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May 19, 2011, 8:54 AM CT

Recurring breast cancer

Recurring breast cancer
When women with a history of breast cancer learn they have breast cancer again, one of the first questions they and their doctors ask is: Has my cancer come back, or is this a new case? Now, new data from Fox Chase Cancer Center suggest that both new and recurring cancers will differ significantly from the original tumors, regardless of how a number of months or years women spent cancer-free, and doctors should tailor therapy to the specific qualities of the second tumor, regardless of whether it's old or new.

Anita Patt, MD, surgical oncology fellow at Fox Chase and main author on the study, will be presenting the findings at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on Monday, June 6.

"There tends to be a stigma and a lot of anxiety about the word 'recurrence,'" says Richard J. Bleicher, MD, FACS, attending surgeon at Fox Chase and senior author on the study. "Sometimes women will worry more if they believe their original cancer is back, meaning they didn't 'beat it' the first time around. These findings suggest they should not get hung up on that idea, because any subsequent diagnosis � whether it's a recurrence or a new tumor � will look significantly different from their first cancer".

In women with a history of breast cancer, doctors often approach new tumors differently depending on whether they believe it's a recurrence of the first tumor, or a totally new one, Bleicher explains. But there are no official ways to distinguish between the two types, so doctors typically rely on a few criteria, then form their own opinion based on an "overall gestalt," he says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 19, 2011, 8:51 AM CT

Virtual workout partners

Virtual workout partners
Deborah Feltz is chairperson of MSU's Department of Kinesiology.

Credit: Courtesy photo

Can't find anyone to exercise with? Don't despair: New research from Michigan State University reveals working out with a virtual partner improves motivation during exercise.

The study led by Deborah Feltz, chairperson of MSU's Department of Kinesiology, is the first to investigate the Kohler effect on motivation in health video games; that phenomenon explains why inferior team members perform better in a group than they would by themselves.

The research, to be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, was funded by a $150,000 grant from Health Games Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio.

"Our results suggest working out with virtually present, superior partners can improve motivation on exercise game tasks," Feltz said. "These findings provide a starting point to test additional features that have the potential to improve motivational gains in health video games".

By incorporating design features based on the Kohler effect, health video games could motivate vigorous exercise, she added.

"One of the key hurdles people cite in not working out is a lack of motivation," Feltz said. "Research has shown working out with a partner increases motivation, and with a virtual partner, you are removing the social anxiety that some people feel working out in public."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 19, 2011, 8:45 AM CT

African-Americans with SLE more responsive to flu vaccine

African-Americans with SLE more responsive to flu vaccine
New research shows that African Americans with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) had a higher antibody response to influenza vaccination than European American patients. Treatment with prednisone, a history of hemolytic anemia, and increased disease flares were also associated with low antibody response in SLE patients who received the flu vaccine as per the study now available in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a peer-evaluated journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

The ACR estimates that up to 322,000 adult Americans are burdened with SLE, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system fails to recognize the difference between healthy cells and foreign substances (bacteria and viruses), producing autoantibodies that attack a person's own tissues and organs. Medical evidence shows that infectious diseases are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality for lupus patients, responsible for up to 23% of all hospitalization and 20% to 50% of all deaths. Current clinical practice advises vaccination against common infectious diseases, such as influenza, for patients with lupus to reduce their risk of infection.

"SLE patients are more susceptible to infection which is likely the result of immunosuppressive treatment and inherent deficiencies of the immune system," said lead researcher Dr. Judith James, Chair of the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and Professor of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. "Our study explored multiple factors which influence response to influenza vaccination in SLE patients with active and inactive disease activity".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 19, 2011, 8:43 AM CT

Nanopatch for the heart

Nanopatch for the heart
Engineers at Brown University have created a nanopatch for the heart that tests show restores areas that have been damaged, such as from a heart attack.

Credit: Frank Mullin, Brown University

When you suffer a heart attack, a part of your heart dies. Nerve cells in the heart's wall and a special class of cells that spontaneously expand and contract � keeping the heart beating in perfect synchronicity � are lost forever. Surgeons can't repair the affected area. It's as if when confronted with a road riddled with potholes, you abandon what's there and build a new road instead.

Needless to say, this is a grossly inefficient way to treat arguably the single most important organ in the human body. The best approach would be to figure out how to resuscitate the deadened area, and in this quest, a group of researchers at Brown University and in India may have an answer.

The scientists turned to nanotechnology. In a lab, they built a scaffold-looking structure consisting of carbon nanofibers and a government-approved polymer. Tests showed the synthetic nanopatch regenerated natural heart tissue cells �� called cardiomyocytes � as well as neurons. In short, the tests showed that a dead region of the heart can be brought back to life.

"This whole idea is to put something where dead tissue is to help regenerate it, so that you eventually have a healthy heart," said David Stout, a graduate student in the School of Engineering at Brown and the lead author of the paper published in Acta Biomaterialia........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 19, 2011, 8:41 AM CT

A better mouse model to study depression

A better mouse model to study depression
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have developed a mouse model of major depressive disorder (MDD) that is based on a rare genetic mutation that appears to cause MDD in the majority of people who inherit it. The findings, which were published online today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics EarlyView, could help to clarify the brain events that lead to MDD, and contribute to the development of new and better means of therapy and prevention. This report also illustrates an advance in the design of recombinant mouse models that should be applicable to a number of human diseases.

"Major depressive disorder is a leading cause of suffering, disability and premature death from all causes including suicide. While the cause currently is unknown, twin and adoption studies indicate that genetic factors account for 40 to 70 percent of the risk for developing this common disorder," explained main author George Zubenko, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.

"In this report, we describe how we constructed a laboratory mouse strain that mimics the brain mechanism that leads to major depression in humans, rather than symptoms," he said. "Nonetheless, in our initial characterization, the mutant mice exhibited several features that were reminiscent of the human disorder, including alterations of brain anatomy, gene expression, behavior, as well as increased infant mortality."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 8, 2011, 9:53 PM CT

The brain performs visual search near optimally

The brain performs visual search near optimally
In the wild, mammals survive because they can see and evade predators lurking in the shadowy bushes.

That ability translates to the human world. Transportation Security Administration screeners can pick out dangerous objects in an image of our messy and stuffed suitcases. We get out of the house every morning because we find our car keys on that cluttered shelf next to the door.

This ability to recognize target objects surrounded by distracters is one of the remarkable functions of our nervous system.

"Visual search is an important task for the brain. Surprisingly, even in a complex task like detecting an object in a scene with distracters, we find that people's performance is near optimal. That means that the brain manages to do the best possible job given the available information," said Dr. Wei Ji Ma. A report on research by him and his colleagues from other institutions appears online in the journal Nature Neuroscience

Recognizing the target is more than figuring out each individual object.

"Target detection involves integrating information from multiple locations," said Ma. "A number of objects might look like the target for which you are searching. It is a cognitive judgment as well as a visual one".

One factor that must be taken into account is reliability of the information.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 4, 2011, 5:38 PM CT

Employee flu vaccination rates

Employee flu vaccination rates
A systematic effort to improve flu vaccination rates for healthcare workers has increased flu vaccinations rates from 59 percent to 77 percent at the University Health System (UHS) in San Antonio. A report detailing their interventions to increase vaccination was reported in the recent issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

UHS raised its healthcare worker vaccination rate from 59 percent in 2009 to 77 percent in 2010 through quality improvement tools including vaccine kits to individual units, Grand Round presentations, enhanced staff awareness and a dashboard of vaccination rates of each program was promoted on the staff intranet. The increase places the UHS well above national average for healthcare worker vaccination, which tends to hover below 50 percent.

The vaccination push was spearheaded by a quality improvement team with a goal of reaching a vaccination rate of 80 percent. The team developed a list of possible reasons for low immunization rates, and created a set of interventions to combat them.

Under the improvement program, a vaccination kit was provided to each hospital unit so workers could take it without leaving their work area. Multiple educational conferences on the importance of vaccination were held, and a flu information website and blog were added to the health system's website. Hospital newsletters featured articles about immunization, including photographs of hospital leaders being vaccinated. The vaccination campaign was also promoted on telephone hold messages and computer screen savers. To monitor progress, vaccination rates by unit were sent to unit directors weekly and were available to all employees on the website.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 4, 2011, 5:20 PM CT

Positive effects of depression

Positive effects of depression
Sadness, apathy, preoccupation. These traits come to mind when people think about depression, the world's most frequently diagnosed mental disorder. Yet, forthcoming research in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology provides evidence that depression has a positive side-effect.

As per a newly released study by Bettina von Helversen (University of Basel, Switzerland), Andreas Wilke (Clarkson University), Tim Johnson (Stanford University), Gabriele Schmid (Technische Universit�t M�nchen, Gera number of), and Burghard Klapp (Charit� Hospital Berlin, Gera number of), depressed individuals perform better than their non-depressed peers in sequential decision tasks.

In their study, participants -- who were healthy, clinically depressed, or recovering from depression -- played a computer game in which they could earn money by hiring an applicant in a simulated job search.

The game assigned each applicant a monetary value and presented applicants one-at-a-time in random order. Experiment participants faced the challenge of determining when to halt search and select the current applicant.

In addition to resembling everyday decision problems, such as house shopping and dating, the task has a known optimal strategy. As reported, depressed patients approximated this optimal strategy more closely than non-depressed participants did.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 4, 2011, 4:30 PM CT

Protein that could help prevent the spread of cancer

Protein that could help prevent the spread of cancer
Dr. Andrew Craig with an image that shows the "invadopodia" of a breast cancer cell protruding into surrounding tissue and degrading the tissue barriers. It is this process of metastasis or cancer spread that Dr. Craig's team hope to be able to lessen or prevent with future therapies

Credit: Queen's University

A protein capable of halting the spread of breast cancer cells could lead to a treatment for preventing or limiting the spread of the disease.

"Cancer scientists want to design new therapeutic strategies in which the metastasis or spreading stage of cancer can be blocked," explains Andrew Craig, lead researcher and a professor in Queen's Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Research Institute. "Patients stand a much better chance of survival if the primary tumor is the only tumor that needs to be treated".

The regulatory protein identified by Dr Craig's team inhibits the spread of cancer cells by removing and breaking down an invasive enzyme on the surface of cancer cells. If it remains unchecked, this enzyme degrades and modifies surrounding tissues, facilitating the spread of cancer through the body.

Dr. Craig hopes that his team's findings may help develop more targeted therapies that have a specific inhibitory function on this enzyme that is implicated in certain metastatic cancers.

Traditional therapies that have been used to counteract the invasive nature of this particular enzyme also destroy other enzymes that are important for the body's normal physiological function.

The scientists examined a network of proteins that are responsible for controlling the shape of cancer cells. They focused specifically on parts of the cell that protrude into surrounding body tissues, allowing the cancer cell to degrade surrounding tissue barriers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 4, 2011, 4:25 PM CT

To help end dry mouth in cancer patients

To help end dry mouth in cancer patients
(Edmonton) For patients suffering from cancer in the mouth or throat, a recent study shows that a therapy called submandibular gland transfer will assist in preventing a radiation-induced condition called xerostomia.

Also known as dry mouth, xerostomia occurs when salivary glands stop working. University of Alberta researcher Jana Rieger likens the feeling of xerostomia to the experience of the after-effects of having surgery and anesthetic�but the feeling is permanent.

While the importance of healthy saliva glands appears to be an afterthought for some patients when battling cancer, the long-lasting effects create many problems for them when they are in remission.

"We need saliva to keep our mouths healthy," said Rieger. "Without saliva, people can lose their teeth, dentures don't fit properly and the ability to swallow and speak is severely altered".

The study conducted by Rieger, a speech language pathologist in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, looked at functional outcomes�speech changes, swallowing habits and the quality of life of patients with mouth and throat cancers�as they received two different types of therapys previous to and during radiation.

The first group of patients underwent the submandibular gland transfer. This method was pioneered by Hadi Seikaly and Naresh Jha at the University of Alberta in 1999. The transfer involves moving the saliva gland from under the angle of the jaw to under to the chin. Previous to this procedure, the saliva gland was in line for the radiation. Seikaly says, "Most patients, when they are cured from cancer, complain of one major thing: dry mouth".........

Posted by: Janet      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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