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December 27, 2007, 9:08 AM CT

Bevacizumab improve survival in breast cancer

Bevacizumab improve survival in breast cancer
Inhibiting the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors slows the progression of metastatic breast cancer as per results of a large clinical trial of Avastin, an anti-angiogenic treatment. The study, reported in the December 27th issue of the New England Journal (NEJM), observed that Avastin in combination with chemotherapy significantly prolongs progression-free survival for women with breast cancer in comparison to chemotherapy alone.

Rush University Medical Center participated in the clinical trial which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by a network of scientists led by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG).

The study of 722 women with recurrent (metastatic) breast cancer observed that the women who received Avastin in combination with standard chemotherapy had a doubling of delay in worsening of their cancer by approximately five months, on average, in comparison to patients treated with chemotherapy alone. Those on Avastin had progression-free survival of 11.3 months in comparison to 6 months on standard chemotherapy alone.

"This treatment is a one-two punch! You hit the tumor with the chemo and sabotage new blood vessel growth by restricting its oxygen supply with Avastin," said Dr. Melody Cobleigh, co-author of the study and director of the Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Breast Center at Rush. "This is a noteworthy advance in cancer therapy".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 27, 2007, 8:39 AM CT

Fast-acting cyanide antidote

Fast-acting cyanide antidote
University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design and Minneapolis VA Medical Center scientists have discovered a new fast-acting antidote to cyanide poisoning. The antidote has potential to save lives of those who are exposed to the chemical namely firefighters, industrial workers, and victims of terrorist attacks.

Current cyanide antidotes work slowly and are ineffective when administered after a certain point, said Steven Patterson, Ph.D., principal investigator and associate director of the University of the Minnesota Center for Drug Design.

Patterson is developing an antidote that was discovered by retired University of Minnesota Professor Herbert Nagasawa. This antidote works in less than three minutes meeting the United States Department of Defense three minute solution standard. The research will be featured in the Dec. 27, 2007 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Its much, much faster than current antidotes, Patterson said. The antidote is also effective over a wider time window. Giving emergency responders more time is important because its not likely that someone will be exposed to cyanide near a paramedic.

The antidote was tested on animals and has been exceptionally effective, Patterson said. Scientists hope to begin human clinical trials during the next three years.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 27, 2007, 8:33 AM CT

Overeating and obesity triggered by lack of BDNF

Overeating and obesity triggered by lack of BDNF
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to one-third of the population in the United States is obese and another third is overweight. Excessive weight gain is elicited by alterations in energy balance, the finely modulated equilibrium between caloric intake and expenditure. But what are the factors that determine how much food is consumed" Part of the mystery is unfolding in the laboratory of Maribel Rios, PhD, at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. Through their work, Rios and his colleagues have shown for the first time that a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is critical in mediating satiety in adult mice. Their findings appear in the December 26 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Mice in which the Bdnf gene was deleted in two of the primary appetite-regulating regions of the brain ate more and became significantly heavier than their counterparts. Previous to this study, we knew that the global lack of BDNF and/or its receptor during development leads to overeating and obesity in young mice. However, it remained unclear and controversial whether BDNF mediated satiety in adult animals. Our recent findings demonstrate that BDNF synthesis in the ventromedial (VMH) and dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) is mandatory for normal energy balance. Additionally, because the mice examined in this study were genetically altered in adulthood, we were able to establish that BDNF acts as a satiety signal in the mature brain independently from its putative actions during development of the brain. This important distinction might help define disease mechanisms and critical periods of intervention for the therapy and prevention of obesity disorders, says Rios, corresponding author and an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Sackler School.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 25, 2007, 11:15 PM CT

Genetic clues identified in alcohol addiction

Genetic clues identified in alcohol addiction
People with clinical addictions know first-hand the ravages the disease can take on almost every aspect of their lives. So why do they continue addictive behaviors, even after a period of peaceable abstinence".

Some answers appear rooted in regions of the brain active during decision making.

"It's perhaps not just that people are slaves to pleasure, but that they have trouble thinking through a decision," said Charlotte Boettiger, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and lead author of a study in the recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience that took a novel tack in addiction imaging research.

"Our data suggest there may be a cognitive difference in people with addictions," Boettiger said. "Their brains may not fully process the long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less efficiently".

The study also observed that a variant of the COMT gene, which controls the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the cortex, was linked to a tendency to make impulsive decisions and with high activity in certain brain areas during decision making.

Current medications for addictions are not universally effective; a number of either mimic the addictive substance to help people get through withdrawal periods or block the substance to prevent its effects. For stimulants, such as methamphetamines, there are no therapies yet, Boettiger said.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 25, 2007, 11:12 PM CT

Health coverage reduces major heart complications

Health coverage reduces major heart complications
As presidential candidates ramp up their primary campaigns, health care reform looms prominently among voters main concerns.

A new study in the December 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, provides the most comprehensive evidence to date that expanding coverage to people without it leads to demonstrable improvements in health.

This study provides good evidence about how health improves when people gain insurance coverage, says Dr. John Ayanian, senior author and Professor of Health Care Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Womens Hospital. For every 100 uninsured people with heart disease or diabetes before age 65, we observed that with Medicare coverage they had 10 fewer major cardiac complications, such as heart attacks or heart failure, than expected by age 72, he adds.

The study was funded by The Commonwealth Fund.

In order to provide a macro-view on the health effects of gaining insurance coverage, Ayanian, lead author Dr. J. Michael McWilliams, a research associate in Harvard Medical Schools Department of Health Care Policy and Brigham and Womens Hospital, and Harvard colleagues assessed data from the Health and Retirement Study, an ongoing longitudinal survey of aging Americans sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 25, 2007, 11:07 PM CT

Why fish oil is good for you

Why fish oil is good for you
It's good news that we are living longer, but bad news that the longer we live, the better our odds of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease.

A number of Alzheimer's scientists have long touted fish oil, by pill or diet, as an accessible and inexpensive "weapon" that may delay or prevent this debilitating disease. Now, UCLA researchers have confirmed that fish oil is indeed a deterrent against Alzheimer's, and they have identified the reasons why.

Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, now online, Greg Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and associate director of UCLA's Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and colleagues report that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil increases the production of LR11, a protein that is found at reduced levels in Alzheimer's patients and which is known to destroy the protein that forms the "plaques" linked to the disease.

The plaques are deposits of a protein called beta amyloid that is believed to be toxic to neurons in the brain, leading to Alzheimer's. Since having high levels of LR11 prevents the toxic plaques from being made, low levels in patients are thought to bea factor in causing the disease.

Alzheimer's is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss, dementia, personality change and ultimately death. The national Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.1 million Americans are currently afflicted with the disease and predicts that the number may increase to between 11 million and 16 million people by the year 2050.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 25, 2007, 11:04 PM CT

Thinking patterns and addiction

Thinking patterns and addiction
Researchers have for the first time identified brain sites that fire up more when people make impulsive decisions. In a study comparing brain activity of sober alcoholics and non-addicted people making financial decisions, the group of sober alcoholics showed significantly more "impulsive" neural activity.

The scientists also discovered that a specific gene mutation boosted activity in these brain regions when people made impulsive choices. The mutation was already known to reduce brain levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The newly found link involving the gene, impulsive behavior and brain activity suggests that raising dopamine levels may be an effective therapy for addiction, the researchers say.

The research is published in the Dec. 26, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Lead scientist is Charlotte Boettiger, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Boettiger led the research as a scientist at UCSF's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center. Senior author is Howard Fields, MD, PhD, a UCSF professor of neurology and an investigator in the Gallo Center. He also serves as director of the UCSF Wheeler Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction.

Our data suggest there may be a cognitive difference in people with addictions, Boettiger said. Their brains may not fully process the long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less efficiently.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 9:58 PM CT

The physiology of champions

The physiology of champions
What could be a greater test of the limits of human physiology than the Olympics" To mark the 2008 games in Beijing, the Journal of Physiology present a special issue focusing on the science behind human athleticism and endurance.

This unique collection of original research and in-depth reviews examines the genes that make a champion, the physiology of elite athletes, limits to performance and how they might be overcome.

Excess body heat is a barrier to performance in a number of sports, and a novel study by Romain Meeusen et al.1 shows that both the neurotransmitter systems have an important impact on the control and perception of thermoregulation.

Rats whose dopaminergic and the noradrenergic reuptake was inhibited by the anti-smoking aid Xyban were able to exercise twenty minutes longer than usual in the sweltering heat and tolerated higher core body temperature.

What genes makes a champion, asked Alun Williams et al"2 They identify 23 individual genetic variations that enhance athletic performance If the optimum genetic combination existed in one person, world records like Paula Radcliffes would probably be shattered.

Left to nature, the odds of anyone alive having all 23 variations is just 200,000:1. But what might the future hold for genetic manipulation and testing".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

Protection against chemotherapy cardiotoxicity

Protection against chemotherapy cardiotoxicity
Scientists at the University of Grenoble, in France, have discovered that erythropoietin administration prevents acute cardiotoxic effects induced by doxorubicin and trastuzumab exposures. The research article describing this work entitled Erythropoietin pretreatment protects against acute chemotherapy toxicity in isolated rat hearts will be featured in the January 2008 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Eventhough rare, cardiotoxicity is a serious complication of cancer therapy. Indeed, the use of chemotherapeutic agents such as anthracycline or trastuzumab in oncology is limited by their cardiac toxicity. Therefore, it is of interest to identify new protective agents preventing these adverse effects.

The increasing use of doxorubicin and trastuzumab in adjuvant breast cancer treatment and the growing population of long-term pediatric cancer survivors mean that, more than ever, cardiotoxicity will continue to remain an important issue for oncology. Cardiomyopathy induced by chronic chemotherapy may result, at least in part, from acute cardiotoxic effects accompanying each drug exposure. said Professor Mireille Mousseau, head of the Department of Oncology.

The research team, led by Christophe Ribuot, a professor of pharmacology, explored the beneficial cardioprotective effect afforded by recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) against various stresses, through experimental and clinical investigations.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 9:40 PM CT

Making hospitals safer from infection

Making hospitals safer from infection
One small water line feeding one hospital faucet alone can house millions of bacteria, said international Legionella expert Janet Stout, Ph.D., urging public health and infection control officers to be proactive against Legionella and other waterborne microbes that contribute to soaring hospital infection rates. Communities of waterborne pathogens, known as biofilm, can line every pipe in every water distribution system of every hospital, making their way into faucets, ice machines and showers, where the water may infect patients. In the December 2007 issue of Managing Infection Control, Dr. Stout, Director of the Special Pathogens Laboratory and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, offers a prescription for prevention and remediation.

Infections acquired in healthcare settings are not confined to hospitals. Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other long-term care facilities are equally vulnerable. In the article, Understanding and Controlling Waterborne Pathogens: Applying Lessons Learned from Legionella, Dr. Stout notes: Those most at risk from these unseen microbes are the people who are owed a higher level of care premature infants and newborns, the elderly, people undergoing cancer therapy or with compromised immune systems, transplant recipients and patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).........

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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