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February 1, 2010, 8:14 AM CT

Multiple sclerosis and the season

Multiple sclerosis and the season
Prior studies have shown multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are more often born in spring than in any other season, indicating that there is an environmental risk factor for the disease. A paper in the journal Neurology, evaluated for f1000 Medicine by Emmanuelle Waubant and Ellen Mowry, now suggests that this seasonal effect is mediated by the gene HLA-DRB1.

In a number of European populations, the HLA-DRB1*15 allele of this gene is linked to an increased risk of MS, and the large-scale study of MS patients from Canada, Sweden and Norway now shows that this allele is more common among patients born in the spring.

Waubant and Mowry said the study was "unique in its attempt to understand how genes and environment interact in MS". However, even though there is a connection between birth month, genetics and risk of MS, it is still not clear how this is regulated.

One likely contender is vitamin D, which influences expression of the HLA-DRB1*15 allele. Since vitamin D production fluctuates with the seasons, a vitamin D deficit in pregnant mothers could be correlation to the increased risk of MS among spring births, but this requires further investigation.

Waubant and Mowry said the study may influence preventative and therapeutic therapys through the understanding of environmental risks and their interaction with relevant genotypes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:13 AM CT

Handling of milk in restaurants

Handling of milk in restaurants
A study recommends better handling of milk in restaurants.

Credit: SINC

One-third of samples of milk and dairy products analysed in various restaurants exceed the microbe contamination limits set by the European Union, as per a research studycarried out by scientists from the University of Valencia (UV). The experts advise against keeping milk in jugs and suggest that these foodstuffs need to be better handled.

"Out of all the dairy products we analysed, 35% of the samples exceeded the maximum contamination levels established by EU law for enterobacteriaceae, and 31% exceeded the limits set for mesophilic aerobic microorganisms (which grow at an optimum temperature of between 30 and 45C)", Isabel Sospedra, a researcher at the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the UV and one of the authors of the study, tells SINC.

The researchers examined 265 batches of milk and ready-to-use milk derivatives in a range of bars and restaurants in Valencia, and checked whether their microbial quality fell into line with European Union regulations. The results, which have been published recently in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, show that one-third of the samples had some kind of microorganism contamination and were not fit for human consumption.

"Luckily none of the batches we analysed tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella spp, which are pathogenic microorganisms that cause both food poisoning and toxoinfections", the study's authors says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:08 AM CT

Hip Fractures In Grandfathers

Hip Fractures In Grandfathers
The study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, shows that hip fractures in grandfathers are associated with low bone density and reduced bone size in their grandsons.

"This is the first time this risk factor for low bone mass has been demonstrated across two generations," says associate professor Mattias Lorentzon, who led the research team at the Sahlgrenska Academy. "This new risk factor appears to be significant for the diagnosis of low bone mass and suggests possible mechanisms for the inheritance of low bone mass and fracture risk".

The study looked at around 3,700 grandparents and their grandsons from a national register. 270 of these grandsons had reduced bone density, in other words less bone mineral in their skeleton. All of these also had a grandparent who had broken their hip, as opposed to those who did not have any relatives who had broken a hip and had normal bone health.

"We then divided these men with reduced bone density into two groups," says Lorentzon. "In the first, we looked at those who had a grandmother who had broken a hip. In the second, we looked at whether a grandfather had suffered a hip fracture".

It emerged that the men who had a male relative who had suffered a fracture had up to 5% less bone density and 4% smaller bones than those who did not. By way of comparison, 10% less bone density can increase the risk of fractures as much as threefold.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:07 AM CT

Early detection of Alzheimer's disease

Early detection of Alzheimer's disease
Investigators from the International Center for Biomedicine and the University of Chile, in collaboration with the Center for Bioinformatics of the Universidad de Talca, have discovered that two drugs, the benzimidazole derivatives lanzoprazole and astemizole, appears to be suitable for use as PET (positron emission tomography) radiotracers and enable imaging for the early detection of Alzheimer's Disease. The study is reported in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

Lanzoprazole and astemizole specifically tag pathological oligomers of tau which form the core of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), a pathognomonic brain lesion in Alzheimers patients. Prof. Dr. R.B. Maccioni and Dr. Leonel Rojo, authors of the study commented, "Since neurofibrillary tangles are positively correlated with cognitive impairment, we propose that these drugs have great potential in PET neuroimaging for in vivo early detection of AD and in reducing the formation of NFTs. These studies, based on advanced proteomics and databases of molecular interactions, may help to find potential new drugs for early diagnosis and therapy of Alzheimers disease. The findings are the result of a long-standing research program supported by the Alzheimers Association-USA and Fondecyt, Chile to evaluate new drug candidates." Technological applications of this discovery are being developed with the collaboration of VentureL@b of the Universidad Adolfo Ibaez.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:06 AM CT

New computational tool for cancer treatment

New computational tool for cancer treatment
A number of human tumors express indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an enzyme which mediates an immune-escape in several cancer types. Scientists in the Molecular Modeling group at the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and Dr. Benot J. Van den Eynde's group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd (LICR) Brussels Branch developed an approach for creating new IDO inhibitors by computer-assisted structure-based drug design. The study was presented in the January 2010 online issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry

The docking algorithm EADock, used for this project, was developed by the Molecular Modeling Group over the last eight years. It provides solutions for the "lock-and-key" problem, wherein the protein active site is regarded as a "lock", which can be fitted with a "key" (commonly a small organic molecule) able to regulate its activity. Once an interesting molecule has been obtained, synthesis and laboratory experiments are necessary to confirm or reject the prediction. This algorithm will soon be made available to the scientific community worldwide.

The researchers obtained a high success rate. Fifty percent of the molecules designed in silico were active IDO inhibitors in vitro. Compounds that displayed activities in the low micromolar to nanomolar range, made them suitable for further testing in tumor cell experiments and for in vivo assessment in mice. If these studies are successful, researchers can begin evaluating these new compounds in patients undergoing cancer-immunotherapy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:04 AM CT

Most patients gain weight after getting a new knee

Most patients gain weight after getting a new knee
You'd think folks who've had knee replacement surgery -- finally able to walk and exercise without pain -- would lose weight instead of put on pounds, but surprisingly that's not the case, as per a University of Delaware study.

Scientists Joseph Zeni and Lynn Snyder-Mackler in the Department of Physical Therapy in UD's College of Health Sciences observed that patients typically drop weight in the first few weeks after total knee arthroplasty (TKA), but then the number on the scale starts creeping upward, with an average weight gain of 14 pounds in two years.

The study, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, is published in the Jan. 15 online edition of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, the official journal of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International.

The research involved 106 individuals with end-stage osteoarthritis who had knee replacement surgery, and an age-matched, healthy control group of 31 subjects who did not have surgery. Height, weight, quadriceps strength, and self-perceived functional ability were measured during an initial visit to UD's Physical Therapy Clinic, and at a follow-up visit two years later.

"We saw a significant increase in body mass index (BMI) over two years for the surgical group, but not the control group," says Zeni, a research assistant professor at UD. "Sixty-six percent of the people in the surgical group gained weight over the two years -- the average weight gain was 14 pounds".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:02 AM CT

brain protein for synapse development

brain protein for synapse development
A newly released study from UC Davis Health System identifies for the first time a brain protein called SynDIG1 that plays a critical role in creating and sustaining synapses, the complex chemical signaling system responsible for communication between neurons. The research, reported in the Jan.14 issue of the journal Neuron, fills a major gap in understanding the molecular foundations of higher cognitive abilities as well as some brain disorders.

"We know that synapses are essential for learning, memory and perception and suspect that imbalances in synapse formation impact disorders of the brain such as autism and schizophrenia," said Elva Diaz, assistant professor of pharmacology and senior author of the study. "Our study is the first to identify SynDIG1 as a critical regulator of these important brain connections".

The majority of synapses in the brain use glutamate as a neurotransmitter. While past research revealed that regulation of a certain class of glutamate receptor -- AMPA receptors -- are critical to communication between neurons, Diaz set out to discover novel molecular mechanisms of AMPA receptors that could support the formation and vitality of synapses.

She began by evaluating a gene (tmem90b) predicted to encode a novel transmembrane protein that is expressed exclusively in the central nervous system and highly similar across vertebrates, but otherwise not well-described. Microarray analyses revealed that this gene was expressed during synapse formation.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 7:58 AM CT

Can blocking a frown?

Can blocking a frown?
Your facial expression may tell the world what you are thinking or feeling. But it also affects your ability to understand written language correlation to emotions, as per research that was presented today to the Society for Personal and Social Psychology in Las Vegas, and would be reported in the journal Psychological Science.

The newly released study reported on 40 people who were treated with botulinum toxin, or Botox. Tiny applications of this powerful nerve poison were used to deactivate muscles in the forehead that cause frowning.

The interactions of facial expression, thoughts and emotions has intrigued researchers for more than a century, says the study's first author, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology Ph.D. candidate David Havas.

Researchers have observed that blocking the ability to move the body causes changes in cognition and emotion, but there were always questions. (One of the test therapys caused widespread, if temporary, paralysis.) In contrast, Havas was studying people after a pinpoint therapy to paralyze a single pair of "corrugator" muscles, which cause brow-wrinkling frowns.

To test how blocking a frown might affect comprehension of language correlation to emotions, Havas asked the patients to read written statements, before and then two weeks after the Botox therapy. The statements were angry ("The pushy telemarketer won't let you return to your dinner"); sad ("You open your email in-box on your birthday to find no new emails"); or happy ("The water park is refreshing on the hot summer day.").........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 7:42 AM CT

HIV researchers solve key puzzle

HIV researchers solve key puzzle
Scientists have made a breakthrough in HIV research that had eluded researchers for over 20 years, potentially leading to better therapys for HIV, as per a research findings published recently in the journal Nature

The researchers, from Imperial College London and Harvard University, have grown a crystal that reveals the structure of an enzyme called integrase, which is found in retroviruses like HIV. When HIV infects someone, it uses integrase to paste a copy of its genetic information into their DNA.

Previous to the newly released study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council and the US National Institutes of Health, a number of scientists had tried and failed to work out the three-dimensional structure of integrase bound to viral DNA. New antiretroviral drugs for HIV work by blocking integrase, but researchers did not understand exactly how these drugs were working or how to improve them.

Scientists can only determine the structure of this kind of molecular machinery by obtaining high quality crystals. For the newly released study, scientists grew a crystal using a version of integrase borrowed from a little-known retrovirus called Prototype Foamy Virus (PFV). Based on their knowledge of PFV integrase and its function, they were confident that it was very similar to its HIV counterpart.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 7:41 AM CT

Children with cochlear implants

Children with cochlear implants
Children who have cochlear implants (CI) rank their quality of life (QOL) equal to their normally hearing (NH) peers, indicates new research in the February 2010 issue of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that restores partial hearing to the deaf. It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. Unlike a hearing aid, it does not make sound louder or clearer. Instead, the device bypasses damaged parts of the auditory system and directly stimulates the hearing nerve, allowing deaf or severely hard of hearing individuals to receive sound. The National Institutes of Health estimate that as a number of as 59,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants, with roughly half of those in the pediatric population.

Previous research has indicated that deaf children feel less socially accepted, experience more difficulty in making friends, and demonstrate greater adjustment problems than their hearing peers. The subsequent success of the multi-channel CI devices that improve speech perception and language development led scientists to look beyond speech and language performance to questions of psycho-social behaviors and adjustment.

This cross-sectional study of 88 families with CI children from 16 U.S. states used a generic QOL questionnaire. The group was then divided by age of the child when they filled out the questionnaire: an 8-11-year-old group and a 12-16-year-old group. Both parents and children were asked to fill out the QOL questionnaire, with the parents assessing their child. The study group was then in comparison to a control group of 1,501 NH children in fourth and eighth grades.........

Posted by: Sue      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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