March 4, 2008, 5:26 PM CT
Gene mutations linked to longer lifespans
Mutations in genes governing an important cell-signaling pathway influence human longevity, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found. Their research is described in the March 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The report is the latest finding in the Einstein scientists ongoing search for genetic clues to longevity through their study that by now has recruited more than 450 Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews between the ages of 95 and 110. Descended from a small founder group, Ashkenazi Jews are more genetically uniform than other groups, making it easier to spot gene differences that are present. In 2003, this study resulted in the first two longevity genes ever identifiedfindings that have since been validated by other research.
The present study focused on genes involved in the action of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I), a hormone that in humans is regulated by human growth hormone. Affecting virtually every cell type in the body, IGF-I is crucially important for childrens growth and continues contributing to tissue synthesis into adulthood. The IGF-I cell-signaling pathway is triggered when IGF-I molecules circulating in blood plasma latch onto receptors on the surface of cells, causing a signal to be sent to the cells nucleus that may, for example, tell that cell to divide.........
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March 4, 2008, 4:54 PM CT
PANTHER sensor quickly detects pathogens
This prototype of the PANTHER device is about one cubic foot and weighs 37 pounds. Photo courtesy / MIT Lincoln Laboratory
Scientists at MIT Lincoln Laboratory have developed a powerful sensor that can detect airborne pathogens such as anthrax and smallpox in less than three minutes.
The new device, called PANTHER (for PAthogen Notification for THreatening Environmental Releases), represents a "significant advance" over any other sensor, said James Harper of Lincoln Lab's Biosensor and Molecular Technologies Group. Current sensors take at least 20 minutes to detect harmful bacteria or viruses in the air, but the PANTHER sensors can do detection and identification in less than 3 minutes.
The technology has been licensed to Innovative Biosensors, Inc. (IBI) of Rockville, Md. In January, IBI began selling a product, BioFlash, that uses the PANTHER technology.
"There is a real need to detect a pathogen in less than three minutes, so you have time to take action before it is too late," said Harper, the lead scientist developing the sensor.
The PANTHER sensor uses a cell-based sensor technology known as CANARY (after the birds sent into mines to detect dangerous gases), and can pick up a positive reading with only a few dozen particles per liter of air.
The device could be used in buildings, subways and other public areas, and can currently detect 24 pathogens, including anthrax, plague, smallpox, tularemia and E. coli.........
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March 4, 2008, 4:46 PM CT
New potential drug target for the treatment of atherosclerosis
A nuclear receptor protein, known for controlling the ability of cells to burn fat, also exerts powerful anti-inflammatory effects in arteries, suppressing atherosclerosis in mice prone to developing the harmful plaques, as per new research by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Their findings, reported in this weeks online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer a new and specific target for the development of drugs that specifically treat cardiovascular complications linked to metabolic syndrome.
Heart disease is like a ticking clockit is progressive, relentlessly marching forward accelerated by a mix of high fat diets, inflammation and high blood pressure. We show that PPAR delta offers a kind of genetic shortcut around each of these medical roadblocks, says Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk Institutes Gene Expression Laboratory, who co-directed the study with Chih-Hao Lee, a professor in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Most people believe cholesterol plays a predominant role in atherosclerosis. Our study suggests that targeting inflammation at lesion sites is just as important, adds Lee.........
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March 4, 2008, 4:40 PM CT
Women are Treated Less Frequently than Men with Statins
Women and men experience a similar prevalence of adverse drug reactions in the therapy of coronary artery disease; however, women are significantly less likely than their male counterparts to be treated with statins, aspirin, and beta-blockers as per a new study by scientists at Rush University Medical Center. The study is reported in the recent issue of the journal Gender Medicine.
"Developments in disease recognition and novel therapy strategies have led to a significant decline in overall cardiovascular death rate among men, but these dramatic improvements have not been observed in women," said Dr. Jonathan R. Enriquez, lead author of the study and resident internal medicine doctor at Rush. "This may be correlation to underutilization of medical therapies such as aspirin, ß-blockers, ACE inhibitors or statins".
In association with Dr. Annabelle Volgman and the Rush Heart Center for Women, the study involved 304 consecutive patients with coronary artery disease at the outpatient cardiology clinic at Rush. A retrospective observational analysis waccording toformed to determine the usage and adverse reactions reported from aspirin, ß-blockers, angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or statins. Baseline clinical characteristics were also determined to identify the independent association of gender on usage of standard medical coronary artery disease therapys.........
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March 4, 2008, 4:25 PM CT
Links Betweenarts Education And Cognitive Development
Learning, Arts, and the Brain, a study three years in the making, is the result of research by cognitive neuroresearchers from seven leading universities across the United States. In the Dana Consortium study, released recently at a news conference at the Dana Foundation's Washington, DC headquarters, scientists grappled with a fundamental question: Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter?
For the first time, coordinated, multi-university scientific research brings us closer to answering that question. Learning, Arts, and the Brain advances our understanding of the effects of music, dance, and drama education on other types of learning. Children motivated in the arts develop attention skills and strategies for memory retrieval that also apply to other subject areas.
The research was led by Dr. Michael S. Gazzaniga of the University of California at Santa Barbara. "A life-affirming dimension is opening up in neuroscience," said Dr. Gazzaniga, "to discover how the performance and appreciation of the arts enlarge cognitive capacities will be a long step forward in learning how better to learn and more enjoyably and productively to live. The consortium's new findings and conceptual advances have clarified what now needs to be done".........
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March 4, 2008, 4:21 PM CT
Diagnosis of heart disease with a single CT scan
In the current issue of the journal Circulation, a research team from the Medical University of South Carolinas (MUSC) Heart & Vascular Center report their initial experience with a novel imaging technique that enables comprehensive diagnosis of heart disease based on a single computerized tomographic (CT) scan.
The team, led by Balazs Ruzsics, MD, PhD; Eric Powers, MD, medical director of MUSC Heart and Vascular Center; and U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, director of CT Research and Development, explored how Computerized axial tomography scans can now detect blocked arteries and narrowing of the blood vessels in the heart in addition to poor blood flow in the heart muscle.
The single-scan technique would also provide considerable cost savings, as well as greater convenience and reduced radiation exposure for patients. For their approach, the MUSC physicians used a Dual-Source Computerized axial tomography scanner. The MUSC scanner was the first unit worldwide that was enabled to acquire images of the heart with the dual-energy technique. While the Computerized axial tomography scan dissects the heart into thin layers, enabling doctors to detect diseased vessels and valves, it could not detect blood flow. The MUSC scientists added two x-ray spectrums, each emitting varying degrees of energy like a series of x-rays, to gain a static image of the coronary arteries and the heart muscle. This dual-energy technique of the Computerized axial tomography scan enables mapping the blood distribution within the heart muscle and pinpointing areas with decreased blood supply.........
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March 4, 2008, 4:17 PM CT
Sticky blood protein yields clues to autism
A number of children with autism have elevated blood levels of serotonin a chemical with strong links to mood and anxiety. But what relevance this hyperserotonemia has for autism has remained a mystery.
New research by Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers provides a physical basis for this phenomenon, which may have profound implications for the origin of some autism-associated deficits.
In an advance online publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Ana Carneiro, Ph.D., and his colleagues report that a well-known protein found in blood platelets, integrin beta3, physically associates with and regulates the serotonin transporter (SERT), a protein that controls serotonin availability.
Autism, a prevalent childhood disorder, involves deficits in language, social communication and prominent rigid-compulsive traits. Serotonin has long been suspected to play a role in autism since elevated blood serotonin and genetic variations in the SERT have been associated with autism.
Alterations in brain serotonin have also been linked to anxiety, depression and alcoholism; antidepressants that block SERT (known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) block SERTs ability to sweep synapses clean of serotonin.
Working in the lab of Randy Blakely, Ph.D., Carneiro was searching for proteins that interact with SERT that might contribute to disorders where serotonin signaling is altered.........
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March 4, 2008, 4:16 PM CT
After cessation of postmenopausal hormone therapy
The Womens Health Initiative (WHI) scientists have produced another article , which probably marks the opening of another set of publications, in which the consequences of a further 2.4-year follow-up (after cessation of the study medication) on the estrogen + progestogen (E + P) cohort are reported. They concluded that, by the end of the post-intervention period, the global index, a newly formed and unvalidated tool used in the WHI trial, was still higher in women randomly assigned to receive E + P compared with placebo.
After such long and painful debates over the results of the WHI study and the perception that age is a very important determinant of the benefitrisk evaluation, it is really a pity that once again the current information on the extended follow-up period is presented in an unsatisfactory way, says Professor Amos Pines, the President of the International Menopause Society. It seems that the following mistakes were repeated:
- There is no mention of the results by age groups and yet, for the age group 5059 years, the data recorded for the active phase of the WHI E + P arm showed no significant increase in risk of coronary events, strokes and breast cancer in the early postmenopause period. Also, there is no breakdown of the data by years of follow-up. It would be extremely important to know whether the results for the first year post cessation of therapy are similar to those for year 2 and year 3 of follow-up.........
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March 3, 2008, 10:07 PM CT
Students With Cell Phones May Take More Risks
Carrying a cell phone may cause some college students - particularly women - to take risks with their safety, a new study suggests.
A survey of 305 students at one campus observed that 40 percent of cell phone users said they walked somewhere after dark that they normally wouldn't go.
A separate survey observed that about three-quarters of students said that carrying a cell phone while walking alone at night made them feel somewhat or a lot safer.
"Students seem to feel less vulnerable when they carry a cell phone, eventhough there's not evidence that they really are," said Jack Nasar, co-author of the study and professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University.
"If anything, they are probably less safe because they are paying less attention to their surroundings".
Nasar conducted the study with Peter Hecht of Temple University in Philadelphia and Richard Wener of Brooklyn Polytechnic University in New York. Their results were published in a recent issue of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
The study involved online or phone interviews with randomly selected students at Ohio State. One sample in 2001 included 317 students and a separate survey one year later included 305 students.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
March 3, 2008, 9:18 PM CT
Dry eye syndrome after LASIK surgery
Researchers at Schepens Eye Research Institute have observed that people with a certain low level of tear production are more likely to develop chronic dry eye syndrome after LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), laser refractive surgery to correct near- and far-sightedness than those with more plentiful tears. Their research, reported in the recent issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, may offer reliable prescreening criteria for ophthalmologists and patients.
These findings should help ophthalmologists determine if pretreatment is necessary before surgery or if surgery is appropriate at all for an individual, says Dr. Darlene Dartt, director of the Military Vision Research Program at Schepens Eye Research Institute and the principal investigator of the study.
Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common problems treated by eye physicians. Affecting more than 10 million Americans, it is caused by problems with the tear film responsible for lubricating the eye. While it does not cause vision loss, dry eye syndrome can be painful and severely decrease quality of life for its victims who constantly search for relief with artificial tears and other medications.
LASIK surgery uses small laser cuts to reshape the surface of the cornea, eliminating far-sightedness or near-sightedness, and the need for glasses or contacts. A number of people choose LASIK for cosmetic reasons. In recent years, thousands of military personnel have opted for LASIK surgery because it can help them see better and identify objects and people in the field more quickly. It also relieves them of the worry about lost or damaged glasses.........
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