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August 25, 2006, 4:57 AM CT

Gene Variants Cause Susceptibility To Heart Disease

Gene Variants Cause Susceptibility To Heart Disease
Variations in a gene that acts as a switch to turn on other genes may predispose individuals to heart disease, an international team of scientists led by Duke University Medical Center researchers has discovered.

Further study of this master switch -- a gene called GATA2 -- and the genes it controls may uncover a regulatory network that influences whether a person inherits coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease in the Western world, as per the researchers. The discovery also may lead to development of genetic tests to predict an individual's risk of developing coronary artery disease, the researchers said.

"We hope that one day it will be possible to use these gene variations to predict who is susceptible to cardiovascular disease," said Jessica J. Connelly, a postdoctoral fellow at the Duke Center for Human Genetics and lead author on the study. "This finding is the first step before we can develop such a test for use in patients".

People who know they are at higher risk may be encouraged to take early steps to modify behaviors, such as smoking or consuming foods high in saturated fats, that are known to play a role in promoting heart disease, the researchers said.

The team reports its findings in the August 2006 issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Genetics. The research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:37 PM CT

Genetic Link To Cot Death Identified

Genetic Link To Cot Death Identified
Babies born with specific variants of three key genes are 14 times more likely to die from cot death, new research has found.

The findings - published in Human Immunology - build on earlier research by The University of Manchester team that had already associated one of these genes with the condition.

The discovery of two further risk genes, say the paper's authors, is a major step forward in understanding the causes of cot death or 'sudden infant death syndrome' (SIDS).

"We first identified an association between SIDS and specific variants of a gene called Interleukin-10 five years ago," said microbiologist Dr David Drucker, who led the research. "Quite simply, a baby who had particular variations of this gene was at greater risk of SIDS than other babies.

"Now, we have discovered two more genes implicated in SIDS and when a baby has certain genetic variants or 'polymorphisms' of all three of these genes he or she can be up to 14 times more likely to die from the condition".

The genes investigated by the team all play a roll in the body's immune response to infection. Prior research, carried out with colleagues at Lancaster University, had shown that SIDS is linked to usually occurring bacteria that babies up to the age of one year may lack immunity to.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:29 PM CT

Waterborne infectious diseases could soon be history

Waterborne infectious diseases could soon be history
Waterborne infectious diseases, which bring death and illness to millions of people around the world, could largely be consigned to history by 2015 if global health partnerships integrate their programmes, as per Alan Fenwick writing in today's Science.

Professor Fenwick, from Imperial College London, argues that up to seven neglected tropical diseases including river blindness could be brought under control, with infection by some eliminated entirely, if existing programmes increase their coverage.

In Africa some 500 million people need therapy to control diseases such as disfiguring elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), river blindness (onchocerciasis), schistosomiasis, intestinal worms and the blinding eye infection trachoma.

The donation of drugs by pharmaceutical companies, together with financial donations from foundations, is already having a sizeable impact, with numbers given therapy for these diseases increasing from virtually zero in 1986 to between 20 and 80 million individuals annually in 2006.

More funding is mandatory to convince decision makers of the benefits of therapy, to improve health education material and to deliver the drugs to those who need them. The cost can be as low as 25 pence per person per year, and the impact would be rapid.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:23 PM CT

NSAIDs and congenital anomalies

NSAIDs and congenital anomalies
Women who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) early in their pregnancies may be more likely to give birth to babies with congenital defects, especially cardiac septal defects. These are the findings of a case-control study reported in the recent issue of Birth Defects Research Part B, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons. The article is also available online via Wiley Interscience (
A number of pregnant women get prescriptions for NSAIDs during their first trimester, and even more--up to 15 percent--take over-the-counter versions of these drugs. Prior studies have shown that taking NSAIDs toward the end of a pregnancy can cause certain circulatory problems--premature closure of the ductus arteriosus and patent ductus arteriosus, but the risks correlation to early-pregnancy ingestion are less well defined.

To better understand the relationship between first trimester use of NSAIDs and congenital birth defects, scientists led by Anick Berard, Ph.D. of St. Justine Hospital in Montreal, conducted a population-based case-control study. They gathered information from three administrative databases in Quebec and included 36,387 pregnant women in their study. They determined which women had filled prescriptions for NSAIDs during their first trimester and which had babies diagnosed with a congenital abnormality in the first year of life. Based on information from prior studies, the primary outcome of interest was cardiac septal closure and related abnormalities.........

Posted by: Emily      
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August 24, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

Better exam results?

Better exam results?
Local Education Authorities in England achieve better GCSE examination results when they set targets and when central government provides financial incentives for achieving them, as per research at Cardiff University. The Cardiff Business School scientists compared the performance of local education authorities with such targets against the performance of those without them.

Professor George Boyne and Dr Alex Chen, Centre for Local and Regional Government Research, evaluated the impact of Round One Local Public Service Agreements between local authorities and central government. The purpose of the agreements is to enhance performance in a variety of key public service areas, including education.

Financial rewards are divided into 'Pump Priming Grants' and the 'Performance Reward Grant'. A Pump Priming Grant is paid at the start of the delivery period to assist local areas in delivering improvements, though they are also expected to contribute their own resources. And, a Performance Reward Grant is paid at the end as financial reward for achievement of the agreed outcomes.

The agreements are a major experiment for the UK public sector in "payment by results". In Round One Local Public Service Agreements, local authorities negotiated typically twelve targets with central government in exchange for a maximum reward of 2.5 percent of their net budget requirements. If all the first generation targets are achieved local authorities collectively would stand to receive in the region of an extra 1.3 billion.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:17 PM CT

Psychology Of Aggressive Students

Psychology Of Aggressive Students
As the disturbing trend of school violence continues to plague our education system, it is important for caregivers, educators, and doctors to join forces to be proactive in its prevention. A study in the recent issue of The Journal of Pediatrics shows that students displaying violent behaviors often have untreated learning disorders and psychiatric illnesses.

Dr. Nancy Rappaport, a child psychiatry expert at Cambridge Health Alliance, and his colleagues from Harvard University reviewed 33 students in an urban public school district who were referred by school staff due to their aggressive behavior. The participants' ages ranged from 5 to 18 years old. The authors identified substance abuse in 11 students and at least one medical problem in 13 students. 28 of the 33 students (85%) reviewed had experienced a significant family crisis (such as sickness or death of a parent). 23 had participated in brief or intermittent psychosocial interventions, 5 of which included hospitalizations. 6 of the 18 students (33%) with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder had never received any kind of therapy for it.

These findings reflect the need for health care professionals, caregivers, and teachers to be able to identify potentially dangerous behavior patterns in aggressive students so that proper evaluations and diagnoses can be provided and subsequent therapys be made accessible.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:12 PM CT

HIV Drug To Prevent Cervical Cancer

HIV Drug To Prevent Cervical Cancer
Scientists at the University of Manchester are in the process of developing a topical therapy against the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is responsible for pre-malignant and malignant disease of the cervix as well as other genital malignancies.

In the UK a number of thousands of women undergo surgery to remove premalignant lesions of every year. Instead they may be able to apply a simple cream or pessary to the affected area. The discovery may be even more significant in developing countries which lack surgical facilities and where HPV related cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women.

Drs Ian and Lynne Hampson at the School of Medicine's Division of Human Development and Reproduction are in the process of developing the therapy from a type of drug that is given orally to treat HIV. This protease inhibitor can selectively kill cultured HPV infected cervical cancer cells and, since it is already available as a liquid formulation, it is possible it may work by direct application to the cervix.

The research, funded by the Humane Research Trust, is would be reported in the recent issue of the journal Anti-Viral Therapy (2006; 11(6): in press) and is also being presented at the International HPV meeting in Prague on 5 September.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

Fungus A Potential Cancer Fighter

Fungus A Potential Cancer Fighter
For the first time, scientists have developed a way to synthesize a cancer-killing compound called rasfonin in enough quantity to learn how it works.

Derived from a fungus discovered clinging to the walls of a New Zealand cave, the chemical tricks certain cancer cells into suicide while leaving healthy cells untouched.

"In 2000, researchers in Japan discovered that this compound might have some tremendous potential as a prototype anticancer agent, but no one has been able to study or develop it because it's so hard to get enough of it from natural sources," says Robert K. Boeckman, professor of chemistry.

"You either grow the fungus that makes it, or you go through a complicated chemical synthesis process that still yields only a minute amount," he says. "Now, after five years of effort, we've worked out a process that lets scientists finally produce enough rasfonin to really start investigating how it functions, and how we might harness it to fight cancer".

In 2000, scientists from Chiba University in Japan and the University of Tokyo simultaneously discovered a compound in certain fungi that selectively destroyed cells depending upon a gene called ras-one of the first known cancer-causing genes. They had found rasfonin, a compound that seemed tailor-made to knock out ras-dependent cancers like pancreas cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 9:54 PM CT

Chemical Compounds Restore Normal Glucose Levels In Obese Mous

Chemical Compounds Restore Normal Glucose Levels In Obese Mous
Treatment of obese and diabetic mice with compounds that act as chemical chaperones called PBA and TUDCA restored healthy glucose levels and normal insulin action - and reduced the presence of fatty liver disease - according to a study published in the August 25 issue of Science. The work was conducted by a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Type 2 diabetes - 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases - affects an estimated 18 million people in the United States, and causes some 200,000 deaths a year. Obesity is closely associated with insulin resistance and is one of the leading risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The molecular mechanisms that link these two metabolic diseases remain under investigation, and current therapeutic options are limited.

Gokhan S. Hotamisligil, chair of the HSPH Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, is the senior author of the Science paper. In 2004, he led a team that identified a major molecular pathway that causes diabetes. A cornerstone of that discovery was a hypothesis that the key to the obesity-diabetes connection might be found in the endoplasmic reticulum, or ER - a system of folded membranes and tubules in the cytoplasm of cells where proteins and lipids are manufactured, processed, and shipped around the cell. When unusual demands - such as excess fat - are put on the ER's capacity, the organelle starts failing, and the cell enters an emergency mode, emitting stress signals. The condition is called ER stress. Cellular inflammation, insulin resistance and diabetes result. (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/press/releases/press10142004.htm).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 9:35 PM CT

Save Money While Treating Drug Abuse

Save Money While Treating Drug Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released a landmark report containing 13 specific principles and recommendations to rehabilitate drug offenders and ultimately provide substantial financial savings to communities. The publication, Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations, is based in part on the work of University of Kentucky Scientists Michele Staton-Tindall, Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR) and Carl Leukefeld, Professor of Behavioral Science and Director of CDAR.

Findings from Staton-Tindall's 2003 Kentucky study were used to profile the substance use, mental health problems, health problems and therapy history of incarcerated women. These findings point out the unique issues of women in criminal justice settings. The article is one of only two peer-evaluated articles cited in the entire NIH report.

Staton-Tindall and Leukefeld's research is part of the NIDA/NIH-funded Central States Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Research Systems (CJ-DATS) Center in Lexington. It is one of nine such centers in the U.S. The CJ-DATS Center studies drug abuse interventions in the criminal justice system. The goal of the research is to develop, implement, and test interventions to reduce recidivism, drug abuse and crime.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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.

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