March 31, 2009, 4:06 PM CT
New treatment for HIV infection
A potential therapy for HIV may one day help people who are not responding to Anti-Retroviral Therapy, suggests new research published tomorrow in The Journal of Immunology
Researchers looking at monkeys with the simian form of HIV were able to reduce the virus levels in the blood to undetectable levels, by treating the monkeys with a molecule called D-1mT alongside Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).
Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) is very similar to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and it is used to study the condition in animal models. In both HIV and SIV, the level of virus in the blood, or 'viral load', is important because when the viral load is high, the disease progresses and it depletes the patient's immune system. This eventually leads to the onset of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), where the patient cannot fight infections which would be innocuous in healthy individuals.
Currently, the 'gold standard' therapy for HIV is Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART), a cocktail of drugs that reduces the viral load by stopping the virus from replicating. HAART can increase the life expectancy of an HIV-positive patient substantially if it works well. However, the therapy is not effective for around one in ten patients, partly because some develop resistance to the drugs used in HAART. The researchers, from Imperial College London, the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, and Innsbruck Medical University, hope their study could ultimately lead to a new therapy that will help HAART to work more effectively in these people.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
March 31, 2009, 4:01 PM CT
How effective are those warning labels?
Michigan State University researcher Laura Bix
Medicine packages barrage consumers with information, some mandatory to be "prominent" and "conspicuous." But marketing claims and brand names still overshadow critical fine print on nonprescription medications, Michigan State University scientists found.
In a study to be reported in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science
, MSU scientists examined the effectiveness of two mandatory warnings on over-the-counter medications, specifically their relative prominence and conspicuousness.
"We wanted to quantify how well warning statements in over-the-counter drug packaging were working to convey information to consumers," explained Laura Bix, an assistant professor in the MSU School of Packaging. "To be effective, warnings about the lack of a child resistant feature, or those that alert consumers to potential tampering of the product, need to be read and comprehended at the time of purchase."
Medicine labels carry brand identification and descriptions of contents; quantity; price; ingredients; dosage; directions; barcodes; and warning statements. Federal regulations require packages that do not have a child resistant feature, for example, to conspicuously state that the product is not intended for homes with small children. Such packages are blamed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for many child poisonings every year.........
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March 31, 2009, 3:49 PM CT
Exercise in those winter months
Eventhough winter's grasp has subsided to spring, its effects could have a long term impact on the exercise patterns of teenagers. As per a five-year study reported in the Annals of Epidemiology
, while teens are generally more active in warmer months, significant drops in physical activity during winter months contributes to a general slowdown in exercise habits throughout adolescence that could persist over time.
Study researchers from the Centre de Formation Mdicale du Nouveau-Brunswick of the Universit de Moncton and Universit de Sherbrooke, the Universit de Montral and McGill University counter that declines in physical activity could be offset by promoting a diversity of physical activities including those that can be enjoyed during winter.
"While physical activity augments in spring and summer, these increases do not compensate for winter drop offs, which contribute to declining physical activity throughout adolescence," says Mathieu Blanger, main author of the study, research director at the Centre de formation mdicale du Nouveau-Brunswick and epidemiologist at the Centre de recherche Beausejour. "Throughout our five-year study, the average daily number of physical activity sessions among participants decreased by nearly one third. The sharpest declines occurred during the coldest months".........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
March 31, 2009, 3:43 PM CT
The limitations of working memory
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet (KI) have constructed a mathematical activity model of the brain´s frontal and parietal parts, to increase the understanding of the capacity of the working memory and of how the billions of neurons in the brain interact. One of the findings they have made with this "model brain" is a mechanism in the brain´s neuronal network that restricts the number of items we can normally store in our working memories at any one time to around two to seven.
Working memory, which is our ability to retain and process information over short periods of time, is essential to most cognitive processes, such as thinking, language and planning. It has long been known that the working memory is subject to limitations, as we can only manage to "juggle" a certain number of mnemonic items at any one time. Functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) has revealed that the frontal and parietal lobes are activated when a sequence of two pictures is to be retained briefly in visual working memory. However, just how the nerve cells work together to handle this task has remained a mystery.
The study, which is reported in the journal PNAS, is based on a multidisciplinary project co-run by two research teams at KI led by professors Torkel Klingberg and Jesper Tegner. Most of the work was conducted by doctors Fredrik Edin and Albert Compte, the latter of whom is currently principal investigator of the theoretical neurobiology group at IDIBAPS in Barcelona.........
Posted by: Daniel Read more Source
March 31, 2009, 3:33 PM CT
Male Baby Comes With A Bigger Package
Nurses in the maternity ward often say that a difficult labor is a sign of a baby boy. Now, a Tel Aviv University study provides scientific proof that a male baby comes with a bigger package of associated risks than his female counterparts.
In a study of 66,000 births, Prof. Marek Glezerman, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, together with Dr. Yariv Yogev and Dr. Nir Melamed, observed that while girls were at a higher risk for restricted growth in utero and for breech presentation at birth, risks linked to boy fetuses were more abundant.
"Pregnancies with a male fetus are more often complicated," says Prof. Glezerman. "They're more likely to result in a premature rupture of the embryonic sac and suffer from premature delivery. And those male fetuses which make it to term," he continues, "are more likely to suffer from excessive growth in the uterus, making delivery more difficult and leading to more cesarian section deliveries".Study Helps Doctors See the Bigger Picture
In a study presented to the Israel Society for Gender Based Medicine, scientists concluded that male fetuses come with "a higher association of risks," but note that the findings should be viewed in the proper light. "Boys are riskier to an extent," says Prof. Glezerman, but pregnancies involving boys should not be classified as "high-risk" for that reason alone. It's only one factor for doctors to consider when looking at the whole picture, he says.........
Posted by: Emily Read more Source
March 31, 2009, 3:29 PM CT
You would eat healthier if restaurants provide nutritional data
As more and more Americans eat meals outside the home, the country also faces an epidemic of obesity. An association between eating out and weight-related diseases has led to demands for nutritional labeling of restaurant foods. A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research
examines the potential benefits of such labeling.
"Using only the sense of taste, smell, and sight to accurately estimate the levels of calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium found in a typical restaurant food serving is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most consumers," write authors Elizabeth Howlett (University of Arkansas), Scot Burton (Sam M. Walton College of Business), Kenneth Bates (University of San Diego), and Kyle Huggins (James Madison University).
The authors set out to examine how providing calorie and nutrient information on restaurant menus and menu boards influences consumers' food-related assessments and choices. They looked at how participants' previous expectations came into play and whether providing calorie and nutrient information after the consumptive experience changed their subsequent food choices.
The scientists observed that providing nutritional information can influence subsequent food consumption, particularly when consumers' expectations are not fulfilled when they examine the information. "When a 'great taste' claim was used to describe a restaurant menu item, the provision of calorie information did not affect consumers' perceptions, presumably because foods that claim great taste are typically expected to be relatively high in calories," the authors explain. "Conversely, when a 'low calorie' claim was presented but the menu item was higher in calories than expected, the provision of nutritional information increased the perceived likelihood of 1) gaining weight and 2) developing heart disease."........
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March 31, 2009, 3:25 PM CT
Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets
Here's another reason why dieters should avoid all-you-can-eat buffets: When faced with a large variety of items, consumers tend to underestimate how much of each item is present, as per a newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research
Authors Joseph P. Redden (University of Minnesota) and Stephen J. Hoch (University of Pennsylvania) investigated consumers' perceptions of quantity in a set of experiments that may help us understand how quantity perceptions influence portion sizes.
"Does a bowl with both red and blue candies seem to have more or less than a bowl with only one color candy?" the scientists asked. "Contrary to popular belief, the presence of variety actually makes it seem like there are fewer items".
To investigate the question, the scientists first exposed participants to images of colored dots and geometric shapes. "When items differ, people tend to focus on one type or the other, and find it difficult to merge the multiple types into a whole," the authors write. "However, a set composed of only identical items makes it easy for people to perceive the items as a single, unified whole."
The authors observed that focusing on the larger whole makes a set appear to occupy more space. "Since people rely on spatial area as a cue for quantity, a set appears to have more items when they are all identical." After demonstrating this perceptual effect in two studies with geometric shapes, the scientists moved on to food.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
March 31, 2009, 3:22 PM CT
Imaging the coronary arteries pays off
People who suffer cardiac arrests and then receive coronary angiography are twice as likely to survive without significant brain damage compared with those who don't have the procedure, as per a research studyby University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers. The study, reported in the May/recent issue of the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine
and now available online, showed that patient outcomes improved with coronary angiography, an imaging procedure that shows how blood flows through the heart, regardless of certain clinical and demographic factors that influenced who received the procedure.
"Given the low odds of survival about 6 percent for patients who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, it's important to understand which therapys might make a difference in these dismal outcomes," noted Jon C. Rittenberger, M.D., corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. The importance of prompt coronary angiography is well-established for cardiac arrest patients presenting with certain types of heart problems, Dr. Rittenberger noted. "But our study, which shows that angiography is independently linked to good neurologic outcomes, suggests that clinicians should consider the procedure for all post-cardiac arrest patients," he added.........
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March 31, 2009, 3:15 PM CT
Vision therapy to combat vision problems
A young patient undergoes vision therapy at the University Eye Institute at the University of Houston.
Credit: University of Houston
You've probably been there. In a doctor's office, being advised to do what you dread exercise. You get that feeling in your gut, acknowledging that, indeed, you should exercise but probably won't. Now imagine that the doctor is your optometrist.
Don't clean your glasses. You read that right. Eye exercises are used to treat a variety of vision disorders, as per Dr. Janice Wensveen, clinical associate professor at the University of Houston's College of Optometry.
Patient reactions to this quite common prescription range between surprise and relief, she said, but doing the treatment can improve their performance at school and work.
"They're curious, particularly when we tell them, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it like we do with glasses or contact lenses, we're actually going to solve your problem. You're going to be cured, and that's something we don't very often do," she said.
The standard at-home prescription is known as "pencil push-up treatment," said Wensveen, who practices at the University Eye Institute's Vision Therapy Clinic in the Family Practice Service.
"Patients visually follow a small letter on a pencil as they moved the pencil closer to the nose. The goal is to be able to keep the letter clear and single until it touches your nose".........
Posted by: Mike Read more Source
March 31, 2009, 5:30 AM CT
Is time of conception linked to birth defects?
A study reported in the April 2009 issue of the medical journal Acta Pdiatrica
is the first to report that birth defect rates in the United States were highest for women conceiving in the spring and summer. The scientists also observed that this period of increase risk correlated with increased levels of pesticides in surface water across the United States.
Studying all 30.1 million births which occurred in the U.S. between 1996 and 2002, the scientists found a strong association between the increased number of birth defects in children of women whose last menstrual period occurred in April, May, June or July and elevated levels of nitrates, atrazine and other pesticides in surface water during the same months. While a number of of these chemicals, including the herbicide atrazine which is banned in European countries but permitted in the U.S., are suspected to be harmful to the developing embryo, this is the first study to link their increased seasonal concentration in surface water with the peak in birth defects in infants conceived in the same months.
The connection between the month of last menstrual period and higher rates of birth defects was statistically significant for half of the 22 categories of birth defects reported in a Centers for Disease Control database from 1996 to 2002 including spina bifida, cleft lip, clubfoot and Down's syndrome.........
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