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May 6, 2008, 9:49 PM CT

Protein to limit heart attack injury

Protein to limit heart attack injury
Medical College of Wisconsin scientists in Milwaukee have demonstrated for the first time that thrombopoietin (TPO), a naturally occurring protein being developed as a pharmaceutical to increase platelet count in cancer patients during chemotherapy, can also protect the heart against injury during a heart attack.

The study, led by John E. Baker PhD, professor of pediatric surgery in the division of cardiothoracic surgery, was reported in the January 2008 issue of Cardiovascular Research. The importance of these findings was underscored in an accompanying editorial.

Currently there are no therapies available to directly protect the heart against the damaging effects of a heart attack. Dr. Bakers team has shown that administering a single dose of TPO to rats during a heart attack decreased the extent of permanent muscle damage to the heart and increased the ability of the heart to function afterwards, when compared with no drug therapy. Additionally, they observed that a single cardioprotective therapy with TPO did not increase platelet count. This novel finding suggests the cardioprotective actions of TPO are separate from its ability to increase platelet count.

Dr. Baker has submitted a US and worldwide patent application on the tissue protective properties of TPO. Dr. Bakers discovery is licensed to Cardiopoietis, a Wisconsin LLC, formed to develop drugs for the therapy of heart attacks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2008, 9:44 PM CT

Neurons duke it out for survival

Neurons duke it out for survival
The developing nervous system makes far more nerve cells than are needed to ensure target organs and tissues are properly connected to the nervous system. As nerves connect to target organs, they somehow compete with each other resulting in some living and some dying. Now, using a combination of computer modeling and molecular biology, neuroresearchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered how the target tissue helps newly connected peripheral nerve cells strengthen their connections and kill neighboring nerves. The study was reported in the April 18th issue of Science.

It was hard to imagine how this competition happens because the signal that leads cells to their targets also is responsible for keeping them alive, which begs the question: How do half of them die? says David Ginty, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Target tissues innervated by so-called peripheral neurons coax nerves to grow toward them by releasing nerve growth factor protein, or NGF. Once the nerve reaches its target, NGF changes from a growth cue to a survival factor. In fact, when some populations of nerve cells are deprived of NGF they die. To further investigate how this NGF-dependent survival effect works the scientists looked for genes that are turned on by NGF in developing nerve cells.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2008, 9:42 PM CT

Ways to make tumor cells easier to destroy

Ways to make tumor cells easier to destroy
Tumors have a unique vulnerability that can be exploited to make them more sensitive to heat and radiation, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report.

The Washington University radiation oncology scientists observed that tumors have a built-in mechanism that protects them from heat (hyperthermia) damage and most likely decreases the benefit of hyperthermia and radiation as a combined treatment.

By interfering with that protection, the scientists have shown that tumor cells grown in culture can be made more sensitive to hyperthermia-enhanced radiation treatment. The findings are published in the May 1, 2008 issue of Cancer Research.

Radiation treatment is a mainstay of cancer therapy but doesn't always completely control tumors. For several years, raising tumor temperature has been investigated as a radiation treatment enhancer with few adverse side effects.

"Past research has shown that hyperthermia is one of the most potent ways to increase cell-killing by radiation," says senior author Tej K. Pandita, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology and of genetics and a researcher with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

"But now we've observed that heat also enhances the activity of an enzyme called telomerase in cancer cells," he says. "Telomerase helps protect the cells from stress-induced damage and allows some of them to survive. We used compounds that inhibit telomerase and showed that cancer cells then become easier to destroy with hyperthermia and radiation used in combination."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 9:19 PM CT

Immune exhaustion in HIV infection

Immune exhaustion in HIV infection
Its the virus, stupid: immune exhaustion in HIV infection

As HIV disease progresses in a person infected with the HIV virus, a group of cells in the immune system, the CD8+ T lymphocytes, become exhausted, losing a number of of their abilities to kill other cells infected by the virus. For a number of years researchers have debated whether this exhaustion of CD8+ T cells is the cause, or the consequence, of persistence of the HIV virus. As per a research findings published this week in PLoS Medicine, Marcus Altfeld and his colleagues studied the immune response over time amongst 18 individuals who had very recently become infected with HIV.

These scientists observed that the presence of high amounts of HIV in the blood seemed to cause CD8+ T cell exhaustion; when antigen was reduced, either as a result of therapy with antiretroviral drugs, or evolution of viral epitopes to avoid recognition by CD8+ T cells, these epitope-specific CD8+ T cells recovered some of their original functions. These findings suggest that CD8+ T cell exhaustion is the consequence, rather than the cause, of persistent replication of HIV.

In a related article, Sarah Rowland-Jones and Thushan de Silva (from the Medical Research Council in Gambia), who were not involved in the study, discuss approaches to treat HIV efficiently by suppressing the viral load early in infection aimed at preserving HIV-1-specific immune function. They evaluate whether such strategies are likely to be practical.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 9:05 PM CT

Flip flops, mulch and no coat

Flip flops, mulch and no coat
At a time when over half of US children (aged 3-6) are in child care centers, and growing concern over childhood obesity has led physicians to focus on whether children are getting enough physical activity, a new study of outdoor physical activity at child care centers, conducted by scientists at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center, has identified some surprising reasons why the kids may be staying inside. The study, will be presented May 5 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Its things we never expected, from flip flops, mulch near the playground, children who come to child care without a coat on chilly days, to teachers talking or texting on cell phones while they were supposed to be supervising the children, as per Kristen Copeland, M.D., lead author of the study which was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. She noted that because there are so a number of benefits of physical activity for children from prevention of obesity, to better concentration and development of gross motor skills its important to know what barriers to physical activity may exist at child-care centers.

With so a number of American preschool-aged children in child care centers, and prior reports that the amount of physical activity children get varies widely across different centers, we wanted to explore what some of the barriers to physical activity at these centers might be, said Dr. Copeland, a doctor scientist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Childrens. As per the most recent statistics 74% of US children aged 3-6 years are in some form of non-parental child care. 56% percent of 3-6 year old children spend time in centers, including child care centers and preschools. Her team began by exploring child-care center staff members perceptions of barriers to childrens physical activity. They conducted focus groups with 49 staff members from 34 child-care centers in the Cincinnati area (including Montessori, Head Start and centers in the inner city and suburban areas) as the first of several studies on this subject.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 8:51 PM CT

Youths in towns with smoke-free restaurant laws

Youths in towns with smoke-free restaurant laws
Young people who live in towns where regulations ban smoking in restaurants may be less likely to become established smokers, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

A number of studies have examined the risk factors that lead young people to try their first cigarette, as per background information in the article. However, fewer scientists have differentiated these factors from those that cause children and teens to progress to established smoking, or having smoked 100 or more cigarettes. Yet understanding this difference is critical, the authors write. It would allow us to determine the age and stage at which youths are most sensitive to various types of interventions, thus enabling the more specific tailoring and more effective delivery of smoking prevention interventions.

Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston University School of Public Health, and his colleagues studied 3,834 Massachusetts youths who were age 12 to 17 at the first interview, conducted between 2001 and 2002. Of those, 2,791 were interviewed again two years later and 2,217 were interviewed four years later.

Overall, 9.3 percent of the participants became established smokers over the study period, including 9.6 percent of those living in towns with weak restaurant smoking regulations (where smoking is restricted to designated areas or not restricted at all), 9.8 percent of those in towns with medium regulations (smoking is restricted to enclosed or ventilated areas, or no smoking is allowed but variations are permitted) and 7.9 percent of those in towns with strong regulations (complete smoking bans). The strength of local smoking regulations was not linked to the transition from non-smoking to experimentation, but was linked to the transition from experimentation to established smoking.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 8:28 PM CT

Breastfeeding may improve children's intelligence scores

Breastfeeding may improve children's intelligence scores
Long-term, exclusive breastfeeding appears to improve childrens cognitive development, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Prior studies have reported that children and adults who were breastfed as infants have higher scores on IQ tests and other measures of cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) development than those who were fed formula, as per background information in the article. However, the evidence has been based on findings based on observation, in which children whose mothers chose to breastfeed were compared with those whose mothers chose not to breastfeed. The results of these studies may be complicated by subtle differences in the way breastfeeding mothers interact with their infants, the authors note.

Michael S. Kramer, M.D., of McGill University and the Montreal Childrens Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, and his colleagues conducted a randomized trial of a breastfeeding promotion program involving patients at 31 maternity hospitals and affiliated clinics in Belarus. Between June 1996 and December 1997, clinics were randomly assigned either to adopt a program supporting and promoting breastfeeding or to continue their current practices and policies. A total of 7,108 infants and mothers who visited facilities promoting breastfeeding and 6,781 infants and mothers who visited control facilities received follow-up interviews and examinations between 2002 and 2005, when the children were an average of 6.5 years old.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 6:10 PM CT

Preference for alcohol may lead to heavy drinking

Preference for alcohol may lead to heavy drinking
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have shown a correlation between early drinking patterns and a tendency to be a heavy drinker in adulthood, in a study of adolescent rats.

Drinking patterns in adolescents may be set after only a few exposures to alcohol, said Nicole L. Schramm-Sapyta, research associate in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine. Rats that demonstrated a taste for alcohol after only three nights of drinking were very likely to be the biggest drinkers after longer-term exposure.

During the first three nights of the study, the rats were given only alcohol to consume. After that, for 10 days, they had a choice of water or alcohol. Their drinking was measured right after they had traveled through an elevated maze, a way to raise anxiety levels and measure stress-related hormone levels. They also were tested for drinking after researchers observed their preference for new objects and for exploring a new place.

We decided to examine stress and novelty seeking because these are two characteristics we see among people who develop problem drinking, said Schramm-Sapyta, first author of the study reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 6:05 PM CT

Mood Disorders Put Cancer Patients At Risk For PTSD

Mood Disorders Put Cancer Patients At Risk For PTSD
Patients with breast cancer who have a previous history of mood and anxiety disorders are at a much higher risk of experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder following their diagnosis, new research suggests.

A study of 74 patients with breast cancer at the Ohio State University Medical Center observed that 16 percent of them (12 women) suffered from PTSD 18 months after diagnosis.

Women with PTSD were more than twice as likely as patients with breast cancer without the disorder to have suffered from prior mood disorders such as depression before the cancer diagnosis. They were also more than three times more likely to have experienced anxiety disorders.

"What is unique about patients with breast cancer with PTSD is that they have already had this double hit of both anxiety and mood disorders even before they got the diagnosis," said Barbara Andersen, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"So when they are in a new situation that is very anxiety provoking - cancer diagnosis and therapy - it is not surprising that they are at risk for developing PTSD".

The findings suggest that doctors should screen newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer for past mood disorders, she said. Those who have histories of mood and anxiety disorders may need help in order to avoid PTSD. However, the results also show that most patients with breast cancer aren't at risk for PTSD.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 3, 2008, 7:51 PM CT

Uninsured kids in middle class

Uninsured kids in middle class
Nationwide, uninsured children in families earning between $38,000 and $77,000 a year are just as likely to go without any health care as uninsured children in poorer families. More than 40 percent of children in those income brackets who are uninsured all year see no physicians and have no prescriptions all year, as per new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Theres an assumption that children in families with higher income levels dont need insurance, that they are uninsured but are somehow still receiving health care anyway, said Laura Shone, Dr.P.H., M.S.W., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of the study being presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. This study shows that in reality, a large percentage of these children dont receive any care at all which pediatricians say is unacceptable, and parents know is unrealistic. Even healthy, older children need to see their physicians at least once over the course of a year.

Overall, almost 3 million uninsured children had no medical care and no prescription use for a full year, as per an analysis of nationally representative data from the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Of those, about 1.6 million children may qualify for public coverage but are not enrolled, and about 1 million more could be covered through expansions that were proposed yet vetoed at the national level in late 2007. The percentage of uninsured children who forego all health care for a full year is:........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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