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August 9, 2010, 7:19 AM CT

Tattooing and risk of hepatitis C

Tattooing and risk of hepatitis C
Youth, prison inmates and individuals with multiple tattoos that cover large parts of their bodies are at higher risk of contracting hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases, as per a University of British Columbia study.

The scientists evaluated and analysed 124 studies from 30 countries, including Canada, Iran, Italy, Brazil and the United States, and found the occurence rate of hepatitis C after tattooing is directly linked with the number of tattoos an individual receives. The findings appear in the current issue of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases

Tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent years. In the U.S., an estimated 36 per cent of people under 30 have tattoos. In Canada, approximately eight per cent of high school students have at least one tattoo and 21 per cent of those who don't have one want one. During tattooing, the skin is punctured 80 to 150 times a second in order to inject color pigments.

"Since tattoo instruments come in contact with blood and bodily fluids, infections appears to be transmitted if instruments are used on more than one person without being sterilized or without proper hygiene techniques," says main author Dr. Siavash Jafari, a Community Medicine Resident in the UBC School of Population and Public Health (SPPH).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 9, 2010, 6:56 AM CT

Children's vegetable intake linked to Popeye cartoons

Children's vegetable intake linked to Popeye cartoons
Popeye cartoons, tasting parties and junior cooking classes can help increase vegetable intake in kindergarten children, as per new research reported in the journal Nutrition & Dietetics

Scientists at Mahidol University in Bangkok found the type and amount of vegetables children ate improved after they took part in a program using multimedia and role models to promote healthy food.

Twenty six kindergarten children aged four to five participated in the eight week study. The scientists recorded the kinds and amounts of fruit and vegetables eaten by the children before and after the program.

Lead researcher Professor Chutima Sirikulchayanonta said: "We got the children planting vegetable seeds, taking part in fruit and vegetable tasting parties, cooking vegetable soup, and watching Popeye cartoons. We also sent letters to parents with tips on encouraging their kids to eat fruit and vegetables, and teachers sat with children at lunch to role model healthy eating.' .

Professor Sirikulchayanonta and her colleagues found vegetable intake doubled and the types of vegetables the children consumed increased from two to four. Parents also reported their children talked about vegetables more often and were proud they had eaten them in their school lunch.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 8, 2010, 11:24 PM CT

Nerve connections are regenerated

Nerve connections are regenerated
Scientists for the first time have induced robust regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement after spinal cord injury, showing the potential for new therapeutic approaches to paralysis and other motor function impairments.

In a study on rodents, the UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Harvard University team achieved this breakthrough by turning back the developmental clock in a molecular pathway critical for the growth of corticospinal tract nerve connections.

They did this by deleting an enzyme called PTEN (a phosphatase and tensin homolog), which controls a molecular pathway called mTOR that is a key regulator of cell growth. PTEN activity is low early during development, allowing cell proliferation. PTEN then turns on when growth is completed, inhibiting mTOR and precluding any ability to regenerate.

Trying to find a way to restore early-developmental-stage cell growth in injured tissue, Zhigang He, a senior neurology researcher at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, first showed in a 2008 study that blocking PTEN in mice enabled the regeneration of connections from the eye to the brain after optic nerve damage.

He then partnered with Oswald Steward of UCI and Binhai Zheng of UCSD to see if the same approach could promote nerve regeneration in injured spinal cord sites. Results of their study appear online in Nature Neuroscience........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 8, 2010, 10:43 PM CT

New anti-viral drug for hepatitis C

New anti-viral drug for hepatitis C
Adding a direct acting anti-viral drug to the standard therapy regimen for hepatitis C significantly increases the cure rate in the most difficult to treat patients, as per a research report published Monday in the online edition of the journal The Lancet

The research team, led by Paul Kwo, M.D., of Indiana University School of Medicine, reported that adding the drug nearly doubled the therapy's effectiveness when given for 48 weeks in one therapy arm of the study.

An estimated 3.2 million Americans and 170 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis C virus, but a number of do not know it. In the United States, 70 percent of affected individuals are infected with genotype 1 hepatitis C, the most difficult to treat. Eventhough there appears to be no symptoms for years, long-term infection can cause cirrhosis and the disease is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation. Hepatitis C infections occur mainly through transmission of infected blood, such as via injection drug use, and there is no vaccine.

Currently fewer than half of patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C are treated effectively by the standard combination of two drugs, peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin, which is typically given for 48 weeks. The therapy can be difficult for some patients due to anemia and other side effects.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 6, 2010, 7:32 AM CT

What determines the psychopathic traits?

What determines the psychopathic traits?
Psychology professor Edelyn Verona, right, and graduate student Naomi Sadeh have identified a specific gene associated with psychopathic tendencies.

Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer

Scientists studying the genetic roots of antisocial behavior report that children with one variant of a serotonin transporter gene are more likely to exhibit psychopathic traits if they also grow up poor.

The study, the first to identify a specific gene linked to psychopathic tendencies in youth, appears this month in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

People with psychopathic traits generally are more callous and unemotional than their peers, said University of Illinois psychology professor Edelyn Verona, whose graduate student Naomi Sadeh led the study.

"Those with psychopathic traits tend to be less attached to others, even if they have relationships with them," Verona said. "They are less reactive to emotional things in the lab. They are charming and grandiose at times. They're better at conning and manipulating others, and they have low levels of empathy and remorse."

Eventhough psychopathy is considered abnormal, these traits appears to be useful in certain circumstances, Verona said.

"For example, these folks tend to have less anxiety and are less prone to depression," she said, qualities that might be useful in dangerous or unstable environments. In most cases, their cognitive abilities are also intact.

Studies of psychopathy often focus on those in prison for violent crimes, but most people who commit such crimes are not psychopathic, Verona said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 6, 2010, 7:25 AM CT

Large risk schizophrenia marker

Large risk schizophrenia marker
A group of researchers has identified a genetic variant that substantially increases the risk for developing schizophrenia in Ashkenazi Jewish and other populations. The study, published by Cell Press on August 5th in the American Journal of Human Genetics, associates a deletion on chromosome 3 with increased occurence rate of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a psychiatric illness that affects ~1% of the world population. Characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking, it is a devastating disorder.

A group of scientists led by Stephen Warren, Ph.D., from Emory University studied the genetics of schizophrenia by analyzing the prevalence of copy number variants (CNVs) in schizophrenic patients. CNVs are changes in the number of copies of DNA segments throughout the human genome. The scientists began by looking at Ashkenazi Jewish subjects already under study by collaborating scientist Ann E. Pulver, Sc.D. and her team at Johns Hopkins University. The Emory group found an excess of large, rare CNVs in these schizophrenic cases in comparison to controls.

Combining their analysis with those of prior CNV studies of schizophrenic patients, Warren and colleagues identify a CNV, specifically, a deletion at 3q29, that associates with schizophrenia with an odds ratio (a measure of effect size) of 16.98. "This odds ratio rivals that of any genome-wide association study of schizophrenia and suggests that the 3q29 deletion confers a significant risk for this severe psychiatric phenotype," explains Warren. An odds ratio of 17 means someone with this deletion is 17 times more likely to develop schizophrenia than someone without the deletion.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 6, 2010, 7:25 AM CT

Unlocking Secret of Rabies

Unlocking Secret of Rabies
A bat in flight could be ferrying disease to other species.

Credit: Ivan Kuzmin
Most infectious diseases infect multiple host species, but to date, efforts to quantify the frequency and outcome of cross-species transmission (CST) of these diseases have been severely limited.

This lack of information represents a major gap in knowledge of how diseases emerge, and from which species they will emerge.

A paper published this week in the journal Science by a team of scientists led by Daniel Streicker of the University of Georgia has begun to close that gap.

Results of a study, conducted by Streicker and co-authors from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and Western Michigan University, provide some of the first estimates for any infectious disease of how often CST happens in complex, multi-host communities--and the likelihood of disease in a new host species.

"Some of the deadliest human diseases, including AIDS and malaria, arose in other species and then jumped to humans," said Sam Scheiner of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research with NSF's Directorate for Geosciences through the joint NIH-NSF Ecology of Infectious Diseases Program.

"Understanding that process," said Scheiner, "is key to predicting and preventing the next big outbreak".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 5, 2010, 7:08 AM CT

New Way to Boost Vaccines,

New Way to Boost Vaccines,
As the medical community searches for better vaccines and ways to deliver them, a University of Rochester scientist believes he has discovered a new approach to boosting the body's response to vaccinations.

Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D., observed that the same molecules used in drugs that treat diabetes also stimulate B cells in the immune system, pushing them to make antibodies for protection against invading microorganisms.

The University of Rochester Medical Center has applied for international patent protection for this discovery.

Phipps believes further research will show that low doses of insulin-sensitizing drugs might be useful as vaccine adjuvants, especially for people with weakened immune systems who cannot produce a proper antibody response. This would include some infants, the elderly, and patients with chronic health problems that lower immunity.

Currently the only widely approved vaccine adjuvant in the United States is alum. A vaccine adjuvant is a substance added to a vaccine to improve the body's immune response. Various forms of aluminum salts have been used for 70 years. (Adjuvants are added to some vaccines but not all. For example, live viral vaccines given during childhood and seasonal flu vaccines do not contain adjuvants.).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 5, 2010, 7:04 AM CT

Key to success of healing prayer

Key to success of healing prayer
Findings reported today (Aug. 5) from a new international study of healing prayer suggest that prayer for another person's healing just might help -- particularly if the one praying is physically near the person being prayed for.

Candy Gunther Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, led the study of "proximal intercessory prayer" for healing. It is available online today and would be reported in the September 2010 issue of the Southern Medical Journal

The study, titled "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique," measured surprising improvements in vision and hearing in economically disadvantaged areas where eyeglasses and hearing aids are not readily available.

An advance copy of the study is available previous to online publication from Bridget Garland at smjedit@etsu.edu.

"We chose to investigate 'proximal' prayer because that is how a lot of prayer for healing is actually practiced by Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world," Brown said. "These constitute the fastest-growing Christian subgroups globally, with some 500 million adherents, and they are among those most likely to pray expectantly for healing."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 2, 2010, 6:58 AM CT

Mining bacterial genomes

Mining bacterial genomes
new tool to excavate bacterial genomes that potentially hide a rich array of pharmaceutical treasures has led to the discovery of a novel antibiotic. The study, published in the recent issue of Microbiology, could lead to new therapys for serious diseases that are rapidly acquiring multi-drug resistance.

Researchers from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands successfully used a 'genome mining' approach to find and activate a group of genes in the bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor This resulted in the production of a new antibacterial compound that was effective against several bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli.

Streptomyces is a common soil bacterium that is well-known for its antibiotic-producing capabilities. In 2002, genomic sequencing of one Streptomyces species, S. coelicolor, revealed several groups of genes whose function was unknown. By digging deeper and removing a molecule that specifically inactivates one of the mystery gene groups, known as cpk, the scientists in this study were able to 'awaken' the genes, to find that they produced the new antibiotic, in addition to a bright yellow pigment.

This is the first time a genome mining approach to drug discovery has been successfully used in Streptomyces. "The strategy is a powerful and innovative way of searching for new antibiotic production capabilities in bacteria," said Dr Eriko Takano who led the study. "As bacterial infections previously considered as mild and easily curable are suddenly becoming lethal and completely unresponsive to all existing medication, it is crucial that new antibiotics are discovered at a sufficiently rapid rate," she said.........

Posted by: Mark      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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