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April 6, 2009, 8:09 PM CT

Stress management improves mood

Stress management improves mood
Brief stress management sessions previous to and immediately after surgery may have both short- and long-term benefit for men undergoing a radical prostatectomy for early-stage prostate cancer, as per research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first to examine the benefits of psychosocial intervention for patients with prostate cancer previous to surgery. It observed that men who participated in the sessions experienced less short-term mood disturbance and better long-term quality of life, in comparison to patients who had the procedure but did not have any behavioral intervention.

Most psychosocial interventions in cancer of any type have been studied after patients have completed surgery, explained Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., the study's senior author and professor in M. D. Anderson's Departments of Behavioral Science and General Oncology, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program.

"We know that for men with early-stage prostate cancer, the time when they are making therapy decisions is very stressful," said Cohen. "A radical prostatectomy is not without possible, very personal, consequences, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Patients may also be worried about the uncertainty that the surgery will cure their cancer.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 10:15 PM CT

Healing one heart cell at a time

Healing one heart cell at a time
Researchers have determined that cells in the human heart develop into adulthood by looking at the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere from above-ground nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960.

Illustration by Mattias Karlen, Karolinska Institute
By using the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere from above-ground nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960, scientists have determined that cells in the human heart develop into adulthood.

But as humans age, the percentage of new heart cells decreases markedly. By age 25, renewal of heart cells gradually decrease from 1 percent turning over annually to.45 percent by the age of 75. About 50 percent of the heart cells a human is born with will regenerate during a lifetime.

Myocardial damage often results in chronic heart failure because of the loss and insufficient regeneration of heart cells. But this new finding may mean that patients, who have suffered myocardial damage as a result of a heart attack, may have some good news.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Bruce Buchholz with colleagues from the Karolinska Institute, Universite Claude Bernard Lyon, Lund University and Lund University Hospital, observed that cells in a human heart can develop into adulthood and the age of heart cells is, on average, six years younger than the individual.

Using the Laboratory's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Buchholz measured the amount of carbon 14 in DNA to establish the age of caridiomyocytes (cardiac muscle cells) in humans.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 10:07 PM CT

More efficient production of paclitaxel

More efficient production of paclitaxel
Shown is the broad specificity of the enzyme from yew plants that make the potent cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol). Each acyl CoA shown can 'funnel' to the reactive site 'conveyor' of the enzyme and transfer to a prodrug skeleton. Graphic conceived by Kevin D. Walker, drafted by Thomas P. Carter.

Research by Michigan State University chemist Kevin Walker is paving the way for potentially cleaner, more efficient production of cancer-fighting paclitaxel - better known as the blockbuster drug Taxol.

First isolated from the bark of the Pacific yew in 1967, paclitaxel has since been made by synthetically modifying an intermediate substance isolated from yew needles using toxic solvents or by fermenting cell cultures.

Walker's method employs natural enzymes instead. "Pharmaceutical companies could reduce the steps involved in making Taxol," he said, "while cutting chemical byproducts".

Walker, an assistant professor of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, studies enzymes that assemble the Taxol molecule in Taxus plants. "This process is like painting from a palette," Walker said. "We can add select colors to the palette from which the enzyme chooses, so the molecule can be crafted in a variety of ways. The enzyme does all the work.

"A plant enzyme can do in one step what traditional synthetic construction does in multiples steps," Walker said. "Under our process, the construction of Taxol uses a biological assembly line where each enzyme does its job to create the final product. Particular enzymes on the assembly line can attach slightly different components on the molecular frame to create new-generation Taxol molecules. This can lead to more effective drug variants and eventually better health care therapy".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 5:15 AM CT

How to improve the working memory?

How to improve the working memory?
Psychology experts and neurologists invest considerable effort in the study of working memory. In terms of information retention, there is a difference between long-term memory, which is affected in diseases such as Alzheimer, and short-term or working memory, which allows us to make immediate decisions or structure a discourse. This more ephemeral memory is affected in diseases such as schizophrenia and depression, eventhough a cause-effect relationship has not been established. People with a higher working-memory capacity score higher on intelligence tests and, for this reason, it is thought that it appears to be intimately associated with people's cognitive ability. A study by IDIBAPS uses computational systems neurobiology models and functional magnetic resonance imaging scans to show that there are two parts of the cerebral cortex with highly differentiated roles implicated in this type of memory. The results of the study were reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), in an article headed by Dr. Albert Compte of the Systems Neuroscience team of the Institut d'Investigacions Biomdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), and with Fredrik Edin as the first author. This study was carried out in collaboration with two other laboratories of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, led by professors Torkel Klingberg and Jesper Tegnr.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 5:13 AM CT

Stress Affects Financial Decision Making

Stress Affects Financial Decision Making
It is not surprising that as our economy continues its freefall, we are feeling increasingly more stressed and worried. A number of of us are feeling extreme unease about the security of our jobs and being able to make our next mortgage payment. However, as per a new report in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, stress could make our financial troubles even worse.

The study, conducted by psychology experts Anthony J. Porcelli and Mauricio R. Delgado of Rutgers University, reveals that acute stress affects risk taking during financial decision making. A group of volunteers chose between various financial gambles after being asked to immerse their hand for a period of time in either ice-cold (used to induce stress) or room-temperature (no-stress) water. Some of the choices were risky (less likely but with a high payout) and others conservative (more likely but with a lower value).

The results were consistent with a phenomenon known as the reflection effect - we tend to show increased conservatism when choosing between two potentially positive outcomes, but increase our risky behavior when choosing between two gambles that result in a loss. However, this study suggests that stress exaggerates this effect; while exposed to stress volunteers were more conservative when choosing between potentially positive outcomes and were riskier when choosing between gambles that could result in a loss.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 5:11 AM CT

A sweeping new theory for autism

A sweeping new theory for autism
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have proposed a sweeping new theory of autism that suggests that the brains of people with autism are structurally normal but dysregulated, meaning symptoms of the disorder might be reversible.

The central tenet of the theory, reported in the recent issue of Brain Research Reviews, is that autism is a developmental disorder caused by impaired regulation of the locus coeruleus, a bundle of neurons in the brain stem that processes sensory signals from all areas of the body.

The new theory stems from decades of anecdotal observations that some autistic children seem to improve when they have a fever, only to regress when the fever ebbs. A 2007 study in the journal Pediatrics took a more rigorous look at fever and autism, observing autistic children during and after fever episodes and comparing their behavior with autistic children who didn't have fevers. This study documented that autistic children experience behavior changes during fever.

"On a positive note, we are talking about a brain region that is not irrevocably altered. It gives us hope that, with novel therapies, we will eventually be able to help people with autism," says theory co-author Mark F. Mehler, M.D., chairman of neurology and director of the Institute for Brain Disorders and Neural Regeneration at Einstein.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 5:09 AM CT

Radiation therapy and impairment of fertility

Radiation therapy and  impairment of fertility
In female cancer patients of reproductive age, radiation therapy directly to the ovaries should be avoided because there is a direct relationship between certain types of radiation treatment and fertility problems, as per a review in the April 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Radiation treatment to the pelvic region can cause ovarian failure or result in damage that makes the uterus unable to accommodate the growth of a fetus. These effects are not a great concern to cancer patients past their reproductive years, but due to the growing number of pediatric and young-adult cancer survivors, these effects are increasingly relevant.

Scientists at the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program and the Department of Radiation Oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston, sought to review the impact of radiation treatment on fertility, pregnancy and neonatal outcomes among female patients and the effectiveness of ovarian transposition, or moving the ovaries out of the field of radiation, as a means of preserving fertility.

The study authors evaluated the outcomes of past studies that reported fertility, pregnancy and neonatal outcomes as a result of cranio-spinal, abdominal and pelvic radiation and determined that cranio-spinal irradiation caused hormonal changes that affected a woman's ability to become pregnant during the later part of life. Women who received abdominal or pelvic radiation had an increased risk of uterine dysfunction that lead to miscarriage, preterm labor, low birth weight and placental abnormalities. The study also determined that women who received low doses of ovarian radiation can suffer early menopause.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 5:00 AM CT

Ovarian cancer screening

Ovarian cancer screening
The only available screening tests for ovary cancer fail to catch early signs of the disease and often result in unnecessary surgery, said scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The newly released study looked at a screening regimen that combines ultrasound and a blood test for CA-125, a marker for women's cancer.

Results showed the combo screening caught 70 percent of the ovary cancers in their late stages, when effective therapy options are limited.

Knowing this screening limitation means the search has intensified for a better way to detect ovary cancer, often called the "silent killer," said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the lead study author.

"We still have some comparison data to review, but right now it looks like the positive predictive value of these tests is pretty low," Partridge said.

The study puts the positivity value for both tests at around 1.6 percent per 100 positive screening results, a remarkably low positivity rate that led to a number of false positives, he said. False positives are erroneous signals of cancer where there is none.

The UAB results are published April 1 in the journal Obstetrics & Genecology.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 4:56 AM CT

Autism stress hormone level Link

Autism stress hormone level Link
Some of the symptoms of the autistic condition Asperger Syndrome, such as a need for routine and resistance to change, could be associated with levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggests new research led by the University of Bath.

Normally, people have a surge of this hormone shortly after waking, with levels gradually decreasing throughout the day. It is thought this surge makes the brain alert, preparing the body for the day and helping the person to be aware of changes happening around them.

However, a study led by Dr Mark Brosnan and Dr Julie Turner-Cobb from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, and Dr David Jessop from the University of Bristol, has observed that children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) do not experience this surge.

The scientists believe these findings may help to explain why individuals with this condition have difficulties with minor changes to their routine or changes in their environment.

The study has been reported in the peer-evaluated journal Psychoneuroendocrinology

Dr Brosnan explained: "Cortisol is one of a family of stress hormones that acts like a 'red alert' that is triggered by stressful situations allowing a person to react quickly to changes around them.

"In most people, there is a two hundred percent increase in levels of this hormone within 30 minutes of waking up, with levels gradually declining during the day as part of the internal body clock.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 4:54 AM CT

Supervised exercise program for COPD patients

Supervised exercise program for COPD patients
Dr. Richard Casaburi, LA BioMed senior investigator, supervises a study of exercise therapy, or pulmonary rehabilitation, in a patient with COPD.

Credit: LA BioMed

Those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often complain that exercise is too exhausting and leaves them breathless. An article in the current issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) reports that supervised exercise through pulmonary rehabilitation can actually reduce their feelings of breathlessness, increase their tolerance for exercise and improve their quality of life.

The article's main author is Richard Casaburi, Ph.D., M.D., a senior investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). He directs the institute's Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center, a facility that focuses on COPD research. Dr. Casaburi surveyed prior studies on pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD and observed that supervised exercise treatment improves aerobic function of the muscles, which helps reduce the breathlessness that is common in COPD.

"These findings are a clear indication that pulmonary rehabilitation can improve the quality of life for those living with COPD," said Dr. Casaburi. "The studies also indicate that pulmonary rehabilitation results in decreased anxiety and depression for COPD patients because they find they can exercise more, and they enjoy the feeling that they have mastered something important in their lives".........

Posted by: Scott      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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