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April 28, 2009, 5:21 AM CT

Pregnancy safe with epilepsy, avoid valproate

Pregnancy safe with epilepsy, avoid valproate
New guidelines developed by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society show it's relatively safe for women with epilepsy to become pregnant, but caution must be taken, including avoiding one particular epilepsy drug that can cause birth defects. The guidelines are reported in the April 27, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and will be presented April 27, 2009, at the Academy's Annual Meeting in Seattle.

The guidelines recommend women with epilepsy avoid taking the drug valproate during pregnancy.

"Strong evidence shows that valproate is associated with an increased risk for fetal malformations and decreased thinking skills in children, whether used by itself or with other medications," said lead guideline author Cynthia Harden, MD, Director of the Epilepsy Division at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The guidelines also suggest, if possible, women with epilepsy should not take more than one epilepsy drug at a time during pregnancy since taking more than one seizure drug has also been found to increase the risk of birth defects in comparison to taking only one medication.

"Overall, what we found should be very reassuring to every woman with epilepsy planning to become pregnant," said Harden. "These guidelines show that women with epilepsy are not at a substantially increased risk of having a Cesarean section, late pregnancy bleeding, or premature contractions or premature labor and delivery. Also, if a woman is seizure free nine months before she becomes pregnant, it's likely that she will not have any seizures during the pregnancy".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 24, 2009, 5:08 AM CT

Stem cells obtained from a patient's own adipose tissue for MS treatment

Stem cells obtained from a patient's own adipose tissue for MS treatment
A preliminary study on the use of stem cells obtained from a patient's own adipose tissue in the therapy of multiple sclerosis (MS) has shown promising results. The three case studies, described in BioMed Central's open access Journal of Translational Medicine support further clinical assessment of stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells in MS and other autoimmune conditions.

Thomas Ichim, from Medistem Inc., and Dr. Boris Minev, from the Division of Neurosurgery, University of California San Diego, worked with a team of scientists to demonstrate the possible effectiveness of SVF cells in MS therapy. Minev said, "All three patients in our study showed dramatic improvement in their condition after the course of SVF treatment. While obviously no conclusions in terms of therapeutic efficacy can be drawn from these reports, this first clinical use of fat stem cells for therapy of MS supports further investigations into this very simple and easily-implementable therapy methodology".

MS is an autoimmune condition, in which the body's own defences attack nerve cells, resulting in loss of their fatty myelin sheath. The first symptoms commonly occur in young adults, most usually in women. It is believed that SVF cells, and other stem cells, appears to be able to treat the condition by limiting the immune reaction and promoting the growth of new myelin. As per Minev, "None of the presently available MS therapys selectively inhibit the immune attack against the nervous system, nor do they stimulate regeneration of previously damaged tissue. We've shown that SVF cells may fill this therapeutic gap".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 24, 2009, 5:05 AM CT

How cigarettes calm you down

How cigarettes calm you down
The calming neurological effects of nicotine have been demonstrated in a group of non-smokers during anger provocation. Scientists writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions suggest that nicotine may alter the activity of brain areas that are involved in the inhibition of negative emotions such as anger.

Jean Gehricke led a team of scientists from the University of California who studied the effect of nicotine patches on the subjects' tendency to retaliate in response to anger provocation. The subjects played a computer game and could see a video screen of another player who they thought to betheir opponent, although, in fact, they were playing alone. After each round, the victor could give his opponent a burst of unpleasant noise at a duration and volume set by the winner. In some of the subjects, nicotine was linked to a reduced tendency to retaliate, even after provocation by the 'opponent'.

As per Gehricke, "Participants who showed nicotine-induced changes in anger task performance also showed changes in brain metabolism. Nicotine-induced reductions in length of retaliation were linked to changes in brain metabolism in response to nicotine in brain areas responsible for orienting, planning and processing of emotional stimuli".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 22, 2009, 5:16 AM CT

Think memory worsens with age?

Think memory worsens with age?
Thinking your memory will get worse as you get older may actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Scientists at North Carolina State University have observed that senior citizens who think older people should perform poorly on tests of memory actually score much worse than seniors who do not buy in to negative stereotypes about aging and memory loss.

As per a research findings published earlier this month, psychology professor Dr. Tom Hess and a team of scientists from NC State show that elderly adults' ability to remember suffers when negative stereotypes are "activated" in a given situation. "For example, elderly adults will perform more poorly on a memory test if they are told that older folks do poorly on that particular type of memory test," Hess says. Memory also suffers if senior citizens believe they are being "stigmatized," meaning that others are looking down on them because of their age.

"Such situations appears to be a part of elderly adults' everyday experience," Hess says, "such as being concerned about what others think of them at work having a negative effect on their performance and thus potentially reinforcing the negative stereotypes." However, Hess adds, "The positive flip side of this is that those who do not feel stigmatized, or those in situations where more positive views of aging are activated, exhibit significantly higher levels of memory performance." In other words, if you are confident that aging will not ravage your memory, you are more likely to perform well on memory-related tasks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 16, 2009, 5:11 AM CT

Patient's own stem cells to combat stroke

Patient's own stem cells to combat stroke
For the first time in the United States, a stroke patient has been intravenously injected with his own bone marrow stem cells as part of a research trial at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Roland "Bud" Henrich, 61, was transferred to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center on March 25 after suffering a stroke while working on his farm in Liberty. He arrived too late to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the only therapy for ischemic strokes. He became the first patient in the trial.

The Phase I safety trial, funded with a pilot grant from The National Institutes of Health and support from the Notsew Orm Sands Foundation, will enroll nine more patients who have suffered a stroke and can be treated with the stem cell procedure within 24 to 72 hours of initial symptoms.

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blockage or a rupture in an artery, depriving brain tissue of oxygen. It is the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. As per the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year one every 40 seconds. On average, someone dies of stroke every three to four minutes.

"It's still very early in this safety study, but this could be an exciting new therapeutic approach for people who have just suffered a stroke," said Sean Savitz, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the medical school and the study's lead investigator. "Animal studies have shown that when you administer stem cells after stroke, the cells enhance the healing. We know that stem cells have some kind of guidance system and migrate to the area of injury. They're not making new brain cells but they appears to be enhancing the repair processes and reducing inflammatory damage."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 16, 2009, 5:07 AM CT

How Alzheimer's destroy brain cells

How Alzheimer's destroy brain cells
For a decade, Alzheimer's disease scientists have been entrenched in debate about one of the mechanisms thought to beresponsible for brain cell death and memory loss in the illness.

Now scientists at the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Diego have settled the dispute. Resolving this controversy improves understanding of the disease and could one day lead to better therapys.

Michael Mayer, an assistant professor in the U-M departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, and Jerry Yang, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSD, and their colleagues found a flaw in earlier studies supporting one side of the debate. Their findings are published online in the Journal of Neurotoxicity Research They will appear in the May print edition.

Their results clarify how small proteins called amyloid-beta peptides damage brain cell membranes, allowing extra calcium ions to enter the neurons. An ion is an electrically-charged particle. An ion imbalance in a cell can trigger its suicide.

Amyloid-beta peptides are the prime suspects for causing cell death in Alzheimer's, eventhough other mechanisms could also be to blame. The disease is not well understood.

The scientists confirmed evidence found by others that amyloid-beta peptides prick pores into brain cell membranes, opening channels where calcium ions can rush in. This was one mechanism the field had contemplated, but other evidence suggested a different scenario. Some scientists believed that the peptide caused a general thinning of the cell membranes and these thinned membranes lost their ability to keep calcium ions out of brain cells. Mayer and Yang disproved this latter theory.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 15, 2009, 5:10 AM CT

Melatonin for sleep problems in children with autism

Melatonin for sleep problems in children with autism
Westchester, Ill. - A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine determined that over-the-counter melatonin medicine can shorted the length of time it takes for children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), or both to fall asleep at the beginning of the night.

Results of the study indicated that children who received over-the-counter melatonin therapys experienced significant improvements in total night sleep durations, sleep latency times, and sleep-onset times. Mean sleep duration was longer on melatonin than placebo by 21 minutes, sleep-onset latency was shorter by 28 minutes and sleep-onset time was earlier by 42 minutes.

As per the senior author, Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, PhD of the M.I.N.D Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, Calif., therapy with over-the-counter melatonin supplements benefits children of all ages, which helps alleviate some of the additional stress that parents of special-needs children experience.

"Sleep onset problems at the beginning of the night are very troublesome for children and their families," said Goodlin-Jones. "Sometimes children may take one to two hours to fall asleep and often they disrupt the household during this time."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 13, 2009, 12:41 AM CT

Ideal Neural Cells for Clinical Use

Ideal Neural Cells for Clinical Use
Investigators at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) have developed a protocol to rapidly differentiate human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into neural progenitor cells that appears to be ideal for transplantation. This research, which was conducted by Alexei Terskikh, Ph.D., and his colleagues, outlines a method to create these committed neural precursor cells (C-NPCs) that is replicable, does not produce mutations in the cells and could be useful for clinical applications. The research was published on March 13 in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation.

When the C-NPCs created using the Terskikh protocol were transplanted into mice, they became active neurons and integrated into the cortex and olfactory bulb. The transplanted cells did not generate tumor outgrowth.

"The uniform conversion of embryonic stem cells into neural progenitors is the first step in the development of cell-based therapies for neurodegenerative disorders or spinal injuries," said Dr. Terskikh. "A number of of the methods used to generate neural precursor cells for research in the lab would never work in therapeutic applications. This protocol is very well suited for clinical application because it is robust, controllable and reproducible."

Dr. Terskikh notes that the extensive passaging (moving cells from plate to plate) mandatory by some protocols to expand the numbers of neural precursor cells limits the plasticity of the cells, can introduce mutations and may lead to the expression of oncogenes. The Terskikh protocol avoids this by using efficient conversion of hESCs into primary neuroepithelial cells without the extensive passaging.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 7, 2009, 5:15 AM CT

Wise to trust the female nose

Wise to trust the female nose
It appears to be wise to trust the female nose when it comes to body odor. As per new research from the Monell Center, it is more difficult to mask underarm odor when women are doing the smelling.

"It is quite difficult to block a woman's awareness of body odor. In contrast, it seems rather easy to do so in men," said study main author Charles J. Wysocki, PhD, a behavioral neuroscientist at Monell.

The scientists speculate that females are more attuned to biologically relevant information in sweat that may guide women when choosing a mate.

In the study, women and men rated the strength of underarm odors, both alone and in conjunction with various fragrances.

The fragrances were selected to test their ability to block underarm odor through a method known as cross-adaptation. Olfactory adaptation refers to the loss of sensitivity to an odor when one is constantly exposed to that odor. Olfactory cross-adaptation occurs when the nose adapts to one odor and then also becomes less sensitive to a second odor.

Sniffed alone, the underarm odors smelled equally strong to men and women. When fragrance was introduced, only two of 32 scents successfully blocked underarm odor when women were doing the smelling; in contrast, 19 fragrances significantly reduced the strength of underarm odor for men.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 6, 2009, 9:42 PM CT

Avastin for brain cancer

Avastin for brain cancer
The use of Avastin alone to treat a subgroup of recurrent Grade 3 brain tumors showed it was safe and effective at delaying tumor progression, as per a retrospective study of 22 patients conducted by a researcher at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The patients all had a recurrent cancerous glioma known as alkylator-refractory anaplastic oligodendroglioma (AO), for which there is no existing standard treatment. Oligodendrogliomas begin in brain cells called oligodendrocytes, which provide support around nerves by building a sheath of myelin and facilitating electrical nerve impulses. The relatively uncommon tumor affects about 2,000 persons annually in the U.S. Most are under age 50.

Avastin, known generically as bevacizumab, is the first approved treatment designed to inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop and carry vital nutrients to a tumor. It is approved so far to treat certain metastatic colon cancers and non-small cell lung cancer.

"Bevacizumab is an important drug for us," said Marc Chamberlain, M.D., author of the study reported in the April 15 edition of the journal Cancer "Of all of the targeted therapies for gliomas, this has been the most promising. And this is practice changing."

Therapy for treating recurrent high-grade gliomas is palliative. All patients with these high-grade tumors eventually die of their cancer. However, bevacizumab has the potential to be the best palliative therapy, as per Chamberlain, who is director of the Neuro-oncology Program at the SCCA and a professor of neurology and neurological surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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