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April 10, 2008, 9:10 PM CT

The good and bad side of anti-cancer compounds

The good and bad side of anti-cancer compounds
Compounds known as HDAC inhibitors exhibit cancer-killing activities in cultured cells. While they are currently being tested as anti-cancer agents in clinical trials, just how they execute their effects is unclear.

In a pair of recent papers, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers provide a potential mechanism by which HDAC inhibitors specifically damage cancer cells and offer clues about possible adverse effects of these compounds findings with important implications for their clinical use as cancer therapies.

Scott Hiebert, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Medicine, and his colleagues initially set out to study how chromosomal translocations which happen when chromosomes break and rejoin, creating new genes at the breakpoints cause acute leukemias.

He previously had observed that a chromosomal translocation common in acute myeloid leukemias led to the formation of a new protein, a mutant transcription factor, that actively turned genes off. Enzymes known as histone deacetylases (HDACs) helped the mutant protein turn genes off by stabilizing the tightly coiled structure of DNA in chromosomes, making it inaccessible to proteins that transcribe DNA.

We thought that if we could inhibit these HDACs, we could turn the genes back on and cure leukemia, Hiebert explained.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 10, 2008, 9:08 PM CT

Carotid stenting as alternative to surgery

Carotid stenting as alternative to surgery
Image courtesy of iame
Carotid artery stenting is an effective option for high risk patients who are not eligible for surgery, as per a long-term study published in this weeks New England Journal (NEJM). Carotid artery disease, which involves clogging of the arteries in the neck that provide blood to the brain, is a significant risk factor for stroke, making these study results important for the estimated 200,000 Americans each year who would otherwise not be candidates for the therapy.

The SAPPHIRE trial showed patients undergoing carotid stenting were comparably protected from stroke, heart attack, death, and repeat revascularization procedures as patients who underwent the traditional surgical approach (endarterectomy). SAPPHIRE is the first and longest (three years) randomized study to compare the safety and efficacy of carotid stenting with embolic protection to surgery in high risk patients. High risk patients are considered to be at increased risk for surgery because of previous carotid artery surgery, radiation to the neck, chronic heart failure, lung disease or severe coronary artery disease, among other criteria.

The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), the worlds leading society of interventional heart specialists, is encouraged by these positive data. Results are consistent with one-year SAPPHIRE data and echo conclusions from other non-randomized trials supporting the use of carotid stenting, especially in patients with multiple illnesses.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


April 10, 2008, 9:02 PM CT

Language Development in Infants

Language Development in Infants
Professor April Benasich (upper right) gently covers a baby's head with sensors that reveal how babies process rapidly occurring sounds, a key factor in language development.
Uncover how the brains of infants distinguish differences in sounds and it may become possible to correct language problems even before children start to speak, sparing them the difficulties that come from struggling with language.

New studies conducted by Professor of Neuroscience April Benasich and her Infancy Studies Laboratory at Rutgers University in Newark are revealing new and exciting clues about how infant brains begin to acquire language and paving the way for correcting language difficulties at a time when the brain is most able to change.

Benasich and her lab were the first to determine that how efficiently a baby processes differences between rapidly occurring sounds is the best predictor of future language problems. Using methods developed by Benasich and her lab, it can be determined as early as three to six months whether a baby will struggle with language development.

About 5 to 10 percent of all children beginning school are estimated to have language-learning impairments (LLI) leading to reading, speaking and comprehension problems, as per Benasich. In families with a history of LLI, 40 to 50 percent of children are likely to have a similar problem. A number of of these children go on to develop dyslexia.

Using several novel methods, including dense array EEG/ERP recordings, Benasich and her lab are able to analyze EEG, ERPs and the proportion of gamma power in infant brains. The dense sensor array allows the scientists to gently measure a full range of brain activity. Those measurements are obtained by placing a soft bonnet of sensors, resembling a hairnet with lots of little sponges, on a baby's head and then having the infant listen to different series of rapid tone sequences.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 10, 2008, 8:20 PM CT

Men with Serious Injuries Often Abuse Alcohol

Men with Serious Injuries Often Abuse Alcohol
Men with serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, must deal with a range of emotions. If these men have strong traditional masculine ideas and abuse alcohol, it becomes even more difficult to help them heal and come to terms with their emotions and situations. A University of Missouri psychology researcher studied these challenging factors to find better ways to understand and treat men who fit this mold, such as the injured soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It is really a triple whammy," said Glenn Good, professor of educational, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education. "Counselors face a number of challenges when it comes to helping men deal with emotions surrounding serious injuries. Newly injured men often face adjustments in the level of personal assistance they require, and this may result in struggles with some aspect of the traditional masculine role, such as a 'go it alone' mentality. When three factors - injury, traditional male role and alcohol abuse - occur together, the rehabilitation process may be a challenge. In this study, we examined the combination of all three factors with the aim of better understanding how to treat men with several challenges."

Good and colleagues observed that a young man with a serious injury would often report a greater pursuit of status, higher drive for dominance and increased risk taking. However, they were more open to accepting assistance. Older men in the study tended to hold to the masculine attitude that they could do everything on their own and did not need any help, presenting a greater challenge.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 10:12 PM CT

Traffic exhaust can cause asthma

Traffic exhaust can cause asthma
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution during their first year of life run a greater risk of developing asthma, pollen allergies, and impaired respiratory function. However, genetic factors are also at play. These are the results of a new study conducted under the BAMSE project.

The BAMSE project has monitored 4,000 children in Stockholm county from birth in order to assess whether exposure to traffic pollution during their first year of life affects the risk of developing asthma and allergies. Levels of traffic exhaust were measured at the site of the home. The results show that the children who were exposed to high concentrations of pollutants ran a 60 per cent higher risk of suffering of persistent asthma symptoms. Respiratory function was also adversely affected, and the children were much more likely to be allergic to airborne allergens, especially pollen.

Studies were also made of how the risk of developing air pollution-related allergies is influenced by genetic factors. It was observed that children carrying a variant of GSTP1 (glutathione S-transferase P1) gene, which is crucial to the bodys ability to take care of air pollutants (the antioxidative system), run a greater risk of developing an allergy associated with traffic-related air pollution. As per new analyses, variants of another asthma gene, TNF (tumour necrosis factor), also affect sensitivity to air pollution. Children with a particular combination of GSTP1 and TNF variants run a considerably higher risk of developing allergies.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 10:10 PM CT

Omega-3 intake during last months of pregnancy

Omega-3 intake during last months of pregnancy
A study supervised by Universit Laval scientists Gina Muckle and ric Dewailly reveals that omega-3 intake during the last months of pregnancy boosts an infants sensory, cognitive, and motor development. The details of this finding are published in a recent edition of the Journal of Pediatrics.

To come to this conclusion, scientists first measured docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentrationa type of omega-3 fatty acid involved in the development of neurons and retinasin the umbilical cord blood of 109 infants. DHA concentration in the umbilical cord is a good indicator of intra-uterine exposure to omega-3s during the last trimester of pregnancy, a crucial period for the development of retinal photoreceptors and neurons, explains Dr. Dewailly.

Tests conducted on these infants at 6 and 11 months revealed that their visual acuity as well as their cognitive and motor development were closely associated with DHA concentration in the umbilical cord blood at the time of their birth. However, there was very little relation between test results and DHA concentration in a mothers milk among infants who were breast-fed. These results highlight the crucial importance of prenatal exposure to omega-3s in a childs development, points out Dr. Muckle.

Scientists found that DHA concentration in the umbilical cord blood was in direct relation with the concentration found in a mothers blood, a reminder of the importance of a mothers diet in providing omega-3 fatty acids for the fetus. They also noted that DHA concentration was higher in the fetuss blood than in the mothers. While developing its nervous system, a fetus needs great quantities of DHA. It can even transform other types of omega-3s into DHA in order to develop its brain, explains Dr. Dewailly.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 10:03 PM CT

Your neighborhood can affect your health

Your neighborhood can affect your health
Research carried out at the Peninsula Medical School, South West England, has found strong links between neighbourhood deprivation and the physical and intellectual health of older people.

Two studies were conducted, both using data on participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

The first study investigated over 7,000 individuals aged 52 and older who lived in urban areas across England. The study observed that even when individual differences in education and income were taken into account, people who lived in the most deprived areas were significantly more likely to have poorer cognitive function than those living in the least deprived areas. These findings represent a cause for concern because poor cognitive function in older people is closely associated with the risk of developing dementia.

Meanwhile, the second study, which involved 4,148 individuals aged 60 and over, assessed whether mobility disability and neighbourhood deprivation are linked. Over a two-year period, 13.6% of those in the most deprived areas developed problems with mobility in comparison to 4.0% of those in the least deprived areas. As with the first studies, these figures took into account individual differences in income, education, and health.

Dr. Iain Lang from the Peninsula Medical School, who led the research for both studies, commented: These findings show the first direct links between the state of a neighbourhood and levels of functioning among its middle-aged and older residents. For both men and women, those living in deprived areas have poorer cognitive function and higher rates of mobility problems than their counterparts in better areas.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:59 PM CT

How Fast You'll Age is Written in the Bones

How Fast You'll Age is Written in the Bones
Two x-rays used in Dr. Kalichman's research. The hands of a 22-year-old man at top are compared with the hands of a 74-year-old man at bottom. The two men were not related
Perhaps the aging process can't be stopped. But it can be predicted, and new research from Tel Aviv University indicates that people may live longer and lead healthier lives as a result.

Scientists have developed a new biological marker that represents the age of a body's bones. It reveals that the speed of physical aging is strongly influenced by genetics.

Christened the osseographic score (OSS), this new marker can be used by doctors as a scientific tool for predicting a person's general functioning and lifespan, says Tel Aviv University scientist Dr. Leonid Kalichman, an instructor at The Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions. He is a co-author of the study published in Biogerontology and the American Journal of Human Biology (2007), which was conducted in partnership with Dr. Ida Malkin and Prof. Eugene Kobyliansky, both from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

Add Years to Your Life.

If a doctor can determine that a person is aging "biologically faster" than he or she should, measures such as vitamin supplements and exercise can help slow down the process, says Dr. Kalichman.

"While different biomarkers such as grey hair, wrinkles or elasticity of the skin can help us estimate a person's biological age, these features are hard to quantify," he says. But with the new OSS biomarker, and therapy at a younger age, "at age 90 people can function as though they are 30," says Kalichman.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:55 PM CT

A Serious Illness Occurs Later In Life

A Serious Illness Occurs Later In Life
A new study underscores the need for seniors to maintain their health -- in order to maintain their wealth.

Building on a 2003 study that observed that healthy seniors are more likely to retain their savings, Ohio State University scientists have now discovered that the during the later part of life a serious illness occurs, the more damage it does to a person's finances.

The study observed that when seniors develop a new and serious health problem -- experiencing what the scientists call a "health shock" -- early in retirement, they lose a substantial portion of their savings immediately. But if they experience the health shock during the later part of life, they will lose even more.

Study participants over 70 years of age lost 40 percent more of their savings than similar seniors who were just four years younger.

The results appear in a recent issue of the Journal of Population Economics.

The impact of health problems on seniors' finances has been studied over the years, but researchers have drawn different conclusions -- in part because they measured health and wealth in different ways, said Jinkook Lee, professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State.

This study is the first to gather a long-term perspective on how chronic illness diminishes seniors' wealth over time.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 9:45 PM CT

Study on egg consumption

Study on egg consumption
A study reported in the April 2008 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(1) suggests an association between high egg consumption and all-cause mortality, an unusual finding for which the scientists do not provide an explanation. The researchers, Djouss and Gaziano, analyzed data from the Physicians Health Study I which followed male physicians over a 20 year period.

The fact is, healthy adults can continue to enjoy eggs as part of a balanced diet, and the findings certainly are not strong enough to suggest that anyone change their diet. As an epidemiological study, it does not show cause-and-effect and has other inherent weaknesses. The scientists did not control for a variety of factors including intake of other foods and nutrients including saturated fat. In addition, the high egg consumers exhibited other lifestyle and dietary patterns linked to increased health risks. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Robert Eckel, co-chair of the Committee on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, comments that The study suffers from the lack of detailed dietary information that may confound the interpretation, such as patterns of dietary intake of saturated fat and trans fats.(2) This is a significant point, given that some people who eat eggs often consume them with foods high in saturated fat.........

Posted by: Janet      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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