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May 20, 2009, 6:33 PM CT

Masks Effective in Influenza Prevention

Masks Effective in Influenza Prevention
A new article in the journal Risk Analysis assessed various ways in which aerosol transmission of the flu, a central mode of diffusion which involves breathing droplets in the air, can be reduced. Results show that face protection is a key infection control measure for influenza and can thus affect how people should try to protect themselves from the swine flu.

Lawrence M. Wein, Ph.D., and Michael P. Atkinson of Stanford University constructed a mathematical model of aerosol transmission of the flu to explore infection control measures in the home.

Their model predicted that the use of face protection including N95 respirators (these fit tight around the face and are often worn by construction workers) and surgical masks (these fit looser around the face and are often worn by dental hygienists) are effective in preventing the flu. The filters in surgical masks keep out 98 percent of the virus. Also, only 30 percent of the benefits of the respirators and masks are achieved if they are used only after an infected person develops symptoms.

"Our research aids in the understanding of the efficacy of infection control measures for influenza, and provides a framework about the routes of transmission," the authors conclude.

This timely article has the potential to impact current efforts and recommendations to control the so-called swine flu by international, national and local governments in perspective.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 6:28 PM CT

How influenza virus to evade the body's immune response

How influenza virus to evade the body's immune response
Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have identified a critical molecular mechanism that allows the influenza virus to evade the body's immune response system.

The study would be reported in the May 21 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe

"We have found a mechanism that the influenza virus uses to inhibit the body's immune response that emphasizes the vital role of a certain protein in defending against viruses,"," says Jae Jung, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the principal investigator of the study. "Along with our prior studies (Nature 2007 and PNAS 2008), this finding could provide scientists with the information needed to create a new drug to enhance immunity and block influenza virus infection and replication".

Several specific intracellular receptors are responsible for detecting the virus and activating the body's defensive mechanisms. When a virus' RNA enters the intracellular fluid, a receptor known as retinoic-acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) detects it and triggers a response that limits virus replication and calls the body's defenses into action. RIG-I acts as the sensor and security force against attacks, Jung explains. Then, a protein known as TRIM25 helps RIG-I transmit an alarm signal, which ultimately floods the cell and surrounding tissue with antiviral interferons.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 5:23 AM CT

Satiation solution

Satiation solution
Have you ever gotten sick of pizza, playing the same computer game, or had a song stuck in your head for so long you never wanted to hear it again? If you have, you may suffer from variety amnesia. In new research, Joseph Redden, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, may have found a cure for your satiation blues. "People forget about the abundance of different experiences they have had and tend to focus on the repetition," said Redden. "Simply thinking about the variety of songs they have listened to or meals they have eaten will make people enjoy the activity again." .

Satiation, the process of consuming products and experiences to the point where they are less enjoyable, is a big problem for consumers and retailers. In the past, time and variety have been seen as the only ways to cure satiation. In their new article forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, Redden and co-authors find that just recalling variety may cure satiation faster. "Intuition says that if time passes we will like something again: we call this 'spontaneous recovery,' " said Redden. "This isn't the whole story. People don't fully recover on their own with the mere passage of time. If I'm sick of chocolate, simply thinking about all the other desserts I've had since the last time I had chocolate helps cure my satiation. Time doesn't seem to do that very well".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 5:22 AM CT

Post menopausal hormone replacement and breast cancer

Post menopausal hormone replacement and breast cancer
The risk of developing breast cancer due to taking hormone replacement treatment may be the same for women with a family history of the disease and without a family history, a University of Rochester Medical Center study concluded.

The study, published online this week in the journal Epidemiology, adds to the evolving picture of what factors, either alone or in combination, boost breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. It also refutes the notion, held by a number of in the medical community, that a familial predisposition to breast cancer enhances the carcinogenic effects of estrogen.

"Eventhough we know that family history is a risk factor, we don't know yet what it is about family history that conveys the risk," said Robert E. Gramling, M.D., D.Sc., assistant professor of Family Medicine and of Community and Preventive Medicine at URMC. "Some have proposed that it might be an increased sensitivity to estrogen, but our data did not support that notion. In fact, this study suggests the causal pathway based on family history is probably not estrogen sensitivity".

Scientists analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative randomized trial, which followed 16,608 postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 79, who took hormone replacement treatment (HRT) or a placebo pill between 1993 and 2002. Among the participants, 349 cases of invasive breast cancer occurred during a mean follow-up period of 5.6 years.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 5:14 AM CT

Clues to HIV

Clues to HIV
Rice University's Andrew Barron and his group, working with labs in Italy, Gera number of and Greece, have identified specific molecules that could block the means by which the deadly virus spreads by taking away its ability to bind with other proteins.

Using computer simulations, scientists tested more than 100 carbon fullerene, or C-60, derivatives initially developed at Rice for other purposes to see if they could be used to inhibit a strain of the virus, HIV-1 PR, by attaching themselves to its binding pocket.

"There are a lot of people doing this kind of research, but it tends to be one group or one pharmaceutical company taking a shotgun approach -- make a molecule and try it out, then make another molecule and try it out," said Barron, Rice's Charles W. Duncan Jr.-Welch Professor of Chemistry and professor of materials science. "This is interesting because we're tackling an important problem in a very rational way".

The groups reported their findings in a paper published on the American Chemical Society's Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling Web site last week.

Their method of modeling ways to attack HIV may not be unique, but their collaboration is. Research groups from five institutions -- two in Greece, one in Gera number of, one in Italy and Barron's group at Rice -- came together through e-mail contacts and conversations over a number of months, each working on facets of the problem. "Not all the groups have ever met in person," Barron said. Most remarkable, he said, is that their research to date has been completely unfunded.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 5:11 AM CT

Predicting breast cancer outcome

Predicting breast cancer outcome
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center scientists have uncovered a gene signature that may help predict clinical outcomes in certain types of breast cancer.

In the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Harold (Hal) Moses, M.D., and his colleagues report that this gene signature which is linked to the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) signaling pathway correlates with reduced relapse-free survival in breast cancer patients, particularly in those with estrogen receptor (ER) positive tumors.

The results suggest that assessing TGF-β signaling appears to be a useful aid in determining breast cancer prognosis and in guiding therapy. The work also sheds light on how TGF-β affects tumor growth and progression.

TGF-β is a well-known regulator of tumor growth and metastasis. In the early stages of cancer, TGF-β signaling inhibits tumor growth. But for unclear reasons, most tumors eventually lose their sensitivity to TGF-β, and the once-beneficial protein begins promoting tumor growth and metastasis during later cancer stages. Loss of TGF-β signaling has been associated with tumor progression in human breast cancer.

To identify mechanisms by which TGF-β regulates tumor progression and metastasis, Brian Bierie, Ph.D., a former graduate student in the Moses lab, developed mammary cancer cell lines from mice lacking the TGF-β type II receptor (TβRII), an important component of the TGF-β signaling pathway.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 5:09 AM CT

A new way of treating the flu

A new way of treating the flu
Dr. Robert Linhardt's new compound (green spheres) blocks both the N (pink spikes) and H (blue spikes) portion of the flu virus. The compound prevents the infection of the cell and the spread of the flu to other cell like no other compound before.

Credit: Melissa Kemp/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

What happens if the next big influenza mutation proves resistant to the available anti-viral drugs? This question is presenting itself right now to researchers and health officials this week at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, as they continue to do battle with H1N1, the so-called swine flu, and prepare for the next iteration of the ever-changing flu virus.

Promising new research announced by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could provide an entirely new tool to combat the flu. The discovery is a one-two punch against the illness that targets the illness on two fronts, going one critical step further than any currently available flu drug.

"We have been fortunate with H1N1 because it has been responding well to available drugs. But if the virus mutates substantially, the currently available drugs might be ineffective because they only target one portion of the virus," said Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. '59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer. "By targeting both portions of the virus, the H and the N, we can interfere with both the initial attachment to the cell that is being infected and the release of the budding virus from the cell that has been affected".

The findings of the team, which have broad implications for future flu drugs, will be featured on the cover of the June edition of European Journal of Organic Chemistry........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 20, 2009, 5:05 AM CT

Promise for epilepsy treatment

Promise for epilepsy treatment
University of Minnesota McKnight professor and Director of Center for Neuroengineering Bin He has developed a new technique that has led to preliminary successes in noninvasive imaging of seizure foci. He's technique promises to play an important role in the therapy of epileptic seizures.

To view a video explaining the procedure, visit: http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/newsservice/Multimedia_Videos/bin_he.htm.

He's research, called Functional Neuroimaging, has completed its first round of testing in epilepsy data collected at the Mayo Clinic. He's medical device images the brain while epilepsy patients have a seizure and then allows surgeons to identify the network where the seizure is caused.

Approximately one-third of people who suffer from epileptic seizures cannot be treated by medication, and this process could lead to further advancements in surgical therapy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 19, 2009, 5:25 AM CT

Computer Model Predicts Brain Tumor Growth

Computer Model Predicts Brain Tumor Growth
The virtual and the real
Computer-generated depictions of a growing brain tumor show growth at six, eight and 12 months (top, left to right), with development of infiltrative cell front (arrow) at 12 months. Tissue slide (bottom) shows tumor finger (black arrow) advancing in substrate gradient (white arrow).
Scientists from Brown University and other institutions have developed a computational computer model of how brain tumors grow and evolve.

The model is the product mathematical formulas based on the first principals of physics, such as conservation of mass, and it has allowed scientists to recreate tumor growth in a computer. Through subsequent repetitive testing against real tumors, they have also linked their computerized tumors to real-world brain tumors, or "gliomas," and can now watch tumor growth on a computer screen.

Creating such a model is significant because it could help design specific, targeted therapys for individualized treatment. There is no cure for gliomas, which can kill quickly, often within 15 months of diagnosis. Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy announced a year ago that he was suffering from this type of tumor, a cancerous glioma of the brain.

Details of the research were highlighted at an April meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The full article is included in the May 15 edition of the journal Cancer Research.

"This helps us design a therapy," said Elaine Bearer, the main author and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown. "By testing potential therapies in the computer, we can get our new drugs much faster to patients".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 19, 2009, 5:21 AM CT

Triglycerides implicated in diabetes nerve loss

Triglycerides implicated in diabetes nerve loss
A common blood test for triglycerides a well-known cardiovascular disease risk factor may also for the first time allow doctors to predict which patients with diabetes are more likely to develop the serious, common complication of neuropathy.

In a study now online in the journal Diabetes, University of Michigan and Wayne State University scientists analyzed data from 427 diabetes patients with neuropathy, a condition in which nerves are damaged or lost with resulting numbness, tingling and pain, often in the hands, arms, legs and feet. The data revealed that if a patient had elevated triglycerides, he or she was significantly more likely to experience worsening neuropathy over a period of one year. Other factors, such as higher levels of other fats in the blood or of blood glucose, did not turn out to be significant. The study will appear in print in the journal's July issue.

"In our study, elevated serum triglycerides were the most accurate at predicting nerve fiber loss, in comparison to all other measures," says Kelli A. Sullivan, Ph.D., co-first author of the study and an assistant research professor in neurology at the U-M Medical School.

"These results set the stage for clinicians to be able to address lowering lipid counts with their diabetes patients with neuropathy as vigilantly as they pursue glucose control," says Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the U-M Medical School.........

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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