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June 23, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

REM sleep deprivation and migraine

REM sleep deprivation and migraine
Reporting at the American Headache Society's 52nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Los Angeles this week, new research shows that sleep deprivation leads to changes in the levels of key proteins that facilitate events involved in the underlying pathology of migraine.

Paul L. Dunham, Ph.D. and his team at Missouri State University's Center for Biomedical & Life Sciences sought to understand the mechanisms by which sleep disturbance increases the risk of migraine and may even trigger migraine.

"Prior clinical data support a relationship between sleep quality and migraine," said Dr. Durham, "so we used an established model of sleep deprivation to measure levels of proteins that lower the activation threshold of peripheral and central nerves involved in pain transmission during migraine. We observed that REM sleep deprivation caused increased expression of the proteins p38, PKA, and P2X3, which are known to play an important role in initiating and sustaining chronic pain".

"So little is known about the biological mechanisms that underlie how certain factors trigger a migraine attack," said David Dodick, M.D., president of the AHS. "This is important work and this Missouri State team should be applauded for beginning to shed light on an area desperately in need of investigation".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 23, 2010, 7:22 AM CT

US ranks last among 7 countries on health system performance

US ranks last among 7 countries on health system performance
Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall in comparison to six other industrialized countriesAustralia, Canada, Gera number of, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdomon measures of health system performance in five areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives, as per a new Commonwealth Fund report. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 in comparison to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.

Provisions in the Affordable Care Act that could extend health insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans have the potential to promote improvements to the United States' standing when it comes to access to care and equity, as per Mirror Mirror On The Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally.

2010 Update, by Commonwealth Fund scientists Karen Davis, Cathy Schoen, and Kristof Stremikis. The United States' low marks in the quality and efficiency dimensions demonstrate the need to quickly implement provisions in the new health reform law and stimulus legislation that focus on realigning incentives to reward higher quality and greater value, investment in preventive care, and expanding the use of health information technology.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


June 22, 2010, 7:11 AM CT

Reduce number of breast biopsies

Reduce number of breast biopsies
By combining two relatively inexpensive technologies based on sound and light waves, scientists hope to lower the rate at which women undergo breast biopsies for suspicious lesions. Results of the study on ultrasound-guided optical tomography are reported in the online edition and the August print issue of Radiology

"The goal of our study was to investigate the potential of diffuse optical tomography in the near infrared spectrum with ultrasound localization as a means of differentiating early-stage cancers from non-malignant lesions of the breast," said lead researcher Quing Zhu, Ph.D., professor of bioengineering at the University of Connecticut.

When mammography and ultrasound cannot determine whether a suspicious breast lesion is cancerous or benign, physicians typically recommend a needle biopsy to extract samples of the suspicious tissue for laboratory testing. In current clinical practice, 70 to 80 percent of biopsies performed reveal non-malignant lesions, leading to unnecessary cost and anxiety for women.

Diffuse optical tomography is an emerging noninvasive imaging technique that measures light absorption within tissue to quantify blood content (hemoglobin level) and blood oxygen levels. Because malignant lesions have a number of more blood vessels than normal tissue, hemoglobin levels can help distinguish cancerous from non-malignant lesions.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 21, 2010, 7:18 AM CT

Therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells

Therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells
The therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells has been an intense focus of study and discussion in biomedical research and has resulted in technologies to produce human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). Derived by epigenetic reprogramming of human fibroblasts, these hiPSCs are believed to be almost identical to human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and provide great promise for patient-tailored regenerative medicine therapies. However, recent studies have suggested noteworthy differences between these two stem cell types which require additional comparative analyses.

Researchers at Children's Memorial Research Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine investigated the expression of key members of the Nodal embryonic signaling pathway, critical to maintaining pluripotency, in hiPSC and hESC cell lines. Nodal is an important morphogen a soluble molecule that can regulate cell fate in embryological systems that requires tight regulatory control of its biological function.

The group's results demonstrated slightly lower levels of Nodal and Cripto-1 (Nodal's co-receptor) and a dramatic decrease in Lefty (Nodal's inhibitory regulator) in hiPSCs compared with hESCs, suggesting less regulatory control of cell fate in reprogrammed stem cells. Based on these findings, additional work addressed the implications linked to the epigenetic reprogramming of hiPSCs and examined a global comparative analysis of 365 microRNAs (miRs) in hiPSC vs. hESC lines.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 21, 2010, 7:16 AM CT

Cutting carbs is more effective than low-fat diet

Cutting carbs is more effective than low-fat diet
Obese women with insulin resistance lose more weight after three months on a lower-carbohydrate diet than on a traditional low-fat diet with the same number of calories, as per a newly released study. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"The typical diet that physicians recommend for weight loss is a low-fat diet," said the study's main author, Raymond Plodkowski, MD, chief of endocrinology, nutrition and metabolism at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno. "However, as this study shows, not all people have the same response to diets".

People with insulin resistance, a common precursor for Type 2 diabetes, metabolize carbohydrates, or "carbs," abnormally, which may affect their rate of weight loss. For them, Plodkowski said, "the lower-carb diet is more effective, at least in the short term."

At 12-weeks, the study funded by Jenny Craig and using prepared calorie-controlled meals as part of a behavioral weight loss program, observed that the insulin resistant women on a lower-carb diet lost 3.4 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet.

Forty-five obese women between the ages of 18 and 65 years took part in the study, and all had insulin resistance, as found by fasting blood levels of insulin. The scientists randomly assigned the women to either a low-fat or lower-carb diet. The groups did not differ significantly in average body weight, the authors reported. On average, women in the low-fat diet group weighed 213 pounds, while women in the other group weighed 223 pounds.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 21, 2010, 7:15 AM CT

Certain obese people are not at high risk of heart disease

Certain obese people are not at high risk of heart disease
Obese people without metabolic risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, such as hypertension and cholesterol, do not have the elevated cardiovascular risk typical of obesity, but they represent only a small percentage of the obese population, as per a long-term study. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"Some obese persons have a normal cardiovascular risk profile, and they have no increased risk for heart and blood vessel disease [because of their weight]," said co-author of study Andr van Beek, MD, PhD, of University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. "However, periodic assessment of their risk profile remains essential".

The Dutch study observed that in a large population of obese individuals, only 6.8 percent were "metabolically healthy," meaning they had no history of heart disease or stroke, no diabetes or high blood pressure, and no dyslipidemia (irregularities in blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides) or any use of cholesterol-lowering medications.

To conduct the research, the authors identified 1,325 obese individuals from 8,356 subjects participating in the Dutch PREVEND (Prevention of Renal and Vascular Endstage Disease) study, who ranged in age from 28 to 75 years. Only 90 obese subjects were metabolically healthy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 21, 2010, 7:14 AM CT

New strategy to fight cancer drug resistance

New strategy to fight cancer drug resistance
By leveraging nature's solution to ligand selectivity, Stewart et al. developed a selective inhibitor of anti-apoptotic MCL-1, which has emerged as a formidable survival factor for a wide variety of cancers. By screening a panel of stapled peptide helices of BCL-2 family protein interaction domains, the team discovered that, ironically, MCL-1's own BH3 death domain helix is a uniquely exclusive MCL-1 inhibitor that resensitizes cancer cells to select apoptotic stimuli that are especially blunted by MCL-1 expression.

Credit: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found a way to disable a common protein that often thwarts chemotherapy therapy of several major forms of cancer.

The scientists discovered, surprisingly, that they could exploit a small portion of this anti-death protein, called MCL-1, to make a molecular tool that specifically blocked MCL-1's "pro-survival" action, allowing standard cancer drugs to kill the tumor cells by apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

"We think this is a very important step toward developing an inhibitor of MCL-1, which is emerging as a critical survival factor in a broad range of human cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma, and poor-prognosis breast cancer to name just a few," said Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, a pediatric oncologist and chemical biologist at Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital Boston.

He is the senior author of the report being published June 20 on the website of Nature Chemical Biology The first author is Michelle Stewart, a graduate student in the Walensky lab.

The scientists showed in lab experiments that combining the MCL-1 inhibitor with a class of conventional agents that can be rendered ineffective by MCL-1 resensitized the cancer cells to the drugs. The MCL-blocking compound is now being advanced to testing in animal models.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 18, 2010, 6:48 AM CT

Risk of heart attack in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients

Risk of heart attack in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients face a two hundred percent increased risk of suffering a Myocardial Infarction (MI, heart attack) versus the general population, which is comparable to the increased risk of MI seen in diabetes patients, as per results of a newly released study presented today at EULAR 2010, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome, Italy.

In this Danish, nationwide, 10 year study, RA and diabetes patients were directly in comparison to assess their individual risk of having an MI over time. In those patients that developed RA, the Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) of experiencing a MI was increased to 1.65 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.46-1.86), comparable to the increased risk of MI seen in patients developing diabetes mellitus (IRR 1.73 95% CI (1.68-1.79)). Data was further analysed to examine increased risk in certain age groups and scientists observed that the risk of MI was increased six-fold in women with RA younger than 50 years (IRR 6.01 95% CI (3.62-9.99)) comparable to diabetic women in the same age range (IRR 6.13 95% CI (4.99-7.54)). Overall, the risk of MI in patients with RA and diabetes was similar for male patients at IRR 1.66 (1.39-1.98) and 1.59 (1.53-1.66) respectively.

"While we already know that RA is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, our data highlight that the increased risk of a heart attack faced by RA patients is of a similar magnitude as that faced by diabetes patients, who in contrast to RA patients are routinely considered for intensive cardiovascular risk management," said Dr. Jesper Lindhardsen, Department of Cardiology, Gentofte University Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark, and main author of the study. "This study underlines the importance of implementing EULAR recommendations advocating early detection and management of cardiovascular risk factors, as well as providing sufficient RA therapy in order to reduce the significant burden linked to cardiovascular disease co-morbidity and mortality".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 18, 2010, 6:46 AM CT

Vitamin D deficiency and rheumatic conditions

Vitamin D deficiency and rheumatic conditions
Two separate studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with a range of rheumatic diseases, with over half of all patients having below the 'normal' healthy levels of vitamin D (48-145 nmol/L) in their bodies. A further study assessing response to vitamin D supplementation observed that taking the recommended daily dose did not normalise vitamin D levels in rheumatic disease patients. The results of these three studies were presented today at EULAR 2010, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome, Italy.

A UK study1 of 180 patients aimed to assess mean levels of vitamin D in patients with inflammatory joint diseases, osteoarthritis and myalgia (muscle pain that, when experienced long term appears to be linked to nutritional deficiency). Data on vitamin D levels were gathered and results showed that 58% of individuals with a rheumatic condition had levels below that clinically considered to be 'sufficient' in healthy subjects (48-145 nmol/L).

An Italian study2 of 1,191 RA patients aimed to determine a connection between vitamin D deficiency and several different clinical measures of disease activity. Scientists observed that, regardless of supplementation, levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), (a standard clinical measure of vitamin D in the blood), were lower than healthy levels (<50 nmol/L) in 85% of the patients not taking a vitamin D supplement and in 60% of those taking 800 IU or more vitamin D daily as a supplement. In non-supplemented patients levels of 25(OH)D significantly correlated with three measures of disease activity - the Health Evaluation Questionnaire Disability Index, (p=0.000) the Mobility Activities of Daily Living Score (p=0.000) and the Number of Swollen Joints count (p=0.000).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 17, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

Early detection of ovarian cancer

Early detection of ovarian cancer
Joshua LaBaer
Despite a number of research advances, ovary cancer remains lethal in a majority of cases, due to late diagnosis of the disease. In a newly released study, Dr. Joshua LaBaer of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, along with Arturo Ramirez and Paul Lampe, scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, used a novel method for identifying biomarkers-proteins in blood that can identify ovary cancer before symptoms appear.

The work, which appeared recently in the journal Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, holds the potential for significant improvements in patient survival rate. The research is part of the Early Detection Research Network program of the National Cancer Institute.

As LaBaer notes, ovary cancer is an attractive target for biomarker study. "This is a disease for which an early diagnostic test would make an enormous difference in the health of women." Highly treatable in its early stage, ovary cancer is typically not identified until it has progressed to stage 3 or beyond. Often, it is detected accidentally, in the course of some other test or procedure, for example, during an oophorectomy. "By the time it's caught," LaBaer says, "it has commonly speckled the abdomen with advanced tumors".

At present, only one reliable biomarker for ovary cancer exists. Known as CA 125, this protein is produced on the surface of cells and released into the bloodstream. Elevated levels of CA 125 are indicative of ovary cancer, but testing for CA 125 alone is not adequate. Such tests can produce both false positive and false negative results. Further, the level of CA 125 tends to go up in proportion to tumor growth, sometimes providing good evidence only after the disease has reached its later, terminal stages.........

Posted by: Emily      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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