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November 18, 2007, 8:36 PM CT

Protein plaques implicated in Alzheimer's

Protein plaques implicated in Alzheimer's
Alzheimer' tangles
For unknown reasons a protein called amyloid beta aggregates into toxic plaques in the brain, killing neurons. These plaques are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimers disease. Now two new animal studies show for the first time that the deadly transformation of amyloid beta into plaques can be prevented through an interaction between amyloid beta and another protein called cystatin C.

Eventhough much work needs to be done, these new findings may open the door to new therapys for Alzheimers disease that mimic the effects of cystatin C, says Efrat Levy, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at New York University School of Medicine, and the lead author of the study. We are really excited by these findings because recent studies show that cystatin C is protective against a variety of insults that cause cell death in the brain. Our potential therapeutic approach focuses on keeping amyloid beta in a water soluble form, preventing its accumulation in the brain, and thus slowing, halting, or reversing disease progression, says Dr. Levy, who is also Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Pathology of Cerebral Amyloidosis at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New York.

With support from the Alzheimers Association, Dr. Levys laboratory has already begun studies to develop a drug that will mimic the ability of cystatin C to bind to a non-pathological form of amyloid beta and thereby prevent its accumulation into plaques in the brain.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 18, 2007, 8:34 PM CT

Immune system can drive cancers into dormant state

Immune system can drive cancers into dormant state
A multinational team of scientists has demonstrated for the first time that the immune system can stop the growth of a malignant tumor without actually killing it.

Researchers have been working for years to use the immune system to eradicate cancers, a technique known as immunotherapy. The new findings prove an alternate to this approach exists: When the cancer can't be killed with immune attacks, it may be possible to find ways to use the immune system to contain it. The results also may help explain why some tumors seem to suddenly stop growing and go into a lasting period of dormancy.

The study appears today in the advance online publication of Nature.

"Thanks to the animal model we have developed, researchers can now reproduce this condition of tumor dormancy in the laboratory and look directly at cancer cells being held in check by the immune system," says co-author Robert Schreiber, Ph.D., Alumni Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "That will allow us to see if we can model this state therapeutically".

The study's authors call the cancer-immune system stalemate equilibrium. During equilibrium, the immune system both decreases the cancer's drive to replicate and kills some of the malignant cells, but not quickly enough to eliminate or shrink the tumor.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 15, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

Report of the health of college students

Report of the health of college students
A report released by the University of Minnesota Boynton Health Service today is the first of its kind in the nation to conduct a comprehensive survey on the health of college students. About 10,000 college students completed the survey. Although the study is focused on students from 14 campuses in Minnesota, the health findings here reflect national health trends for college students, says Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the director and chief health officer of the universitys Boynton Health Service.

The report examines everything from mental health and obesity to financial health and sexual health. It also looks at alcohol use, smoking, personal safety, physical activity and how many students do not have health insurance. One key finding is beginning to show how todays technology is impacting students health and their academics. In fact, 28.7 percent of students surveyed report excessive computer/Internet/TV use and 41.8 percent indicate the activity affected their academic performance.

Ehlinger said members of the public, higher education leaders and policymakers should pay attention to the findings and make the health of college students a priority.

The health of college students is important not only to the institutions they attend but also to the health of the state of Minnesota. Good health helps students remain in school, and a college degree or certificate is an excellent predictor of better health and economic status throughout ones lifetime, Ehlinger said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 15, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

More Women Are Choosing Double Mastectomy

More Women Are Choosing Double Mastectomy
Scientists are reporting a 150 percent increase between 1998 and 2003 in American women opting to have both breasts removed when cancer has been found in only one breast-a procedure called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM). This is the first study to examine these trends on a national level. The authors caution that this aggressive strategy may be unnecessary since most patients will never develop cancer in the second breast, and since the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body is often higher than the risk that cancer will be found in the second breast. The study will be published online October 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).

"Eventhough breast cancer is now often diagnosed at earlier stages, we're seeing more women having contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, even though there are very little data showing that this irreversible procedure improves overall survival," explained lead author Todd M. Tuttle, MD, chief of surgical oncology and associate professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota. "We need to determine why this is occurring and use this information to help counsel women about the potential for less invasive options".

The scientists used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (which provides detailed information about cancer diagnosis and therapy for 16 areas in the United States) to review the therapy of patients with unilateral (one-sided) breast cancer diagnosed between 1998 and 2003. Among 152,755 women diagnosed with stage I, II or III breast cancer during this period, 59,460 underwent a single mastectomy; 4,969 other women who were candidates for a single mastectomy chose to have CPM as well. The CPM rate among those who were candidates for a single mastectomy rose from 4.2 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2003. Younger women, non-Hispanic whites and women with lobular breast cancers were more likely to have CPM.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 15, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Drug dosages often incorrect for obese patients

Drug dosages often incorrect for obese patients
As if severely overweight people didnt already have enough health concerns, experts are raising another red flag the possibility that some of their prescription medications, particularly antibiotics, may not be prescribed at the appropriate dosage and could be ineffective.

Because most adult antibiotics are produced in a one size fits all dosage and some doctors are not attuned to this issue, the societal trend towards severe obesity is resulting in more individuals who get inappropriate drug therapies for infectious disease, a new study in the journal Pharmacotherapy suggests.

The number of individuals with the highest body mass index, very obese people, is up 600 percent between 1986 and 2000, said David Bearden, a clinical associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University.

Very obese individuals in some cases, even those with severe infections, may be getting only half the necessary dose of a prescription drug such as an antibiotic, Bearden said. Thats a problem. It could lead not only to antibiotic failure but also an increase in antibiotic resistance, another serious issue.

The problem is somewhat less of a concern with dosages of medications that patients take for extended periods, such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications, because the results of taking those medications are more routinely monitored and dosages can be increased as necessary. Its a particular concern with antibiotics, Bearden said, because they are often used to treat severe or even life-threatening infections, and bad things can happen quickly if the drug is ineffective.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:54 PM CT

Nicotine addiction slashed in test

Nicotine addiction slashed in test
Researchers are reporting the first successful strategy to reduce smokers nicotine dependence while allowing them to continue smoking. The study provides strong support for proposals now being considered in Congress to authorize FDA regulation of cigarette smoking, as per the research team.

The key to the clinical trials success was providing smokers with cigarettes of gradually decreasing nicotine content over many weeks. If such cigarettes were federally mandated, smokers would find it easier to quit, and more young smokers could avoid addiction, as per the scientists. Tobacco company products marketed as low-nicotine alternatives, in fact, do not change the level of nicotine taken in by smokers, they added.

The research was carried out by researchers at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center and is published in the November 14 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Legislation giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products is currently being considered in Congress. Such regulatory authority would empower the agency to develop and enforce standards to make cigarettes less harmful -- including the reduction of the nicotine yields so that cigarettes would be less addictive, said Neal Benowitz, MD, leader of the study team and an expert on the pharmacology and health effects of nicotine and other smoking products.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:52 PM CT

Cellular machinery that enables neurons to fire

Cellular machinery that enables neurons to fire
Neurons
If you ever had a set of Micronauts toy robots with removable body parts you probably had fun swapping their heads, imagining how it would affect their behavior. Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health have been performing similar experiments on ion channels pores in our nerve cells to sort out the channels' key functional parts.

In the November 15 issue of Nature, one group of scientists shows that a part of ion channels called the paddle is uniquely transplantable between different channels. Writing in the same issue, another group exploited this property to probe the three-dimensional structure of ion channels on an atomic scale.

"The effects of a number of toxins and therapeutic drugs, as well as some diseases, can be wholly explained by changes in ion channel function," says Story Landis, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH. "We also know that ion channels are at least a contributing player in epilepsy, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease and other disorders. As we learn more about how channels work, we're able to pursue more approaches to therapy".

Ion channels are proteins that control the flow of electrically charged salt particles (ions) across the nerve cell membrane. It's the opening and closing of these channels that enables nerve cells to fire off bursts of electrical activity. A built-in voltmeter, called a voltage sensor, pops the channel open when the nerve cell is ready to fire. The papers in Nature hone in on a part of the voltage sensor called the paddle, named for its shape.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

Schizophrenics more likely to suffer from ruptured appendix

Schizophrenics more likely to suffer from ruptured appendix
People with mental illness suffer more than just psychological problems. People with schizophrenia are more likely to suffer from ruptured appendix than others, as per research reported in the online open access journal, BMC Public Health.

Most studies of healthcare provision for patients with mental illness commonly focus on psychological problems but often ignore physical disease. Jen-Huoy Tsay and his colleagues at the National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C., have compared the outcomes of appendicitis sufferers, looking specifically at patients with and without mental illness, including schizophrenia and different major mental illnesses.

The team used Taiwanese National Health Insurance (NHI) hospital-discharge data and compared the likelihood of a ruptured appendix among almost 100,000 people aged 15 and over who were hospitalized for acute appendicitis in Taiwan during the period 1997-2001.

Tsay and his colleagues observed that a ruptured appendix occurred in 46.7 percent of the schizophrenic patients, in 43.4 percent of the patients with other major mental disorders, and in 25.1 percent of the patients with no major mental diseases. More ruptured cases were found among males and older patients.

After adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and hospital characteristics, the team observed that patients with schizophrenia were still almost three times as likely to suffer a ruptured appendix as the general population. The presence of affective psychoses or other major mental disorders did not, however, remain linked to a significantly increased risk of rupture.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:45 PM CT

Predicting the future in ovarian cancer

Predicting the future in ovarian cancer
Kisspeptin and its receptor GPR54 predict a favourable clinical outcome in women with ovarian carcinoma, and are specific for the clear cell carcinoma subtype, research published this week in the online open access journal, BMC Medicine, reveals.

The kisspeptins, a family of peptide hormones, and the receptor GPR54 have previously been linked to anti-metastatic activity in certain human tumours. In this study, scientists have shown that kisspeptin and GPR54 are independent prognostic biomarkers specific for ovarian clear cell carcinoma - the first such markers to be identified.

A research team based at the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, Canada created a tissue microarray - paraffin blocks which allow numerous tissue samples to be analysed simultaneously - from 518 cases of early-stage ovarian carcinoma. They analysed the samples using antibodies against kisspeptin and the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR54. Cases that showed strong staining for either kisspeptin or GPR54 were scored as positive, the rest negative.

The study revealed that patients who were positive for both kisspeptin and GPR54 had a favourable prognosis as in comparison to those patients who were negative for both kisspeptin and GPR54 cases - both in terms of disease-specific survival and overall survival. Scientists also observed that these molecular markers were significantly linked to the clear cell ovarian carcinomas subtype.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:24 PM CT

A dose of God may help medicine

A dose of God may help medicine
Waltham, MAFor some families, the cancer diagnosis of a child strengthens existing religious ties or prompts new ones. Now, a new study by scientists at Brandeis University and the University at Buffalo - SUNY in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology reports that while most pediatric oncologists say they are spiritual, and a number of are open to connecting with the families of very sick children through religion or spirituality, they typically lack the formal healthcare training that could help them build such bridges.

Increasingly, religion and spirituality are being recognized as important in the care of critically ill patients and we know that a number of parents draw on such resources to cope with their childs illness, said coauthor Wendy Cadge, a Brandeis sociologist. This study suggests that we should consider training to help physicians relate spiritually to families confronting life-threatening illness such as cancer.

The study surveyed 74 pediatric hematologists and oncologists at 13 elite hospitals from the U.S. News & World Report ranking of honor roll hospitals. The findings include:
  • 93.3 percent of the physicians surveyed were raised in a religious tradition; 31 percent Protestant; 25.7 percent Catholic; 25.7 Jewish, and 10.8 percent other.........

    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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