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February 17, 2010, 7:38 AM CT

A primer on migraine headaches

A primer on migraine headaches
Migraine headache affects a number of people and many different preventative strategies should be considered, states an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj081657.pdf. The article, a primer for physicians, outlines various therapys and approaches for migraine headaches.

Migraine headache is a common, disabling condition. When migraine headaches become frequent, treatment can be challenging. Preventative treatment for migraines remains one of the more difficult aspects, as while there are valid randomized controlled trials to aid decision making, no drug is completely effective, and most have side effects.

Medications used for migraine can be divided into two broad categories: symptomatic or acute medications to treat individual migraine attacks, or preventative medications which are used to reduce headache frequency. Symptomatic migraine treatment alone, eventhough helpful for a number of patients, is not adequate therapy for all. Patients with frequent migraine attacks may still have pain despite treating symptoms, and when symptomatic medications are used too often, they can increase headache frequency and may lead to medicine overuse headache.

Physicians need to educate patients about migraine triggers and lifestyle factors. Common headache triggers include caffeine withdrawal, alcohol, sunlight, menstruation and changes in barometric pressure. Lifestyle factors such as stress, erratic sleep and work schedules, skipping meals, and obesity are linked to increased migraine attacks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 17, 2010, 7:29 AM CT

Daclizumab for treating MS

Daclizumab for treating MS
Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and Facet Biotech Corporation (NASDAQ: FACT) today announced the publication of Phase 2 data showing that the addition of daclizumab to interferon beta (IFNβ) led to a significant reduction in the number of new or enlarged multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions when in comparison to IFNβ alone in patients with active relapsing forms of MS. The trial, called CHOICE, also showed that daclizumab led to an increase in a subset of the natural killer (NK) cells that help regulate the immune system. These data were published in Online First, the online edition of The Lancet Neurology, and would be reported in the recent issue of the Lancet Neurology

Study results showed that daclizumab 2mg/kg administered subcutaneously every two weeks in combination with IFNβ reduced the number of new or enlarged gadolinium contrast-enhancing lesions (Gd-CELs) by 72 percent versus IFNβ treatment alone. The presence of Gd-CELs is thought to indicate inflammation within the central nervous system that corresponds with MS disease activity. In addition, therapy with daclizumab resulted in a seven- to eight-fold increase of CD56bright NK cells, which was linked to a decrease in disease activity. Daclizumab was well-tolerated in the CHOICE trial and common adverse events occurred with a similar frequency in each of the therapy groups.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 10, 2010, 8:17 AM CT

Neuroimaging study may combat Alzheimer's

Neuroimaging study may combat Alzheimer's
Gil Rabinovici, MD, assistant professor of neurology in the UCSF Memory and Aging Center
Researchers have determined that a new instrument known as PIB-PET is effective in detecting deposits of amyloid-beta protein plaques in the brains of living people, and that these deposits are predictive of who will develop Alzheimer's disease.

The finding, the result of a survey of more than 100 studies involving the instrument, including those by the scientists, confirms the sensitivity of the tool, still not commercially available. In clinical practice, amyloid deposits are detected only on autopsy.

The study also provides good evidence supporting the so-called "amyloid hypothesis" - the theory that accumulation of amyloid-beta protein plaques in the brain is central to the development of the disease. While significant evidence has supported this hypothesis, it has been questioned for two main reasons. First, amyloid deposits do not correlate with the severity of the disease, and are, in fact, found at autopsy in people who did not have clinical symptoms; and second, drugs targeting the plaques have shown disappointing results, even when the drugs were successful at substantially lowering plaque burden. Thus, the question of amyloid's role in the illness has remained.

"Our survey of PIB-PET studies, which looked cross-sectionally and longitudinally at people with normal cognitive performance, mild cognitive impairment and full-fledged Alzheimer's disease, showed that amyloid deposits can be detected in a significant proportion of cognitively normal elderly adults, and that their presence is linked to Alzheimer's-like brain atrophy and changes in brain activity," says co-author Gil Rabinovici, MD, assistant professor of neurology in the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 9, 2010, 9:06 AM CT

Brain area responsible for fear of losing money

Brain area responsible for fear of losing money
Neuroresearchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their colleagues have tied the human aversion to losing money to a specific structure in the brainthe amygdala.

The finding, described in the latest online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), offers insight into economic behavior, and also into the role of the brain's amygdalae, two almond-shaped clusters of tissue located in the medial temporal lobes. The amygdala registers rapid emotional reactions and is implicated in depression, anxiety, and autism.

The research team that made these findings consists of Benedetto de Martino, a Caltech visiting researcher from University College London and first author on the study; Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics; and Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and professor of biology.

The study involved an examination of two patients whose amygdalae had been destroyed due to a very rare genetic disease; those patients, along with individuals without amygdala damage, volunteered to participate in a simple "experimental economics task".

In the task, the subjects were asked whether or not they were willing to accept a variety of monetary gambles, each with a different possible gain or loss. For example, participants were asked whether they would take a gamble in which there was an equal probability they'd win $20 or lose $5 (a risk most people will choose to accept) and if they would take a 50/50 gamble to win $20 or lose $20 (a risk most people will not choose to accept). They were also asked if they'd take a 50/50 gamble on winning $20 or losing $15a risk most people will reject, "even though the net expected outcome is positive," Adolphs says.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 9, 2010, 9:03 AM CT

Hypertension may predict dementia

Hypertension may predict dementia
Hypertension appears to predict the progression to dementia in elderly adults with impaired executive functions (ability to organize thoughts and make decisions) but not in those with memory dysfunction, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Eventhough midlife high blood pressure has been confirmed as a risk factor for the development of dementia in late life, there have been conflicting findings about the role of late-life hypertension," the authors write as background information in the article. Individuals with mild cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) impairmentthe state between aging-related brain changes and fully developed dementiamay experience deficits in different domains. For instance, some have impairments only in memory function and are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, whereas those whose impairment follows a stroke or other vascular (blood vesselrelated) event often experience executive dysfunction.

"Because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for vascular brain diseases and vascular cognitive impairment, we postulated that the cognitive domain of dysfunction appears to be the crucial factor that determines the association between high blood pressure and cognitive deterioration," the authors write. To test this hypothesis, Shahram Oveisgharan, M.D., of University of Western Ontario, Canada, and Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran, and Vladimir Hachinski, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., D.Sc.(Lond)., also of University of Western Ontario, studied 990 elderly adults (average age 83) with cognitive impairment but no dementia.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 8, 2010, 7:34 AM CT

Marijuana ineffective as an Alzheimer's treatment

Marijuana ineffective as an Alzheimer's treatment
The benefits of marijuana in tempering or reversing the effects of Alzheimer's disease have been challenged in a newly released study by scientists at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

The findings, reported in the current issue of the journal Current Alzheimer Research, could lower expectations about the benefits of medical marijuana in combating various cognitive diseases and help redirect future research to more promising therapeutics.

Prior studies using animal models showed that HU210, a synthetic form of the compounds found in marijuana, reduced the toxicity of plaques and promoted the growth of new neurons. Those studies used rats carrying amyloid protein, the toxin that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's victims.

The newly released study, led by Dr. Weihong Song, Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer's Disease and a professor of psychiatry in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, was the first to test those findings using mice carrying human genetic mutations that cause Alzheimer's disease widely considered to be a more accurate model for the disease in humans.

"As scientists, we begin every study hoping to be able to confirm beneficial effects of potential therapies, and we hoped to confirm this for the use of medical marijuana in treating Alzheimer's disease," says Song, a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and VCH Research Institute and Director of Townsend Family Laboratories at UBC.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 4, 2010, 8:09 AM CT

Risk of stroke lower for recent Ontario immigrants

Risk of stroke lower for recent Ontario immigrants
Recent immigrants to Ontario have a 30 per cent lower risk of stroke than long term residents, as per preliminary study results from scientists at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

"What we learned could translate into long-term health benefits for the whole population," says Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, a neurologist at St. Michael's Hospital. "We need to do further research but the study points to the need for policies that aim to preserve the healthier state of new immigrants while continuing to focus on lowering stroke risk among all adults."

Published recently in Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology medical journal, the study identified all new immigrants to Ontario over a 12 year period and matched them to people of the same age and gender who had lived in the province for at least five years. The participants ranged in age 16 to 65 with an average age of 34.

"New immigrants face a number of stresses new jobs, new diets and building new relationships our study wanted to examine how these factors affected their risk of stroke," says Saposnik, "The findings verify the presence of a healthy immigrant effect in relation to stroke risk".

The researchers, which included Dr. Joel Ray, Dr. D. Redelmeier, Dr. Hong Lu, Dr. E. Lonn and Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson, followed the participants for six years. During that time, there were 933 strokes among the new immigrants and 5,283 strokes among long-term residents. New immigrants had a rate of 1.7 strokes per person per year in comparison to 2.6 strokes per person per year in long-term residents. The results were the same after adjusting for income, smoking and history of other diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 3, 2010, 7:37 AM CT

Three Brain Diseases Linked to Same Neural Protein

Three Brain Diseases Linked to Same Neural Protein
The toxic form of Elk-1 is present in plaque found in brain tissue from an Alzheimer disease patient (red asterisk). A neuronal process of a dying neuron is denoted by the red arrow. (Click to view larger version.)
For the first time, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have observed that three different degenerative brain disorders are linked by a toxic form of the same protein. The protein, called Elk-1, was found in clumps of misshaped proteins that are the hallmarks of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease.

"These results suggest a molecular link between the presence of inclusions and neuronal loss that is shared across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disease," notes senior author, James Eberwine, PhD, co-director of the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute and the Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Pharmacology. "Identifying these links within the diseased microenvironment will open up novel avenues for therapeutic intervention. For example it is reasonable to now ask, "Is this molecule a possible new biomarker for these neurodegenerative diseases?" says Eberwine.

Eberwine, co-first authors Anup Sharma, an MD-PhD student, Jai-Yoon Sul, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, both from Penn, Linda M. Callahan, PhD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, and his colleagues, report their findings this week in the online journal PLoS One.

Typically neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by many features including the protein clumps called inclusions; decline of nerve-cell synapses; and the selective loss of the nerve cells themselves.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:14 AM CT

Multiple sclerosis and the season

Multiple sclerosis and the season
Prior studies have shown multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are more often born in spring than in any other season, indicating that there is an environmental risk factor for the disease. A paper in the journal Neurology, evaluated for f1000 Medicine by Emmanuelle Waubant and Ellen Mowry, now suggests that this seasonal effect is mediated by the gene HLA-DRB1.

In a number of European populations, the HLA-DRB1*15 allele of this gene is linked to an increased risk of MS, and the large-scale study of MS patients from Canada, Sweden and Norway now shows that this allele is more common among patients born in the spring.

Waubant and Mowry said the study was "unique in its attempt to understand how genes and environment interact in MS". However, even though there is a connection between birth month, genetics and risk of MS, it is still not clear how this is regulated.

One likely contender is vitamin D, which influences expression of the HLA-DRB1*15 allele. Since vitamin D production fluctuates with the seasons, a vitamin D deficit in pregnant mothers could be correlation to the increased risk of MS among spring births, but this requires further investigation.

Waubant and Mowry said the study may influence preventative and therapeutic therapys through the understanding of environmental risks and their interaction with relevant genotypes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 8:07 AM CT

Early detection of Alzheimer's disease

Early detection of Alzheimer's disease
Investigators from the International Center for Biomedicine and the University of Chile, in collaboration with the Center for Bioinformatics of the Universidad de Talca, have discovered that two drugs, the benzimidazole derivatives lanzoprazole and astemizole, appears to be suitable for use as PET (positron emission tomography) radiotracers and enable imaging for the early detection of Alzheimer's Disease. The study is reported in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

Lanzoprazole and astemizole specifically tag pathological oligomers of tau which form the core of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), a pathognomonic brain lesion in Alzheimers patients. Prof. Dr. R.B. Maccioni and Dr. Leonel Rojo, authors of the study commented, "Since neurofibrillary tangles are positively correlated with cognitive impairment, we propose that these drugs have great potential in PET neuroimaging for in vivo early detection of AD and in reducing the formation of NFTs. These studies, based on advanced proteomics and databases of molecular interactions, may help to find potential new drugs for early diagnosis and therapy of Alzheimers disease. The findings are the result of a long-standing research program supported by the Alzheimers Association-USA and Fondecyt, Chile to evaluate new drug candidates." Technological applications of this discovery are being developed with the collaboration of VentureL@b of the Universidad Adolfo Ibaez.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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