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August 31, 2009, 9:51 PM CT

New asthma predictors needed

New asthma predictors needed
Screening tests used to predict asthma activity in patients may have little tracking success when applied to people with persistent disease who are adhering to their health care regimens, UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor report.

Prior reports have suggested that certain clinical findings and laboratory tests could help predict future asthma attacks. Those earlier conclusions, however, were based on observations of patients with poorly controlled asthma who had not received care based on current guidelines.

The newly released study appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"It was surprising to find that factors often used to predict future asthma risk in poorly treated populations were of no clinical benefit when applied to a well-treated, highly adherent population of inner-city adolescents and young adults with persistent asthma," said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy and immunology at UT Southwestern and the newly released study's main author.

Early identification of adolescents and young adults at risk for asthma progression may lead to better therapy opportunities and improved disease outcomes in adulthood.

Typically the study involved 546 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 20 with persistent asthma, a complex disease of the airways that is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and underlying inflammation.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 31, 2009, 9:24 PM CT

Breast cancer intervention reduces depression

Breast cancer intervention reduces depression
A psychological intervention for newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer with symptoms of depression not only relieves patients' depression but also lowers indicators of inflammation in the blood.

Those are the findings of a newly released study by scientists at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) and the Ohio State University Department of Psychology involving patients with stage II or III breast cancer.

Patients who received a psychological treatment that reduced stress and enhanced their ability to cope experienced significant relief of depressive symptoms. Moreover, that improvement was followed by a reduction in markers of inflammation.

"Previously, we knew that inflammation was linked to depression-like symptoms among cancer patients, and that both are problematic, but we did not know whether treating depression would affect inflammation," says co-author Barbara L. Andersen, professor of psychology and an OSUCCC-James researcher.

"Inflammation is considered to be a cancer promoting factor, and both depression and inflammation predict increased risk of cancer death".

Patients in the control group received only health and psychological evaluations of their condition over the 12-month study period and showed no improvement in depression or inflammation indicators.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 31, 2009, 9:22 PM CT

Carbon monoxide linked to heart problems

Carbon monoxide linked to heart problems
New Haven, Conn.Exposure to carbon monoxide, even at levels well below national limits, is linked to an increased risk of hospitalization for the elderly with heart problems, as per a research studypublished recently in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association

The nationwide study of 126 urban communities, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, observed that an increase in carbon monoxide of 1 part per million in the maximum daily one-hour exposure is linked to a 0.96 percent increase in the risk of hospitalization from cardiovascular disease among people over the age of 65.

This link holds true even when carbon monoxide levels are less than 1 part per million, which is well below the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 35 parts per million. This finding suggests an under-recognized health risk to seniors. Currently, the EPA is evaluating the scientific evidence on the link between carbon monoxide and health to determine whether the health-based standard should be modified.

"This evidence indicates that exposure to current carbon monoxide levels may still pose a public health threat," said Michelle Bell, the study's lead investigator and associate professor of environmental health at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "Higher levels of carbon monoxide were linked to higher risk of hospitalizations for cardiovascular heart disease".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 28, 2009, 7:02 AM CT

Predicting cancer prognosis

Predicting cancer prognosis
Scientists led by Dr. Soheil Dadras at the Stanford University Medical Center have developed a novel methodology to extract microRNAs from cancer tissues. The related report by Ma et al, "Profiling and discovery of novel miRNAs from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded melanoma and nodal specimens," appears in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics

Cancer tissues from patients are often stored by a method that involves formalin fixation and paraffin embedding to retain morphological definition for identification; however, this method frequently prevents further molecular analysis of the tissue because of mRNA degradation. Even so, these tissues contain high numbers of microRNAs (miRNAs), which are short enough (~22 nucleotides) to not be broken down during the fixation process.

In this study, Dr. Dadras and his colleagues optimized a new protocol for extracting miRNAs from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues. Using their new procedure, they identified 17 new and 53 known miRNAs from normal skin, melanoma, and sentinel lymph nodes. These miRNAs were well-preserved in a 10-year-old specimen. This new protocol, therefore, will allow for the identification of novel miRNAs that may differ in malignant and healthy tissue, even from long-preserved tissue, leading to better predictions of disease prognosis and therapy response.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 28, 2009, 6:58 AM CT

New, cancer-causing role for protein

New, cancer-causing role for protein
Hui-Kuan Lin, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.

The mainstay immune system protein TRAF6 plays an unexpected, key role activating a cell signaling molecule that in mutant form is linked to cancer growth, scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report in the Aug. 28 edition of Science

"The mechanism that we discovered activates Akt and also contributes to hyperactivation of a mutant form of Akt found in breast, colon and other cancers," said senior author Hui-Kuan Lin, Ph.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.

Akt is a signaling protein that plays a central role in numerous biological functions, including cell growth and programmed cell death, or apoptosis, Lin said. Deregulated Akt expression has been found to contribute to cancer development.

"Our novel findings are that Akt undergoes ubiquitination to be activated, and that TRAF6 regulates that process. We've observed that TRAF6 is not just involved in the innate immune response, but plays a role in cell growth and carcinogenesis," Lin said.

Ubiquitins are regulatory proteins that work by binding to other proteins. While ubiquitins are best known for marking a defective protein for death by the cell's proteasome complex, Lin said, ubiquitination of Akt is not tied to the proteasome. Ubiquitins are transferred to target proteins by another set of proteins called ligases.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 28, 2009, 6:56 AM CT

Genes and psoriasis

Genes and  psoriasis
A specific genetic region that has been increasingly identified as the strongest genetic link to psoriasis has an even more significant role in the chronic skin disease than has been suspected, University of Utah medical scientists show in a newly released study.

In the Aug. 13 issue of PLoS Genetics, scientists in the U School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology confirm that the presence of HLA-Cw*0602, a gene variation or allele on chromosome 6 found to be linked to psoriasis by numerous investigators, is the "major genetic determinant" of psoriasis, but that other nearby genetic variations also play an independent role in contributing to the disease.

"The HLA-Cw*0602 gene variation stands alone as a high risk for psoriasis," said Gerald G. Krueger, M.D., professor of dermatology, Benning Presidential Endowed Chair holder, and a co-author on the study. "A major question has been: are there other genetic variations in this region that associate with psoriasis?".

The study reported in PLoS Genetics identifies two other genetic variations on chromosome 6 that also have significant association with psoriasis. People who have all three genetic variations are nearly nine times more at risk for psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic disease that causes red scaly patches on the skin and affects up to 7.5 million people in the United States. About 25 percent of subjects with the disease also develop a painful inflammation of the joints called psoriatic arthritis.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


August 28, 2009, 6:55 AM CT

The Path to New Antibiotics

The Path to New Antibiotics
Scientists at Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and University of Maryland have demonstrated that an enzyme that is essential to a number of bacteria can be targeted to kill dangerous pathogens. In addition, researchers discovered chemical compounds that can inhibit this enzyme and suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria. These findings are essential to develop new broad-spectrum antibacterial agents to overcome multidrug resistance. The research was reported in the Cell journal Chemistry & Biology on August 27.

Andrei Osterman, Ph.D., an associate professor in Burnham's Bioinformatics and Systems Biology program, and his colleagues, targeted the bacterial nicotinate mononucleotide adenylyltransferase (NadD), an essential enzyme for nicotinamide adenine dinculeotide (NAD) biosynthesis. NAD has a number of crucial functions in nearly all important pathogens and the bacterial NadD differs significantly from the human enzyme.

"It's clear that because of bacterial resistance, we need new, wide-spectrum antibiotics," said Dr. Osterman. "This enzyme is indispensable in a number of pathogens, so finding ways to inhibit it could give us new options against infection".

As per the National Institutes of Health, drug resistance is making a number of diseases increasingly difficult-and sometimes impossible-to treat. They point to tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as two pathogens that pose a serious threat to human health.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 28, 2009, 6:43 AM CT

Feelings of hopelessness linked to stroke risk in healthy women

Feelings of hopelessness linked to stroke risk in healthy women
Healthy middle-aged women with feelings of hopelessness appear to experience thickening of the neck arteries, which can be a precursor to stroke, as per new research out of the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The study, published online today in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, observed that hopelessness negative thinking and feelings of uselessness affects arteries independent of clinical depression and before women develop clinically relevant cardiovascular disease.

Scientists looked at 559 women (average age 50, 62 percent white, 38 percent African American) who were generally healthy and did not show signs of clinical cardiovascular disease.

They measured hopelessness with a two-item questionnaire assessing expectancies regarding future and personal goals. Depressive symptoms were measured with a 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Thickness of neck arteries was assessed using ultrasound.

The study found a consistent, progressive, and linear association between increasing neck artery thickness and rising levels of hopelessness. The overall difference in arterial thickening between women with higher versus lower hopelessness scores, about.02 millimeters (mm), was equal to about one year of thickening. Those with the highest hopelessness scores had an average.06 mm greater thickening than those in the lowest group a clinically significant difference. This correlation remained after adjusting for any influence of age, race, income, cardiovascular risk factors, and depression.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 26, 2009, 11:13 PM CT

Getting wired: how the brain does it

Getting wired: how the brain does it
In a newly released study, scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), McGill University have found an important mechanism involved in setting up the vast communications network of connections in the brain.

A signaling pathway involving interactions between a schizophrenia-linked gene product, Calcineurin, and a transcription factor known as Nuclear Factor in Activated T-cells (NFAT) contributes to the connectivity at nerve cell (neuron) junctions or synapses and affects the extent of nerve cell projections or dendritic branches, in the visual system. The results of this study, reported in the journal Neuron, may bring hope to adults suffering from brain injuries and offer the possibility of early diagnosis, therapys and therapies for schizophrenia, autism or other developmental disorders where abnormal neurological wiring is thought to occur early in life.

In early brain development, there is an overabundance of unspecified connections between neurons. During development (and learning), these connections are pruned, leaving the stronger and more specific ones. This refinement occurs in response to a set of inputs from the environment, and is traditionally believed to be mediated through changes at synapses - the specialized junctions through which neurons communicate with each other.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 26, 2009, 7:14 AM CT

Adolescent risky behavior may signal mature brain

Adolescent risky behavior may signal mature brain
A newly released study using brain imaging to study teen behavior indicates that adolescents who engage in dangerous activities have frontal white matter tracts that are more adult in form than their more conservative peers.

The brain goes through a course of maturation during adolescence and does not reach its adult form until the mid-twenties. A long-standing theory of adolescent behavior has assumed that this delayed brain maturation is the cause of impulsive and dangerous decisions in adolescence. The newly released study, using a new form of brain imaging, calls into question this theory.

In order to better understand the relationship between high risk-taking and the brain's development, Emory University and Emory School of Medicine neuroresearchers used a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to measure structural changes in white matter in the brain. The study's findings appear in the Aug. 26, 2009 PLoS ONE

"In the past, studies have focused on the pattern of gray matter density from childhood to early adulthood, says Gregory Berns, MD, PhD, principal investigator and professor of Psychiatry and Neuroeconomics at Emory University and director of the Center for Neuropolicy. "With new technology, we were able to develop the first study looking at how development of white matter relates to activities in the real world".........

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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