April 2, 2010, 7:14 AM CT
Study could improve treatments for prostate cancer
Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) researchers have determined how two proteins mandatory for the initiation and development of prostate cancer interact at the molecular level, which could lead to improved therapys for the disease.
One of the proteins, androgen receptor, is already an important drug target for prostate cancer. The other, steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC3), was originally identified for its role in the development of breast cancer. SCR3 has also been characterized as a key factor in the development of prostate cancer, but, until now, the exact relationship between androgen receptor and SCR3 has been unclear.
Understanding the relationship between these two proteins, and targeting this interaction, could lead to new, more effective therapys for prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men, with more than 192,000 new cases and more than 27,000 deaths published in the United States in 2009 (Source: National Cancer Institute).
"Anti-androgen therapies become less effective over time," said VARI Distinguished Scientific Investigator H. Eric Xu, Ph.D., whose laboratory published the findings recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry,
where it was named Paper of the Week by the journal. "To develop the next generation of prostate cancer therapys, we need to find ways to disrupt the interaction between androgen receptor and the molecules it depends on to work, such as SRC3".........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
April 2, 2010, 7:09 AM CT
EMR and genome-driven diagnoses
A newly released study reveals an exciting potential benefit of the rapidly accumulating databases of health care information, the ability to make unprecedented links between genomic data and clinical medicine. The research, published by Cell Press in the recent issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics,
supports the idea that large scale DNA databanks associated with electronic medical record (EMR) systems provide a valuable platform for discovering, assessing and validating associations between genes and diseases.
"The deployment of EMRs offers the hope of improving routine care, not only by enhancing individual practitioner access to patient information but also by aggregating information for clinical research," explains senior study author Dr. Dan M. Roden from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville Tennessee. "EMRs contain large populations with diverse diseases and have the potential to act as platforms for rapid and inexpensive creation of large inclusive patient sets".
Dr. Roden and his colleagues in informatics and in genome science were interested in examining whether large biorepositories containing DNA samples associated with EMRs might be useful for discovering and incorporating new genotype-phenotype associations. "Implementing such a vision requires that major obstacles be overcome, including technological, computational, ethical, and financial issues and determining whether genomic information will meaningfully inform clinical decision making and health care outcomes," says Dr. Roden.........
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April 2, 2010, 7:07 AM CT
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 2, 2010, 6:57 AM CT
Mapping heart disease
Though heart disease is a major cause of disability and death, very little is understood about its genetic underpinnings. Recently, an international team of researchers at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) and other organizations shed new light on the subject. Studying Drosophila (fruit flies), the team investigated 7061 genes and built a detailed map that shows how a portion of these genes contribute to heart function and disease. Importantly, the scientists identified a number of genes that had not previously been linked to heart disease. The research is being published as the cover story in the April 2 issue of Cell
Using RNAi technologywhich selectively knocks out genes so scientists can study their functionthe team found nearly 500 genes that when inhibited cause flies to experience heart problems while under stress. In particular, the team observed that a protein complex called CCR4-Not has a role in heart function. Turning off CCR4-Not complex genes caused heart muscle abnormalities (cardiomyopathies) in both flies and mice. These findings provide new insights into human health, as a common mutation in the human NOT3 gene is linked to a heart condition that often leads to lethal arrhythmias or sudden cardiac death.........
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April 2, 2010, 6:55 AM CT
Imaging life as it happens
Kirill Larin, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UH, works in his lab documenting the formation of the mammalian heart through a high-resolution, noninvasive imaging device, providing perhaps the best live imagery taken of the vital organ.
Credit: Mark Lacy
Imagine being able to image life as it happens by capturing video of the embryonic heart before it begins beating. A professor at the University of Houston, in collaboration with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, is doing just that.
Kirill Larin, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering at UH, and colleagues in the Texas Medical Center are documenting the formation of the mammalian heart through a high-resolution, non-invasive imaging device, providing perhaps the best live imagery taken of the vital organ.
"Everything we know about early development of the heart and formation of the vasculature system comes from in vitro studies of fixed tissue samples or studies of amphibian and fish embryos," Larin said. "With this technology, we are able to image life as it happens, see the heart beat in a mammal for the very first time." .
Using optical-coherence tomography (OCT), a technique that relies on a depth-resolved analysis created by the reflection of an infrared laser beam off an object, Larin and colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine's Dickinson Lab are using the technique to study what leads to cardiovascular abnormalities. Whereas ultrasound uses sound waves to create viewable, yet grainy, video images, OCT uses optical contrast and infrared broadband laser sources to help generate a real-time, high-resolution output.........
Posted by: Daniel Read more Source
April 1, 2010, 6:43 AM CT
Perception of poor sleep may predict postpartum mood
A study of healthy new mothers in the April 1 issue of the journal Sleep
observed that the perception of poor sleep and the conscious awareness of its impact on daytime functioning might be stronger predictors of immediate postpartum mood disturbances than actual sleep quality and quantity.
Results indicate that both objective and subjective nighttime sleep significantly worsened with decreased total sleep time and sleep efficiency after giving birth. However, variables correlation to the subjective perception of sleep and sleep-related daytime dysfunction were stronger predictors of postpartum mood. After giving birth, subjective total sleep time at night fell from 437 minutes to 348 minutes, and mean subjective sleep efficiency decreased from 79 percent to 66 percent. Seventeen participants (46 percent) experienced some deterioration of mood after delivery.
Main author Bei Bei, DPsych, clinical psychology expert at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, said that while pregnancy is a joyous and exciting time, it also exposes women to a number of stressors, including disturbed sleep.
"We were surprised that while objective sleep was not irrelevant, subjective perception of sleep shared a much stronger relationship with mood," said Bei. "Women who are concerned about their sleep and/or mood should speak to health care professionals about cognitive-behavioral treatment, which is effective for improving both sleep and mood".........
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April 1, 2010, 6:41 AM CT
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.........
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April 1, 2010, 6:39 AM CT
Small soda taxes may not curb consumption among children
Small sales taxes on soft drinks in the range currently in force in some states are insufficient to reduce consumption of soda or curb obesity among children, as per a new RAND Corporation study.
Such small taxes may reduce consumption in some subgroups such as children at greater risk for obesity, but reducing consumption for all children would require larger taxes, as per the study published by the journal Health Affairs
"If the goal is to noticeably reduce soda consumption among children, then it would have to be a very substantial tax" said Roland Sturm, the study's main author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "A small sales tax on soda does not appear to lead to a noticeable drop in consumption, led alone reduction in obesity".
Taxes on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been proposed as part of a number of anti-obesity efforts, with the goal being to discourage consumption of the high-calorie drinks in order to curb excess weight gain.
Scientists estimated the potential effect of soft drink taxes on children's consumption and weight by examining differences in existing sales taxes on soft drinks between states. Details about state soda taxes were in comparison to information about weight and soda consumption among 7,300 children enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which has been gathering information about a national group of children for a number of years.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
April 1, 2010, 6:38 AM CT
Short-term program for binge eaters
A newly released study finds that a self-guided, 12-week program helps binge eaters stop binging for up to a year and the program can also save money for those who participate. Recurrent binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the country, affecting more than three percent of the population, or nine million people, yet few therapy options are available.
But a first-of-a-kind study conducted by scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Wesleyan University and Rutgers University observed that more than 63 percent of participants had stopped binging at the end of the program - in comparison to just over 28 percent of those who did not participate. The program lasted only 12 weeks, but most of the participants were still binge free a year later. A second study, also reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,
observed that program participants saved money because they spent less on things like dietary supplements and weight loss programs.
"It is unusual to find a program like this that works well, and also saves the patient money. It's a win-win for everyone," said study author Frances Lynch, PhD, MSPH, a health economist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. "This type of program is something that all health care systems should consider implementing".........
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April 1, 2010, 6:35 AM CT
CT and MRI scans leads to shorter hospital stays
Advanced imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might shorten the length of a person's hospital stay and decrease the high costs linked to hospitalization if used early, as per a research studyin the recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology
Inpatient costs represent 18 percent of total health care insurance premiums paid, and they continue to grow approximately 8 percent annually," said Juan Carlos Batlle, MD, MBA, main author of the study. "The stable growth of hospital costs despite marked increases in imaging costs has led to the observation that the increased use of modern imaging has been linked to a decrease in other costs of hospitalization, such as length of stay, which our study seeks to demonstrate," said Batlle.
The study, performed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, included 10,005 hospital admissions that included at least one advanced imaging study during the period from one day previous to admission through discharge. "Results showed that in comparison the length of stay was significantly shorter for those imaged on the day before or day of admission vs. day one or two for all admissions of at least three days," said Batlle.
The mean length of stay for abdominal CT exams was 8.4 vs. 9.7 days and for neurologic MRI exams it was 7.6 vs. 8.7 days. "In terms of cost, given that an average cost of a hospital stay is $2,129 per day, the estimated decrease in cost for one-year period analyzed in this study linked to an average one day reduction in length of stay is $2,129 per admission," said Batlle.........
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