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April 2, 2010, 7:07 AM CT

Studying Alzheimer drug candidates

Studying Alzheimer drug candidates
Ratnesh Lal, a UCSD bioengineering and mechanical engineering professor, led a multi-disciplinary team of researchers in a breakthrough discovery relating to Alzheimer's disease.
Some current therapies being investigated for Alzheimer's disease may cause further neural degeneration and cell death, as per a breakthrough discovery by UC San Diego researchers.

By combining three dimensional computer simulations with high resolution atomic force microscopy membrane protein and cell imaging, electrical recording and various cellular assays, UCSD nano-biophysicist Ratnesh Lal and colleagues investigated the structure and function of truncated peptides, known as nonamyloidgenic peptides, formed by some Alzheimer's drug candidates. The scientists observed that the nonamyloidgenic peptides formed active ion channels that caused the cells to take in very high levels of calcium ions, which damaged synaptic efficiency and eventually killed neurons, neurons that are associated with memory loss in human brain.

As a result of their current findings and related prior work, Lal and colleagues think that aggregate-forming amyloidogenic peptides promote neurological diseases by forming holes or channels in cell membranes, disturbing ionic homeostasis by allowing unwanted ion flow in-and-out of cells, and most importantly allowing toxic amounts of calcium ions into neural cells. Truncated, shorter non-amyloidogenic peptide fragments that also form ion channels and alter neuronal viability, are assumed by biomedical scientists to be non-toxic and are currently targeted to treat Alzheimer's disease patients. Details of their research were recently published in a paper entitled "Truncated ß-amyloid peptide channels provide an alternative mechanism for Alzheimer's Disease and Down syndrome" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 1, 2010, 6:41 AM CT

Acupuncture for loss of smell after viral infection

Acupuncture for loss of smell after viral infection
Traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA), where very thin needles are used to stimulate specific points in the body to elicit beneficial therapeutic responses, appears to be an effective therapy option for patients who suffer from persistent post- viral olfactory dysfunction (PVOD), as per new research in the April 2010 issue of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery

Olfactory dysfunction can arise from a variety of causes and can profoundly influence a patient's quality of life. The sense of smell determines the flavor of foods and beverages and also serves as an early warning system for the detection of environmental hazards, such as spoiled food, leaking natural gas, smoke, or airborne pollutants. The loss or distortions of smell sensation can adversely influence food preference, food intake, and appetite.

Approximately 2 million Americans experience some type of olfactory dysfunction. One of the most frequent causes of loss of smell in adults is an upper respiratory tract infection (URI). Patients commonly complain of smell loss following a viral URI. The smell loss is most usually partial, and reversible. However, occasionally patients may also present with parosmia (a distortion of the sense of smell), phantosmia (smelling things that aren't there), or permanent damage of the olfactory system.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 31, 2010, 7:40 PM CT

New brain nerve cells key to stress resilience

New brain nerve cells key to stress resilience
Southwestern Medical Center scientists have found new clues that might help explain why some people are more susceptible to stress than others.

In a study of mice, the scientists determined that weeks after experiencing a stressful event, animals that were more susceptible to stress exhibited enhanced neurogenesis the birth of new nerve cells in the brain. Specifically, the cells that these animals produced after a stressful event survived longer than new brain cells produced by mice that were more resilient.

In addition, when scientists prevented neurogenesis in both stress-susceptible and resilient mice, the animals previously susceptible to stress became more resilient.

"This work shows that there is a period of time during which it appears to be possible to alter memories relevant to a social situation by manipulating adult-generated nerve cells in the brain," said Dr. Amelia Eisch, associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, available in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences "This could eventually lead to a better understanding of why, in humans, there is an enormous variety of responses to stressful situations".

Mice that are susceptible to stress exhibit long-lasting social avoidance and depressive-like behavior after experiencing a stressful event, such as being placed in a cage with a more aggressive mouse. Resilient mice behave more like unstressed control animals. This animal model is usually used in studies of stress and depression, as understanding the changes in the brain and behavior of the mice can shed light on stress-induced changes in the human brain and in human behavior.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 17, 2010, 7:46 PM CT

Deep brain stimulation reduces epileptic seizures

Deep brain stimulation reduces epileptic seizures
A recent study organized by Stanford University scientists found patients with refractory partial and secondarily generalized seizures had a reduction in seizures after deep brain stimulation. This multi-center clinical trial determined that the benefits of stimulation of the anterior nuclei of thalamus for epilepsy (SANTE) persisted and by 2 years there was a 56% reduction in seizure frequency. Full findings of this study are available early online in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy.

Typically epilepsy, a common neurological disorder, is characterized by recurrent seizures that can cause temporary loss of consciousness, convulsions, confusion or disturbances in sensations. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy affects 50 million people worldwide. Past studies indicate that one-third of those with epilepsy do not respond adequately to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

"Electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a promising treatment for epilepsy," said Robert Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Epilepsy Center at Stanford University, and main author of the SANTE study. "Our goal is to find therapys that reduce the effects of epilepsy, especially for those who don't respond to AED treatment." .........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 15, 2010, 7:49 PM CT

Smoking may impair mental function

Smoking may impair mental function
Men and women with a history of alcohol abuse may not see long-term negative effects on their memory and thinking, but female smokers do, a newly released study suggests.

In a study of 287 men and women ages 31 to 60, scientists observed that those with past alcohol-use disorders performed similarly on standard tests of cognitive function as those with no past drinking problems.

The findings were not as positive when it came to tobacco, however.

In general, women who had ever been addicted to smoking had lower scores on certain cognitive tests than their nonsmoking counterparts. The same pattern was not true of men, however, the scientists report in the recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The reasons for the disparate findings on alcohol and smoking are not fully clear. Nor do they necessarily mean that serious alcohol problems would not affect long-term memory and other cognitive abilities; most study participants who had ever had drinking problems met the criteria for alcohol abuse rather than the more serious diagnosis of dependence.

Alcohol abuse was diagnosed when people reported one symptom of problem drinking -- drinking and driving, for instance, or failing to meet work or school obligations as a result of drinking. Dependence, conversely, mandatory people to have at least three symptoms -- such as needing to drink more and more to achieve the same effects and experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when they did not drink.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 12, 2010, 8:14 AM CT

New Alzheimer's test offers better opportunities

New Alzheimer's test offers better opportunities
This is a s screenshot from the Computerized Self Test for Alzheimer's Disease. The test was developed by University of Tennessee researchers, and findings published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease showed that the test was highly effective at early detection of the disease.

Credit: Rex Cannon and Andrew Dougherty/University of Tennessee

Early detection is key to more effective therapy for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive impairment, and new research shows that a test developed at the University of Tennessee is more than 95 percent effective in detecting cognitive abnormalities linked to these diseases.

The test, called CST -- for computerized self test -- was designed to be both effective and relatively simple for medical professionals to administer and for patients to take.

Rex Cannon, an adjunct research assistant professor of psychology at UT Knoxville, and Dr. John Dougherty, an associate professor in the UT Graduate School of Medicine, worked with a team of scientists to develop CST. The impetus for the test came from data showing that 60 percent of Alzheimer's cases are not diagnosed in the primary care setting, and that those delays lead to missed therapy opportunities.

"Early detection is at the forefront of the clinical effort in Alzheimer's research, and application of instruments like CST in the primary care setting is of extreme importance," said Cannon.

The CST is a brief, interactive online test that works to asses various impairments in functional cognitive domains in essence, it's a "fitness test" of sorts for the basic functions of thinking and processing information that are affected by Alzheimer's and milder forms of cognitive impairment.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 11, 2010, 11:08 PM CT

Insight into brain's decision-making process

Insight into brain's decision-making process
Replaying recent events in the area of the brain called the hippocampus may have less to do with creating long-term memories, as researchers have suspected, than with an active decision-making process, suggests a newly released study by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota Medical School.

In a study of rats navigating a maze, the scientists observed that replays occurring in the hippocampus were not necessarily recent or frequent paths through the maze, as would be expected if the event was being added to memory. Rather, the replays often were paths that the rats had rarely taken or, in some cases, had never taken, as if the rats were trying to build maps to help them make better navigation decisions.

In a report published March 11 in the journal Neuron, Anoopum Gupta, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, and colleagues say their findings suggest replays in the hippocampus are not merely passive echoes of past events, but part of a complex, active process of decision making.

In addition to Gupta, the scientists include Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Professor David S. Touretzky and A. David Redish, associate professor of neuroscience, and Matthijs van der Meer, a post-doctoral researcher, from the University of Minnesota.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 8, 2010, 9:08 AM CT

Sleep differences among ethnic groups

Sleep differences among ethnic groups
The 2010 Sleep in America poll released recently by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reveals significant differences in the sleep habits and attitudes of Asians, Blacks/African-Americans, Hispanics and Whites. It is the first poll to examine sleep among these four ethnic groups.

NSF's Sleep in America poll observed that more than three-fourths of respondents from each ethnic group agree that poor sleep is linked to health problems (76-83%). These new findings echo lessons learned by former President Bill Clinton who recently admitted that he has adopted a new lifestyle regimen to sleep seven or more hours on the advice of his doctors.

The poll also shows that all groups report disturbingly similar experiences missing work or family functions because they were too sleepy (19-24%). Among married people or couples living together, all ethnic groups report being too tired for sex frequently (21- 26% of the time).

"As the leading voice of sleep health, we are committed to better understanding people's sleep needs," says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. "By exploring ethnic and family sleep practices we have gained new insight into why we sleep the way we do".

Blacks/African-Americans report the busiest bedtime routines.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 4, 2010, 9:50 PM CT

Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis

Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis
Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and a team of collaborators have observed for the first time that the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) increases by a number of folds following infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This finding implicates EBV as a contributory cause to multiple sclerosis. The study appears in an advance online edition of the journal Annals of Neurology and will appear in a later print edition.

Hundred of thousands of individuals not infected with EBV were followed up for several years through repeated blood samples collections. Scientists were then able to determine the time when individuals developed an EBV infection and its relation to MS onset. "The recruitment of individuals before they were infected with EBV and following up with them for several years is the critical methodological aspect that makes this study qualitatively different from all prior work," said Alberto Ascherio, senior author of the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

MS is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Women are more likely than men to get the disease and it is the most common neurologically disabling disease in young adults. Eventhough genetic predisposition plays an important role in determining susceptibility, past studies have shown that environmental factors are equally important.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 25, 2010, 1:58 AM CT

Children can have recurrent strokes

Children can have recurrent strokes
Children can have strokes, and the strokes can recur, commonly within a month, as per pediatric researchers. Unfortunately, the strokes often go unrecognized the first time, and the child does not receive therapy before the recurrence.

Pediatric neurologist Rebecca Ichord, M.D., director of the Pediatric Stroke Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, reported today on a study of arterial ischemic stroke in children at the International Stroke Conference 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. The conference was sponsored by the American Stroke Association.

An arterial ischemic stroke results from a blockage or constriction in an artery in or leading to the brain.

Ichord and his colleagues at Children's Hospital followed 90 children with a median age of about 6 years old, treated for stroke between 2003 and 2009. Twelve patients (13 percent) had a recurrent stroke during the study period, most of them within a month of the first stroke. In six of the 12 children with recurrent strokes, no one diagnosed the initial stroke until a recurrent stroke occurred.

"Strokes don't occur only in the elderly," said Ichord. "They can also affect children as young as infants. Our findings reinforce how important it is to diagnose stroke in children as quickly as possible so that medical caregivers can provide emergency therapy and take measures to prevent recurrence".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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