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February 7, 2007, 9:12 PM CT

Better Control Of Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses

Better Control Of Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses
Scientists report discovering the receptor through which a group of life-threatening hemorrhagic fever viruses enter and attack the body's cells, and show that infection can be inhibited by blocking this receptor. The findings, would be published online by the journal Nature on February 7, give a clue to the high lethality of New World arenaviruses, suggest a way of reducing the severity of infection, and point the way toward a sorely needed therapy strategy.

The four viruses, known as the Machupo, Guanarito, Junin and Sabia viruses, cause Bolivian, Venezuelan, Argentine and Brazilian hemorrhagic fever, respectively, with mortality rates of about 30 percent. No vaccine is available, though a weakened form of Junin virus has been given to Argentinean farmers with some success. In addition to causing occasional disease outbreaks, mostly in poor, rural areas of South America, the viruses are of U.S. government interest because of their potential as bioterrorism agents. All four are classified as NIAID Category A Priority Pathogens and must be handled in Biosafety Level 4 containment facilities.

The researchers, led by Hyeryun Choe, PhD, of Children's Hospital Boston's Pulmonary Division, and Michael Farzan, PhD, of Harvard Medical School (HMS), first investigated the Machupo virus. To identify its cellular receptor, they made copies of the "spike" protein, used by the virus to gain entry into cells, and added it to cells from African green monkeys, known to be highly susceptible to Machupo virus infection. Later, they broke the cells open and isolated the spike protein and the cellular protein to which it had attached itself. Then, using a technique called mass spectrometry, they analyzed this attached cellular protein to determine its identity.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 9:02 PM CT

Take More Breaks To Avoid Back Injury

Take More Breaks To Avoid Back Injury
Workers who lift for a living need to take longer or more frequent breaks than they now do to avoid back injury, as per a new study at Ohio State University.

The study also suggests that people who are new on the job need to take breaks even more often than experienced workers, and that the risk of injury is higher at the end of a work shift.

People who took part in the study lifted boxes onto conveyor belts for eight hours, while scientists measured the amount of oxygen that was reaching the muscles in their lower back.

The oxygen level indicated how hard the muscles were working, and whether they were becoming fatigued, explained William Marras, professor of industrial welding and systems engineering at Ohio State. His research and others' has shown that muscle fatigue is associated with back injury.

The study, which appeared in a recent issue of the journal Clinical Biomechanics, is the first to examine what happens to muscle oxygenation over a full workday.

Despite the fact that the study participants were performing the same job at the same pace all day, their back muscles needed more oxygen as the day went on. Taking a half-hour lunch break helped their muscles recover from the morning's exertion, but once they started working again, their oxygen needs rose steeply and kept climbing throughout the afternoon.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 8:56 PM CT

Exercise Pivotal in Preventing or Fighting Diabetes

Exercise Pivotal in Preventing or Fighting Diabetes
One in three American children born in 2000 will develop type II diabetes, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A new study at the University of Missouri-Columbia says that acute exercise - as little as 15 minutes a day - can have a profound influence on preventing and fighting the disease.

This research adds to the body of evidence that indicates exercise can fight type II diabetes, one of the most widespread self-inflicted healthcare struggles in the United States, and could save Americans millions of dollars in pills, injections and medical therapy. Acute exercise is a bout of activity in which people actively participate, as opposed to activity resulting from everyday activities.

"A number of people can fight type II diabetes through diet and exercise alone," said John Thyfault, professor in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences' Department of Nutritional Sciences. "It is important to ward off diabetes early. Exercise has proven to be effective at all levels. At any stage of type II diabetes, from an obese child to a person dependent for 20 years on insulin injections, exercise could have a dramatic effect on improving insulin sensitivity."

Type II diabetes results from a lack of insulin production and insulin resistance in skeletal muscle cells. Insulin is necessary to help drive glucose out of the blood and into the tissues of the body. As a result of insulin resistance, cells do not respond appropriately to insulin, causing more insulin to be released to have a measurable effect and ultimately causing insulin and glucose to build up dangerously in the blood.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 8:20 PM CT

Helping women with PCOS achieve pregnancy

Helping women with PCOS achieve pregnancy
Metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes and once thought to have great promise in overcoming the infertility linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is less effective than the standard fertility drug therapy, clomiphene, as per scientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Reproductive Medicine research network. This is the largest, most comprehensive effort yet to compare the two drugs in helping PCOS patients achieve successful pregnancy. The findings are reported in the February 8th, 2007 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM).

"With this study, my colleagues and I recommend and support the use of clomiphene alone and NOT in combination with Metformin as a first-line treatment for infertility in women with PCOS," said Christos Coutifaris, MD, PhD, Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and the principal investigator from Penn. "These results emphasize the need to test any new application rigorously, no matter how promising it may seem initially."

As per the study authors, women who took metformin ovulated more that the women who were given the standard therapy. Similarly, women in the combination treatment group ovulated more frequently than did the women in either the clomiphene-alone or the metformin-alone groups. However, as the current study revealed, an increase in ovulation did not result in more successful pregnancies and deliveries for either the metformin alone, or combination group.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 5:10 AM CT

Children's perceptions and antisocial behavior

Children's perceptions and antisocial behavior
Children who grow up in antisocial families are more likely to be antisocial themselves. Much of the research into why this is so has focused on parents' behavior. A new study finds that the way children perceive their parents' behavior provides clues as to why children of antisocial parents may grow up to be antisocial.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, appears in the January/February 2007 issue of the journal Child Development. The research was funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

In an effort to determine how antisocial behavior in one generation is transmitted to the next, scientists looked at 430 adolescents and their biological parents across the children's high school years. Specifically, the study examined the adolescents' level of antisocial behavior, the level of such behavior in parents, and the teens' general perceptions of their parents' behavior. Antisocial behavior was defined in terms of substance use, recklessness and breaking laws, arguments and conflicts with others, and lying. The study examined if the effect of parents' antisocial behavior on the teens' antisocial behavior could be explained by the teens' perceptions of their parents as antisocial, as well as by disrupted parenting practices, such as poor monitoring, hostility, and harsh and inconsistent discipline.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 5:04 AM CT

Double Whammy When It Comes To Body Fat

Double Whammy When It Comes To Body Fat
When it comes to body fat, today's elderly adults face a double whammy, as per new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and his colleagues. Up until age 80, elderly adults not only gain fat as they age -- but because of the obesity epidemic -- they actually begin their older years fatter.

The result is an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and disability, as per Jingzhong Ding, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and a researcher on aging at Wake Forest Baptist.

The study, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focuses on changes in body composition correlation to aging and in the population over time. It is significant because the scientists used DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) to measure actual body fat to determine the proportion of fat versus lean mass (muscle and organs).

The measurements were made on 1,786 well-functioning elderly adults from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Memphis, Tenn., from 1997 to 2003. Participants were 70-79 at the time of enrollment, a critical period for the development of disability. Body composition -- particularly the combination of too much body fat and a decrease in muscle -- is believed to contribute to disability.

"This study provides a better picture of age-related changes in body composition and it's not a good picture," said Ding, an assistant professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine. "It demonstrates that up until age 80, both older men and women gained fat but lost lean mass each year. These age-related changes were compounded by the obesity epidemic".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 5:00 AM CT

Children who sleep less more likely to be overweight

Children who sleep less more likely to be overweight
Research indicates that getting inadequate sleep has negative effects on children's social and emotional well-being and school performance. Now a Northwestern University study finds it also increases their risk of being overweight.

The study -- conducted in two waves of data collection approximately five years apart -- is the first nationally representative, longitudinal investigation of the relationship between sleep, Body Mass Index (BMI) and overweight status in children aged 3 to 18.

"Our study suggests that earlier bedtimes, later wake times and later school start times could be an important and relatively low-cost strategy to help reduce childhood weight problems," says Emily Snell. Snell is co-author of "Sleep and the Body Mass Index and Overweight Status of Children and Adolescents" in the Jan./Feb. issue of Child Development.

"We found even an hour of sleep makes a big difference in weight status," said Snell, a Northwestern doctoral student in human development and social policy. "Sleeping an additional hour reduced young children's chance of being overweight from 36 percent to 30 percent, while it reduced older children's risk from 34 percent to 30 percent."

The Northwestern study not only differs from most other investigations of the effects of sleep on children's weight in its five-year approach. It also helps disentangle the issue of whether sleep actually affects weight or whether children who already are overweight are simply poor sleepers. In addition, it takes into account the possible effects of other variables including race, ethnicity and income.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 4:50 AM CT

speed up radiation therapy

speed up radiation therapy The automatic radiation planning algorithm results in beamlet intensities that produce equal-dose contours.
Credit: Rensselaer/Richard Radk
A new computer-based technique could eliminate hours of manual adjustment linked to a popular cancer therapy. In a paper reported in the Feb. 7 issue of Physics in Medicine and Biology, scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center describe an approach that has the potential to automatically determine acceptable radiation plans in a matter of minutes, without compromising the quality of therapy.

"Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) has exploded in popularity, but the technique can require hours of manual tuning to determine an effective radiation therapy for a given patient," said Richard Radke, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer. Radke is leading a team of engineers and medical physicists to develop a "machine learning" algorithm that could cut hours from the process.

A subfield of artificial intelligence, machine learning is based on the development of algorithms that allow computers to learn relationships in large datasets from examples. Radke and his colleagues have tested their algorithm on 10 patients with prostate cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. They observed that for 70 percent of the cases, the algorithm automatically determined an appropriate radiation treatment plan in about 10 minutes.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 6, 2007, 9:59 PM CT

Identifying Breast Cancer in Overweight Women

Identifying Breast Cancer in Overweight Women
Increasing the ability to identify sentinel nodes-the very first lymph nodes that trap cancer cells draining away from a breast lesion site-has a major impact in the therapy and outcome of patients with breast cancer, possibly eliminating the need for unnecessary and painful surgery. Scientists observed that using SPECT/CT imaging aids in sentinel node identification-particularly for overweight or obese women, as per a report in the recent issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Lymphoscintigraphy (a usually performed nuclear medicine procedure that makes the lymphatic system visible to specialized cameras)-used with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/computed tomography (CT) imaging-boosted sentinel node identification not only for the general population but also for those who were overweight. "The addition of SPECT/CT with lymphoscintigraphy enhanced sentinel node identification in overweight breast cancer patients," noted Hedva Lerman, vice chair of the nuclear medicine department at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel. Failure to identify sentinel nodes is more frequent in overweight or obese patients, and improved techniques are needed to guide surgeons to their location, said the co-author of "Improved Sentinel Node Identification by SPECT/CT in Overweight Patients With Breast Cancer." She explained, "While the identification of the sentinel node is an important part of surgical management approaches in breast cancer, obesity is a significant factor in why it fails and inevitably leads to occasional-and unnecessary-full axillary lymph node dissection (a more complex surgery that removes all lymph nodes in the armpit region)."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 6, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

AIDS vaccines demonstrate potential to protect

AIDS vaccines demonstrate potential to protect
GeoVax Labs, Inc, an Atlanta-based biotechnology company, today reported successful results from a preclinical trial using GeoVax's vaccines for the therapeutic therapy and prevention of Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease Syndrome ("AIDS") in non-human primates. The data demonstrate the effectiveness of GeoVax's DNA/MVA vaccines in controlling the Simian ("SIV") AIDS virus through immune responses raised by the vaccines. These promising results have resulted in preliminary plans to conduct human therapeutic studies utilizing GeoVax's vaccines.

In this trial, two monkeys were infected with the SIV AIDS virus and then placed on drug treatment. Thereafter, once early drug treatment had temporarily reduced virus levels, the monkeys were vaccinated with the SIV version of GeoVax's DNA/MVA vaccines. Six weeks after vaccination, drug therapy was discontinued. The SIV virus levels temporarily rose in the vaccinated individuals, but were later "controlled" (reduced to much lower levels) by immune responses raised by the vaccines.

The reduction of virus levels in the blood stream of these AIDS virus-infected non-human primates has continued for more than a year to date. Vaccination with the GeoVax DNA/MVA vaccines has curtailed the development of AIDS and its associated debilitating effects, resulting in healthy, asymptomatic individuals. The monkeys have gained weight and have not mandatory any additional drug treatment.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more

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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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