancers by embedding optical fibers inside tumors to deliver near-infrared light. Its efficiency can be greatly improved when a light-absorbing material is applied to the tumor, Li said. Photothermal ablation has been explored for melanoma, but because it also hits healthy tissue, dose duration and volume have been limited.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


January 30, 2009, 6:31 AM CT

Tom Cruise smile comes with a price

Tom Cruise smile comes with a price
This is a person receiving a UV light-assisted tooth bleaching treatment.

Credit: Ellen Bruzell, Nordic Institute of Dental Materials

UV light-enhanced tooth bleaching is not only a con, but is dangerous to your eyes and skin, says a Royal Society of Chemistry journal.

The light therapy gives absolutely no benefit over bleaching without UV, and damages skin and eyes up to four times as much as sunbathing, reports a study in Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences

Those looking to match Tom Cruise's glittering pearly-whites would be better off ignoring claims of better bleaching with UV light therapy.

The therapy is at least as damaging to skin and eyes as sunbathing in Hyde Park for a midsummer's afternoon one lamp actually gave four times that level of radiation exposure.

And as with sunbathing, fair-skinned or light-sensitive people are at even greater risk, said main author Ellen Bruzell of the Nordic Institute of Dental Materials.

Bruzell also observed that bleaching damaged teeth. She saw more exposed grooves on the enamel surface of bleached teeth than on unbleached teeth. These grooves make the teeth more vulnerable to mechanical stress.

Tooth bleaching is one of the most popular cosmetic dental therapys available. It uses a bleaching agent commonly hydrogen peroxide to remove stains such as those from red wine, tea and coffee, and smoking.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 30, 2009, 6:29 AM CT

Avoiding hitting the snooze button

Avoiding hitting the snooze button
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have discovered a new part of the mechanism which allows our bodyclocks to reset themselves on a molecular level.

Circadian clocks regulate the daily fluctuations of a number of physiological and behavioural aspects in life, and are synchronised with our surrounding environment via light or temperature cycles. Natural changes in the length of the day mean that an animal's circadian clock often has to reset itself on a molecular level, to avoid getting out of sync with the changing calendar.

Professor Ralf Stanewsky and his team from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences study the circadian clocks of Drosophila, a type of fruit fly. Writing in the journal Current Biology, they report that the resetting process is governed by three factors, called Cryptochrome, Jetlag and Timeless.

The team's findings suggest that the light responses of circadian clocks are fine tuned on a molecular, by small differences in the binding affinities of clock proteins.

Professor Stanewsky explains: "A circadian photoreceptor called Cry is activated by light in the blue spectrum. Once active, Cry then becomes able to bind to a protein called Jetlag. The Jetlag protein then helps to destroy another protein called Timeless, which is used to reset the bodyclock.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 30, 2009, 6:27 AM CT

Smoking and depression

Smoking and depression
eenagers who smoke could be setting themselves up for depression during the later part of life, as per a groundbreaking new Florida State University study.

Psychology Professor Carlos Bolanos and a team of scientists observed that nicotine given to adolescent rats induced a depression-like state characterized by a lack of pleasure and heightened sensitivity to stress in their adult lives. The findings, published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, suggest that the same appears to be true for humans.

"This study is unique because it is the first one to show that nicotine exposure early in life can have long-term neurobiological consequences evidenced in mood disorders," Bolanos said. "In addition, the study indicates that even brief exposure to nicotine increases risk for mood disorders during the later part of life".

The Florida State scientists injected adolescent rats twice daily with either nicotine or saline for 15 days. After the therapy period ended, they subjected the rats to several experiments designed to find out how they would react to stressful situations as well as how they would respond to the offering of rewards.

They observed that behavioral changes symptomatic of depression can emerge after one week of nicotine cessation and -- most surprising -- that even a single day of nicotine exposure during adolescence can have long-lasting effects.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 30, 2009, 6:25 AM CT

Sudden cardiac death without recognizable cause

Sudden cardiac death without recognizable cause
In about 10% of cases, sudden cardiac death (SCD) in young people is due to a cardiac gene defect. This was the conclusion drawn by Silke Kauferstein of the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, and her coauthors in the current Deutsches rzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(4): 41-7).

Sudden cardiac death is defined as unexpected death occurring rapidlycommonly within 1 h of the onset of symptomsin persons who had previously seemed to be healthy. It is one of the most frequent causes of death in Europe. Each year, about 100 000 people die of sudden cardiac death in Gera number of alone. Eventhough SCD mostly affects older people, 5% to 15% of cases are in young people who had previously been asymptomatic.

Most cases of sudden cardiac death can be explained by cardiovascular changes. However, in 10% to 30% of cases, no cause of death can be established, even after a postmortem. Genetically linked diseases of cardiac ion channels are responsible for at least a third of these deaths. As the ion channels are involved in stimulation and conduction in the heart, malfunction can cause cardiac arrythmias, which may lead to ventricular fibrillation.

These primary electrical heart disorders are mostly subject to autosomal dominant inheritance. This means that family members have a 50% risk of being carriers of the modified gene causing the disorder. A genetic study of the affected family is therefore essential if further cases of sudden cardiac death are to be prevented.........

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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