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November 13, 2006, 7:39 AM CT

Bariatric Surgery Complications

Bariatric Surgery Complications
In-hospital bariatric surgery complication rates vary dramatically among the nation's hospitals, as per a research studyreleased recently by HealthGrades, the leading healthcare ratings company. The study of 86,520 bariatric-surgery procedures performed over the years 2002 through 2004 finds that a typical patient receiving the procedure in a five-star rated hospital would have, on average, a 66 percent lower chance of developing one or more major inhospital complications compared with a one-star rated hospital.

Based on the study, HealthGrades, for the first time, today posted quality ratings for hospitals in 17 states that perform bariatric surgery on its consumer Web site, HealthGrades.com. Hospitals received a five-, three- or one-star rating that reflected their complication rates for bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, obesity surgery and gastric-bypass surgery.

The HealthGrades study comes on the heels of a study published in July by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which observed that four of every ten patients undergoing bariatric surgery develop complications within six months.

The percentage of U.S. adults who are obese has doubled in the last thirty years, reaching 30 percent as per the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The number of bariatric surgeries in America are increasing dramatically as well, with the volume growing 34 percent from 2002 to 2004 in the 17 states studied. Experts attribute a growing proportion of the nation's healthcare bill to overweight and obesity, reaching 9.1 percent of U.S. medical costs, or $78 billion, in the most recent study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 5:13 AM CT

Memories: It's All In The Packaging

Memories: It's All In The Packaging
Scientists at UC Irvine have observed that how much detail one remembers of an event depends on whether a certain portion of the brain is activated to "package" the memory.

The research may help to explain why sometimes people only recall parts of an experience such as a car accident, and yet vividly recall all of the details of a similar experience.

In experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to view what happened in the brains of subjects when they experienced an event made up of multiple contextual details. They observed that participants who later remembered all aspects of the experience, including the details, used a particular part of the brain that bound the different details together as a package at the time the event occurred. When this brain region wasn't activated to bind together the details, only some aspects of an event were recalled. The findings are reported in the current issue of Neuron.

"This study provides a neurological basis for what psychology experts have been telling us for years," said Michael Rugg, director of UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and senior author of the paper. "You can't get out of memory what you didn't put into it. It is not possible to remember things later if you didn't pay attention to them in the first place".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 5:09 AM CT

Artificial Protein Shows Promise For Cancer

Artificial Protein Shows Promise For Cancer Balamurali K. Ambati
Potentially blinding blood vessel growth in the cornea resulting from eye injury or even surgery can be reduced by more than 50 percent with a new manmade protein, scientists say.

"We believe eventually we'll be able to use this protein to help patients in a number of situations where blood vessel formation is detrimental, including cancer, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration," says Dr. Balamurali K. Ambati, corneal specialist at the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Ambati is corresponding author of the study reported in the recent issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

The body can produce new blood vessels to promote healing after trauma, such as a corneal transplant, a significant corneal scratch from a contact lens or retinal oxygen deprivation caused by diabetes or aging. This natural response, called angiogenesis, becomes detrimental when new growth obstructs vision or when a tumor pirates the process to survive.

In an animal model, scientists used the protein they developed to reverse obstructive growth as long as one month after injury, says Dr. Ambati. That's a very long time after injury in a mouse's lifetime, indicating even well-established blood vessels are susceptible to intraceptor-mediated regression, he says.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 5:03 AM CT

To slow AIDS in Russia, treat HIV-positive addicts

To slow AIDS in Russia, treat HIV-positive addicts
The key to combating AIDS in Russia may be to treat HIV-infected drug users. A new model estimating the spread of HIV in Russia suggests that treating injection drug users with antiretroviral medicine will slow transmission of the virus among the general population.

The study, which will appear in the recent issue of the journal AIDS, was led by Douglas Owens, MD, a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Margaret Brandeau, PhD, professor of engineering at Stanford.

Estimates vary, but around 1 million Russians - slightly more than 1 percent of the adult population - are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Injection drug users account for three-quarters of all HIV cases in Russia, and the epidemic is spreading rapidly to non-drug users. As per the United Nations, Russia's HIV infection rate is among the fastest-growing in the world. By 2020, HIV could afflict 14.5 million Russians, as per a research studyfrom the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Advances in antiretroviral therapies have the potential to stem the spread of the virus in Russia, but in 2005 less than 1 percent of HIV-infected Russians - 5,000 people - received the life-extending drugs.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:42 AM CT

Researchers Deciphering Flu Virus

Researchers Deciphering Flu Virus
As the Northern Hemisphere braces for another flu season, scientists at Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory are making strides toward better understanding the mechanics of the virus that causes it -- a virus that kills between one-quarter and one-half million people each year.

Tim Cross, director of the lab's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) program, and collaborators from Brigham Young University are trying to understand the minute parts of the highly virulent Influenza Type A virus. To do that, they are using all of the magnet lab's NMR resources, including its 15-ton, 900-megahertz magnet, to produce a detailed picture of the virus's skin.

"Using the magnet helps us build a blueprint for a virus's mechanics of survival," said Cross, who also is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU. "The more detailed the blueprint, the better our chances of developing drugs capable of destroying it".

The only magnet of its kind in the world, the "900" is critical to the project's process. Otherwise, an image this complicated would be impossible to obtain.

Cross and David Busath, a biophysicist at Brigham Young University, recently discovered key components of the protein holes, or "channels," in the influenza viral skin. These components lead to unique chemical reactions that are believed to be important clues for understanding how the channels regulate whether the virus can distribute its genes into host cells and reproduce or not. The researchers' findings were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:37 AM CT

Antioxidant Therapies And Radiation Treatment

Antioxidant Therapies And Radiation Treatment
Cancer patients can get the vital nutritional benefits from taking antioxidants without the risk of interfering with radiation therapy, as per research findings being presented this weekend at the Society of Integrative Oncology's Third International Conference in Boston. The Society for Integrative Oncology is a non-profit organization of oncologists and other health professionals studying and integrating effective complementary therapies in cancer care.

The study, Effect of Concomitant Naturopathic Therapies on Clinical Tumor Response to External Beam Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer, was conducted by scientists at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and evaluated PSA levels of patients with prostate cancer after receiving radiation treatment. Scientists found no difference between patients taking antioxidants and those who did not. Antioxidants used in the study included green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America chose this study to address clinical concerns about the use of dietary supplements in conjunction with conventional cancer therapies. The study addressed the concern that antioxidants might interfere with cancer cell oxidation levels that contribute to tumor killing by chemotherapy and radiation treatment.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:33 AM CT

How Genes Affect Antipsychotic Drug Response?

How Genes Affect Antipsychotic Drug Response?
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy are attempting to discover how genes determine how well an antipsychotic medicine works in adults and children and the side effects it will cause.

Risperidone, a popular "atypical" antipsychotic medication, is used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Jeffrey Bishop, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, is examining the effects of one gene, catechol-o-methyltransferase, on brain activity, cognition and symptom response to the drug.

The study is being done in adults who are experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia who are treated with risperidone for six weeks as part of UIC's First Episode Program.

"Allowing patients with schizophrenia an increased chance at medicine response literally could change their lives," Bishop said.

"While we know a great deal about the pharmacology of antipsychotics like risperidone, there is still much to learn about their influence on cognition and brain function, as well as how genetics affect overall medicine response," he said.

Bishop says the project will serve as a first step toward a comprehensive pharmacogenetic analysis of metabolic pathways affecting response to the drug. He was presented with an award for new researchers from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy for the project.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:04 AM CT

Firefighters Face Increased Risk Of Cancers

Firefighters Face Increased Risk Of Cancers
University of Cincinnati (UC) environmental health scientists have determined that firefighters are significantly more likely to develop four different types of cancer than workers in other fields.

Their findings suggest that the protective equipment firefighters have used in the past didn't do a good job in protecting them against cancer-causing agents they encounter in their profession, the scientists say.

The scientists found, for example, that firefighters are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer and have significantly higher rates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer than non-firefighters. The scientists also confirmed prior findings that firefighters are at greater risk for multiple myeloma.

Grace LeMasters, PhD, Ash Genaidy, PhD, and James Lockey, MD, report these findings in the November edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The UC-led study is the largest comprehensive study to date investigating cancer risk linked to working as a firefighter.

"We believe there's a direct connection between the chemical exposures firefighters experience on the job and their increased risk for cancer," says LeMasters, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UC.

Firefighters are exposed to a number of compounds designated as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)--including benzene, diesel engine exhaust, chloroform, soot, styrene and formaldehyde, LeMasters explains. These substances can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and occur both at the scene of a fire and in the firehouse, where idling diesel fire trucks produce diesel exhaust.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:26 PM CT

Blocking Gene Improves Radiation Effectiveness

Blocking Gene Improves Radiation Effectiveness
Inhibiting a particular cancer-causing gene can enhance the cell-killing effects of radiation, a team of radiation oncologists and cancer biologists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have found.

Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology at Jefferson Medical College and his co-workers used an increasingly common animal model, the zebrafish, and antisense technology to show that the drug flavopiridol works by blocking the activity of the gene, cyclin D1, which is made in excessive amounts in about half of all breast cancers. Using similar techniques in the future, the researchers say, may enable scientists to better gauge the effects of drugs.

As per Dr. Dicker, flavopiridol was found to inhibit cyclins, a family of genes vital to cell functioning. When it was initially tested in clinical trials, it was found to be toxic in humans. But in the laboratory, it added to the cell-killing effects of ionizing radiation, which is used to treat cancer. No one was sure why.

To find out, Dr. Dicker and his group turned to zebrafish. If they understood how the drug was causing toxicity, they or someone else could potentially design molecular copycat drugs that worked just as well, but were less toxic.

"Zebrafish enabled us to add a vertebrate system to examine both efficacy and toxicity issues," he notes.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:16 PM CT

Social Exclusion Changes Brain Function

Social Exclusion Changes Brain Function
Poor Bridget Jones. At the beginning of the first film about her diary and life, the character, played by actress Rene Zellweger, is fat and alone in her apartment where she mimes one of the great self-pitying song hits of all time: "All by Myself." But Bridget's problem may be more than skin deep.

In new research, published in the current online issue of the journal Social Neuroscience, scientists from the University of Georgia and San Diego State University report for the first time that social exclusion actually causes changes in a person's brain function and can lead to poor decision-making and a diminished learning ability.

"Our findings indicate that social rejection can be a powerful influence on how people act," said W. Keith Campbell, a psychology expert who led the research. The new research is the first to examine subjects' brain patterns following social exclusion using the magnetoencephalography (MEG) technique.

Other authors of the paper include Jean Twenge of San Diego State University; Brett Clementz and Jennifer McDowell, also psychology faculty members at UGA; and UGA graduate students Elizabeth Krusemark, Kara Dyckman and Amy Brunnell.

Scientists have known for a long time that there is a link between social exclusion and the failure of self-control. For instance, people who are rejected in social situations often respond by abusing alcohol, expressing aggression or performing poorly at school or work. (Bridget Jones chooses "vodka and Chaka Khan.").........

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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