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February 4, 2010, 8:20 AM CT

Plant derivative may fight cancer

Plant derivative may fight cancer
Celastrol, derived from trees and shrubs called celastracaea, has been used for centuries in China to treat symptoms such as fever, chills, joint pain and inflammation. Medical College of Georgia researchers think it may also play a role in cancer treatment by inactivating a protein required for cancer growth.

Credit: Medical College of Georgia

Medical College of Georgia scientists are seeking to refine cancer therapy with an anti-inflammatory plant derivative long used in Chinese medicine.

Celastrol, derived from trees and shrubs called celastracaea, has been used for centuries in China to treat symptoms such as fever, chills, joint pain and inflammation. The MCG scientists think it may also play a role in cancer therapy by inactivating a protein mandatory for cancer growth.

That protein, P23, is one of a number of proteins helping the heat shock protein 90. Researchers are just beginning to realize the potential of controlling inflammation-related diseases, including cancer, by inhibiting HSP90.

"Cancer cells need HSP90 more than normal cells because cancer cells have thousands of mutations," said Dr. Ahmed Chadli, biochemist in the MCG Center for Molecular Chaperones/Radiobiology and Cancer Virology. "They need chaperones all the time to keep their mutated proteins active. By taking heat shock proteins away from cells, the stabilization is taken away and cell death occurs".

But most HSP90 inhibitors lack selectivity, disabling the functions of all proteins activated by HSP90 rather than only the ones implicated in a specific tumor. Those proteins vary from one tumor to another.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 8:18 AM CT

Electronic health records need better monitoring

Electronic health records need better monitoring
Dean Sittig, Ph.D.
UT School of Health Information Sciences at Houston
The push is on for healthcare providers to make the switch to electronic health records but it is hard to tell how well these complex health information technology systems are being implemented and used, writes a health informatics researcher at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in a Feb. 3 commentary in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association.

To improve monitoring, Dean Sittig, Ph.D., main author and associate professor at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston (SHIS), has called for coordinated oversight by both the healthcare providers implementing these systems and by government authorities.

Doctors and hospitals are racing to take advantage of billions in federal incentives to digitize health records, Sittig said. The monies were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). "The ARRA stimulus is pushing people to take risks," Sittig said. "It's like life. If you're late for work, you may drive a little faster than you should. This can lead to accidents".

Even under the best of circumstances, as per Sittig, implementing an electronic health record system is difficult, costly, time-consuming and fraught with unintended adverse consequences. Assessment of these systems following implementation shows that some do not meet safety standards established in other industries like the airline and pharmaceutical industries, he said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 8:12 AM CT

Mother's exposure to bisphenol

Mother's exposure to bisphenol
For years, researchers have warned of the possible negative health effects of bisphenol A, a chemical used to make everything from plastic water bottles and food packaging to sunglasses and CDs. Studies have linked BPA exposure to reproductive disorders, obesity, abnormal brain development as well as breast and prostate cancers, and in January the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was concerned about "the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and young children".

Now, mouse experiments by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston scientists have produced evidence that a mother's exposure to BPA may also increase the odds that her children will develop asthma. Using a well-established mouse model for asthma, the researchers observed that the offspring of female mice exposed to BPA showed significant signs of the disorder, unlike those of mice shielded from BPA.

"We gave BPA in drinking water starting a week before pregnancy, at levels calculated to produce a body concentration that was the same as that in a human mother, and continued on through the pregnancy and lactation periods," said UTMB associate professor Terumi Midoro-Horiuti, main author of a paper on the study appearing in the recent issue of Environmental Health Perspectives........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 8:09 AM CT

Risk of stroke lower for recent Ontario immigrants

Risk of stroke lower for recent Ontario immigrants
Recent immigrants to Ontario have a 30 per cent lower risk of stroke than long term residents, as per preliminary study results from scientists at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

"What we learned could translate into long-term health benefits for the whole population," says Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, a neurologist at St. Michael's Hospital. "We need to do further research but the study points to the need for policies that aim to preserve the healthier state of new immigrants while continuing to focus on lowering stroke risk among all adults."

Published recently in Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology medical journal, the study identified all new immigrants to Ontario over a 12 year period and matched them to people of the same age and gender who had lived in the province for at least five years. The participants ranged in age 16 to 65 with an average age of 34.

"New immigrants face a number of stresses new jobs, new diets and building new relationships our study wanted to examine how these factors affected their risk of stroke," says Saposnik, "The findings verify the presence of a healthy immigrant effect in relation to stroke risk".

The researchers, which included Dr. Joel Ray, Dr. D. Redelmeier, Dr. Hong Lu, Dr. E. Lonn and Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson, followed the participants for six years. During that time, there were 933 strokes among the new immigrants and 5,283 strokes among long-term residents. New immigrants had a rate of 1.7 strokes per person per year in comparison to 2.6 strokes per person per year in long-term residents. The results were the same after adjusting for income, smoking and history of other diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 7:42 AM CT

Waiting for birth or inducing

Waiting for birth or inducing
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting , in Chicago, scientists will unveil findings that show that waiting for birth is as effective as inducing labor in cases of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).

Intrauterine growth restriction means that the fetus is substantially smaller than normal. The condition affects about 10% of pregnant women.

At birth the babies are more likely to have low blood sugar, trouble maintaining their body temperature, and an abnormally high red blood cell count. They're also prone to jaundice, infections, and Cerebral Palsy. During the later part of life growth restricted babies appears to be prone to executive and behavioral disorders, obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Because of lack of evidence, obstetricians follow two main policies for pregnancies with suspected fetal growth restriction at term. Some doctors may induce labor out of concern for complications, while others will await spontaneous delivery to prevent higher operative delivery rates. Scientists in the obstetric research consortium in the Netherlands conducted a randomized controlled trial of 650 women in 52 hospitals to compare both strategies.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 7:41 AM CT

Sutures cause fewer complications than staples

Sutures cause fewer complications than staples
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting , in Chicago, scientists will present findings that there were less complications for women, after having a cesarean delivery, if sutures were used instead of staples to close the wound.

When Suzanne Basha, M.D. began her career as an obstetrician/gynecologist, she was surprised to find nothing in the literature that provided evidence about which method was better to close a wound after a cesarean.

"It seemed to me that I was seeing more patients return with complications after a cesarean birth when staples were used instead of sutures but I couldn't find any studies that supported a recommendation for the use of either method," Basha said.

Basha and her colleagues at the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., conducted a study of 425 patients who were randomized. Women undergoing cesarean delivery in labor as well as scheduled cesarean delivery were eligible. Surgical and postpartum care was otherwise at the discretion of the provider. Wound complication data was complete for 98% of subjects (219 suture and 197 staples) and included wound separation, wound infection, antibiotic use, need for a wound-related doctor visit, and readmission. Data were collected via telephone interview two to four weeks postoperatively by a single investigator.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 7:39 AM CT

Genes and premature labor

Genes and premature labor
New evidence that genetics play a significant role in some premature births may help explain why a woman can do everything right and still give birth too soon.

Research presented today at the 30th Annual Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) meeting ― The Pregnancy Meeting ― showed that the genes of both the mother and the fetus can make them susceptible to an inflammatory response that increases the risk of preterm labor and birth.

Silent, undetected infections and inflammation are major risk factors for preterm labor and birth, says SMFM member Roberto Romero, MD, Chief of the Perinatology Research Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. One of every three preterm births occurs to a mother who has an infection in her uterus, but has no symptoms.

Dr. Romero led a team of physicians and researchers studying a large number of genes involved in the control of labor that could help explain the complex process that triggers preterm birth. They found DNA variants in genes involved in fighting infection in the pregnant woman and the fetus. Eventhough these variants increased the risk of preterm labor and birth, they have been preserved by evolution because they are needed to fight infection, Dr. Romero said.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 7:33 AM CT

Treating depression during pregnancy with acupuncture

Treating depression during pregnancy with acupuncture
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting , in Chicago, scientists will unveil findings that show that acupuncture appears to be an effective therapy for depression during pregnancy.

"Depression during pregnancy is an issue of concern because it has negative effects on both the mother and the baby as well as the rest of the family," said Dr. Schnyer, one of the study's authors.

About 10% of pregnant women meet criteria for major depression and almost 20% have increased symptoms of depression during pregnancy. The rates of depression in pregnant women are comparable to rates seen among similarly aged non-pregnant women and among women during the postpartum period, but there are far fewer therapy studies of depression during pregnancy than during the postpartum period.

Dealing with depression is difficult for pregnant women because the use of anti-depressants poses concerns to the developing fetus and women are reluctant to take medications during pregnancy.

In the study, an evaluator-blinded randomized trial, 150 participants who met the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria for Major Depressive Disorder were randomized to receive either acupuncture specific for depression (SPEC, n=52) or one of two active controls: control acupuncture (CTRL, n=49) or massage (MSSG, n=49). Treatments lasted eight weeks (12 sessions). Junior acupuncturists masked to therapy assignment needled participants at points prescribed by senior acupuncturists. Massage therapists and patients were not blinded. The primary outcome was the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, administered by blinded raters at baseline and after four and eight weeks of therapy. Data were analyzed using mixed effects models and by intent-to-treat.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 3, 2010, 2:21 PM CT

Reducing complications of obesity

Reducing complications of obesity
Eventhough obesity is a risk factor for diabetes and coronary heart disease worldwide, only some obese individuals go on to develop these metabolic complications, while others are relatively protected. Defining these protective factors could help researchers prevent disease in the wider population.

To this end, a research team at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, led by Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD, recently added new details that link obesity to diabetes and heart disease.

When individuals become obese from overeating, cells called adipocytes located in the fat tissue fill up with dietary fats and begin to die. Immune cells called macrophages move out of the blood stream and into this tissue, where they accumulate around dying adipocytes. As the macrophages work to clear away the dead cells, they are exposed to large amounts of dietary fat that can result in unwanted consequences. Exposure to saturated fats, in particular, causes the macrophages to enter an inflammatory state. In this state, the macrophages secrete cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, that encourage the development of insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.

The Gladstone team hypothesized that enhancing the capacity of macrophages to store dietary fats might alter this process. To do this, they focused on an enzyme called DGAT1, which makes triglycerides from dietary fats for storage as cellular energy reserves.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 3, 2010, 8:14 AM CT

Gene variation makes alcoholism less likely in some

Gene variation makes alcoholism less likely in some
Washington University School of Medicine

Elliot C. Nelson, M.D.
Exposure to severe stress early in life increases the risk of alcohol and drug addiction. Yet surprisingly, some adults sexually abused as children - and therefore at high risk for alcohol problems - carry gene variants that protect them from heavy drinking and its effects, as per scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers, from the university's Midwest Alcoholism Research Center, say the finding could aid the development of therapies for alcohol dependence by offering suggestions for targeted therapys based on genetic traits and history of exposure to severe stressors.

Researchers estimate that about half the risk for alcoholism is encoded in a person's genes. The rest comes from environmental factors, such as age at first drink and exposure to extreme stress. Other research has suggested that when the environmental risk factors occur during key periods of brain development, genes and environment working together can increase the likelihood an individual will become alcohol dependent. Child sexual abuse is one of the environmental stressors that can interact with genes to significantly increase the risk for alcohol problems.

But the scientists report in the recent issue of Addiction Biology that people with a particular pattern of genetic markers seem to be protected against alcohol problems, even if they were sexually abused as children.........

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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