May 21, 2010, 7:20 AM CT
Gene may be Key to Kidney Cancer
Scientists at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida have discovered a key gene that, when turned off, promotes the development of common kidney cancer. Their findings suggest that a combination of agents now being tested in other cancers may turn the gene back on, providing a much-needed treatment for the difficult-to-treat cancer.
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), the most common kind of kidney cancer, accounts for just 3 percent of all cancers in the United States, but is the sixth leading cause of cancer death. No current therapy has had a measurable effect on the spread of the cancer, oncologists say.
In the May 20, 2010 issue of Oncogene, scientists describe a gene called GATA3 that has been silenced in ccRCC and is a key gene also lost in breast cancer. GATA3 controls a number of genes and proteins that regulate cell growth, and one of them, a receptor known as the type III transforming growth factor-ß receptor (TßRIII), is absent in many cancers.
As per the study's senior investigator, John Copland, Ph.D., a cancer biologist at the Mayo Clinic campus at Florida, these findings will surprise a number of in the cancer field. "Cancer scientists know that GATA3 is essential for immune T cell development and function," he says. "As well, very recent studies show that GATA3 is also critical to breast cancer development, where GATA3 expression is limited to mammary luminal epithelial cells. GATA3 is lost during breast cancer progression and its loss is a strong predictor of poor clinical outcome in luminal breast cancer. GATA3 also plays an important role in renal development and differentiation during embryogenesis, but little is known about the role of GATA3 in the adult human kidney."........
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May 21, 2010, 7:11 AM CT
Breakthrough in heart disease prevention
The results of a major clinical study carried out at the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) by Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif are now available in the journal Circulation Cardiovascular Imaging
Dr. Tardif is a heart specialist and director of the MHI Research Centre, as well as a professor in the faculty of medicine and holder of the atherosclerosis research chair at the Universit de Montral.
The promising findings of this study on VIA-2291 a medicine developed by Via Pharmaceuticals, a San Francisco-based biotechnology firm relate to its capacity to effectively reduce inflammation, which can contribute to the formation and progression of atherosclerosis plaque and infarct.
"Up to now, standard therapys for patients with acute coronary syndrome (unstable angina and infarct) have not specifically reduced inflammation, an important component of atherosclerosis. However, research in recent years has allowed us to determine that the presence of inflammation increases significantly the risk of recurrence among these patients. The clinical study was conducted with about 200 patients, and the findings we're publishing show that VIA-2291 may finally offer the solution we need to target and reduce inflammation. In fact, these newly published data strongly support the assessment of VIA-2291 in larger outcome trials," said Dr. Tardif.........
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May 21, 2010, 7:09 AM CT
The sound of seduction
Flirtation may seem largely visual the preening, the coy eye contact but voice plays a role, too.
Lowering your voice appears to be a means of demonstrating attraction, says Susan Hughes, assistant professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa., in a study, "Vocal and Physiological Changes in Response to the Physical Attractiveness of Controversial Partners," to be reported in the fall by the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior
"We observed that both sexes used a lower-pitch voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to a more attractive opposite-sex target," she says.
The study examined 48 Albright students using Skype to leave scripted voice-messages while viewing a picture of a fictitious person "receiving" the message. The men and women the participants looked at varied in attractiveness.
Hughes who expected that women would raise their voices to sound more feminine and attractive was surprised.
"There may be a common stereotype in our culture that deems a sexy female voice as one that sounds husky, breathy, and lower-pitched," she says. "This suggests that the motivation to display a sexy/seductive female voice may conflict with the motivation to sound more feminine".
Female voice manipulation suggests that altering their tone appears to be a learned behavior based on sexual voice stereotypes rather than actual vocal characteristics of attractiveness. "When a woman naturally lowers her voice, it appears to be perceived as her attempt to sound more seductive or attractive, and therefore serves as a signal of her romantic interest," she adds.........
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May 21, 2010, 7:08 AM CT
Molecular heart of collective behavior
Research by Thomas Gregor, an assistant professor of physics at Princeton, and others is shedding light on the molecular basis of collective behavior, seen throughout nature from geese to fish to amoebae. The researchers have found strong evidence pointing to the fact that collective behavior can arise in cells that initially may not be moving at all, but are prodded into action by an external agent such as a chemical. (Photo: Brian Wilson)
Birds flock. Fish gather in schools. Bees swarm. Even amoebae clump together in mystifyingly clever constellations.
Researchers have long wondered what is happening at the cellular and molecular level to bring about this amazing coordination of so a number of individual animals, insects and organisms into groups. It's a choreography seen throughout nature from the large-scale to the miniscule, with synchronized movements as precise as the dance lineup of a Broadway musical.
Is there a secret drum major, a leader among the group setting the pace and instigating participation? Or is it that organisms and cells already are moving rhythmically but independently and then find themselves provoked into harmony by an external beat?
A group of researchers seeking the answer to the mystery of collective motion has found good evidence pointing to a third possibility -- collective behavior can arise in cells that initially may not be moving at all, but are prodded into action by an external agent such as a chemical. Research led by Thomas Gregor, an assistant professor of physics at Princeton, and Satoshi Sawai, a former postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Princeton biologist Edward Cox and now at the University of Tokyo, has shown that food-deprived amoebae are prodded into their coordinated clumping by the chemical cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), effectively changing the parameters of the cell environment.........
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May 21, 2010, 6:51 AM CT
Caregivers of brain cancer patients
Despite grim prognoses and aggressive therapys, cancer patients suffering from cancerous gliomas -- primary brain tumors -- often rate their quality of life more optimistically than their caregivers do, as per a new Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study.
The research suggests how important it is for caregivers to speak up if there is something more to be said, said Daniel Jacobs, a clinical researcher at Feinberg and main author of the paper. "A caregiver may help to give a more complete clinical picture," he said.
Jeffrey Raizer, M.D., senior author of the paper, has seen a number of brain cancer patients for years. He says patients often rise to the occasion when they see their doctor and may minimize their symptoms. "You may ask a patient if he is tired and he says, 'No,'" Raizer said. "Then the caregiver will say, 'But you are sleeping 20 hours a day.' So, there is a disconnect. The patient tells you one thing and the caregiver says another." It was this observation that led to the design of the trial.
Raizer is co-director of the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute, associate professor of neurology at Feinberg and director of medical neuro-oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The study will be presented June 6 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting.........
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May 21, 2010, 6:46 AM CT
CA-125 change over time as screening tool for ovarian cancer
Karen Lu, M.D., is a professor in MD Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Robert Bast, M.D., is vice president for translational research at MD Anderson.
Credit: MD Anderson
Evaluating its change over time, CA-125, the protein long-recognized for predicting ovary cancer recurrence, now shows promise as a screening tool for early-stage disease, as per scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The findings were presented today by Karen Lu, M.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology, in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. If a larger study shows survival benefit, the simple blood test could offer a much-needed screening tool to detect ovary cancer in it early stages - even in the most aggressive forms - in post-menopausal women at average risk for the disease.
MD Anderson has a long history in the research of the important biomarker. In the 1980s, Robert Bast, M.D., vice president for translational research at MD Anderson and co-investigator on the ASCO study, discovered CA-125 and its predictive value of ovary cancer recurrence. Since then, scientists at MD Anderson and beyond have been trying to determine its role in early disease detection. The marker, however, can become elevated for reasons other than ovary cancer, leading to false positives in early screening.
"Over the last ten years, there's been a lot of excitement over new markers and technologies in ovary cancer," said Lu, the trial's principal investigator. "I and other researchers in the gynecologic oncology community thought we would ultimately find a better marker than CA-125 for the early detection of the disease. After looking at new markers and testing them head-to-head in strong, scientific studies, we found no marker better than CA125".........
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May 21, 2010, 6:43 AM CT
Books in home as important as parents' education
Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, as per a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.
For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home in comparison to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) in comparison to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.
Being a sociologist, Evans was especially interested to find that children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. She has been looking for ways to help Nevada's rural communities, in terms of economic development and education.
"What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" she asked. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed." .........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
May 15, 2010, 8:43 PM CT
Belly fat or hip fat
The age-old question of why men store fat in their bellies and women store it in their hips may have finally been answered: Genetically speaking, the fat tissue is almost completely different.
"We observed that out of about 40,000 mouse genes, only 138 are usually found in both male and female fat cells," said Dr. Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and senior author of the study appearing in the International Journal of Obesity
"This was completely unexpected. We expected the exact opposite that 138 would be different and the rest would be the same between the sexes".
The study involved mice, which distribute their fat in a sexually dimorphic pattern similar to humans.
"Given the difference in gene expression profiles, a female fat tissue won't behave anything like a male fat tissue and vice versa," Dr. Clegg said. "The notion that fat cells between males and females are alike is inconsistent with our findings".
In humans, men are more likely to carry extra weight around their guts while pre-menopausal women store it in their butts, thighs and hips. The bad news for men is that belly, or visceral, fat has been linked to numerous obesity-related diseases including diabetes and heart disease. Women, conversely, are generally protected from these obesity-related disorders until menopause, when their ovarian hormone levels drop and fat storage tends to shift from their rear ends to their waists.........
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May 15, 2010, 7:44 PM CT
Men with bigger wallets have bigger waistlines
In Canada, in stark contrast with the rest of the world, wealthy men increase their likelihood of being overweight with every extra dollar they make. The newly released study was led by Nathalie Dumas, a graduate student at the University of Montreal Department of Sociology, and presented at the annual conference of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS).
"Women aren't spared by this correlation, but results are ambiguous," says Dumas. "However, women from rich households are less likely to be obese than women of middle or lower income".
Dumas used data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). This provided access to information from some 7,000 adults aged 25 to 65. Dumas' research is unique because she took into consideration the sex of individuals as well as their body mass index (BMI) to differentiate the overweight from the obese.
"A number of epidemiological studies have established that the odds of being overweight or obese decrease as family income increases," says Dumas. "But we don't know why this relationship is inverted for Canadian men. As per the CCHS, the richer they are, the fatter they are".
So why are rich men and poor women more likely to be obese in Canada? Dumas researched all existing literature and concluded a socioeconomic hypothesis could only explain the link of obesity and income for women. Yet no hypothesis could explain the phenomenon observed in Canadian men.........
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May 15, 2010, 7:42 PM CT
Testosterone levels and quality of sleep
At 30 years old, male testosterone levels drop by one to two percent annually. By age 40, men's quality of sleep begins to diminish. Could there be a link between decreased testosterone and reduced sleep? Absolutely as per Zoran Sekerovic, a graduate student from the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, who presented his findings at the annual conference of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS).
Sekerovic discovered a link between testosterone levels in men over 50 and their quality of sleep specifically less deep sleep i.e. Phases III and IV of the slumber cycle. "Deep sleep is when the recuperation of body and mind is optimal," says Sekerovic, adding his is the first study to find this correlation.
In young men, deep sleep represents 10 to 20 percent of total sleep. By age 50, it decreases to five to seven percent. For men over 60, it can disappear altogether. The study didn't find any correlation with other parts of the sleep cycle: falling asleep, Phases I and II, or paradoxical sleep, when most of dreaming occurs.
The University of Montreal researcher explains that men in their 20s don't have such a correlation because their neuronal circuits are intact. "With age, there is neuronal loss and the synchronization of cerebral activity isn't as good, which is why there is a loss of deep sleep. Because deep sleep requires great synchronization," says Sekerovic. "Low levels of testosterone intensify the lack of synchronization and can explain 20 percent of men's inability to experience deep sleep".........
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