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November 12, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

Mechanism For Acne Drug's Link To Depression

Mechanism For Acne Drug's Link To Depression
As per a research findings reported in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers reveal a potential mechanism that might link the drug Roaccutane (Accutane in the US) to reported cases of depression in some patients taking the medication.

The scientists had previously reported that the drug caused depressive behaviour in mice but, until now, the mechanism by which this might happen was unknown.

Using cells cultured in a laboratory, researchers from the University of Bath (UK) and University of Texas at Austin (USA) were able to monitor the effect of the drug on the chemistry of the cells that produce serotonin.

They observed that the cells significantly increased production of proteins and cell metabolites that are known to reduce the availability of serotonin.

This, says scientists, could disrupt the process by which serotonin relays signals between neurons in the brain and may be the cause of depression-related behaviour.

"Serotonin is an important chemical that relays signals from nerve cells to other cells in the body," said Dr Sarah Bailey from the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at the University of Bath.

"In the brain it is thought to play an important role in the regulation of a range of behaviours, such as aggression, anger and sleep.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 9:44 PM CT

Early, routine testing for HIV is key

Early, routine testing for HIV is key
Half of all new HIV infections in the United States occur among 13 to 24 year olds, but adolescents rarely seek HIV testing. Now, new research from the Bradley Hasbro Childrens Research Center suggests that early and widespread testing both in schools and community centers may be the key to effectively curbing the spread of HIV within this age group.

This study, which would be reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health and is currently available online, is the first to take a prospective look at the factors linked to HIV testing among adolescents.

Our goal was to determine why some high-risk teens would get tested for HIV, and others would not, explained lead author Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D., of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and an assistant research professor of psychiatry with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Scientists assessed the sexual behavior, substance use and HIV testing behaviors of 1,222 sexually active adolescents, ages 15 to 21, from Providence, Miami, and Atlanta over three months. They observed that teens were more likely to get tested for HIV if theyve already been tested before. In fact, approximately half of all study subjects had a history of HIV testing, and of those, one-third got tested within three months even without having gone through a specific HIV testing intervention.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

Anti-smoking strategy targets fourth-graders

Anti-smoking strategy targets fourth-graders
A smoking-prevention strategy that targets black fourth-graders and their parents is under study in urban and rural Georgia.

Scientists want to know if they can keep these children from smoking and help smoking parents quit, as per Dr. Martha S. Tingen, nurse researcher at the Medical College of Georgia's Georgia Prevention Institute, and Interim Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control, MCG Cancer Center.

Dr. Tingen is principal investigator on a $2.5 million National Cancer Institute grant to determine if this novel strategy of concurrent intervention in the classroom and at home reduces smoking and related disability and death in blacks. Blacks tend to have higher rates of second-hand smoke exposure and more adverse health effects than whites.

"Every day in Georgia, 84 kids between 10 to 13 years of age start smoking cigarettes," says Dr. Tingen.

"Ninety percent of all smokers start before they are out of high school. If we can help keep kids from smoking before they get out of high school, they probably won't ever start. I am hoping the fourth graders haven't started smoking, but I am thinking a lot of them still are exposed to tobacco use and second-hand smoke in the home".

Scientists are enrolling 350 students and their parents or guardians in 16 elementary schools in Augusta, Ga., and rural Jefferson County, Ga., about 60 miles away. During the fourth and fifth grades, half the children will get two intense learning sessions per week over four weeks of Life Skills Training, developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, director of the Institute for Prevention Research at Cornell University Medical College.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 9:38 PM CT

Eating your greens could prove life-saving

Eating your greens could prove life-saving
A diet rich in leafy vegetables may minimize the tissue damage caused by heart attacks, as per scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their findings, reported in the November 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the chemical nitrite, found in a number of vegetables, could be the secret ingredient in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

Recent studies show that administering nitrite to animals, either intravenously or orally, can greatly limit the damage caused by a heart attack and the stress to tissue that follows due to reperfusionthe return of blood to oxygen-starved heart muscle, says Dr. David Lefer, the studys senior author and professor of medicine and of pathology at Einstein. We wondered if feeding animals much lower levels of nitrite and nitrateequivalent to what people can readily obtain from their dietscould also provide protection from heart-attack injury.

Nitrite and its chemical cousin nitrate are important because of their role in producing nitric oxide gas. In 1986, scientists made the remarkable finding that nitric oxidefamous until then mainly as an air pollutantis produced by cells lining healthy arteries and plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health by dilating arteries and aiding blood flow. Damage to the artery lining (in atherosclerosis, for example) impairs nitric oxide production and leads to cardiovascular disease and, ultimately, to heart attacks and strokes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

Laser Can Predict Decompression Sickness

Laser Can Predict Decompression Sickness
It may not rank among the top 10 causes of death, but decompression sickness can be fatal. Instead of waiting for symptoms to appear, a University of Houston professor is developing a laser-based system that can diagnose the sickness in a matter of seconds.

Kirill Larin, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, is using a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Navy to develop the first optical non-invasive tool to test those most likely to suffer from decompression sickness, such as scuba divers, submariners and airplane pilots. Decompression sickness affects those who experience sudden, drastic changes in the air or water pressure surrounding their bodies. It can cause anything from joint pain - known as the bends - to seizure, stroke, coma and, in the most extreme cases, death.

"Most of the time, decompression sickness isn't addressed until the person starts showing clinical symptoms," Larin said. "It would be better, of course, to treat the problem before the symptoms appear. That would allow individuals to take the appropriate medical actions to reduce the side effects of decompression sickness."

Larin's optical device can locate the presence of nitrogen gas - or microbubbles - in blood and tissues, which can restrict the flow of blood throughout the body and cause damage. Larin is developing the tool, which works much like an ultrasound machine, with Dr. Bruce Butler of the UT Health Science Center in Houston. Instead of getting readings using sound waves, however, Larin's system uses light waves in the form of lasers that bounce back when they encounter resistance, thereby providing a high-resolution image.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 8:41 PM CT

Towards Spinal Cord Reconstruction Following Injury

Towards Spinal Cord Reconstruction Following Injury
A new study has identified what may be a pivotal first step towards the regeneration of nerve cells following spinal cord injury, using the body's own stem cells.

This seminal study, published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, identifies key elements in the body's reaction to spinal injury, critical information that could lead to novel therapies for repairing previously irreversible nerve damage in the injured spinal cord. Very little is known about why, unlike a wound to the skin for example, the adult nervous system is unable to repair itself following spinal injury. This is in contrast to the developing brain and non-mammals which can repair and regenerate after severe injuries. One clue from these systems has been the role of stem cells and their potential to develop into different cell types.

"Because of their regenerative role, it is crucial to understand the movements of stem cells following brain or spinal cord injury," says Dr. Philip Horner, co-lead investigator and neuroscientist at the University of Washington. "We know that stem cells are present within the spinal cord, but it was not known why they could not function to repair the damage. Surprisingly, we discovered that they actually migrate away from the lesion and the question became why - what signal is telling the stem cells to move."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 8:37 PM CT

Hospital-based program to keep youth out of prison

Hospital-based program to keep youth out of prison
With violence plaguing inner-city youth at epidemic rates, the report of a new study in the recent issue of The Journal of the American College of Surgeons illustrated a research-based approach to confronting this national problem. The study showed that Caught in the Crossfire, a hospital-based peer intervention program, reduced involvement in the criminal justice system among youth aged 12 to 20. Additionally, this program proved to be cost efficient in comparison with the cost of a stay in a juvenile detention center.

In 2001, the US Surgeon General warned of an epidemic in youth violence, calling for a research-based approach to systematically confronting the problem. Despite the attention, this issue continues to be a major public health concern in the US, where intentional violent trauma is the second leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 15 and 24. Violence among youth is notably worse in some inner-city areas, including Oakland, CA, where this study took place.

This study demonstrates that investing dollars in preventive intervention programs is not only a good public health practice, but it is a good economic practice as well, said Daniel Shibru, MD, University of California, San Francisco. The findings are especially significant because it proves that peer intervention programs like Caught in the Crossfire can reduce retaliatory youth violence as well as their involvement in the criminal justice system, particularly as they return to the same violent environments where their injuries occurred.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 8, 2007, 9:58 PM CT

A Dose of Radiation May Help Knock Out Malaria

A Dose of Radiation May Help Knock Out Malaria
How are physicists helping an effort to eradicate malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills more than one million people every year? Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) used their expertise in radiation science to help a young company create weakened, harmless versions of the malaria-causing parasite. These parasites, in turn, are being used to create a new type of vaccine that shows promise of being more effective than current malaria vaccines.

The new vaccine is a departure from prior approaches, which have commonly depended on proteins derived from only part of the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous species of parasite that causes malaria. Using vaccines based on whole living parasites had been on scientists' minds for several decades, after they discovered that volunteers built up high levels of protection to malaria after being exposed to mosquitoes containing live, radiation-weakened parasites. But manufacturing technology only recently has been developed to the point where it is possible to efficiently extract weakened parasites from their mosquito carriers in order to make a vaccine.

With their knowledge of measuring radiation doses for industrial processes such as medical equipment sterilization, NIST scientists have been lending their expertise for several years to Maryland-based biotech firm Sanaria Inc., which is creating the new vaccine. In the manufacturing process, live mosquitoes containing the parasite are exposed to gamma rays. To ensure that the parasites are sufficiently weakened for the vaccine, yet remain alive, they must be exposed to a radiation dose of at least 150 gray, but not much more. Coincidentally, this is also the dose used to delay sprouting in potatoes and onions.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 8, 2007, 9:52 PM CT

Tracking Nerve-Cell Development in Live Human Brain

Tracking Nerve-Cell Development in Live Human Brain
A team of researchers including scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have identified and validated the first biomarker that permits neural stem and progenitor cells (NPCs) to be tracked, non-invasively, in the brains of living human subjects. This important advance could lead to significantly better diagnosis and monitoring of brain tumors and a range of serious neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The biomarker is a lipid molecule whose presence the researchers were able consistently to detect in a part of the brain called the hippocampus where new nerve cells are known to be generated. The marker was not detected in the cortex and other parts of the brain where this process, called neurogenesis, does not occur in healthy adults.

As elsewhere in the body, the rise of new cells in the brain is a process that can be traced to stem cells, which, through mechanisms still only partly grasped, give birth to "daughter" progenitor cells that undergo repeated division and maturation into "adult" cells. As recently as a few years ago, most researchers did not think that new nerve cells were created anywhere in the adult brain.

The newly discovered marker can be detected when NPCs - stem-like "progenitor" cells - are actively dividing, a mark that new nerve cells are being created. "Until now, there was no way to identify and track these cells in living people, to get a dynamic picture of neurogenesis," said Grigori Enikolopov, Ph.D.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 8, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

Discovery That May Lead To Safe Treatment For High Blood Pressure

Discovery That May Lead To Safe Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Jason Koski/University Photography
Frank Schroeder inserts a natural product sample into a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. NMR spectroscopy has evolved into the most important tool for identifying new biologically active compounds.
For more than 40 years, scientists have suspected there must be a natural hormone that could safely flush sodium out of the body and could be harnessed to develop more effective and safer therapys for high blood pressure, or hypertension. Currently, drugs that lower sodium levels all have serious side effects because they also reduce potassium levels.

Scientists at Cornell and the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) have used a new technique and identified a hormone from human urine -- a xanthurenic-acid derivative -- that seems able to do the job. The discovery opens the door to developing novel medications to control sodium levels and treat hypertension.

Frank Schroeder, an assistant scientist at BTI and co-author of the paper, which appeared in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, developed a new technique for analyzing complex mixtures of small molecules, making it possible to finally identify the hormone.

Previous to the discovery, scientists knew that a human steroid called aldosterone activates the kidney to reabsorb sodium and excrete potassium, which led them to suspect that there must be another hormone that would trigger the kidney to do the opposite: excrete sodium and reabsorb potassium. A number of had tried to find such a hormone in human urine, but urine contains a mix of hundreds of molecules, and the correct one could not be isolated, probably because the suspected hormone breaks down easily during traditional chemical analysis.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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