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March 2, 2008, 7:37 PM CT

Novel way to develop tumor vaccines

Novel way to develop tumor vaccines
Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have uncovered a new way to develop more effective tumor vaccines by turning off the suppression function of regulatory T cells. The results of the study, titled A20 is an antigen presentation attenuator, and its inhibition overcomes regulatory T cell-mediated suppression, will be published in Nature Medicine on March 2, 2008.

Under normal circumstances, regulatory T cells inhibit the immune system to attack its own cells and tissues to prevent autoimmune diseases. Cancer cells take advantage of regulatory T cells' suppressor ability, recruiting them to keep the immune system at bay or disabling the immune systems attack provoked by tumor vaccines. says Si-Yi Chen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of immunology and molecular microbiology at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Our study provides a new vaccination strategy to overcome the regulatory T cells immune suppression while avoiding non-specific overactivation of autoreactive T cells and pathological autoimmune toxicities.

The study identified a new molecular player called A20, an enzyme that restricts inflammatory signal transduction in dendritic cells. When it is inhibited, the dendritic cells overproduce an array of cytokines and co-stimulatory molecules that triggers uncommonly strong immune responses that cannot be suppressed by regulatory T cells. The resulting hyperactivated immune responses triggered by A20-deficient dendritic cells are capable of destroying various types of tumors that are resistant to current tumor vaccines in mice.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 28, 2008, 10:39 PM CT

Breast cancer death rates among black women

Breast cancer death rates among black women
A new study from the American Cancer Society finds that while breast cancer death rates are decreasing for white women in every U.S. state, for African American women, death rates are either flat or rising in at least half the states. The study, published early online in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, finds breast cancer death rates among African American women are decreasing in only 11 of 37 states with sufficient numbers for analysis and in the District of Columbia. In the rest, death rates are either flat (24 states) or actually increasing (two states: Arkansas and Mississippi).

American Cancer Society scientists led by Carol DeSantis, MPH, analyzed mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for the years 1975 through 2004 by state and race. At the national level, death rates began to decline in 1990 for white women and in 1991 for African American women. But they decreased far slower in African American women. As a result, the gap in death rates from breast cancer between African American and white women has increased substantially. In 1991, death rates among African American women were 18 percent higher in comparison to white women; by 2004, they were 36 percent higher. Eventhough breast cancer death rates have decreased in both African American and white women in the U.S. as a whole, the study found death rates have increased or remained level for African American women in 26 states.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 28, 2008, 10:33 PM CT

Heightened Weighing Discomfort Among Women

Heightened Weighing Discomfort Among Women
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania points to increased health risks for women owing to their higher level of discomfort about being weighed in public.

The study showed that college-age females, more than their male counterparts, experience high degrees of discomfort at the prospect of being weighed in the presence of others.

The study's authors think that some women may avoid necessary tests and therapys when a doctor visit includes a step on a public scale.

"Weighing concern may make these women, especially those who are overweight and already at risk for certain ailments, less likely to visit a doctor," said Andrew B. Geier, lead author and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology in the Penn School of Arts and Sciences. "Hopefully, this data will show the great advantage that can be had with just a small, inexpensive change in clinic policy: weighing patients in private".

The study also revealed that observers generally overestimate women's weight while women tend to think that people are underestimating their weight due to slimming clothes or cosmetics. This means that, while women in the study demonstrated they do not want people to know their weight, their true weight was lower than others' estimates and a public weighing would correct the misperception.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 28, 2008, 10:24 PM CT

Targets Against Hormone-Dependent Breast Cancer

Targets Against Hormone-Dependent Breast Cancer
The identification of two cellular receptors that likely contribute to the genesis of hormone-dependent breast cancer points the way to new, highly targeted therapies against the disease, says a team led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

The finding also helps explain how daily use of medicines such as aspirin might help keep these breast tumors at bay.

"These two receptors, called EP2 and EP4, form key links in a biochemical pathway that boosts estrogen production in fat and breast cancer cells - this, in turn, may increase a woman's risk for developing hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Finding ways to interrupt this pathway in a manner that causes few side effects is the ultimate goal of this research," explains the study's senior author Dr. Andrew Dannenberg, director of the newly established Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and the Henry R. Erle, M.D.-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The new findings were published recently in the online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

About 75 percent of all breast malignancies are "estrogen receptor-positive," meaning that their cells carry receptors attuned to estrogen. In the presence of the hormone, these cancer cells will divide and grow. For this reason, anti-estrogen drugs such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors have come to the forefront in the fight against hormone-dependent breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 26, 2008, 10:30 PM CT

Depressed Teens Respond Well To Combination Therapy

Depressed Teens Respond Well To Combination Therapy
More than half of teenagers with the most debilitating forms of depression that do not respond to therapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) show improvement after switching to a different medicine combined with cognitive behavioral treatment, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center and their colleagues in a multicenter study have found.

Dr. Graham Emslie, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UT Southwestern and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Children's Medical Center Dallas, was a principal investigator in the study appearing in the Feb. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"If an adolescent hasn't responded to an initial therapy, go ahead and switch therapys," said Dr. Emslie. "Our results should encourage clinicians to not let an adolescent stay on the same medicine and still suffer." The 334 study participants suffered from depression on average for about two years. The teenagers involved exhibited moderate to severe major depressive disorder, a number of with suicidal ideation. Historically, these types of patients have the worst therapy outcomes.

The scientists observed that nearly 55 percent of teenagers who failed to respond to a class of antidepressant medications known as SSRIs, responded when they switched to a different antidepressant and participated in cognitive behavioral treatment, which examines thinking patterns to modify behavior.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 26, 2008, 10:24 PM CT

Bacterial 'battle for survival' leads to new antibiotic

Bacterial 'battle for survival' leads to new antibiotic
Biologists have provoked soil-dwelling bacteria into producing a new type of antibiotic by pitting them against another strain of bacteria in a battle for survival.

The antibiotic holds promise for therapy of Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach ulcers in humans. Also, figuring out the still murky explanation for how the new antibiotic was produced could help researchers develop strategies for finding other new antibiotics.

The work is published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

A combination of luck, patience and good detective work contributed to the discovery of the new antibiotic, as per Philip Lessard, research scientist in Professor Anthony Sinskey's laboratory at MIT.

Sinskey's lab has been studying Rhodococcus, a type of soil-dwelling bacteria, for a number of years. While sequencing the genome of one Rhodococcus species, the scientists noticed that a large number of genes seemed to code for secondary metabolic products, which are compounds such as antibiotics, toxins and pigments.

However, Rhodococcus does not normally produce antibiotics. A number of bacteria have genes for antibiotics that are only activated when the bacteria are threatened in some way, so the scientists suspected that might be true of Rhodococcus.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 26, 2008, 10:12 PM CT

New bladder cancer therapy

New bladder cancer therapy
As a number of as half of patients with superficial bladder cancer do not respond to the standard first-line chemotherapy placed into the bladder, as per current multi-center outcomes data. When this happens, typically, their only option is surgical removal of the bladder. Now, scientists at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center are investigating an FDA-approved metastatic breast-cancer drug called Abraxane that may prove a safe and effective alternative to surgery for these patients.

Bladder cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer in men and the ninth leading cause of cancer in women in the United States. In a given year, more than 60,000 new cases are diagnosed, and 13,000 will die from the disease.

"When the standard therapy does not work, currently the only option is surgical removal of the bladder -- something that, for all patients, is unappealing, and for some sicker patients is not even possible. With this study, we hope to find an effective second line medical option for these patients," says Dr. James McKiernan, director of urologic oncology at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, and vice chairman of the Department of Urology and assistant professor of urology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 26, 2008, 4:55 PM CT

Tropics Are Next Emerging Disease Hotspot

Tropics Are Next Emerging Disease Hotspot
This is the first time researchers are able to provide a scientific prediction of where the next major disease like HIV or SARS could emerge. During the last three decades, researchers have spent billions of research dollars to deal with the seemingly random emergency of dozens of pandemics.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
Researchers from four well-known institutions say the next major disease like HIV/AIDS or SARS could occur in any of many developing countries concentrated along the equator. They encourage increased surveillance to prevent the spread of a potential outbreak.

Using global databases and sophisticated computer models to analyze patterns of emerging diseases, the scientists -- from the Consortium for Conservation Medicine (CCM) at Wildlife Trust, N.Y., the Institute of Zoology, London, U.K., Columbia University, N.Y., and the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. -- are able for the first time to plot, map and predict where the next pandemic might occur.

Funded through a Human and Social Dynamics Exploratory Research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Arlington, Va., the research represents a major breakthrough in understanding where and why pandemic diseases emerge and provides a key tool for preventing them in the future.

"This is an important area of research," said Rita Teutonico, advisor for integrative activities in NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. "After years of debate, the scientific community is now able to offer a convincing, predictive tool to help policy professionals and resource managers better allocate global resources in the fight against emerging diseases".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 25, 2008, 9:14 PM CT

Test can reduce recurrence of breast cancer

Test can reduce recurrence of breast cancer
A new test that examines large sections of the sentinel lymph node for genes expressed by breast cancer could reduce the risk of recurrence and multiple surgeries, doctors say.

The GeneSearch Breast Lymph Node Assay, manufactured by Veridex, L.L.C., a Johnson & Johnson company, is being used at the Medical College of Georgia to examine half of the tissue in the sentinel lymph node, the first place breast cancer typically spreads. The sample represents more than 10 times the amount of tissue examined in traditional biopsies.

And because the test examines the tissue with molecular tools, it is more sensitive, says Dr. Zixuan (Zoe) Wang, molecular biologist and scientific director of MCG's Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Diagnostic Labs, L.L.C.

"When we look at the tissue with the GeneSearch test, we are looking for excessive amounts of mamoglobin and cytokeratin 19, both genes that are expressed more in breast cancer tissue," Dr. Wang says. "If those genes are present in excessive amounts, we know the cancer has metastasized."

MCG is the first place in Georgia to offer the test, which Time Magazine named one of the top-10 medical breakthroughs of 2007.

Done during a lumpectomy, the GeneSearch test uses molecular diagnostic methods to examine more tissue than traditional sentinel node biopsies, reducing the chance of false negative results, says Dr. Stephen Peiper, chair of the MCG Department of Pathology and Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Physician and Scientist.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 25, 2008, 9:01 PM CT

Mother's antibody production may affect fetal brain

Mother's antibody production may affect fetal brain
The mothers of some autistic children may have made antibodies against their fetuses brain tissue during pregnancy that crossed the placenta and caused changes that led to autism, suggests research led by Johns Hopkins Childrens Center researchers and reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology.

The causes of autism, a disorder manifesting itself with a range of brain problems and marked by impaired social interactions, communication disorders and repetitive behaviors, remain unknown for an estimated 90 percent of children diagnosed with it. Genetic, metabolic and environmental factors have been implicated in various studies of autism, a disorder affecting 1 in 150 U.S. children, as per estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now our research suggests that the mothers immune system may be yet another factor or a trigger in those already predisposed, says lead investigator Harvey Singer, M.D., director of.

pediatric neurology at Hopkins Childrens.

Scientists caution that the findings neednt be cause for alarm, but should be viewed instead as a step forward in untangling the complex nature of autism.

Mostly anecdotal past evidence of immune system involvement has emerged from unusual antibody levels in some autistic children and from postmortem brain tissue studies showing immune abnormalities in areas of the brain. Antibodies are proteins the body makes in response to viruses and bacteria or sometimes mistakenly against its own tissues. Yet, the majority of children with autism have no clinical evidence of autoimmune diseases, which prompted scientists to wonder whether the antibodies transferred from mother to child during pregnancy could interfere with the fetal brain directly.........

Posted by: Emily      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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