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October 3, 2006, 5:07 AM CT

Progress In Pancreatic Cancer Research

Progress In Pancreatic Cancer Research
Scientists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the Brooklyn VA Hospital have observed that when a human protein, PNC-28, is administered to pancreatic tumor cells in animals, the tumors are destroyed. The research was published in the October 1st edition of the International Journal of Cancer.

Matthew R. Pincus, MD, PhD, professor of pathology at SUNY Downstate and chairman of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Brooklyn VA, said, "The results are very encouraging. PNC-28 may be an effective agent in treating cancers, particularly if delivered directly to the tumor".

PNC-28 is a p53 peptide, a naturally occurring human protein known to suppress tumor growth. The scientists previously observed that PNC-28 induces death of a variety of human tumor cell lines, including a pancreas cancer cell line, while not harming healthy cells.

The research team has now given PNC-28 to laboratory animals to test its ability to block the growth of pancreas cancer cells. When administered over a two-week period in the peritoneal cavities of mice containing simultaneously transplanted tumors, PNC-28 caused complete destruction of these tumors.

When delivered concurrently with tumor implantation, PNC-28 completely blocked tumor growth during the two-week period of administration and two weeks post-treatment, followed by weak tumor growth that leveled off at low tumor sizes.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source

October 3, 2006, 5:02 AM CT

Obese smokers at higher risk of death

Obese smokers at higher risk of death
People who are both very obese and who smoke increase their risk of death by 3.5 to 5 times that of people of normal weight who never smoke, finds a study in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

As per the study, 20 percent of obese adults in the United States smoke, which puts them at a higher risk of death caused by cancer and circulatory disease. The authors further observed that, in general, being a current smoker was a far stronger risk factor for cancer death than being obese.

"Smoking has been known as a very strong risk factor for a number of cancers, especially lung cancer, which is the most common site of cancer death," said lead author D. Michal Freedman, Ph.D., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

The study surveyed more than 80,000 current and former radiologic technologists between the ages of 22 and 92 who completed a self-administered questionnaire in the period from 1983 to 1989. They all were followed through December 2002 and the number of deaths was reported.

The questionnaire collected information such as birth date, height, weight and smoking behavior. Participants' body mass indexes were calculated from their weight and height A BMI of 30 to 34.9 was considered obese, and more than 35 was very obese.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 2, 2006, 10:02 PM CT

Foodborne Pathogens Hard To Remove From Produce

Foodborne Pathogens Hard To Remove From Produce Fruits and spinach
Will you ever feel comfortable eating fresh spinach again? All raw agricultural products carry a minimal risk of contamination, said a University of Illinois scientist whose research focuses on keeping foodborne pathogens, including the strain of E. coli found recently on spinach, out of the food supply.

That won't keep Scott Martin, a U of I food science and human nutrition professor, from eating bagged greens or other produce eventhough he can see why it gives consumers pause.

"I definitely wouldn't eat spinach from the three California counties implicated in this latest outbreak of E. coli H0157:H7, but there have been no problems with spinach grown in other parts of the country," Martin said.

Martin said that food companies have recalled the particular products implicated in the outbreak, and that the contaminated spinach had a sell-by date of September 20, so none should remain on the shelves at this time.

If his reassuring tone makes the scientist sound less than aggressive toward E. coli 0157:H7 and other foodborne pathogens, you're mistaken. Martin and fellow U of I professor Hao Feng are dedicated to discovering ways to keep these microorganisms out of the food supply.

Martin's research is focused on finding ways to eliminate the biofilms that attach to produce and cause illness. "Once the pathogenic organism gets on the product, no amount of washing will remove it. The microbes attach to the surface of produce in a sticky biofilm, and washing just isn't very effective," he said.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

October 2, 2006, 9:52 PM CT

Parents In The Dark About Substance Abuse

Parents In The Dark About Substance Abuse
A team of scientists led by School of Medicine researchers has observed that parents often don't know when their children are using alcohol, nicotine or other drugs.

"We observed that parents knew their kids were using alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana only about half the time," said Laura Jean Bierut, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and principal investigator of the study.

In addition, the study, reported in the recent issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, observed that for cocaine or other illicit drugs, the number of parents who know is even lower, with only 28 percent reporting that their adolescent children used these drugs.

"For example, among 12- to 17-year olds, 8.5 percent of the children said that they had tried a drug other than marijuana, but only 3.1 percent of parents reported that their child had used one of these drugs," said Sherri L. Fisher, the study's first author and the project coordinator for the St. Louis site of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA).

The scientists surveyed 591 children ages 12 to 17, asking them questions about alcohol, tobacco and drug use. They also surveyed one parent per child to ask about whether their child ever had used alcohol or other drugs. A total of 438 parent-child pairs came from families participating in the COGA study, meaning that at least one member of their family had sought therapy for alcoholism. Another 153 pairs were from families recruited from the community. The scientists observed that parents who had experienced drug or alcohol problems themselves were no more likely to know that their children were using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 2, 2006, 9:38 PM CT

How White Blood Cells Eat Virus-infected Cells

How White Blood Cells Eat Virus-infected Cells
Scientists at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI) at Oregon Health & Science University have demonstrated how certain white blood cells literally eat virus-infected cells while fighting disease at the microscopic level. The research not only helps provide a clearer understanding of the body's immune system, it also offers hope of a new method for gauging vaccine effectiveness. The research is reported in the current edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

CD8 T-cells are specialized white blood cells that serve an important role in the body's immune system. The cells attack and destroy disease "invaders" such as viruses in the body. Prior studies indicated that T-cells may consume parts of cells with which they interact, but this new research shows this can happen in response to a systemic viral infection.

"If you use a fluorescent dye to stain infected cells, you can literally watch T-cells consume membranes and outer surfaces of diseased cells. As they destroy and cannibalize the fluorescently labeled cells, they become labeled with the fluorescent dye themselves," explained Mark Slifka, Ph.D., a researcher in the VGTI who led the research. Slifka is also a scientist in the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and holds a concurrent appointment in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

October 2, 2006, 9:24 PM CT

Strategies To Combat Flu Vaccine Shortage

Strategies To Combat Flu Vaccine Shortage
We all know about the flu-vaccine shortage that occurred during the last flu season. Scientifics are formulating strategies to combat flu vaccine shortage in case of shortage during the peak flu season. Public health officials are now making mathematical model at The University of Texas at Austin to determine the best way to distribute the vaccine.

The researchers used contact network epidemiology to model various vaccine distribution strategies, including the United States Centers for Disease Control strategy of targeting high-risk groups, like infants, the elderly and people with health complications. They also tested the idea of targeting school children, who are critical vectors in moving diseases through communities.

They observed that the best vaccine distribution strategy depends on the contagiousness of the flu strain.

"If we only have a limited flu vaccine supply, the best distribution strategy depends on the contagiousness of the strain," says Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, assistant professor of integrative biology. "We can more effectively control mildly contagious strains by vaccinating school children, while we can more effectively control moderately and highly contagious strains by vaccinating high-risk groups".

If there is no information available about the contagiousness of a flu strain or if the vaccines are only available after the outbreak is underway, the study recommends prioritizing vaccines for those people in high-risk groups who can experience the greatest complications due to the disease.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

October 2, 2006, 9:17 PM CT

Dissolving Jaw Syndrome With Cancer Drug

Dissolving Jaw Syndrome With Cancer Drug
Drugs belonging to the group of bisphosphonates like aredia are good in strengthening the bone in cancer patients including breast cancer. There is a downside to this group of drugs. These drugs can erode the jaw bone and literally dissolve the jaw bone.

This condition, called osteonecrosis of the jaw, is marked by exposed bone in the jaw and can lead to infection, inflammation and pain.

While scientists do not fully understand the condition or what causes it, osteonecrosis of the jaw, or ONJ, appears to occur in individuals who have been treated with drugs called bisphosphonates, which are used to improve bone strength. When treating bone affected by cancer, the bisphosphonates are given intravenously and have been shown to decrease the risk of skeletal complications such as fracture.

"Osteonecrosis of the jaw is not a common condition. It appears to occur in 1 percent to 10 percent of patients with advanced cancer who are on intravenous bisphosphonate treatment a number significant enough that most medical oncologists will see patients with this condition. It is important that scientists learn why it occurs and how best to prevent or treat it," says Catherine Van Poznak, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

October 1, 2006, 8:38 PM CT

Questions About GMOs And Allergies

Questions About GMOs And Allergies
The potential of genetically engineered foods to cause allergic reactions in humans is a big reason for opposition to such crops. Although protocols are in place to ask questions about the allergy-causing possibilities, there has been no test that offers definitive answers.

But all of that could change as a Michigan State University researcher has developed the first animal model to test whether genetically engineered foods could cause human allergic reactions. Venu Gangur, MSU assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, has received a $447,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to validate the test.

Genetically engineered crops are created by inserting a protein from a different organism into the original crop's genome. This is usually done to create a plant that is more resistant to insects or diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organization within the World Health Organization has a structured approach to determining whether genetically engineered foods cause allergies, according to Gangur, who also is a faculty member in the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center. "But it has a major flaw. A critical question in that process asks, 'Does the protein cause an allergic reaction in animals?' The problem is that there has been no good animal model available to test this".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 1, 2006, 8:34 PM CT

Tamiflu Reduces Death From Influenza

Tamiflu Reduces Death From Influenza
Tamiflu (oseltamivir), is effective in reducing the risk of death linked to seasonal influenza in severely ill patients,1 as per new data presented today. Treatment of infected adults was linked to a 71 per cent reduction in mortality.1 These results demonstrate the importance of the role of antivirals in the management of seasonal influenza and highlights the seriousness and risk of mortality linked to it.

"The neuraminidase class of antivirals were originally assessed during their clinical development for their ability to reduce influenza symptom severity and duration in healthy adults", comments Dr. Allison McGeer, Primary Investigator who led today's research and Microbiologist and Infection Disease Consultant at the Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, "This new analysis contributes to the accumulating evidence that oseltamivir also has a significant impact in preventing serious complications including death in older at-risk individuals".

The population-based surveillance study was conducted during the two consecutive influenza seasons on a total of 512 patients who were admitted to hospital for illness linked to a positive test for influenza in Ontario, Canada. Over half of patients, mainly those with underlying illness, had been previously vaccinated. 84% were treated with antibacterial agents and 32% with antivirals (3% amantadine; 97% oseltamivir) at time of admission/diagnosis. Of the total patients with influenza who mandatory hospital admission, 67% were diagnosed with influenza with or without pneumonia, 13% with respiratory infection (e.g. acute bronchitis) and 62% with fever/viral syndrome. 1 Of all adult patients, 6.4% patients died and these deaths were attributed to influenza.1 Treatment of adults with an antiviral was linked to more than a two third reduction in death from influenza.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

October 1, 2006, 8:02 PM CT

Scientists Stop Colon Cancer Growth In Mice

Scientists Stop Colon Cancer Growth In Mice
Scientists from Texas were able to stop the growth of colon cancer in mice by blocking just one enzyme. They say that this is a big step against conquering cancer. Even though this was an experiment on mice, these scientists hope that their findings might soon find its way to human cancers including colon cancer.

In cell culture experiments, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and the University of Texas at Arlington determined that stopping the activity of a single enzyme called aldose reductase could shut down the toxic network of biochemical signals that promotes inflammation and colon cancer cell growth.

In a dramatic demonstration of the potential of this discovery, they followed up this work with animal studies showing that blocking the production of aldose reductase halted the growth of human colon cancer cells implanted in laboratory mice.

"By inhibiting aldose reductase we were able to completely stop the further growth of colorectal cancer tumor cells," said UTMB professor Satish K. Srivastava, senior author of a paper about the discovery would be published Oct. 1 in the journal Cancer Research.

As per the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer is the country's second leading cancer killer. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 70,651 men and 68,883 women were diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States; 28,471 men and 28,132 women died from the disease.........

Posted by: Sue      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. Archives of health news blog

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