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January 26, 2009, 11:32 PM CT

Gene therapy for rheumatoid arthritis

Gene therapy for rheumatoid arthritis
Scientists have reported the first clinical evidence that gene treatment reduces symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an important milestone for this promising therapy which has endured a sometimes turbulent past. Described in the recent issue of the journal Human Gene Therapy the findings stem from a study of two patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis conducted in Gera number of and led by an investigator at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

Originally conceived as a means of treating genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and hemophilia, gene treatment involves implanting a normal gene to compensate for a defective gene in the patient. The first clinical trial to test gene treatment was launched in 1990 for the therapy of a rare, genetic immunodeficiency disease.

"This study helps extend gene treatment research to nongenetic, nonlethal diseases," explains principal investigator Christopher Evans, PhD, Director of the Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies at BIDMC. "Rheumatoid arthritis [RA] is an extremely painful condition affecting multiple joints throughout the body. Arthritis is a good target for this therapy because the joint is a closed space into which we can inject genes," adds Evans, who is also the Maurice Muller Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:31 PM CT

Not all breast cancers are the same

Not all breast cancers are the same
Dr. Ilan Tsarfaty
Not all breast cancers are the same, and not all will have fatal consequences. But because clinicians find it difficult to accurately determine which tumors will metastasize, a number of patients do not receive the treatment fits their disease.

Tel Aviv University has now refined breast cancer identification so that each course of therapy is as individual as the woman being treated.

The new approach -- based on a combination of MRI and ultrasound -- is able to measure the metabolism rates of cancer cells. The approach helps determine at an earlier stage than ever before which cells are metastasizing, and how they should be treated.

The method, expected to start clinical trials in 2010, is currently being researched in Israel hospitals.

Leading the Way to a New Field of Medicine.

"We have developed a non-intrusive way of studying the metabolism of breast cancer in real time," says Dr. Ilan Tsarfaty, a lead researcher from TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine. "It's an invaluable tool. By the time results are in from a traditional biopsy, the cancer can already be radically different. But using our technique, we can map the tumor and its borders and determine with high levels of certainty - right away - which patients should be treated aggressively".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:28 PM CT

Was it the chicken salad you ate or a bad swim?

Was it the chicken salad you ate or a bad swim?
A newly released study finds swimming, having a private well or septic system, and other factors not involving food consumption were major risk factors for bacterial intestinal infections not occurring in outbreaks.

Outbreaks associated with food, such as the current Salmonella outbreak involving peanut butter that has sickened more than 500 people in 43 states, account for only about 10 percent of intestinal infections, which are medically termed as enteric infections. The newly released study, in the February 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online, suggests that methods for controlling bacterial enteric outbreaks may not be completely relevant to controlling the other 90 percent or so that occur sporadically.

In a USDA-sponsored, two-year study of children and adolescents in three Washington state counties, the investigators, led by Donna M. Denno, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington, and Phillip I. Tarr, MD, of Washington University, St. Louis, interviewed 296 patients, aged 19 years or less, who were infected at some point between 2003 and 2005 and who were matched with 580 uninfected controls. Laboratory tests identified the bacteria responsible for infection as Campylobacter in 151 cases, Salmonella in 86 cases, Escherichia coli O157 in 39 cases, and Shigella in 20 cases.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:26 PM CT

School children who receive more recess

School children who receive more recess
School children who receive more recess behave better and are likely to learn more, as per a large study of third-graders conducted by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The study, published in Pediatrics, suggests that a daily break of 15 minutes or more in the school day may play a role in improving learning, social development, and health in elementary school children. The study's principal investigator is Romina M. Barros, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Einstein.

Dr. Barros looked at data on approximately 11,000 third-graders enrolled in the national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. The children, ages 8 to 9, were divided into two categories: those with no or minimal recess (less than 15 minutes a day) and those with more than 15 minutes a day. There were an equal number of boys and girls. The children's classroom behavior was assessed by their teachers using a questionnaire.

As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, free, unstructured play is essential for keeping children healthy, and for helping them reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones. Unstructured play also helps kids manage stress and become resilient.

However, some studies indicate that children are getting less and less unstructured playtime, a trend exacerbated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. "A number of schools responded to No Child Left Behind by reducing the time for recess, the creative arts, and physical education in an effort to focus on reading and mathematics," says Dr. Barros.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:23 PM CT

Not just cutting that salt

Not just cutting that salt
Most people know that too much sodium from foods can increase blood pressure.

A newly released study suggests that people trying to lower their blood pressure should also boost their intake of potassium, which has the opposite effect to sodium.

Scientists observed that the ratio of sodium-to-potassium in subjects' urine was a much stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone.

"There isn't as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Whelton is an epidemiologist and president and CEO of Loyola University Health System.

Scientists determined average sodium and potassium intake during two phases of a study known as the Trials of High blood pressure Prevention. They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial. The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease. Whelton was national chair of the Trials of High blood pressure Prevention.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:23 AM CT

Feeling your words

Feeling your words
This is a listener wired for sounds.

Credit: Takayuki Ito / Haskins Laboratories

The movement of facial skin and muscles around the mouth plays an important role not only in the way the sounds of speech are made, but also in the way they are heard as per a research studyby researchers at Haskins Laboratories, a Yale-affiliated research laboratory.

"How your own face is moving makes a difference in how you 'hear' what you hear," said first author Takayuki Ito, a senior scientist at Haskins.

When, Ito and colleagues used a robotic device to stretch the facial skin of "listeners" in a way that would normally accompany speech production they found it affected the way the subjects heard the speech sounds.

The subjects listened to words one at a time that were taken from a computer-produced continuum between the words "head" and "had." When the robot stretched the listener's facial skin upward, words sounded more like "head." With downward stretch, words sounded more like "had." A backward stretch had no perceptual effect.

And, timing of the skin stretch was critical perceptual changes were only observed when the stretch was similar to what occurs during speech production.

These effects of facial skin stretch indicate the involvement of the somatosensory system in the neural processing of speech sounds. This finding contributes in an important way to our understanding of the relationship between speech perception and production. It shows that there is a broad, non-auditory basis for "hearing" and that speech perception has important neural links to the mechanisms of speech production.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:21 AM CT

Bbrain's memory 'buffer' in single cells

Bbrain's memory 'buffer' in single cells
Dr. Don Cooper and colleagues have reported that individual nerve cells in the front part of the brain can hold traces of memories on their own for as long as a minute and possibly longer. The finding has implications for addiction, attention disorders and stress-related memory loss.

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Individual nerve cells in the front part of the brain can hold traces of memories on their own for as long as a minute and possibly longer, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The study, available online and appearing in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience, is the first to identify the specific signal that establishes nonpermanent cellular memory and reveals how the brain holds temporary information. It has implications for addiction, attention disorders and stress-related memory loss, said Dr. Don Cooper, assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study conducted in mice.

Scientists have known that permanent memories are stored when the excitatory amino acid glutamate activates ion channels on nerve cells in the brain to reorganize and strengthen the cells' connections with one another. But this process takes minutes to hours to turn on and off and is too slow to buffer, or temporarily hold, rapidly incoming information.

The scientists observed that rapid-fire inputs less than a second long initiate a cellular memory process in single cells lasting as long as minute, a process called metabotropic glutamate transmission. This transmission in the most highly evolved brain region holds moment-to-moment information.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Reducing risk of childhood leukemia

Reducing risk of childhood leukemia
A study led by Dr Marcus Cooke at the University of Leicester and funded by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) UK is looking at whether consuming caffeine during pregnancy might affect the unborn baby's risk of developing leukaemia in childhood.

Dr Cooke sees the study as a unique opportunity to determine the sources of chromosomal alterations during pregnancy, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk of childhood leukaemias.

Leukaemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and white blood cells. It can affect people of all ages and around 7,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the UK. While it is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for 35 per cent of cases, it is still rare. Only 1 in 10 of leukaemia patients are children, accounting for 500 child diagnoses a year in the UK.

"We want to find out whether consuming caffeine could lead to the sort of DNA changes in the baby that are associated with risk of leukaemia," said Dr Cooke. "This is an important area of research because it is vital that mothers are given the best advice possible".

While childhood leukaemia could be initiated by DNA alterations in the unborn child, it is thought that leukaemia would only develop if there was another secondary trigger. There is currently no single proven cause of childhood leukaemia, though exposure to radiation and/or a rare response to a common infection are thought likely to play a part.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:17 AM CT

Genes and psoriasis

Genes and psoriasis
Researchers at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and the Anhui Medical University, China, have identified genes that play an important role in the development of psoriasis, a common chronic skin disease.

The research, led by GIS Human Genetics Group Leader and Associate Prof. Liu Jianjun, will be published online on 25 Jan. 2009 in the journal Nature Genetics

Studying genetic variants in the human genomes of a large cohort of patients with psorasis and healthy controls in the Chinese population, Dr. Liu and his colleagues, who are one of the three independent teams that have been simultaneously performing genetic studies on psoriasis, found that a genetic variant within what is known as the LCE gene cluster is able to provide protection against the development of psoriasis.

One of the LCE genes' functions is to code proteins that are part of cells located in the outermost layers of skin. These proteins are important for maintaining skin's barrier function.

"Together with the findings from the other two studies," said Dr Liu, "our finding suggests that compromised skin barrier function play a role in the development of psoriasis. This is a very important find, as it advances our understanding of the genetic basis of psoriasis, which in turn is important for early diagnosis and prediction of an individual's risk to the disease".........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:10 AM CT

Shoulder injuries in high school athletes

Shoulder injuries in high school athletes
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)Eventhough shoulder injuries accounted for just 8 percent of all injuries sustained by high school athletes, shoulder injuries were relatively common in predominately male sports such as baseball (18 percent of all injuries), wrestling (18 percent) and football (12 percent). Moreover, boys experienced higher shoulder injury rates than girls, especially in soccer and baseball/softball.

Player-to-player contact was linked to nearly 60 percent of high school athletes' shoulder injuries from 2005 through 2007, as per a research studyreported in the online issue of the Journal of Athletic Training and conducted by scientists in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. This is the first study to examine shoulder injuries across sports in a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school athletes.

"Shoulder injuries were far more likely to occur in football and wrestling than in any other sport," explained the study's author Ellen Yard, MPH, research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Shoulder injuries were also three times more likely to occur in competition in comparison to practice".

The most common shoulder injuries included sprains and strains (37 percent), dislocations and separations (24 percent), contusions (12 percent) and fractures (7 percent). Surgery was mandatory for 6 percent of shoulder injuries. Dislocations and separations accounted for more than half of all shoulder surgeries.........

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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