June 4, 2008, 11:04 PM CT
Brief, intense exercise benefits the heart
Short bursts of high intensity sprints known to benefit muscle and improve exercise performancecan improve the function and structure of blood vessels, in particular arteries that deliver blood to our muscles and heart, as per new research from McMaster University.
The study, lead by kinesiology doctoral student Mark Rakobowchuk, is published online in the journal American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative & Comparative Physiology.
The findings support the idea that people can exercise using brief, high-intensity forms of exercise and reap the same benefits to cardiovascular health that can be derived from traditional, long-duration and moderately intense exercise.
"As we age, the arteries become stiffer and tend to lose their ability to dilate, and these effects contribute to hypertension and cardiovascular disease," says Maureen MacDonald, academic advisor and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. "More detrimental is the effect that blood vessel stiffening has on the heart, which has to circulate blood".
The research compared individuals who completed interval training using 30-second "all-out" sprints three days a week to a group who completed between 40 and 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling five days a week.........
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June 4, 2008, 11:00 PM CT
Substance in red wine keep hearts young
How do the French get away with a clean bill of heart health despite a diet loaded with saturated fats? Researchers have long suspected that the answer to the so-called "French paradox" lies in red wine. Now, the results of a new study bring them closer to understanding why.
Writing this week in the online, open-access journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE, scientists from industry and academia, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Florida, report that low doses of resveratrol -- a natural constituent of grapes, pomegranates, red wine and other foods -- can potentially boost the quality of life by improving heart health in old age.
The researchers included small amounts of resveratrol in the diets of middle-aged mice and observed that the compound has a widespread influence on the genetic causes of aging. Specifically, the scientists observed that low doses of resveratrol mimic the heart-healthy effects of what is known as caloric restriction, diets with 20 to 30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet. The new study is important because it suggests that resveratrol and caloric restriction, which has been widely studied in animals from spiders to humans, may govern the same master genetic pathways correlation to aging.........
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June 4, 2008, 10:56 PM CT
Public funding and human embryonic stem cell research
embryonic stem cell
Bolstered by supportive policies and public research dollars, the United Kingdom, Israel, China, Singapore and Australia are producing uncommonly large shares of human embryonic stem cell research, as per a report from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the June 2008 issue Cell Stem Cell. Aaron Levine, assistant professor of public policy and author of the book Cloning: A Beginner's Guide, studied how countries output of research papers correlation to human embryonic stem cell research in comparison to their output in less contentious fields. He observed that even though the United States still puts out far more research in this field than any other single country, when one compares the amount of research in human embryonic stem cells to other forms of research in molecular biology and genetics, the U.S. lags behind.
"The U.S. is still the largest producer of research in this field, but in comparison to other similar fields, our share is smaller," said Levine, assistant professor in Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. "You have to ask yourself, are we happy producing this relatively small share?".
In comparison, the study showed that the U.K. and Israel were producing substantially more research in this area than in other fields. As per the study, the U.K. produced 5.3 percent more research correlation to human embryonic stem cells than research performed in other areas of molecular biology and genetics, while Israel produced 4.6 percent more research. Levine attributed that to the long-held public and political support of human embryonic stem cell research in those countries.........
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June 4, 2008, 10:53 PM CT
Regular tipple may curb risk of rheumatoid arthritis
Alcohol cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50%, reveals research published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The Scandinavian scientists base their findings on more than 2750 people taking part in two separate studies, which assessed environmental and genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.
Over half the participants (1650) had the disease and had been matched for age, sex, and residential locality with randomly selected members of the general public.
All participants were quizzed about their lifestyle, including how much they smoked and drank. And blood samples were taken to check for genetic risk factors.
The results showed that drinking alcohol was linked to a significantly lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. And the more alcohol was consumed, the lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Among those who drank regularly, the quarter with the highest consumption were up to 50% less likely to develop the disease compared with the half who drank the least.
The effect was the same for both men and women.
Among those with antibodies to a specific group of proteins involved in the development of the disease, alcohol cut the risk most in smokers with genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.........
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June 4, 2008, 10:35 PM CT
Heart patients fare better in 3-year program
People recovering from acute heart problems such as heart attack and heart surgery are more likely to develop habits to control heart attack risk factors when they meet regularly with cardiac "disease managers," as per scientists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. These managers are nondoctor cardiac rehabilitation specialists who lead long-term follow-up programs that last three years. With these risk factors under control, heart patients are likely to live longer and have fewer heart problems, the Mayo scientists conclude.
The Mayo Clinic scientists studied the effects of a long-term cardiac disease manager model on 503 patients involved in cardiac rehabilitation. Their findings are published in The Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention. The disease manager's role was to monitor the patient's status, and to coach the patients in adopting heart attack prevention behaviors. At each meeting, the following factors were assessed and management strategies were discussed: blood lipid levels, blood pressure and body weight, tobacco use, cardiac medicine compliance, exercise regimen and physical activity, nutrition and cardiopulmonary symptoms. After initial rehabilitation training about risk factor management, each patient met with a trained disease manager every three to six months for three years.........
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June 3, 2008, 10:40 PM CT
Magnet-controlled camera in the body
The camera pill is not larger than a candy. It can be swallowed by the patient. The doctor steers it through esophagus and stomach by a magnetic device.
Images from inside the body? It can be done with tiny cameras which the patient has to swallow. In the past there was no way of controlling the device as it passed through the body. Now it can be steered and stopped where desired, and even deliver images of the esophagus.
Images of the inside of the intestine can be obtained even today: The patient swallows a camera that is no larger than a candy. It makes its way through the intestine and transmits images of the intestinal villi to an external receiver which the patient carries on a belt. This device stores the data so that the doctor can later analyze them and identify any hemorrhages or cysts. However, the camera is not very suitable for examinations of the esophagus and the stomach. The reason is that camera only takes about three or four seconds to make its way through the esophagus - producing two to four images per second - and once it reaches the stomach, its roughly five-gram weight causes it to drop very quickly to the lower wall of the stomach. In other words, it is too fast to deliver usable images. For examinations of the esophagus and the stomach, therefore, patients still have to swallow a rather thick endoscope.
In collaboration with engineers from the manufacturer Given Imaging, the Israelite Hospital in Hamburg and the Royal Imperial College in London, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering in Sankt Ingbert have developed the first-ever control system for the camera pill. "In future, doctors will be able to stop the camera in the esophagus, move it up and down and turn it, and thus adjust the angle of the camera as required," says IBMT team leader Dr. Frank Volke. "This allows them to make a precise examination of the junction between the esophagus and the stomach, for if the cardiac sphincter is not functioning properly, gastric acid comes up the esophagus and causes heartburn. In the long term, this may even cause cancer of the esophagus. Now, with the camera, we can even scan the stomach walls." But how do the scientists manage to steer the disposable camera inside the body? "We have developed a magnetic device roughly the size of a bar of chocolate. The doctor can hold it in his hand during the examination and move it up and down the patient's body. The camera inside follows this motion precisely," says Volke.........
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June 3, 2008, 10:31 PM CT
Toward Ending Cartilage Loss
Cartilage regeneration up close
A scanning electron microscope image shows a carbon nanotube/polymer composite surface that grows cartilage. Scale bar = 500 nm.
Credit: Dongwoo Khang, Thomas Webster/Brown University
Researchers have long wrestled with how to aid those who suffer cartilage damage and loss. One popular way is to inject an artificial gel that can imitate cartilage's natural ability to act as the body's shock absorber. But that solution is temporary, requiring follow-up injections.
Now Brown University nanotechnology specialist Thomas Webster has found a way to regenerate cartilage naturally by creating a synthetic surface that attracts cartilage-forming cells. These cells are then coaxed to multiply through electrical pulses. It's the first study that has shown enhanced cartilage regeneration using this method; it appears in the current issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Part A.
"Cartilage regeneration is a big problem," said Webster, an associate professor in the Division of Engineering and the Department of Orthopaedics at Brown. "You don't feel pain until significant cartilage damage has occurred and it's bone rubbing on bone. That's why research into how to regenerate cartilage is so important".
Webster's work involves carbon nanotubes, which are molecular-scale tubes of graphitic carbon that are among the stiffest and strongest fibers known and are great conductors of electrons. They are being studied intensively worldwide for a range of commercial, industrial and medical uses.........
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June 3, 2008, 10:27 PM CT
Eating and weight gain not necessarily linked
You may not be what you eat after all.
A new study shows that increased eating does not necessarily lead to increased fat. The finding in the much-studied roundworm opens the possibility of identifying new targets for drugs to control weight, the scientists say.
The discovery reveals that the neurotransmitter serotonin, already known to control appetite and fat build-up, actually does so through two separate signaling channels. One set of signals regulates feeding, and a separate set of signals regulates fat metabolism. The worm, known scientifically as Caenorhabdtis elegans, shares half of its genes with humans and is often a predictor ofhuman traits.
The signaling pathways are composed of a series of molecular events triggered by neurons in the brain that ultimately "instruct" the body to burn or store fat.
If the "separate-channel" mechanism is also found in humans, weight-loss drugs might be developed to attack just the fat-deposition channel rather than the hunger-dampening pathway that has met with limited success, says Kaveh Ashrafi, PhD, assistant professor of physiology at UCSF and senior author on the scientific paper reporting the study.
"It's not that feeding isn't important," Ashrafi says. "But serotonin's control of fat is distinct from feeding. A weight-loss strategy that focuses only on eating can only go so far. It may be one reason why diets fail".........
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June 3, 2008, 10:24 PM CT
Recommendations for Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapy
To manage the painful and incapacitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic, inflammatory joint disease, the majority of patients rely on disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). In addition to trusted nonbiologic DMARDs, many biologic agents now promise to improve therapy for RA. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR), respected worldwide for its devotion to fostering excellence in patient care, has not updated recommendations for non-biologic DMARDs since 2002 and has not previously developed recommendations for biologic agents. In view of that, ACR decided it was time for a major re-evaluation of the use of DMARD treatment in rheumatoid arthritis.
Under the guidance of a Core Expert Panel of clinicians and methodologists and based on a systematic review of the scientific evidence, a second group of internationally recognized clinicians, methodologists, and patient representatives with extensive expertise in the use of nonbiologic and biologic DMARDs developed these recommendations for the ACR and the results of their work will be presented in the June 2008 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis). These recommendations on the use of non-biologic and biologic DMARDs in RA address 5 key areas pre-specified by the ACR: indications for use, monitoring for side-effects, assessing the clinical response, screening for tuberculosis (a risk factor linked to biologic DMARDs), and under certain circumstances (i.e. high disease activity) the roles of cost and patient preference in choosing biologic agents. When developing these recommendations, RA disease duration, disease severity, and prognostic features were also considered.........
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June 3, 2008, 10:10 PM CT
Researchers find human virus in chimpanzees
Jatinder Singh, a member of Taranjit kaur's research team, is engaged in field observations.
After studying chimpanzees in the wilds of Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park for the past year as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Taranjit Kaur and her team have produced powerful scientific evidence that chimpanzees are becoming sick from viral infectious diseases they have likely contracted from humans.
In an article would be reported in the August issue (available on-line in June) of the American Journal of Primatology featuring a special section on "Disease Transmission, Ecosystems Health and Great Apes Research," Dr. Kaur, an assistant professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at Virginia Tech, will report the results of extensive field studies conducted in the jungles of Africa.
The journal article will present data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.
The work complements and validates work published in a recent edition of Current Biology by researchers from European research institutes that describes evidence of human viruses in deceased chimpanzees found in West Africa's Ta Forest.........
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