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June 10, 2007, 8:49 PM CT

Sun exposure early in life and skin cancer

Sun exposure early in life and skin cancer
Skin cancers often contain different gene mutations, but just how these mutations contribute to the cause of melanomas has been a mystery.

A new clue comes from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Their research indicates that early life sun exposure, from birth to 20 years old, may specifically increase the risk of melanomas with BRAF gene mutations. A different mutation, on the NRAS gene, was found in patients who had sun exposure during the later part of life (between ages 50 to 60 years old). The results indicate that different subtypes of melanoma are linked to different risk factors.

"The findings suggest that melanoma subtypes have different causes. This is important for learning more about how to prevent and treat skin cancer," said Dr. Nancy Thomas, associate professor of dermatology in the UNC School of Medicine, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and lead author of the study. This finding is expected to strengthen current recommendations to protect children from sun exposure in order to prevent melanoma, Thomas said.

The study, reported in the May 2007 edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, presents some of the first data to link early life sunlight exposure to a specific mutation in melanomas.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


June 10, 2007, 7:33 PM CT

Early identification of at-risk readers

Early identification of at-risk readers
Taken together, functional brain scans and tests of reading skills strongly predict which children will have ongoing reading problems. Whats more, the two methods work better together than either one alone, as per new research in the recent issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Neuroresearchers at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities think this double-barreled diagnostic can help identify at-risk readers as early as possible. That way, schools can step in before those children fail to learn to read or develop poor reading habits that might interfere with remediation, such as relying on memory for words rather than sounding out new ones. Early identification and systematic intervention can very often turn likely non-readers into readers, as per the study authors.

This study of 73 Pittsburgh-area children of ages 8 to 12, all identified as struggling readers, ran for a school year. At the start of the year, the scientists administered standard tests of early literacy skills, including word identification, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, efficiency, and phonological processing this last a critical measure of how well children process the sounds of letters and letter combinations. The scientists also used functional MRIs (fMRIs) to depict how the childrens brains worked when they had to read two words and say whether they rhymed, a test of phonological awareness. To make the fMRI results more sensitive to differences among children, the authors further analyzed the images using a method called voxel-based morphometry that uses the density of the brains white and grey matter to zero in on activation patterns in specific parts of key brain regions.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 10, 2007, 7:30 PM CT

Genetic Risk Factor For Coeliac Disease

Genetic Risk Factor For Coeliac Disease
An international research consortium investigating the genetic causes of intestinal inflammatory conditions has identified a new genetic risk factor for coeliac disease. The findings, published online today (10 June 2007) in the science journal Nature Genetics, could pave the way towards improved diagnostics and therapys for the common, lifelong complaint.

Led by David van Heel, Professor of Gastrointestinal Genetics at Queen Mary, University of London, the study - funded by the charity Coeliac UK, and the Wellcome Trust - has revealed that those suffering from coeliac disease lack a protective DNA sequence in a specific gene region, otherwise found in healthy individuals.

Behind the success of the study are the Human Genome Project and the Hap Map Project, international research efforts to reveal the entire sequence of all the human chromosomes - and the functional units embedded within - and to correlate that information to common sequence variation in the human population.

Dr Panos Deloukas, Senior Investigator in Human Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and part of the research consortium, said: These resources coupled with technological advances have enabled us to scan variation across the human genome in large numbers of people for association to disease. The Sanger Institute made available to the study the genome data on 1500 British individuals used as controls (i.e without coeliac disease). The consortium studied over four thousand individuals with and without coeliac disease, amongst British, Irish and Dutch populations.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


June 10, 2007, 7:26 PM CT

Drug may halt Parkinson's disease

Drug may halt Parkinson's disease
Northwestern University scientists have discovered a drug that slows and may even halt the progression of Parkinsons disease. The drug rejuvenates aging dopamine cells, whose death in the brain causes the symptoms of this devastating and widespread disease.

D. James Surmeier, the Nathan Smith Davis Professor and chair of physiology at Northwestern Universitys Feinberg School of Medicine, and his team of scientists have observed that isradipine, a drug widely used for high blood pressure and stroke, restores stressed-out dopamine neurons to their vigorous younger selves. The study is described in a feature article in the international journal Nature, which will be published on-line June 10.

Dopamine is a critical chemical messenger in the brain that affects a persons ability to direct his movements. In Parkinsons disease, the neurons that release dopamine die, causing movement to become more and more difficult.

Ultimately, a person loses the ability to walk, talk or pick up a glass of water. The illness is the second most common neurodegenenerative disease in the country, affecting about 1 million people. The occurence rate of Parkinsons disease increases with age, soaring after age 60.

Our hope is that this drug will protect dopamine neurons, so that if you began taking it early enough, you wont get Parkinsons disease, even if you were at risk. said Surmeier, who heads the Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence for Parkinsons Disease Research at Northwestern. It would be like taking a baby aspirin everyday to protect your heart.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 10, 2007, 7:25 PM CT

Simple test predicts 6-year risk of dementia

Simple test predicts 6-year risk of dementia
A simple test that can be given by any doctor predicts a persons risk for developing dementia within six years with 87 percent accuracy, as per a research studyled by scientists at San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).

The test, developed in the study by the researchers, is a 14-point index combining medical history, cognitive testing, and physical examination. It requires no special equipment and can be given in a clinical setting such as a doctors office or at a patients bedside.

The new index is the bedside version of a longer, more technically comprehensive best test, also developed during the study, that is 88 percent accurate.

These are the first tools to accurately predict dementia, as per lead author Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, a mental health researcher at SFVAMC. Barnes described the tests in a presentation at the 2007 International Conference on Prevention of Dementia, in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Alzheimers Association.

There are tests that accurately predict an individuals chances of developing cardiovascular disease and other maladies, but, until now, no one has developed similar scales for dementia, says Barnes, who also is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

As measured by the bedside index, the risk factors for developing dementia are an age of 70 or older, poor scores on two simple cognitive tests, slow physical functioning on everyday tasks such as buttoning a shirt or walking 15 feet, a history of coronary artery bypass surgery, a body mass index of less than 18, and current non-consumption of alcohol.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 10, 2007, 7:23 PM CT

Stroke study sheds light on left-right brain divide

Stroke study sheds light on left-right brain divide
Research into the effects of strokes has furthered our understanding of the different roles of the left and right sides of our brains. A study led by the University of Exeter has highlighted differences in the ability of people to perform basic tasks, depending on whether the left or right sides of their brains have been damaged by a stroke. The research identified the role of the right side of the brain in noticing and correcting errors.

The research focused on damage to the frontal lobes, the front part of the brain which is known to be responsible for aspects of language, decision making and learning. The team observed that people who had damage to their left side were more likely to realise they had made a mistake, and then correct it, in comparison to those who had damage to their right frontal lobes. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the research is now reported in the journal Brain.

Dr Tim Hodgson, neuro-psychology expert at the University of Exeter and lead researcher on this study, said: We know that suffering a stroke in the left frontal region can affect aspects of speech and language, but this research highlights, for the first time, the additional challenges that people with right frontal-lobe damage might face in everyday life.

23 people, each with frontal lobe damage, performed a rule-switching task which involved learning rules linking the colour of a symbol on a computer screen with a movement to the left or right. All the participants made mistakes during the task, but it was those with right-brain damage who most frequently failed to spot their errors and had difficulty keep track of the changing task rules. The group with damage to the left frontal lobes corrected 68% of mistakes in the test, whereas people with right-brain damage only made corrections to 30% of their errors. This suggests that people who suffer damage to their right frontal lobe following a stroke may struggle in everyday situations which require attention to be switched flexibly from one thing to another.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 7, 2007, 7:35 PM CT

How bacteria to resist human immune defenses

How bacteria to resist human immune defenses
Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health, have discovered a survival mechanism in a common type of bacteria that can cause illness. The mechanism lets the bacteria protect itself by warding off attacks from antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are defense molecules sent by the body to kill bacteria.

Bacteria are divided into two types, gram-positive and gram-negative, with the primary difference being the nature of the bacterial cell wall. Little is known about how gram-positive bacteriasuch as those that can lead to food poisoning, skin disorders and toxic shockavoid being killed by AMPs. AMPs are made by virtually all groups of organisms, including amphibians, insects, several invertebrates and mammals, including humans.

Gram-positive bacteria are major threats to human health, particularly due to increasing problems with drug resistance, and these findings may help chart a path to designing new drugs to bolster our antimicrobial therapy options, notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

Led by Michael Otto, Ph.D., of NIAIDs Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), the researchers used the gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis to study its response to a specific human AMP, human beta defensin 3. S. epidermidis is one of several hard-to-treat infectious agents that can be transmitted to patients in hospitals via contaminated medical implants. Findings by Dr. Ottos research group are reported in the May 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Other well-known types of gram-positive bacteria include agents that cause anthrax, strep throat, flesh-eating disease and various types of food poisoning.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 7, 2007, 7:34 PM CT

Cochlear Implant Restores Hearing

Cochlear Implant Restores Hearing
Scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have, for the first time, used a "bionic" ear to restore hearing in a patient with von Hippel-Lindau disease. They say this advance offers new hope for individuals with the rare disorder, which can produce non-cancerous tumors in ears, as well as in the eyes, brain, and kidneys.

The advance was possible, scientists say, because their years of research into the disease showed that these tumors do not affect the cochlear nerve necessary for receipt of sound in the brain. The device they used is known as a cochlear implant, which stimulates the cochlear nerve with electrical impulses. It is predominately used to treat the deaf.

"Based on our understanding of how these tumors affect the inner ear, we felt that a cochlear implant could work, and it did," said the study's lead author, H. Jeffrey Kim, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, and a part-time investigator at the NIH, where the surgery waccording toformed. Two years after the surgery, the implant has significantly improved the quality of life of the patient, he said.

Based on this successful surgery, which was published as a case report in the recent issue of the journal Otology & Neurology, patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease with hearing loss may be now be candidates for a cochlear implant, Kim said. The disease, caused by inheritance of a mutated tumor suppressor gene, occurs in 1 out of 36,000 live births, and about 30 percent of these patients develop tumors in their ears--often in both. To date, the only option to help control these tumors is repeated surgery, which is often not successful, he said. Loss of hearing is sudden, and hearing aids don't help, Kim said.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


June 7, 2007, 7:11 PM CT

Growth in ADHD medications

Growth in ADHD medications
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been traditionally viewed as a childhood disorder, while ADHD in adults has been underdiagnosed and undertreated. A recent study shows that therapy rates have been increasing in all age groups, and improved identification has contributed to rapidly growing therapy rates for adults. Female patients show the greatest increase of all.

The study, published by SAGE in the recent issue of the Journal of Attention Disorders, revealed rapid growth of ADHD medicine use in all demographic groups except seniors, with some groups showing markedly faster rates than others. Between 2000 and 2005, therapy rates grew more rapidly for adults than for children, more rapidly for women than for men, and more rapidly for girls than for boys.

Improved diagnosis of ADHD in adult and female patients contributed to the rapid growth in ADHD medicine use. The study observed that there were a number of changes in the types of medications used, as well. Scientists observed that methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine use declined for both children and adults, the use of amphetamine mixtures increased for adults, atomoxetine use (introduced in 2002) grew rapidly across both groups, use of extended-release products increased in children more dramatically than adults, and generic ADHD medicine use declined significantly in pediatric patients while remaining relatively stable in adults.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 6, 2007, 10:01 PM CT

New Contributor To Aggressive Cancers

New Contributor To Aggressive Cancers
Mutations in the cell adhesion molecule known as integrin alpha 7 (integrin 7) lead to unchecked tumor cell proliferation and a significantly higher incidence in cancer spread, or metastasis, in several cancer cell lines, report scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in a study being published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. These findings suggest that integrin 7 represents an important new target for cancer treatment and prevention.

Integrin 7 belongs to a major class of cell membrane proteins that play a role in the attachment of a cell to the extracellular matrix (ECM), which is the material that holds cells within a particular type of tissue together. Integrins also help cells attach to one another and are involved in transmitting chemical signals between cells and the ECM.

In this study, the researchers, led by Jianhua Luo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the division of molecular and cellular pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, examined whether this gene is mutated in specimens of various human cancers as well as whether the level of integrin 7 expression is linked to clinical relapse of human cancers. They also investigated whether integrin 7 has tumor suppressor activity.

To determine whether mutations in integrin 7 contribute to cancer, Dr. Luo and his collaborators sequenced the integrin 7 genes from 66 human cancer specimens and cell lines representing many different kinds of cancer, including cancer of the prostate, liver, brain (glioblastoma) and muscle (leiomyosarcoma).........

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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