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November 18, 2009, 11:58 PM CT

Smoking and seizure

Smoking and seizure
A recent study determined there is a significant risk of seizure for individuals who currently smoke cigarettes. Boston-based scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School also observed that long-term, moderate intake of caffeine or alcohol does not increase the chance of having a seizure or developing epilepsy. This is the first prospective study to examine the potential risks linked to cigarette smoking, caffeine intake, and alcohol consumption as they independently relate to epilepsy. Full findings of this study are currently available online and will appear in the February 2010 issue of Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by repeated unprovoked seizures where electrical disturbances in the brain cause sudden, involuntary changes in body movements (convulsions and muscle spasms) and sensory awareness. Approximately 2.5 million Americans are affected by epilepsy with 150,000 new cases diagnosed this year alone, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC further estimates that epilepsy accounts for $15.5 billion in medical costs and lost earnings. Single seizures or those provoked by alcohol withdrawal or other cause are even more common, occurring in up to 10% of the population.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:55 PM CT

Liver protective effects of green tea

Liver protective effects of green tea
Several studies have shown that lipid peroxidation stimulates collagen production in fibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells (HSC), and plays an important role in the development of liver fibrosis. Hepatoprotective effects of green tea against carbon tetrachloride, cholestasis and alcohol induced liver fibrosis were reported in many studies. However, the hepatoprotective effect of green tea in dimethylnitrosamine (DMN)-induced models has not been studied.

A research article published on November 7, 2009 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses this question. The research team, led by Prof. Hong-Yon Cho from Korea University examined the protective effect of green tea extract (GT) on hepatic fibrosis in a rat HSC line and in a rat model of DMN-induced hepatic fibrosis.

The results showed GT administration prevented the development of hepatic fibrosis in the rat model of DMN-induced liver fibrosis. These results were confirmed both by liver histology and by quantitative measurement of hepatic hydroxyproline content, a marker of liver collagen deposition. Accordingly, inhibition of proliferation, reduced collagen deposition, and type 1 collagen expression were observed in activated HSC-T6 cells following GT treatment. These results imply that GT reduced the proliferation of activated HSC and down regulated the collagen content and expression of collagen type 1, thereby ameliorating hepatic fibrosis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:51 PM CT

Activation of immune system in schizophrenia

Activation of immune system in schizophrenia
Goran Engberg
Photo: Bildmakarna
Scientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have discovered that patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have higher levels of inflammatory substances in their brains. Their findings offer hope of being able to treat schizophrenia with drugs that affect the immune system.

The causes of schizophrenia are largely unknown, and this hinders the development of effective therapys. One theory is that infections caught early on in life might increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, but to date any direct evidence of this has not been forthcoming.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now been able to analyse inflammatory substances in the spinal fluid of patients with schizophrenia, instead of, as in prior studies, in the blood. The results show that patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have raised levels of a signal substance called interleukin-1beta, which can be released in the presence of inflammation. In the healthy control patients, this substance was barely measurable.

"This suggests that the brain's immune defence system is activated in schizophrenia," says Professor Goran Engberg, who led the study. "It now remains to be seen whether there is an underlying infection or whether the immune system is triggered by some other means".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:36 PM CT

Why hepatitis is harder on men?

Why hepatitis is harder on men?
These are hepatitis B particles as viewed under an electron microscope. Credit: US Centers for Disease Control

Researchers in China are reporting discovery of unusual liver proteins, found only in males, that may help explain the long-standing mystery of why the hepatitis B virus (HBV) sexually discriminates -- hitting men harder than women. Their study has been published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication.

Shuhan Sun, Fang Wang and his colleagues note that chronic hepatitis B seems to progress and cause liver damage faster in men, with men the main victims of the virus's most serious complications -- cirrhosis and liver cancer. Men infected with HBV also are 6 times more likely than women to develop a chronic form of the disease. About 400 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis B, including a form that is highly infectious and can be transmitted through blood, saliva, and sexual contact.

In experiments with laboratory mice, the researchers found abnormal forms of apolipoprotein A-I (Apo A-I), a protein involved in fighting inflammation, in the livers of infected male mice but not infected females. They then identified abnormal forms of these Apo A-I proteins in blood of men infected with HBV, but not in women. In addition to explaining the gender differences, the proteins may provide important markers for tracking the progression of hepatitis B, the researchers suggest.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:35 PM CT

As women age

As women age
Doctors may one day be able to diagnose age-related diseases in women using samples of their saliva.
In a step toward using human saliva to tell whether those stiff joints, memory lapses, and other telltale signs of aging are normal or red flags for disease, researchers are describing how the protein content of women's saliva change with advancing age. The discovery could lead to a simple, noninvasive test for better diagnosing and treating certain age-related diseases in women, they suggest in a report in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication. These diseases include lupus, Sjgrens syndrome (linked to dry mouth and dry eye), and other immune-related disorders that affect millions of women worldwide, often at higher rates than in men.

John Yates and his colleagues note that human saliva contains a number of different proteins involved in digestion, disease fighting, and other functions. Researchers are seeking ways to use the proteins as molecular "fingerprints" to develop quick diagnostic tests that provide an alternative to the needle sticks currently needed for blood tests. To do that, they need detailed information on how normal aging affects these proteins.

The researchers analyzed saliva proteins in healthy women aged 20-30 and 55-65. They identified 293 proteins differed between the two age groups. Most were involved in the immune system's defenses against infection. Older women had almost twice as a number of immune-related proteins than younger women. The results suggest that "it is critical to take into consideration these normal differences in protein expression when searching for clinically relevant, disease specific biomarkers," the article notes.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:18 PM CT

Catching circulating cancer cells

Catching circulating cancer cells
Fluorescence micrographs and SEM images show how more cancer cells were captured on the silicon nanopillar (SiNP) substrate compared to the flat substrate.

Credit: UCLA

Just as fly paper captures insects, an innovative new device with nano-sized features developed by scientists at UCLA is able to grab cancer cells in the blood that have broken off from a tumor.

These cells, known as circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, can provide critical information for examining and diagnosing cancer metastasis, determining patient prognosis, and monitoring the effectiveness of therapies.

Metastasis the most common cause of cancer-related death in patients with solid tumors is caused by marauding tumor cells that leave the primary tumor site and ride in the bloodstream to set up colonies in other parts of the body.

The current gold standard for examining the disease status of tumors is an analysis of metastatic solid biopsy samples, but in the early stages of metastasis, it is often difficult to identify a biopsy site. By capturing CTCs, doctors can essentially perform a "liquid" biopsy, allowing for early detection and diagnosis, as well as improved therapy monitoring.

To date, several methods have been developed to track these cells, but the UCLA team's novel "fly paper" approach appears to be faster and cheaper than others and it appears to capture far more CTCs.

As per a research findings published this month in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the UCLA team developed a 1-by-2-centimeter silicon chip that is covered with densely packed nanopillars and looks like a shag carpet. To test cell-capture performance, scientists incubated the nanopillar chip in a culture medium with breast cancer cells. As a control, they performed a parallel experiment with a cell-capture method that uses a chip with a flat surface. Both structures were coated with anti-EpCAM, an antibody protein that can help recognize and capture tumor cells.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:15 PM CT

Brain's ability to reorganize

Brain's ability to reorganize
Visually impaired people appear to be fearless, navigating busy sidewalks and crosswalks, safely finding their way using nothing more than a cane as a guide. The reason they can do this, scientists suggest, is that in at least some circumstances, blindness can heighten other senses, helping individuals adapt.

Now researchers from the UCLA Department of Neurology have confirmed that blindness causes structural changes in the brain, indicating that the brain may reorganize itself functionally in order to adapt to a loss in sensory input.

Reporting in the recent issue of the journal NeuroImage (currently online), Natasha Lepor, a postgraduate researcher at UCLA's Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and his colleagues observed that visual regions of the brain were smaller in volume in blind individuals than in sighted ones. However, for non-visual areas, the trend was reversed they grew larger in the blind. This, the scientists say, suggests that the brains of blind individuals are compensating for the reduced volume in areas normally devoted to vision.

"This study shows the exceptional plasticity of the brain and its ability to reorganize itself after a major input in this case, vision is lost," said Lepor. "In other words, it appears the brain will attempt to compensate for the fact that a person can no longer see, and this is especially true for those who are blind since early infancy, a developmental period in which the brain is much more plastic and modifiable than it is in adulthood." .........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:04 PM CT

Hazards of outdoor second-hand smoke

Hazards of outdoor second-hand smoke
Indoor smoking bans have forced smokers at bars and restaurants onto outdoor patios, but a new University of Georgia study in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that these outdoor smoking areas might be creating a new health hazard.

The study, believed to be the first to assess levels of a nicotine byproduct known as cotinine in nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke outdoors, found levels up to 162 percent greater than in the control group. The results appear in the recent issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene

"Indoor smoking bans have helped to create more of these outdoor environments where people are exposed to secondhand smoke," said co-author of study Luke Naeher, associate professor in the UGA College of Public Health. "We know from our prior study that there are measurable airborne levels of secondhand smoke in these environments, and we know from this study that we can measure internal exposure.

"Secondhand smoke contains several known carcinogens and the current thinking is that there is no safe level of exposure," he added. "So the levels that we are seeing are a potential public health issue".

Athens-Clarke County, Ga., enacted an indoor smoking ban in 2005, providing Naeher and colleagues and ideal environment for their study. The team recruited 20 non-smoking adults and placed them in one of three environments: outside bars, outside restaurants and, for the control group, outside the UGOne of the major library. Immediately before and after the six-hour study period, the volunteers gave a saliva sample that was tested for levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine and a usually used marker of tobacco exposure.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 17, 2009, 8:53 AM CT

A powerful combination punch against breast cancer

A powerful combination punch against breast cancer
These are Drs. Kapil Bhalla (right) and Rekha Rao, assistant research scientist and first-author on the autophagy study presented this week.

Credit: Medical College of Georgia
A powerful new breast cancer therapy could result from packaging one of the newer drugs that inhibits cancer's hallmark wild growth with another that blocks a primordial survival technique in which the cancer cell eats part of itself, scientists say.

While they are powerful killers of some breast cancer cells, new drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors, or HDAC inhibitors, also increase self-digestion, or autophagy, in surviving, mega-stressed cells, Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center scientists reported during the Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics International Conference this week in Boston. The conference is sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer.

"To meet the energy demands of growth and survival, cancer cells start eating up their own organelles, so that surviving cells become dependent on this autophagy," says Dr. Kapil Bhalla, director of the MCG Cancer Center.

"By also using autophagy inhibitors, we pull the rug out from under them. The only way out is death," he says.

Scientists showed the potent HDAC inhibitor panobinostat's impact on autophagy in human breast cancer cells in culture as well as those growing in the mammary fat pads of mice. When they added the anti-malaria drug chloroquine, which inhibits autophagy, breast cancer kill rates increased dramatically.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 17, 2009, 8:10 AM CT

Parental Monitoring to Reduce Marijuana Use

Parental Monitoring to Reduce Marijuana Use
Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug by adolescents, with almost 42% of high school seniors admitting to having experimented with it. Continued marijuana use may result in many serious consequences including depression, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer. As such, it is critical to prevent marijuana use by adolescents and numerous behavioral and medical researchers have been trying to establish the best means of prevention.

A number of studies have focused on parents as being the best avenue for preventing adolescent marijuana use. Specifically, parental monitoring (when the parents know where their children are, who they are with, and what they are doing) has been seen as attenuating many negative adolescent behaviors, including gambling, sexual activity, and drug use. However, the strength of the relationship between monitoring and marijuana usage has been unclear; for example, if adolescents use marijuana, they appears to be more likely to hide that from their parents, in comparison to other behaviors. Despite this uncertainty, millions of dollars are spent annually on programs and media campaigns that urge parents to monitor their children's behavior.

Psychology experts Andrew Lac and William Crano from Claremont Graduate University evaluated numerous studies to examine the correlation between parental monitoring and adolescent marijuana use. For this review, Lac and Crano selected 17 studies from the literature, which contained data on over 35,000 participants. Criteria the scientists used for selecting studies included adolescent participants, that the research focused exclusively on marijuana, and that parental monitoring was reviewed by adolescent self-reports, not parents' reports of their own monitoring behavior.........

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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