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June 10, 2006, 6:09 PM CT

Vaccine Against Nicotine Addiction

Vaccine Against Nicotine Addiction
UCSF's Habit Abatement Clinic is testing a vaccine that enlists help from the immune system to keep nicotine away from the brain. The vaccine is designed to help smokers quit and to limit the urge to start smoking again.

Called NicVax, the investigational vaccine is being developed by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals to prevent and treat nicotine addiction and to help people quit smoking. Normally when a smoker inhales, nicotine is carried by the bloodstream to the brain, where it triggers neuro-receptors to generate positive sensations that can lead to addiction. The vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the small nicotine molecule. Bound to these antibodies, nicotine molecules no longer can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain.

"With little or no nicotine reaching the brain, smoking is less rewarding. That gives the smoker a chance to change the behavioral and social factors that also influence smoking," said Victor Reus, MD, principal investigator for the study at UCSF.

Because immune antibodies remain in the body for some time, Reus said it is hoped that the vaccine also will prevent relapse. When a vaccinated smoker lights up months after quitting, the person should not experience the nicotine-triggered reward that tempts most people back into the habit.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

June 10, 2006, 6:06 PM CT

Diagnostic Breakthrough In Burkitt Lymphoma

Diagnostic Breakthrough In Burkitt Lymphoma IMAGE CREDIT: Gregory Schuler, NCBI, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.
An international research study involving the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the National Cancer Institute and 10 other institutions has successfully identified the gene expression signature for Burkitt lymphoma. The discovery, which is published in the June 8 edition of The New England of Medicine, will allow physicians to better diagnose and treat Burkitt lymphoma and better distinguish it from another more common form of cancerous lymphoma.

Burkitt lymphoma is a rare aggressive B cell lymphoma that accounts for 30 to 50 percent of lymphomas in children but only 1 to 2 percent of lymphomas in adults. Burkitt lymphoma is rapidly fatal if untreated, but it is curable with intensive treatment.

Burkitt lymphoma features a high degree of proliferation of the cancerous cells and deregulation of the c-myc gene, which is characteristic of Burkitt lymphoma. The distinction between Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in adults, is critical, because the management of these two diseases differs. About 300 new cases of Burkitt lymphoma, typically in children, are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Whereas a relatively low-dose chemotherapy regimen is typically used to treat DLBCL, this regimen is inadequate for Burkitt lymphoma, which requires intensive chemotherapy. In addition, because of the high risk of central nervous system involvement with Burkitt lymphoma, it is essential that intrathecal or systemic chemotherapy that crosses the blood-brain barrier be administered. This type of chemotherapy is unnecessary in most cases of DLBCL.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

June 10, 2006, 4:56 PM CT

the Pulse of a Gene in Living Cells

the Pulse of a Gene in Living Cells
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have observed for the first time that gene expression can occur in the form of discrete "pulses" of gene activity. The scientists used pioneering microscopy techniques, developed by Dr. Robert Singer and his colleagues at Einstein, that for the first time allow researchers to directly watch the behavior of a single gene in real time. Their findings appeared in the current issue of Current Biology.

When a gene is expressed or "turned on," genetic information is transferred from DNA into RNA. This process, known as transcription, is crucial for translating the gene's message into a functional protein. Diseases such as cancer can result when genes turn on at the improper time or in the wrong part of the body.

Scientists customarily use microarrays (also known as "gene chips") to assess gene expression in tumors and other tissues. But with millions of cells involved, microarrays reflect only "average" gene expression. Just how a gene is transcribed in a single cell-continuously, intermittently or some other way-has largely been a mystery.

Now, in observing a gene that plays a major role in how an organism develops, the Einstein scientists observed a phenomenon that until now has been indirectly observed and only in bacteria: pulses of transcription that turn on and off at irregular intervals. Dr. Singer and his co-workers used a fluorescent marker that sticks to the gene only when it is active. Under a microscope, this fluorescent marker appears when the gene turns on, then disappears (gene "off") and then appears again (gene "on").........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

June 10, 2006, 4:53 PM CT

Possible Effects Of Actos Beyond Glycemic Control

Possible Effects Of Actos Beyond Glycemic Control
Scientists today at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 66th Annual Scientific Sessions presented data showing the relationship between baseline characteristics and cardiac risk factors in patients enrolled in a new clinical trial called CHICAGO (Carotid intima-media tHICkness in Atherosclerosis using pioGlitazOne). This is the largest and longest study to examine the effects of ACTOS on measures of the atherosclerotic disease process in patients with type 2 diabetes, most of whom had no clinical evidence of heart disease.

"While earlier and smaller studies found that ACTOS reduced carotid intima-media thickness, given the size and duration of the CHICAGO trial, we hope to gather further information about the effect of ACTOS on blood vessel health and atherosclerosis," said Theodore Mazzone, M.D., F.A.C.P., professor of medicine and director of the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "We look forward to further study findings, as we hope they can provide important information and insight about management of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes."

The CHICAGO trial is an 18-month, multicenter, randomized study that has enrolled 439 patients with type 2 diabetes, all from the Chicago area, thus the name of the study. The primary goal was to compare the effects of ACTOS versus glimepiride, a sulfonylurea, on carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), defined as the thickness of the inner lining of a patient's neck arteries. It is also assessing the occurrence of cardiovascular events (i.e., death, heart attack and stroke) and cardiovascular disease risk factors among patients with type 2 diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

June 9, 2006, 7:06 AM CT

Avoid Short-cut Methods To Lose Weight

Avoid Short-cut Methods To Lose Weight
When athletes, especially wrestlers, use short-cut methods to lose weight fast, they both endanger their health and hurt their performance.

Severely restricting the intake of food and fluids can cause dehydration and the loss of minerals essential for metabolism, notes the recent issue of the Penn State Sports Medicine Newsletter.

High school and college wrestlers, as well as other athletes, usually use a practice called "weight cutting" for rapid weight loss so they can meet requirements for competing in a particular weight class.

An American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) report says that a number of athletes not only decrease their consumption of foods and fluids but use diuretics, laxatives and saunas to shed pounds quickly. These methods can leave the athlete "ill prepared to compete," the report adds.

As per the ACSM, one-third of high school wrestlers go through a weight-cutting process more than 10 times in a season. College and high school wrestlers lose an average of 4.5 pounds during the week to "make weight." In 20 percent of the wrestlers, the weekly weight loss may exceed 5.9 pounds.

"From my experience as a high school and college wrestling coach, the average number of pounds lost is considerably more than 4.5 to 5.9 pounds," says William J. Kraemer, Ph.D., a member of the Penn State Sports Medicine Newsletter editorial board. "I would estimate that more than half of college wrestlers lose probably 8 to 10 pounds during the week before a match. I've seen some wrestlers lose as a number of as 15 pounds".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink

June 9, 2006, 0:24 AM CT

Are Antibiotics Being Used For Too Long?

Are Antibiotics Being Used For Too Long?
Taking antibiotics for three days is just as effective for community acquired pneumonia as continuing therapy for the recommended 7-10 days, finds a study in this week's BMJ. Shorter therapy can also help contain growing resistance rates.

The study raises questions about the optimal duration of antibiotic treatment for common infections.

Community acquired pneumonia is one of the most important indications for antibiotic prescriptions in hospitals. But a lack of evidence to support short course treatment means it has become accepted practice to continue therapy for days after symptoms have improved.

Scientists in the Netherlands compared the effectiveness of discontinuing therapy with amoxicillin after three days or eight days in adults admitted to hospital with mild to moderate-severe community acquired pneumonia.

119 patients who substantially improved after the conventional three days' therapy with intravenous amoxicillin were randomly assigned to oral amoxicillin (63 patients) or placebo (56 patients) three times daily for five days. Patients were assessed at days 7, 10 (two days after therapy ended), 14, and 28.

In the three day and eight day therapy groups, the clinical success rate at day 10 was 93% for both, and at day 28 was 90% compared with 88%. Both groups had similar resolution of symptoms, x-ray results, and length of hospital stay.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

June 9, 2006, 0:16 AM CT

The Mystery Behind Love-hate Relationships

The Mystery Behind Love-hate Relationships
People who see their relationships as either all good or all bad tend to have low self-esteem, as per a series of seven studies by Yale scientists reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In two of the studies participants were asked to indicate as quickly as possible whether each of 10 adjectives applied to their relationship partner, adjectives such as caring and warm or greedy and dishonest. Partners in this study included college roommates and mothers.

Individuals low in self-esteem were considerably slower to respond when negative and positive adjectives were alternated than when similar adjectives appeared in blocks. Those high in self-esteem were equally quick to respond to the adjectives no matter how they were presented.

"This suggests it was hard for them to think of their partners as a mix of positive and negative characteristics at a given point in time," said Margaret Clark, a professor in the Department of Psychology and senior faculty author of the study. "We do not think these results are limited to any one type of relationship. We think they apply to any close relationship."

Clark said the effects were obtained only when people judged relationship partners. There was no delayed response when judging an object, in this case, their computer.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

June 8, 2006, 7:23 PM CT

Sugar Required For Healthy Brain Development

Sugar Required For Healthy Brain Development Zebrafish
New approaches to preventing birth defects from a rare metabolic disorder could result from research completed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The findings also may have implications for patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.

To learn more about how glucose affects human development, Mary Carayannopoulos, Ph.D., instructor in pediatrics, developed the first vertebrate model of glucose homeostasis and embryonic development using the zebrafish. Their transparent embryos develop similarly to humans, except that they grow outside of the mother's body, where development can be more easily observed. The model provides the foundation for and insight into the roles of nutrition and genetics in human birth defects.

Carayannopoulos used the zebrafish model to study Glut1 deficiency. Glut1 is a protein that transports glucose in cerebrospinal fluid to the brain. Glut1 deficiency syndrome in humans is linked to microcephaly, epilepsy, developmental delays and other neurologic abnormalities.

Results of the study appear in the recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, but are available now online. Penny J. Jensen, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Department of Pediatrics, was lead author of the study.

Carayannopoulos lowered Glut1 levels in the zebrafish embryo. Over 72 hours of observing the developing fish, she found that Glut1 deficiency led to cell death in the brain, which uses glucose as its energy source. When injecting the zebrafish with another protein, Bad, which normally activates cell death, the Glut1 and Bad seemed to cancel each other out, correcting brain defects and promoting cell survival.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

June 8, 2006, 7:19 PM CT

Role Of Central Nervous System In MS-like Disease

Role Of Central Nervous System In MS-like Disease
It may sound like a case of blame the victim, but scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that cells in the central nervous system can sometimes send out signals that invite hostile immune system attacks. In mice the scientists studied, this invitation resulted in damage to the protective covering of nerves, causing a disease resembling multiple sclerosis.

"It's been clear for quite a while that our own lymphocytes (white blood cells) have the ability to enter the central nervous system and react with the cells there," says John Russell, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and pharmacology. "Under normal circumstances, the brain and the immune system cooperate to keep out those cells that might harm the brain. But in people with multiple sclerosis, they get in."

The scientists found that they could prevent destructive immune cells from entering nervous system tissue by eliminating a molecular switch that sends "come here" messages to immune cells. Ordinarily, flipping that switch would cause immune cells to rush to the vicinity of the cells that sent the signals and destroy whatever they consider a danger - including nerve cell coatings.

But in the mice in which the switch was removed, the scientists saw that immune cells previously primed by the researchers to attack the central nervous system (CNS) did not enter the CNS, and the mice stayed healthy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

June 8, 2006, 7:15 PM CT

Erotic Images Elicit Strong Response From Brain

Erotic Images Elicit Strong Response From Brain This brain map shows differences in reactions to erotic and neutral visual materials. Red zones represent the largest differences, suggesting that circuits in the frontal parts of the brain are particularly sensitive to erotic content and the fastest to detect the difference.
A new study suggests the brain is quickly turned on and "tuned in" when a person views erotic images.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis measured brainwave activity of 264 women as they viewed a series of 55 color slides that contained various scenes from water skiers to snarling dogs to partially-clad couples in sensual poses.

What they found may seem like a "no brainer." When study volunteers viewed erotic pictures, their brains produced electrical responses that were stronger than those elicited by other material that was viewed, no matter how pleasant or disturbing the other material may have been. This difference in brainwave response emerged very quickly, suggesting that different neural circuits may be involved in the processing of erotic images.

"That surprised us," says first author Andrey P. Anokhin, Ph.D., research assistant professor of psychiatry. "We believed both pleasant and disturbing images would evoke a rapid response, but erotic scenes always elicited the strongest response."

As subjects looked at the slides, electrodes on their scalps measured changes in the brain's electrical activity called event-related potentials (ERPs). The scientists learned that regardless of a picture's content, the brain acts very quickly to classify the visual image. The ERPs begin firing in the brain's cortex long before a person is conscious of whether they are seeing a picture that is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         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. Archives of health news blog

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