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June 27, 2007, 6:44 PM CT

Gene That Spurs Development Of The Epididymis

Gene That Spurs Development Of The Epididymis
Photo courtesy H. Yao
Human sperm cells travel up to 6 meters in their transit from testes to penis, and most of that journey occurs in the epididymis, a tightly coiled tube that primes the cells for their ultimate task: fertilization. In a paper released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the University of Illinois report that they have discovered a gene - and related mechanism - essential to the embryonic development of the epididymis.

The findings are the result of a serendipitous discovery, said professor of veterinary biosciences Humphrey Hung-Chang Yao. His graduate student, Jessica Tomaszewski, was examining the testes of mouse embryos when she noticed something odd: In one specimen the normally convoluted coil of the epididymis was instead a stunted, straight tube.

The lack of coiling had serious implications for the fertility of the mouse, Yao said.

"If you take sperm directly from the testis and put it into the female reproductive tract, it won't swim. It won't be able to fertilize the egg," he said. Going through the epididymis changes the biochemical properties of the sperm and helps it develop the energy-generating machinery that allows it to swim. "So without this structure, under normal circumstances a male cannot be fertile".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 6:40 PM CT

Second-hand Smoke Causes Psychological Problems For Kids

Second-hand Smoke Causes Psychological Problems For Kids
Children whose mothers were exposed to second-hand smoke while they were pregnant have more symptoms of serious psychological problems compared to the offspring of women who had no prenatal exposure to smoke, according to a new University of Washington study.

Writing in the current issue of Child Psychiatry and Human Development, UW psychologists Lisa Gatzke-Kopp and Theodore Beauchaine provide the first evidence linking mothers second-hand smoke exposure while pregnant to their childrens attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder. Psychologists call these behaviors externalizing psychopathology and their symptoms include aggressive behavior, ADHD, defiance and conduct disorder, which encompasses truancy, fighting, school failure, breaking rules, substance use, stealing and destruction of property.

The research also supports a 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General that found passive smoke exposure poses a substantial risk to the general health of those who breathe the smoke, as well as to the fetuses of pregnant women.

Gatzke-Kopp and Beauchaine compared patterns psychopathology among three groups of 7- to 15-year-old children, all of whom had significant behavioral and/or emotional problems. One group experienced no prenatal smoke exposure. The second was made up of children whose mothers smoked during the final two trimesters of pregnancy. The third consisted of children whose mothers were exposed to second-hand smoke at work or in the home in the last two trimesters during pregnancy. A total of 171 children, primarily boys, and 133 women participated in the project.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 6:37 PM CT

Closer To Predicting Survivability For Cancer Patients

Closer To Predicting Survivability For Cancer Patients
Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute scientists have developed a Web-based software program that can help head and neck cancer patients better predict their survivability.

"This new tool can help us make personalized predictions of conditional survival for an individual patient depending on his or her specific situation," said Sam Wang, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator, Holman Pathway Resident in the Department of Radiation Medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

Conditional survival is a statistical system that takes into account the age when the patient was diagnosed with cancer and the time elapsed since diagnosis. The new Web-browser software tool, called the regression model, can calculate a patient's conditional survival based on the patient's age, gender, race and tumor site, stage and aggressiveness.

The study was recently presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

In a prior study researchers, including Wang, demonstrated the concept of conditional survival for head and neck cancer. They showed the longer patients survive after diagnosis and therapy, their better their prognosis.

"This is the first time we have the ability to make a customized prediction of conditional survival probability for an individual head and neck cancer survivor, based on his or her specific characteristics," said Wang.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 6:29 PM CT

Outdoor alcohol ads boost kids' urge to drink

Outdoor alcohol ads boost kids' urge to drink
In the world depicted in an alcohol billboard, bikini-clad babes clutch icy bottles, frothy beer flows over frosty mugs and the slogan reads, Life is good. Ads like these may target adults, but children are getting the message too, a University of Florida and University of Minnesota study shows.

Adolescents attending schools in neighborhoods where alcohol ads litter the landscape tend to want to drink more and, compared with other children, have more positive views of alcohol, scientists report in this months issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

UF and UM scientists counted the number of alcohol ads within a two-block radius of 63 Chicago schools and compared students opinions on drinking when they were in sixth grade and again two years later. The result" The more ads for alcohol there were in a neighborhood, the more students were interested in drinking alcohol, the findings show.

Most of the ads scientists found were beer signs in storefronts, eventhough they also counted billboards, bus stop signs and other types of ads. In total, there were about 931 ads for alcohol around the schools. On average, there were about 28 ads in each neighborhood, after excluding 22 schools where there were no ads. One school had more than 100.

The majority of the ads were just brand information only, said UF epidemiologist Kelli A. Komro, Ph.D., who studied these more subtle logo-only signs as well as more elaborate, image-laden billboards. Sometimes we believe that those as are not so powerful, but the majority of the ads we found were those kinds of ads and still we found the association with increased intentions to use alcohol.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 5:40 PM CT

New Imaging Technique for Early Detection of Multiple Sclerosis

New Imaging Technique for Early Detection of Multiple Sclerosis
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
Scientists from Purdue University have studied and recorded how myelin degrades real-time in live mice using a new imaging technique. Myelin is the fatty sheath coating the axons, or nerve cells, that insulate and aid in efficient nerve fiber conduction. In diseases such as multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath has been found to degrade.

This unprecedented feat of looking real-time at the actual progress of demyelination will advance understanding of and perhaps promote early detection of conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Using a technique called coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy, or CARS, researchers injected a compound called lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) into the myelin of a mouse. Then, using CARS, they observed an influx of calcium ions into the myelin. This influx is now believed to start the process of myelin degradation.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 6:00 AM CT

A New Line Of Communication Between Neurons

A New Line Of Communication Between Neurons
In a host of neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS) and several neuropathies, the protective covering surrounding the nerves an insulating material called myelin is damaged. Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science have now discovered an important new line of communication between nervous system cells that is crucial to the development of myelinated nerves a discovery that may aid in restoring the normal function of the affected nerve fibers.

Nerve cells (neurons) have long, thin extensions called axons that can reach up to a meter and or more in length. Often, these extensions are covered by myelin, which is formed by a group of specialized cells called glia. Glial cells revolve around the axon, laying down the myelin sheath in segments, leaving small nodes of exposed nerve in between. More than just protection for the delicate axons, the myelin covering allows nerve signals to jump instantaneously between nodes, making the transfer of these signals quick and efficient. When myelin is missing or damaged, the nerve signals cant skip properly down the axons, leading to abnormal function of the affected nerve and often to its degeneration.

In research published recently in Nature Neuroscience, Weizmann Institute scientists Prof. Elior Peles, graduate student Ivo Spiegel, and their colleagues in the Molecular Cell Biology Department and in the United States, have now provided a vital insight into the mechanism by which glial cells recognize and myelinate axons.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 5:35 AM CT

Adding folic acid to bread

Adding folic acid to bread
A unique study by scientists at the University of York and Hull York Medical School has confirmed a link between depression and low levels of folate, a vitamin which comes from vegetables.

In research reported in the July edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the York team led by Dr Simon Gilbody, concluded that there was a link between depression and low folate levels, following a review of 11 prior studies involving 15,315 participants.

Last month, the Food Standards Agency recommended to UK Health Ministers the introduction of required fortification of either bread or flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, which can result in miscarriage, neonatal death or lifelong disability. The York study suggests that the measure may also help in the fight against depression.

Dr Gilbody said: "Our study is unique in that for the first time all the relevant evidence in this controversial area has been brought together. Eventhough the research does not prove that low folate causes depression, we can now be sure that the two are linked. Interestingly, there is also some trial evidence that suggests folic acid supplements can benefit people with depression. We recommend that large trials should be carried out to further test this suggestion."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 5:30 AM CT

Alzheimer's drug begins clinical trials

Alzheimer's drug begins clinical trials
Xiaoming Xu (l) and Arun Ghosh (r)
A drug based on the design of a Purdue University researcher to treat Alzheimer's disease began the first phase of human clinical trials this week.

"Millions of people suffer from this devastating disease and therapy options are very limited," said Arun Ghosh, the Purdue professor who led the creation of the therapy molecule. "Current drugs manage the symptoms, but this could be the first disease-modifying treatment. It may be able to prevent and reverse the disease".

CoMentis Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in San Francisco, is initiating the clinical trials of the experimental drug CTS-21166. Ghosh, who has dual appointments in the departments of chemistry and medicinal chemistry, is a scientific co-founder of the company with Jordan Tang, the J.G. Puterbaugh Chair in Medical Research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

The collaborative work of Ghosh and Tang led to the development of a therapy that could intercept and disable the disease at an early stage.

In 2000, Tang identified beta-secretase, a key enzyme in the progression of Alzheimer's that triggers the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. Various stages in plaque formation produce toxic proteins that harm the brain, causing damage that eventually leads to dementia.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 5:22 AM CT

Computerized doctors' orders reduce medication errors

Computerized doctors' orders reduce medication errors
Doctors are famous for sloppy scribbling and handwritten prescriptions lead to thousands of medicine errors each year. Electronics to the rescue: U.S. hospitals that switched to computerized doctor order entry systems saw a 66 percent drop in prescription errors, as per a new review of studies.

Illegible handwriting and transcription errors are responsible for as much as 61 percent of medicine errors in hospitals. A simple mistake such as putting the decimal point in the wrong place can have serious consequences because a patients dosage could be 10 times the recommended amount.

Drugs with similar names are another common source of error, such as the pain medicine Celebrex and the antidepressant Celexa, or the tranquilizer Zyprexa and the antihistamine Zyrtec.

These medicine errors are very painful for doctors, as well as the patients. Nobody wants to make a mistake, said Tatyana Shamliyan, lead review author and a research associate at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The review appears online in the journal Health Services Research.

The University of Minnesota scientists looked at 12 studies that compared medicine errors with handwritten and computerized prescriptions from in-hospital doctors. Nearly a quarter of all hospital patients experience medicine errors, a rate that has increased from 5 percent in 1992, as per the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 5:10 AM CT

Nanoparticles hitchhike on red blood cells

Nanoparticles hitchhike on red blood cells
Nano-Hitchhikers
Credit: Image prepared by Mr. Peter Allen, UCSB. Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered that attaching polymeric nanoparticles to the surface of red blood cells dramatically increases the in vivo lifetime of the nanoparticles. The research, reported in the July 07 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, could offer applications for the delivery of drugs and circulating bioreactors.

Polymeric nanoparticles are excellent carriers for delivering drugs. They protect drugs from degradation until they reach their target and provide sustained release of drugs. Polymeric nanoparticles, however, suffer from one major limitation: they are quickly removed from the blood, sometimes in minutes, rendering them ineffective in delivering drugs.

The research team, led by Samir Mitragotri, a professor of chemical engineering, and Elizabeth Chambers, a recent doctoral graduate, observed that nanoparticles can be forced to remain in the circulation when attached to red blood cells. The particles eventually detach from the blood cells due to shear forces and cell-to-cell interactions, and are cleared from the system by the liver and spleen. Red blood cell circulation is not affected by attaching the nanoparticles.

Attachment of polymeric nanoparticles to red blood cells combines the advantages of the long circulating lifetime of the red blood cell, and their abundance, with the robustness of polymeric nanoparticles, said Mitragotri. Using red blood cells to extend the circulation time of the particles avoids the need to modify the surface chemistry of the entire particle, which offers the potential to attach chemicals to the exposed surface for targeting applications.........

Posted by: Scott      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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