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August 16, 2009, 9:36 PM CT

Needle-free, inhalant powder measles vaccine

Needle-free, inhalant powder measles vaccine
Scientists have developed the first dry powder inhalable vaccine for measles. The inhaler is easy to use.

Credit: Aktiv-Dry, LLC
The first dry powder inhalable vaccine for measles is moving toward clinical trials next year in India, where the disease still sickens millions of infants and children and kills almost 200,000 annually, as per a report presented here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Robert Sievers, Ph.D., who leads the team that developed the dry-powder vaccine, said it's a perfect fit for use in back-roads areas of developing countries. Those areas often lack the electricity for refrigeration, clean water and sterile needles needed to administer traditional liquid vaccines.

"Childhood vaccines that can be inhaled and delivered directly to mucosal surfaces have the potential to offer significant advantages over injection," Sievers said. "Not only might they reduce the risk of infection from HIV, hepatitis, and other serious diseases due to unsterilized needles, they may prove more effective against disease."

"A number of serious infections, such as the measles virus, can enter the body through inhalation. Measles vaccine dry powders have the potential to effectively vaccinate infants, children and adults by inhalation, avoiding the problems linked to liquid vaccines delivered by injection," he added.

Eventhough made for developing countries, the technology eventually could become the basis for a new generation of inhalable and ouchless vaccines in the United States and elsewhere. So far, an inhalable vaccine is available for only one disease. It is a wet mist vaccine for influenza.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 9:17 PM CT

The buzz on an amazing new mosquito repellent

The buzz on an amazing new mosquito repellent
Mosquitoes stay away from repellent-soaked cloth on the arm of researcher Ulrich Bernier.

Credit: Greg Allen, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

After searching for more than 50 years, researchers finally have discovered many new mosquito repellents that beat DEET, the gold standard for warding off those pesky, sometimes disease-carrying insects. The stuff seems like a dream come true. It makes mosquitoes buzz off three times longer than DEET, the active ingredient in a number of of today's bug repellents. It does not have the unpleasant odor of DEET. And it does not cause DEET's sticky-skin sensation.

But there's a fly in the ointment: The odds appears to be stacked against any of the new repellents finding a place on store shelves this year or next or ever.

Ulrich Bernier, Ph.D., lead researcher for the repellent study, said the costly, time-consuming pre-market testing and approval process is a hurdle that will delay availability of the repellents, which were discovered last year. The results of his team's work were presented today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) by Maia Tsikoli, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher working with Bernier.

"Commercial availability of topical repellents can take years and a significant investment to achieve that end goal," Bernier said. "The cost will be several hundred thousand dollars. Once you determine that the repellent works through some screening process, we then have to go through a toxicological hazard assessment involving numerous toxicological tests".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 9:11 PM CT

Hazardous chemicals in smokeless tobacco

Hazardous chemicals in smokeless tobacco
This is a sample of smokeless tobacco.

Credit: Keith Lindsey

Attention all smokeless tobacco users! It's time to banish the comforting notion that snuff and chewing tobacco are safe because they don't burn and produce inhalable smoke like cigarettes. A study that looked beyond the well-researched tobacco hazards, nitrosamines and nicotine, has discovered a single pinch the amount in a portion of smokeless tobacco exposes the user to the same amount of another group of dangerous chemicals as the smoke of five cigarettes.

The research on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

(PAH) in smokeless tobacco was reported here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It adds to current evidence that smokeless contains two dozen other carcinogens that cause oral and pancreas cancers, the researchers say.

"This study once again clearly shows us that smokeless tobacco is not safe," said Irina Stepanov, Ph.D., who led the research team. "Our finding places snuff on the same list of major sources of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as smoking cigarettes." PAHs are widespread environmental contaminants formed as a result of incomplete burning of wood, coal, fat in meat, and organic matter. PAHs form, for instance, during the grilling of burgers, steaks and other meat.

The findings come in the midst of a rise in both marketing and consumption of smokeless tobacco, which a number of consumers regard as less dangerous than other forms of tobacco. Estimates suggest that sales of moist snuff in the United States have doubled since the 1980s.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 8:52 PM CT

Up to 90 percent of US paper money contains traces of cocaine

Up to 90 percent of US paper money contains traces of cocaine
Traces of cocaine exist in up to 90 percent of banknotes in many large US cities, a new study reports.

Credit: The American Chemical Society

You probably have cocaine in your wallet, purse, or pocket. Sound unlikely or outrageous? Think again! In what scientists describe as the largest, most comprehensive analysis to date of cocaine contamination in banknotes, researchers are reporting that cocaine is present in up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States, especially in large cities such as Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit. The researchers found traces of cocaine in 95 percent of the banknotes analyzed from Washington, D.C., alone.

Presented here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the newly released study suggests that cocaine abuse is still widespread and appears to be on the rise in some areas. It could help raise public awareness about cocaine use and lead to greater emphasis on curbing its abuse, the scientists say.

The researchers tested banknotes from more than 30 cities in five countries, including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, China, and Japan, and found "alarming" evidence of cocaine use in a number of areas. The U.S. and Canada had the highest levels, with an average contamination rate of between 85 and 90 percent, while China and Japan had the lowest, between 12 and 20 percent contamination. This is the first reported study about cocaine contamination in Chinese and Japanese currencies, they say.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 8:50 PM CT

New biomarker predicts response to hepatitis C treatment

New biomarker predicts response to hepatitis C treatment
Scientists have identified the first genetic marker that predicts response to hepatitis C therapys, and a single letter of DNA code appears to make a huge difference. Duke University Medical Center researchers says the biomarker not only predicts who is most likely to respond to therapy and who isn't, but also may explain why there are such different rates of response among racial and ethnic groups, a phenomenon that has puzzled physicians for years.

"For geneticists, understanding response to therapy for hepatitis C infection has been almost like a Holy Grail," says David Goldstein, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Genome Variation in Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and the senior author of the study. "The side effects of hepatitis therapy can be brutal, and about half the time, the therapy fails to eradicate the virus. This discovery enables us to give patients valuable information that will help them and their doctors decide what is best for them. This is what personalized medicine is all about".

The discovery is reported online in the journal Nature

Hepatitis C is one of the most common infections in the world, affecting an estimated 170 million people. A number of can live with the disease for years without any serious complications. About a quarter of the time, however, the infection leads to cirrhosis of the liver, which, in turn, can lead to liver cancer or death or the need for a transplant. Hepatitis C is the leading cause for liver transplants in the U.S.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


August 14, 2009, 7:19 AM CT

Brain innately separates living and non-living objects

Brain innately separates living and non-living objects
For unknown reasons, the human brain distinctly separates the handling of images of living things from images of non-living things, processing each image type in a different area of the brain. For years, a number of researchers have assumed the brain segregated visual information in this manner to optimize processing the images themselves, but new research shows that even in people who have been blind since birth the brain still separates the concepts of living and non-living objects.

The research, published in today's issue of Neuron, implies that the brain categorizes objects based on the different types of subsequent consideration they demandsuch as whether an object is edible, or is a landmark on the way home, or is a predator to run from. They are not categorized entirely by their appearance.

"If both sighted people and people with blindness process the same ideas in the same parts of the brain, then it follows that visual experience is not necessary in order for those aspects of brain organization to develop," says Bradford Mahon, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, and main author of the study. "We think this means significant parts of the brain are innately structured around a few domains of knowledge that were critical in humans' evolutionary history".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 14, 2009, 7:18 AM CT

Gene implicated in regulating length of human sleep

Gene implicated in regulating length of human sleep
Researchers have discovered the first gene involved in regulating the optimal length of human sleep, offering a window into a key aspect of slumber, an enigmatic phenomenon that is critical to human physical and mental health.

The team, reporting in the Aug. 14, 2009 issue of Science, identified a mutated gene that allows two members of an extended family to thrive on six hours of sleep a day rather than the eight to eight-and-a-half hours that studies have shown humans need over time to maintain optimal health. Working from this discovery, the researchers genetically engineered mice and fruit flies to express the mutated gene and study its impact.

While most Americans obtain less than eight hours of sleep a night (the average on non-work days is 7.4 hours), and some may feel they succeed with less when engaged in exhilarating work, domestic life or recreation, scientific evidence indicates that, over time, the body suffers from this regimen, the scientists say.

"Short term and chronic disruptions in the length of optimal sleep can have serious consequences on cognition, mood and physical health, including cancer and endocrine function," says the senior author of the study, Ying-Hui Fu, PhD, UCSF professor of neurology. However, teasing out this impact can be challenging, she says, given access to such stimuli as coffee and chocolate.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 14, 2009, 7:16 AM CT

Active ingredients in marijuana pread and prolong pain

Active ingredients in marijuana pread and prolong pain
Imagine that you're working on your back porch, hammering in a nail. Suddenly you slip and hit your thumb instead hard. The pain is incredibly intense, but it only lasts a moment. After a few seconds (and a few unprintable words) you're ready to start hammering again.

How can such severe pain vanish so quickly? And why is it that other kinds of equally terrible pain refuse to go away, and instead torment their victims for years?.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston scientists think they've found at least part of the answerand believe it or not, it's in a group of compounds that includes the active ingredients in marijuana, the cannabinoids. Interestingly enough, given recent interest in the medical use of marijuana for pain relief, experiments with rodents and humans described in a paper reported in the current issue of Science suggest these "endocannabinoids," which are made within the human body, can actually amplify and prolong pain rather than damping it down.

"In the spinal cord there's a balance of systems that control what information, including information about pain, is transmitted to the brain," said UTMB professor Volker Neugebauer, one of the authors of the Science article, along with UTMB senior research scientist Guangchen Ji and collaborators from Switzerland, Hungary, Japan, Gera number of, France and Venezuela. "Excitatory systems act like a car's accelerator, and inhibitory ones act like the brakes. What we found is that in the spinal cord endocannabinoids can disable the brakes".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 13, 2009, 7:06 AM CT

Uncovering the secrets of ulcer-causing bacteria

Uncovering the secrets of ulcer-causing bacteria
Contact with stomach acid keeps the mucin lining the epithelial cell layer in a gel-like state.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

A team of scientists from Boston University, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently made a discovery that changes a long held paradigm about how bacteria move through soft gels. They showed that the bacterium that causes human stomach ulcers uses a clever biochemical strategy to alter the physical properties of its environment, allowing it to move and survive and further colonize its host.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the findings in its most recent issue.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that inhabits various areas of the stomach where it causes chronic, low-level inflammation and is associated with gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. In order to colonize the stomach, H. pylori must cope with highly acidic conditions in which other bacteria are unable to survive. It is well known however, that the bacterium accomplishes this by producing ammonia to neutralize the acid in its surroundings. In addition, newly published research shows it does something else; it changes its environment to enable freer movement.

Acidic conditions within the stomach also work against the bacteria's ability to move freely. This is due to a protein called "mucin," a crucial component of the protective mucus layer in the stomach. In the presence of acid mucin forms a protective gel, which acts as a physical barrier that stops harmful bacteria from reaching the cell wall.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


August 13, 2009, 7:05 AM CT

Worth the effort?

Worth the effort?
Individuals suffering from anhedonia, a key symptom of depression, are less likely to pursue rewards if effort is required to obtain the reward.

Credit: Michael Treadway, Vanderbilt University

New research indicates that decreased cravings for pleasure appears to be at the root of a core symptom of major depressive disorder. The research is in contrast to the long-held notion that those suffering from depression lack the ability to enjoy rewards, rather than the desire to seek them.

The research, led by Vanderbilt psychology experts Michael Treadway and David Zald, was published Aug. 12 by the online journal PLoS One

"This initial study shows that decreased reward processing, which is a core symptom of depression, is specifically correlation to a reduced willingness to work for a reward," Treadway, a graduate student in psychology, said.

Decreased motivation to seek and experience pleasurable experiences, known as anhedonia, is a primary symptom of major depressive disorder. Anhedonia is less responsive to a number of antidepressants and often persists after other symptoms of depression subside. However, understanding the different components of anhedonia - the desire to obtain something pleasurable versus experiencing pleasure - has been difficult for scientists to determine in humans.

"In the last decade and a half, animal models have observed that the neurotransmitter dopamine, long known to be involved in reward processing, is involved in craving or motivation, but not necessarily enjoyment," Treadway said. "To date, research into reward processing in individuals with anhedonia has focused on enjoyment of rewards, rather than assessing the drive to work for them. We think this task is one of the first to do that".........

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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