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December 11, 2007, 10:11 PM CT

Microbial risks in the water we drink

Microbial risks in the water we drink
It is a familiar scenario experienced around the world: an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness suddenly emerges in a community, and no one knows where it came from or how to stop it. At the start of the outbreak, only a few people are affected, most often the very old and the very young. As the outbreak worsens, more and more people fall ill, and people who were weak or unwell may develop life-threatening complications.

Such outbreaks sometimes originate from a source that most people in the United States and other developed countries trust unquestioningly: drinking water. However, there is much we do not know about the causes and likelihood of waterborne illness, and we can and should do more to assess the risks, as per a new report, Clean Water: What is Acceptable Microbial Risk", released by the American Academy of Microbiology.

In the developing world, where diarrheal illnesses claim roughly 2 million lives each year, access to clean water is a serious public health challenge, says Mark LeChevallier of American Water Works Service Company in Vorhees, New Jersey, one of the authors of the report. Fortunately, the United States and other developed countries have managed to rein in the biggest waterborne disease problems, but water quality is still a very real concern. Sporadic illnesses and outbreaks still occur, and they can have a serious impact on public health and commerce.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 11, 2007, 8:25 PM CT

First-line therapy for multiple myeloma

First-line therapy for multiple myeloma
A new combination of bortezomib (Velcade) and two other drugs is showing a very high response rate in patients newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a team headed by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The three-pronged regimen of Velcade, lenalidomide (Revlimid) and dexamethasone referred to as Rev/Vel/Dex has achieved an overall response rate of 98 percent in 42 patients reviewed thus far in a Phase 1-2 trial, said Paul Richardson, MD, of Dana-Farber and the studys principal investigator. He added that 52 percent of the patients had high quality responses (very good partial response or better), with 30 percent achieving complete response to date.

These may be some of the best response rates weve seen to date with up-front therapies, and eventhough these are preliminary results, they are extremely promising, Richardson said. The patients were previously untreated when they received the Rev/Vel/Dex combination.

Velcade is a smart drug known as a proteasome inhibitor that blocks the myeloma cells waste disposal system, creating an accumulation of toxic compounds that poison the cell. Revlimid is a chemical relative of thalidomide that affects several pathways in cancer cells, including immune mechanisms and blood vessel growth to tumors. Dexamethasone is a steroid hormone that counters inflammation and is used to treat hematologic malignancies such as myeloma. Studies leading to the trial of the three drugs in combination were carried out at Dana-Farber.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 11:00 PM CT

bacteria in cows milk may cause Crohn's disease

bacteria in cows milk may cause Crohn's disease
Crohn's is a condition that affects one in 800 people in the UK and causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhoea.

The team observed that a bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis releases a molecule that prevents a type of white blood cell from killing E.coli bacteria found in the body. E.coli is known to be present within Crohn's disease tissue in increased numbers.

It is thought that the Mycobacteria make their way into the body's system via cows' milk and other dairy products. In cattle it can cause an illness called Johne's disease - a wasting, diarrhoeal condition. Until now, however, it has been unclear how this bacterium could trigger intestinal inflammation in humans.

Professor Jon Rhodes, from the University's School of Clinical Sciences, explains: "Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been found within Crohn's disease tissue but there has been much controversy concerning its role in the disease. We have now shown that these Mycobacteria release a complex molecule containing a sugar, called mannose. This molecule prevents a type of white blood cells, called macrophages, from killing internalised E.Coli." .

Researchers have previously shown that people with Crohn's disease have increased numbers of a 'sticky' type of E.coli and weakened ability to fight off intestinal bacteria. The suppressive effect of the Mycobacterial molecule on this type of white blood cell suggests it is a likely mechanism for weakening the body's defence against the bacteria.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 10:44 PM CT

Don't just wear a mouthguard; keep it clean

Don't just wear a mouthguard; keep it clean
Image courtesy of hockeydogs.com
Fractured teeth, neck injuries and abrasions in the mouth, also known as sports-related dental injuries, are ever present among athletes. As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year.

One may assume that mouthguards should serve as a preventive measure. In some 200,000 cases annually, mouthguards have been known to avert oral injuries and cut the risk of concussion by 50 percent. However, while a mouthguard may be popular for its ability to prevent the injuries that may temporarily and sometimes permanently disfigure a persons appearance, what a number of may not be aware of is the importance of proper maintenance, cleanliness and care to prevent disease transmission and infection.

As per a research studythat appears in the September/October 2007 issue of General Dentistry, the AGDs clinical, peer-evaluated journal, mouthguards harbor large numbers of bacteria, yeasts and molds that can possibly lead to life and/or health-threatening infectious/inflammatory diseases.

Everything that a microorganism needs to survive, including food and water, can be found in a mouthguard, says Thomas Glass, DDS, PhD, lead author of the study. While mouthguards appear solid, they are very porous, like a sponge, and with use, microorganisms invade these porosities.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 10:41 PM CT

Parenting practices don't suffer during divorce

Parenting practices don't suffer during divorce
New research is challenging the notion that parents who divorce necessarily exhibit a diminished capacity to parent in the period following divorce. A large, longitudinal study conducted by University of Alberta sociology professor Lisa Strohschein has observed that divorce does not change parenting behavior, and that there are actually more similarities than differences in parenting between recently divorced and married parents.

The study used data from the 1994 and 1996 cycles of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NSLCY) to compare changes in parenting practices between 208 households that divorced between the first and follow up interview and 4796 households that remained intact. Strohschein looked at three measures of parenting behavior (nurturing, consistent, and punitive parenting) to tap into the different ways that divorce is believed to disrupt parenting practices. Her results show that there are no differences between divorced and stably married parents for any parenting behavior either before or after a divorce has occurred.

My findings that parenting practices are uncorrelation to divorce appear to fly in the face of accepted wisdom, states Strohschein. Undoubtedly, some parents will be overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of parenting in the post-divorce period, but the expectation that all parents will be negatively affected by divorce is unfounded.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 10:36 PM CT

Psychiatrists: Least religious but most interested

Psychiatrists: Least religious but most interested
Eventhough psychiatry experts are among the least religious physicians, they seem to be the most interested in the religious and spiritual dimensions of their patients, as per survey data reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Ever since Freud described religious faith as an illusion and a neurosis there has been tension and at times hostility between religion and psychiatry. Psychiatry experts are less religious on average than other physicians, as per previously published data from the same survey, and non-psychiatry expert physicians who are religious are less willing to refer their patients to psychiatry experts.

This report observed that eventhough they may be less religious than other physicians, psychiatry experts appear to be more comfortable and have more experience addressing religious or spiritual concerns in the clinical setting.

"Recent efforts have begun to bridge the divide between religion and psychiatry," said study author Farr Curlin, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "In the past, manuals of psychiatry tended to identify religiosity with mental illness. Now they distinguish normal religious and spiritual ideas and behaviors from those that result from mental illness".

"Moreover," he added, "several recent studies have observed that religiosity is often linked to improved mental health outcomes such as quicker recovery from depression. Now most training programs teach developing psychiatry experts about the potentially beneficial influence of religion and spirituality on patients' mental health".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 10:28 PM CT

Missing protein may be key to autism

Missing protein may be key to autism
A missing brain protein may be one of the culprits behind autism and other brain disorders, as per scientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

The protein, called CASK, helps in the development of synapses, which neurons use to communicate with one another and which underlie our ability to learn and remember. Improperly formed synapses could lead to mental retardation, and mutations in genes encoding certain synaptic proteins are linked to autism.

In work reported in the Dec. 6 issue of Neuron, Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, reported that she has uncovered an enzyme that is key to the activity of CASK.

Tsai studies a kinase (kinases are enzymes that change proteins) called Cdk5. While Cdk5's best-known role is to help new neurons form and migrate to their correct positions during brain development, "emerging evidence supports an important role for Cdk5 at the synapse," she said.

To gain a better understanding of how Cdk5 promotes synapse formation, Tsai's lab looked into how Cdk5 interacts with synapse-inducing proteins like CASK. A key scaffolding protein, CASK is one of the first proteins on the scene of a developing synapse.

Scaffolding proteins such as CASK are like site managers, supporting protein-to-protein interactions to ensure that the resulting architecture is sound. Mutations in the genes responsible for Cdk5 and CASK have been found in mental retardation patients.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 10:26 PM CT

Living Longer With Obesity Means

Living Longer With Obesity Means
Markus Schafer, left, and Ken Ferraro
Living longer with obesity can lead to both longer hospital stays and more avoidable trips to the hospital, as per two new studies from Purdue University.

"Americans are overweight, and there are numerous studies that cite the problems of obesity," said Ken Ferraro, a professor of sociology. "However, as the age at which people become obese continues to get younger, we wanted to know how living longer with obesity affects people.

"These findings could motivate young people to reverse the trend with healthy eating and activity and, if so, they may be able to avoid the consequences of chronic obesity".

Ferraro, along with graduate student Markus Schafer, studied how obesity influences hospitalizations by using 20 years of personal health data based on surveys associated with hospital records of more than 4,000 people ages 25-77. The data, from 1971-1992, was part of a federally funded national health and nutrition survey.

"In an economic sense, we have a major problem on our hands in terms of what we would project for today's overweight children and teenagers," said Ferraro, who is director of Purdue's Center on Aging and the Life Course. "In the past, people's weight peaked during late middle age. As more young people become obese, we may anticipate accumulated health problems by the time they are 40. If they are going to be obese for 30, 40 or 50 years, then the health-care costs linked to their adult medical needs will skyrocket. These findings are more evidence that we need to act now to reverse the obesity trend in our younger people. Eventhough it is hard to project the future from these data, the likely scenarios portend a diabetes epidemic".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 10, 2007, 9:38 PM CT

Patients, dentists differ on smile ratings

Patients, dentists differ on smile ratings
People rate their smiles higher than dentists do, as per a new study. Teeth and eyes rated as the most important features of an attractive face, the study also found, and people younger than age 50 were most satisfied with their smiles.

The study, published in this months Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), asked 78 patients in Norway to rate their own smiles on a 100-point satisfaction scale. Later, the patients regular dentist and an independent periodontist rated the patients smiles from photographs, using the same satisfaction scale.

As per the study, patients were more satisfied with their own smiles than dentists, rating them an average 59.1 on the 100-point scale. Dentists ratings of the patients smiles were much lower, averaging 38.6 (independent periodontist) and 40.7 (patients own dentist).

The scientists say that it may be difficult to understand what a smile satisfaction level of 59 really means, adding it might be more accurate to say patients are accepting of, or contented with, their smiles.

The study participants, who were not actively seeking cosmetic dental therapys, averaged 51 years of age (range, 22-84 years) and numbered 50 women and 28 men.

The fact that the patients had much higher opinions of their smiles than we dentists did is interesting, the scientists state. They explained that patients expressed their opinions from memory, while the dentists made their assessments from photographs.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 9, 2007, 5:25 PM CT

New strategy for developing antidepressants

New strategy for developing antidepressants
Scientists may be able to develop an antidepressant which takes effect almost immediately by directly targeting novel molecules in the brain instead of taking a less direct route, which can lead to longer times for medicine to take effect, as per a new study presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) annual meeting. The antidepressant is also believed to be effective in people for whom prior therapys have been ineffective. This human and rodent research is among the first to examine the effects of rapid antidepressant strategies.

Lead researcher and ACNP member Husseini Manji, M.D., director of the mood and anxiety disorders program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), says one of the major limitations in existing pharmacological therapys for major depression is the time between starting to take the medication, and when it starts to alleviate the depression, often a period of one month or longer. He adds that strategies that work at much faster rates would have a tremendous impact for Americans who suffer from depression nearly 21 million annually, as per NIMH.

"Today's antidepressant medications eventually end up doing the same thing, but they go about it the long way around, with a lot of biochemical steps that take time. Now we've shown what the key targets are and that we can get at them rapidly," says Dr. Manji. This research is leading to some very real possibilities for a whole new generation of antidepressant medications."........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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