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December 3, 2007, 10:18 PM CT

Novel genes for schizophrenia

Novel genes for schizophrenia
Researchers at the Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have identified nine genetic markers that can increase a persons risk for schizophrenia. As per a research findings published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team uncovered original evidence that this disabling brain disease can be inherited in a recessive manner. A recessive trait is one that is inherited from both parents.

If a person inherits identical copies of these markers from each parent, his or her risk for schizophrenia increases substantially, said Todd Lencz, PhD, associate director of research at Zucker Hillside and the lead author of the study. If these results are confirmed, they could open up new avenues for research in schizophrenia and severe mental illness, said Anil Malhotra, MD, director of psychiatric research at Zucker Hillside and senior investigator of the study.

The researchers developed a complex mathematical approach called whole genome homozygosity association (WGHA) that provides a new way of analyzing genetic information. It enables researchers to simultaneously look at genetic information derived from the patients mother and father, and identify pieces of chromosomes that are identical. They tested genetic material from 178 patients and 144 controls.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 3, 2007, 10:13 PM CT

Heavy drinking and high-risk sexual behavior

Heavy drinking and high-risk sexual behavior
Psychiatry scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have observed that a clinical diagnosis of alcohol dependence in young adults is linked to having a high number of sex partners.

"Some participants in the study reported 50 or 100 partners, and research shows - and common sense tells you - that the more sex partners you have, the more likely you'll encounter someone with an STD," says first author Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, Ph.D., research instructor in the Department of Psychiatry. "Chances also increase for unintended pregnancies and other health complications".

The study, reported in the recent issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, also found links between a conduct disorder diagnosis and high numbers of sexual partners as well as between problem drinking and more partners. Of the three, however, alcohol dependence had the most influence on number of sex partners.

Alcohol dependence is an excessive use of alcohol that's harmful to physical and mental health. Some alcohol-dependent people drink every day. Others may drink only sporadically but consume large amounts of alcohol when they do drink. That sort of binge drinking is especially common in adolescents and young adults, like those surveyed in this study. Problem drinkers, conversely, have a number of of the same symptoms, and may go on to become dependent, but they were not alcohol dependent when the study was conducted.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 9:24 PM CT

Out-of-hours doctors reluctant to do home visits

Out-of-hours doctors reluctant to do home visits
Patients feel that doctors providing out-of-hours services in primary care are reluctant to do home visits, shows a small study of patients experiences in Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Scientists held group discussions and carried out telephone interviews with 27 patients who had recently used one of three services providing general practice cover in the evenings and weekends in England.

Under the new GP contract, which came into effect in 2004, most GP practices handed over responsibility for providing care out of hours to the local primary care organisation.

Instead, patients are redirected to dedicated services, which may offer telephone advice, home visits, or an appointment at a therapy centre.

Two of the services covered up to 300,000 people in three primary care trusts, while one covered almost 1 million people from eight primary care trusts.

Once patients had got through and had actually spoken to a healthcare professional, they were generally happy with the quality of service they received.

But a number of said they were uncertain as to the appropriateness of their call or even how the service worked.

Half said they felt guilty about calling amid fears that they might be wasting the doctors time or abusing the system.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 9:00 PM CT

Nurses working extended shifts

Nurses working extended shifts
Hospital staff nurses who work extended hours, work at night, struggle to remain awake at work, or obtain less sleep are more likely to experience a drowsy driving episode, as per a research studyreported in the December 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Linda D. Scott, PhD, of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., focused on data that were collected from 895 full-time hospital staff nurses, who completed logbooks on a daily basis for four weeks providing information concerning work hours, sleep duration, drowsy and sleep episodes at work, and drowsy driving occurrences.

As per the results, almost 67 percent of the nurses reported at least one episode of drowsy driving, and three percent reported experiencing drowsy driving following every shift worked. On average, nurses reported experiencing an episode of drowsy driving one out of every four shifts they worked.

Two-hundred eighty-one episodes of motor vehicle crashes/near-motor vehicle crashes were reported during the study period. The majority of these incidents occurred following shifts that exceeded 12.5 hours in duration. The likelihood of a motor vehicle crash/near-motor vehicle crash significantly increased with longer shift durations. The risk for a motor vehicle crash/near-motor vehicle crash almost doubled when driving following shifts that exceeded 12.5 hours.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:56 PM CT

Short, long sleep duration and increased mortality

Short, long sleep duration and increased mortality
A study reported in the December 1 issue of the journal SLEEP is the first to show that both a decrease and an increase in sleep duration are linked to an elevated risk of mortality by cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular means, respectively.

The study, authored by Jane E. Ferrie, PhD, of the University College London Medical School in London, U.K., focused on 10,308 participants between 35 and 55 years of age. Baseline screening (Phase 1), conducted between 1985 and 1988, involved a clinical examination and a self-administered questionnaire. Data collection at Phase 3 (1992-1993) also included a clinical examination (8,104 participants) and questionnaire (8,642 participants).

As per the results, U-shaped associations were observed between sleep at Phase 1 and Phase 3 and subsequent all-cause, cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular mortality. A decrease in sleep duration among participants sleeping six, seven or eight hours at baseline was linked to a 110 percent excess risk of cardiovascular mortality. However, an increase in sleep duration among those sleeping seven or eight hours at baseline was linked to a 110 percent excess risk of non-cardiovascular mortality. Adjustment for the socio-demographic factors, existing mortality and health-related behaviors measured left these associations largely unchanged.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

sleep disorders on teens' academic performance

sleep disorders on teens' academic performance
The Pediatric Daytime Sleepiness Scale (PDSS) is an independent, reliable tool in predicting the negative impact of a sleep-related breathing disorder and daytime sleepiness on a teenagers academic performance, as per a research studyreported in the December 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Daniel Perez-Chada, MD, of Hospital Universitario Austral in Buenos Aires, Argentina, focused on 2,884 students, whose answers to a Spanish version of the PDSS were provided by their parents.

As per the results, 49 percent of the students reported sleeping less than eight hours per night on weeknights while 83 percent slept less than eight hours per night on weekends. Snoring was reported by 23 percent of the subjects, occasional in 14 percent and frequent in nine percent. Witnessed apneas were witnessed in 11 percent of the cases, being frequent in four percent and occasional in seven percent. Reported snoring or apneas and the PDSS were independent predictors of poor academic performance, as snorers had lower mean grades in mathematics and language.

While students in other populations attempt to catch up on sleep debt during weekends, youngsters in our sample seemed to aggravate their sleep debt by further reducing sleep time on weekends, said Dr. Perez-Chada. Thus, this population appears to be at a strikingly high risk for chronic sleep debt. This and other sleep problems need to be confronted through education and enhanced diagnosis of a sleep related breathing disorder as well as changing poor sleep habits among adolescents.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:47 PM CT

Broccoli against devastating genetic skin disorder

Broccoli against devastating genetic skin disorder
The compound sulforaphane whose natural precursors are found at high levels in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables has been hailed for its chemopreventive powers against cancer. Now sulforaphane has demonstrated new skills in treating a genetic skin blistering disorder called epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS), Pierre Coulombe and his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore report at the American Society for Cell Biology 47th Annual Meeting.

EBS is a rare but devastating inherited condition in which fluid-filled lesions called bullae appear at sites of frictional trauma to the skin. Unfortunately, therapy options for EBS are limited and palliative in nature. Much work remains to be done before sulforaphane can be tested clinically with EBS patients, but Coulombe notes that extracts from broccoli sprouts rich in sulforaphane have already been shown to be safe for use in human skin.

In EBS patients, the bottom layer of the epidermis, which is made of cells called keratinocytes, is uncommonly fragile and ruptures readily. Molecularly, most cases of EBS result from mutations in genes that produce the proteins keratin 5 (K5) and keratin 14 (K14). These proteins co-polymerize to form the intermediate filament cytoskeleton in basal keratinocytes. Since the discovery in 1991 that EBS is a keratin-based disease, more than 40 additional disorders affecting a broad range of tissues have been traced to defects in genes that encode intermediate filament proteins.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

Mental illness and drug addiction may co-occur

Mental illness and drug addiction may co-occur
Why do mental illness and drug addiction so often go together" New research reveals that this type of dual diagnosis may stem from a common cause: developmental changes in the amygdala, a walnut-shaped part of the brain associated with fear, anxiety and other emotions. A full report on why these comorbid disorders may develop appears in the December Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Dual diagnosis is common yet difficult to treat. Addiction of all types to nicotine, alcohol and drugs is often found in people with a wide variety of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, unipolar and bipolar depression, schizophrenia, and borderline and other personality disorders. Lead author Andrew Chambers, MD, cites clinical reports that at least half the people who seek help with addiction or mental-health therapy have co-occurring disorders. Epidemiological data says that from two to five of every 10 anxious or depressed people, and from four to eight of every 10 people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality, also have some type of addiction.

To find the scientific basis for this complex, seemingly intractable pairing, which has in the past been attributed to self-medication, Chambers team at the Indiana University medical school compared the adult mood- and drug-related behavior of two groups of adult rats: those whose amygdalas were surgically damaged in infancy and those whose amygdalas were left intact but who underwent a sham surgery, to equalize their therapy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:42 PM CT

Leading cause of death in 'preemies' might be controlled

Leading cause of death in 'preemies' might be controlled
Blocking signals from a key molecular receptor that normally switches on the intestines immune response but instead becomes too intense in the presence of stress and toxins may help reverse necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a leading cause of death in premature newborns, as per researchers at the American Society for Cell Biology 47th annual meeting.

David J. Hackam and his laboratory team at the Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh report that neonatal mice with inactivating mutations in the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) are protected from NEC. Its a case of defenders becoming unwitting attackers, says Hackam.

Toll-like receptors are key players in the innate immune system. Protruding from enterocytes that form the innermost barrier-like layer of the small and large intestines, TLR4 receptors are primed to recognize pathogenic bacteria and sound the alarm.

But Hackams group observed that the stresses of oxygen deprivation and bombardment by bacterial toxins, conditions that can occur in premature infants with underdeveloped lungs, stimulate too much production of TLR4. Like an unstoppable alarm, the increased numbers of TLR4 blare out signals that eventually tip the cells into cellular suicide. They also stop enterocytes from migrating to close wounds in the intestines.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:39 PM CT

Embryonic stem cell closes massive skull injury

Embryonic stem cell closes massive skull injury
There are mice in Baltimore whose skulls were made whole again by bone tissue grown from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).

Healing critical-size defects (defects that would not otherwise heal on their own) in intramembraneous bone, the flat bone type that forms the skull, is a vivid demonstration of new techniques devised by researchers at John Hopkins University to use hESCs for tissue regeneration.

Using mesenchymal precursor cells isolated from hESCs, the Hopkins team steered them into bone regeneration by using scaffolds, tiny, three-dimensional platforms made from biomaterials.

Physical context, it turns out, is a powerful influence on cell fate. Nathaniel S. Hwang, Jennifer Elisseeff, and colleagues at Hopkins demonstrated that by changing the scaffold materials, they could shift mesenchymal precursor cells into either of the bodys osteogenic pathways: intramembraneous, which makes skull, jaw, and clavicle bone; or endochondral, which builds the long bones and involves initial formation of cartilage, which is then transformed into bone by mineralization.

Mesenchymal precursor cells grown on an all-polymer, biodegradable scaffold followed the endochondral lineage. Those grown on a composite scaffold made of biodegradable polymers and a hard, gritty mineral called hydroxyapatite went to the intramembraneous side.........

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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