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August 13, 2008, 0:38 AM CT

'Erasing' drug-associated memories

'Erasing' drug-associated memories
'Erasing' drug-associated memories may prevent recovering drug abusers from relapsing, scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered.

The team, led by Professor Barry Everitt, was able to reduce drug-seeking behaviours in rats by blocking a brain chemical receptor important to learning and memory during the recall of drug-associated memories. Their research, which was funded by the Medical Research Council, was published in the 13 recent issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The Cambridge researchers observed that by disrupting or erasing memories linked to drug use during recall, they could prevent the memories from triggering relapses and drug taking.

Memories exist in different states depending on whether they are being recalled or not. When memories are recalled, they become 'unstable' or malleable and can be altered or erased during the process called reconsolidation. Because relapse by drug abusers is often prompted when they recall drug-associated memories, the researchers observed that by blocking these memories they could prevent relapse.

In order to undertake the experiments, the scientists trained rats to associate the switching on of a light with cocaine. The scientists then exposed the rats to the light, thereby 'reactivating' the memory, without the cocaine. In an effort to receive more cocaine, the rats would perform tasks that the researchers had created which would turn on the light.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 13, 2008, 0:36 AM CT

Childhood dairy intake may improve adolescent bone health

Childhood dairy intake may improve adolescent bone health
Cincinnati, OH, August 13, 2008Dairy is recognized as a key component of a healthy, balanced diet. However, until recently it was unclear how long-term dairy intake contributes to the a number of aspects of bone health in children, including bone density, bone mineral content, and bone area. A new study soon would be published in The Journal of Pediatrics investigates the effect of childhood dairy intake on adolescent bone health.

Dr. Lynn Moore and his colleagues from Boston University School of Medicine analyzed data from the Framingham Children's Study in an effort to understand the relationship between childhood dairy intake and adolescent bone health. The scientists gathered information from 106 children, 3 to 5 years of age at the beginning of the study, over a 12-year period. The families enrolled in the study were given food diaries to complete for the child and were asked to record everything the child ate and drank for several days each year.

The scientists used these diaries, along with information from the United States Department of Agriculture, to calculate the children's average daily intake of dairy and other foods. At the end of the 12-year period, the authors assessed the bone health of the now adolescent study participants. They observed that the adolescents who had consumed 2 or more servings of dairy per day as children had higher levels of bone mineral content and bone density. Even after adjusting for factors that affect normal bone development, including the child's growth, body size, and activity level, the authors observed that these adolescents' average bone mineral content was 175 grams higher than the adolescents who had consumed less than 2 servings of dairy per day.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 31, 2008, 11:29 PM CT

Sleep apnea linked to increased risk of death

Sleep apnea linked to increased risk of death
Sleep-disordered breathing (also known as sleep apnea) is linked to an increased risk of death, as per new results from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, an 18-year observational study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. Scientists observed that adults (ages 30 to 60) with sleep-disordered breathing at the start of the study were two to three times more likely to die from any cause in comparison to those who did not have sleep-disordered breathing. The risk of death was associated with the severity of sleep-disordered breathing and was not attributable to age, gender, body mass index (an indicator of overweight or obesity), or cardiovascular health status.

"Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Mortality: Eighteen-Year Follow-Up of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort," is published August 1 in the journal Sleep.

Scientists followed 1522 generally healthy men and women for an average of 13.8 years after testing them for sleep-disordered breathing using a standard overnight sleep test. Participants with severe sleep-disordered breathing were three times more likely to die during the study than those without breathing problems that may occur during sleep. Those who were not treated were at even greater risk. Participants with untreated severe sleep-disordered breathing were four times more likely to die from any cause and five times more likely to die from cardiovascular conditions.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:56 PM CT

Right place and right time can trigger drinking

Right place and right time can trigger drinking
Strong cravings for alcohol can be sparked by the mere sight, smell and taste of a person's favorite drink. Responses to such cues that are linked to the positive effects of drinking are a lead cause of relapse in abstinent alcoholics. Using a behavioral animal model, scientists of a new study, scheduled for publication in the August 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry, have observed that the physical surroundings where alcohol cues are experienced can greatly influence the ability of those cues to trigger relapse.

Specifically, Chaudhri and his colleagues taught rats to learn that a brief tone signaled when a small amount of alcohol would be available in a fluid receptacle for them to drink. This learning occurred in a distinctive environment consisting of a particular appearance, smell, and lighting. They were then put into a second, unique context with a different appearance, smell, and lighting, and were repeatedly exposed to the tone but never given alcohol. After several sessions in this new context, the rats gradually learned that the tone no longer predicted alcohol and consequently stopped checking the fluid receptacle. However, upon re-exposure to the original context where alcohol was available, presentation of the tone once again caused the rats to immediately check for it. "This finding demonstrates the power of environments to trigger relapse to alcohol-seeking in response to alcohol-predictive cues," said lead author Nadia Chaudhri, Ph. D., with the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UCSF. "This effect is highly detrimental to humans who are trying to abstain from drinking." .........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:54 PM CT

Staying ahead of the drug-taking and genetic manipulation

Staying ahead of the drug-taking and genetic manipulation
The race to ensure that researchers stop drug-taking athletes from damaging sport by using performance enhancing drugs or undergoing genetic manipulation is a constant challenge, as per a major four-decade review by three of the World's leading experts on doping in sport.

Writing in the recent issue of the European-based Journal of Internal Medicine, they say that significant advances have been made in the fight against drugs in sport over the last 40 years. However, the authorities face a constant battle to keep up with both the athletes who use drugs and their rogue scientific advisors.

"A cardinal feature of doping is that some athletes will experiment with any new substance that might improve their performance" says Professor Don Catlin, Founder and former Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory at the University of California, USA, and CEO of the Anti-Doping Research Institute.

"They do not wait for regulatory approvals. If they can obtain a supply they will try it. This means that researchers need to anticipate and develop tests even before the drug has been misused by athletes.

"Considerable concerns have also been expressed about gene doping, a prohibited spin off of gene manipulation, a medical advance that has been developed to alter a person's DNA to fight diseases like muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:52 PM CT

Obesity predisposition traced to the brain's reward system

Obesity predisposition traced to the brain's reward system
The tendency toward obesity is directly correlation to the brain system that is involved in food reward and addictive behaviors, as per a new study. Scientists at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and his colleagues have demonstrated a link between a predisposition to obesity and defective dopamine signaling in the mesolimbic system in rats. Their report appears in the August 2008 issue of The FASEB Journal

The mesolimbic system is a system of neurons in the brain that secretes dopamine, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger, which mediates emotion and pleasure. The release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the mesolimbic system is traditionally linked to euphoria and considered to be the major neurochemical signature of drug addiction.

"Baseline dopamine levels were 50 percent lower and stimulated dopamine release was significantly attenuated in the brain reward systems of obesity-prone rats, compared with obesity-resistant rats. Defects in brain dopamine synthesis and release were evident in rats immediately after birth," said Emmanuel Pothos, PhD, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at TUSM and member of the neuroscience program faculty of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:50 PM CT

Fat around the heart

Fat around the heart
When it comes to risk for a heart attack, having excess fat around the heart may be worse than having a high body mass index or a thick waist, as per scientists from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and his colleagues reporting in the recent issue of the journal Obesity

The study was among the first to explore whether there is a link between fat deposits around the heart, known according toicardial fat, and the development of hard, calcified plaque in the arteries. Calcified plaque itself is not considered risky, but it is linked to the presence of less stable fatty deposits that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

"The distribution of body fat may be as important as the amount of body fat in determining risk of heart attacks," said Jingzhong Ding, M.D., lead author and an assistant professor of gerontology. "Even a thin person can have fat around the heart".

The scientists examined data from the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a $68 million study involving 6,800 participants nationwide, to explore their hypothesis that fat around the arteries in the heart contributes to inflammation and to increased risk of fatty deposits in the vessels.

In addition to its role as energy storage, fat is considered to be an "organ" that produces proteins and hormones that affect metabolism and health. Ding's study is based on a new idea in medicine that excess fat around the heart and other organs may impair their function. Pericardial fat, or stores of fat around the heart, is known to have a higher secretion of inflammatory cytokines, proteins that regulate inflammation, than fat stored just under the skin. The researchers suspect that constant exposure of inflammatory proteins produced by fat around the heart may accelerate the development of atherosclerosis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:48 PM CT

New Alzheimer's predictors

New Alzheimer's predictors
By combining MRI brain scans and measurements of certain compounds in the cerebrospinal fluid, NYU scientists were able to distinguish individuals who would develop Alzheimer's disease over a two-year period. In a study of 23 people, they found atrophy in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory, and significantly higher CSF levels of phosphorylated tau and other compounds among individuals who would develop Alzheimer's in comparison to those individuals who didn't progress from mild cognitive impairment over the two-year period. This preliminary study suggests that combining these tests could help predict which individuals with mild cognitive impairment are at the highest risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
Presentation # P3-067.

Big Immune Response to Common Mouth Bacteria Associated with Alzheimer's.
Angela R Kamer, D.M.D., M.S., PhD., Assistant Professor, College of Dentistry, New York University.

In a study investigating the link between Alzheimer's disease and a heightened inflammatory-immune response, NYU scientists observed that twice as a number of subjects with probable Alzheimer's disease tested positive for antibodies in their plasma against a type of bacteria that is usually found in the mouth. The pioneering study supports a growing body of evidence that associates notable immune changes with a means of predicting and classifying Alzheimer's disease. Together with other immune markers linked to Alzheimer's disease, antibodies to these periodontal bacteria could serve to better understand the causes and mechanisms of the disease, the scientists say.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 23, 2008, 4:55 PM CT

Over-the-counter anesthetic for mammogram pain

Over-the-counter anesthetic for mammogram pain
The simple application of a pain-relieving gel may reduce the breast discomfort some women experience during mammography exams, as per the results of a clinical trial reported in the online edition of Radiology

"We now have something that we know reduces discomfort with screening mammography in women who expect higher discomfortlidocaine gel," said the trial's principal investigator, Colleen Lambertz, F.N.P., a nurse practitioner at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise, Idaho. "With a more positive experience, we hope women will undergo more regular mammography screening".

Breast cancer affects more women than any other non-skin cancer and, as per the American Cancer Society, accounts for more than 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Most experts agree that the best way to decrease breast cancer mortality is through early detection using mammography and clinical breast exam.

"Mammography is the only screening tool proven to reduce mortality from breast cancer in women over 40," said co-author of study James R. Maxwell, M.D., medical director of St. Luke's Breast Care Services. "Annual screening is the most important option available to a woman to best ensure early detection and decrease the chance of being diagnosed with an advanced stage breast cancer".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 23, 2008, 4:51 PM CT

'Statins' linked to improved survival

'Statins' linked to improved survival
For patients receiving kidney transplants, therapy with cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs may lead to longer survival, reports a study in the November 2008 Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

"Statin treatment is well established for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population, but its effectiveness in patients with kidney disease is unclear," comments Dr. Rainer Oberbauer of the Medical University of Vienna, one of the study authors. "We showed that statin treatment was indeed linked to a lower risk of death in renal transplant recipients."

The study included data on 2,041 patients receiving their first kidney transplant between 1990 and 2003. At the time of transplantation, about 15 percent of the patients were taking statin drugs to reduce their cholesterol levels. Patient survival and survival of the transplanted kidney were compared for patients who were and were not taking statins.

Overall, survival was somewhat better for patients on statin therapy. At 12 years' follow-up, 73 percent of statin-treated patients were alive, in comparison to 64 percent of patients not taking statins.

An important part of the study was the use of sophisticated statistical analyses to adjust for potentially confounding variablesincluding the fact that patients taking statins had more cardiovascular risk factors and pre-existing cardiovascular disease. The results showed a significantly lower risk of death in patients taking statins36 percent lower than in nonusers.........

Posted by: Mark      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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