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April 13, 2009, 1:23 PM CT

Behind racial disparities in cancer

Behind racial disparities in cancer
While cities have shown considerable racial disparities in cancer survival, those racial disparities virtually disappear among smaller populations, such as neighborhoods within that city. The finding comes from a new analysis reported in the May 15, 2009 issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society. The study examined breast and prostate cancer survival rates at different geographic levels, and the results suggest that there are significant societal factors at the root of cancer-related racial disparities.

Prior research has shown that considerable health disparities exist relating to race, ethnicity, geographic location, and other factors. While scientists have been striving to understand the causes of such disparities in survival from some cancers, including cancers of the breast and prostate, the potential roles of innate factors, such as genetic differences, versus modifiable factors, such as socioeconomic differences, remain unclear.

Scientists led by Jaymie Meliker, Ph.D. of Stony Brook University investigated if these disparities remained among different population sizesfor example whether disparities seen in counties persisted in cities and even neighborhoods. They studied regions in Michigan, drawing from the Michigan Cancer Surveillance Program, which compiled information from 1985-2002 on 124,218 breast cancer and 120,615 patients with prostate cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 13, 2009, 12:50 AM CT

DNA Sensors That Could Identify Cancer

DNA Sensors That Could Identify Cancer
Kansas State University engineers think the possibilities are deep for a very thin material.

Vikas Berry, assistant professor of chemical engineering, is leading research combining biological materials with graphene, a recently developed carbon material that is only a single atom thick.

"The biological interfacing of graphene is taking this material to the next level," Berry said. "Discovered only four years ago, this material has already shown a large number of capabilities. K-Staters are the first to do bio-integrated research with graphene".

To study graphene, scientists rely on an atomic force microscope to help them observe and manipulate these single atom thick carbon sheets.

"It's a fascinating material to work with," Berry said. "The most significant feature of graphene is that the electrons can travel without interruptions at speeds close to that of light at room temperature. Commonly you have to go near zero Kelvin -- that's about 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit -- to get electrons to move at ultra high speeds".

One of Berry's developments is a graphene-based DNA sensor. When electrons flow on the graphene, they change speed if they encounter DNA. The scientists notice this change by measuring the electrical conductivity. The work was published in Nano-Letters.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 13, 2009, 12:47 AM CT

How high-fiber diet protects you from colon cancer?

How high-fiber diet protects you from colon cancer?
Though a high-fiber diet has long been considered good for you and beneficial in staving off colon cancer, Medical College of Georgia scientists have discovered a reason why: roughage activates a receptor with cancer-killing potential.

Scientists report in the recent issue of Cancer Research that the GPR109A receptor is activated by butyrate, a metabolite produced by fiber-eating bacteria in the colon. The receptor puts a double-whammy on cancer by sending signals that trigger cell death, or apoptosis, and shutting down a protein that causes inflammation, a precursor to cancer.

"We know the receptor is silenced in cancer but it's not like the gene goes away," says Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy, corresponding author and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the MCG School of Medicine.

Cancer shuts down the receptor by chemically modifying its gene through a process called DNA methylation. It's a typical MO for cancer to turn genes off to suit its purpose which is why DNA methylation inhibitors already are under study for a variety of cancers.

But cancer patients likely also need something to ensure the receptor gets activated by butyrate, such as eating more roughage or, more likely, getting mega doses of butyrate or a compound with similar properties, Dr. Ganapathy says.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


April 13, 2009, 12:43 AM CT

Obstacles To Walking And Biking To Work

Obstacles To Walking And Biking To Work
As per scientists with Kansas State University's Physical Activity and Public Health Laboratory, active commuting -- walking or biking to school or work -- can be an easy, effective and efficient way to integrate physical activity into the daily routine.

Pam Wittman, a K-State senior in kinesiology, Olathe, worked with K-State's Melissa Bopp and Andy Kaczynski, both assistant professors of kinesiology, on the active commuting research. The project included two surveys, administered in 2008, which looked at demographics, psychosocial factors and environmental characteristics correlation to active commuting. A survey of more than 800 individuals at K-State was conducted, followed by another survey of 400 Manhattan area residents.

The scientists say the results lay the groundwork for future policy discussions and for tailoring public health messages. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day is enough for health benefits, and small bouts of exercise throughout the day of as little as 10 minutes provide the health payoff, as per recently revised guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Among the campus findings: students were most likely to actively commute, then faculty members, and then staff. Women and men were equally interested in walking or biking. Older individuals were less likely to actively commute than younger individuals.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 13, 2009, 12:41 AM CT

Ideal Neural Cells for Clinical Use

Ideal Neural Cells for Clinical Use
Investigators at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) have developed a protocol to rapidly differentiate human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into neural progenitor cells that appears to be ideal for transplantation. This research, which was conducted by Alexei Terskikh, Ph.D., and his colleagues, outlines a method to create these committed neural precursor cells (C-NPCs) that is replicable, does not produce mutations in the cells and could be useful for clinical applications. The research was published on March 13 in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation.

When the C-NPCs created using the Terskikh protocol were transplanted into mice, they became active neurons and integrated into the cortex and olfactory bulb. The transplanted cells did not generate tumor outgrowth.

"The uniform conversion of embryonic stem cells into neural progenitors is the first step in the development of cell-based therapies for neurodegenerative disorders or spinal injuries," said Dr. Terskikh. "A number of of the methods used to generate neural precursor cells for research in the lab would never work in therapeutic applications. This protocol is very well suited for clinical application because it is robust, controllable and reproducible."

Dr. Terskikh notes that the extensive passaging (moving cells from plate to plate) mandatory by some protocols to expand the numbers of neural precursor cells limits the plasticity of the cells, can introduce mutations and may lead to the expression of oncogenes. The Terskikh protocol avoids this by using efficient conversion of hESCs into primary neuroepithelial cells without the extensive passaging.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 9, 2009, 4:50 AM CT

New drug for prostate cancer?

New drug for prostate cancer?
A new multi-center study shows that an experimental drug lowers prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels a marker for tumor growth in men with advanced prostate cancer for whom traditional therapy options have failed. The study, led by scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), is published recently in Science Express, the online version of the journal Science

Most men with metastatic prostate cancer eventually build up resistance to the drugs that lower or block male hormones and develop a more aggressive form of the illness called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), or hormone-refractory disease. As per the study's findings, researchers studied two novel compounds, RD162 and MDV3100, and not only gained an understanding of their novel mechanism of action, but observed that these agents showed activity in CRPC cells in culture and in mice.

The study also reports on a Phase 1/2 trial of MDV3100 in 30 patients with advanced CRPC and observed that 22 out of 30 men showed declining PSA levels, and 13 out of 30 men (43 percent) had PSA levels fall by more than half.

Several years ago, the senior author of the study, Charles Sawyers, MD, and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), uncovered a potential reason why metastatic patients with prostate cancer eventually relapse with CRPC. This insight was used to discover RD162 and MDV3100.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


April 9, 2009, 4:45 AM CT

Vitamin D may make autoimmune disease worse

Vitamin D may make autoimmune disease worse
Deficiency in vitamin D has been widely regarded as contributing to autoimmune disease, but a review appearing in Autoimmunity Reviews explains that low levels of vitamin D in patients with autoimmune disease appears to be a result rather than a cause of disease and that supplementing with vitamin D may actually exacerbate autoimmune disease.

Authored by a team of scientists at the California-based non-profit Autoimmunity Research Foundation, the paper goes on to point out that molecular biologists have long known that the form of vitamin D derived from food and supplements, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-D), is a secosteroid rather than a vitamin. Like corticosteroid medications, vitamin D may provide short-term relief by lowering inflammation but may exacerbate disease symptoms over the long-term.

The insights are based on molecular research showing that 25-D inactivates rather than activates its native receptor - the Vitamin D nuclear receptor or VDR. Once associated solely with calcium metabolism, the VDR is now known to transcribe at least 913 genes and largely control the innate immune response by expressing the bulk of the body's antimicrobial peptides, natural antimicrobials that target bacteria.

Written under the guidance of professor Trevor Marshall of Murdoch University, Western Australia, the paper contends that 25-D's actions must be considered in light of recent research on the Human Microbiome. Such research shows that bacteria are far more pervasive than previously thought 90% of cells in the body are estimated to be non-human increasing the likelihood that autoimmune diseases are caused by persistent pathogens, a number of of which have yet to be named or have their DNA characterized.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


April 8, 2009, 5:21 AM CT

Weight discrimination and glass ceiling effect

Weight discrimination and glass ceiling effect
Mark Roehling, associate professor, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, College of Social Science

Weight discrimination appears to add to the glass ceiling effect for women, finds a newly released co-author of studyed by a Michigan State University scholar.

Overweight and obese women are significantly underrepresented among the top CEOs in the United States, as per the research, which appears in the British journal Equal Opportunities International. However, while obese men were also underrepresented, overweight men were actually overrepresented among top CEOs.

The different results for women and men suggest weight bias may contribute to the glass ceiling on the advancement of women to the top levels of management, said Mark Roehling, MSU associate professor of human resource management.

"The results suggest that while being obese limits the career opportunities of both women and men, being 'merely overweight' harms only female executives - and may actually benefit male executives," he said. "This pattern of findings is consistent with prior research indicating that, at least among white Americans, there is a tendency to hold women to harsher weight standards".

Roehling said the research is the first to focus on the potential effect of weight on career advancement to the highest levels of management. For the study, two groups of experts analyzed publicly available photos of CEOs from Fortune 1000 companies. The expert raters included individuals who were tested previous to the study to determine their accuracy in assessing body weight based on photographs, and medical professionals who by virtue of training and experience are experts at weight estimation.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 8, 2009, 5:19 AM CT

Love at first sight?

Love at first sight?
Leave it to geneticists to answer a question that haccording toplexed humanity since the dawn of time: does love at first sight truly exist? As per a research studyreported in the April 2009 issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), a team of researchers from the United States and Australia discovered that at the genetic level, some males and females are more compatible than others, and that this compatibility plays an important role in mate selection, mating outcomes, and future reproductive behaviors. In experiments involving fruit flies, the scientists observed that before mating, females experience what amounts to "genetic priming," making them more likely to mate with certain males over others.

"Our research helps to shed light on the complex biochemistry involved in mate selection and reproduction," said Mariana Wolfner, Professor of Developmental Biology at Cornell University and the senior scientist involved in the study. "These findings may lead to ways to curb unwanted insect populations by activating or deactivating genes that play a role in female mating decisions," she added.

To reach their conclusions, researchers mated two different strains of fruit fly females to males either from their own strain or to males from the other strain. They noted the males with which females of each strain tended to mate and then examined whether the females showed differences in behavior soon after mating and in reproduction-related activities, such as how a number of offspring were produced and how a number of sperm were stored. They also examined the females' RNA to compare the genes expressed in females mated to males of different strains. They observed that despite observed differences in mating behaviors and reproduction activities in females mated to different strains of males, there were only negligible mating-dependent differences in gene expression between the groups. This suggests that genetic changes involved in mate choice and reproduction were in place before mating began.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 8, 2009, 5:09 AM CT

Digital album to take care of kids' health

Digital album to take care of kids' health
Modern moms and dads snap thousands of photos, recording every drooling smile and flailing attempt to crawl. Until now, this frenzy of activity could be one more thing distracting parents from monitoring their child's health and developmental progress.

Now Julie Kientz at the University of Washington has built a high-tech tool that takes photos and video, creates an online diary and family newsletters, and at the same time tracks a child's developmental milestones. The multimedia system, called Baby Steps, combines sentimental snapping with medical record-keeping. Baby Steps feels like a fun toy for parents, but scientists found in a small pilot study that having it on their home computers doubled the parents' collection of medically relevant information.

Kientz, an assistant professor of human-centered design and engineering and the Information School, presents the results this week in Boston at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Co-authors are Rosa Arriaga and Gregory Abowd of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Most parents can tell you the first time their baby smiled, or took his or her first step. But what about the first time a baby could adjust his or her gaze to look in the direction of a pointed finger, which an inability to do at a certain age indicates a possible risk of autism?.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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