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March 11, 2007, 8:35 PM CT

Hormone Activity Explains Adolescent Mood Swings

Hormone Activity Explains Adolescent Mood Swings
The "raging hormones" of puberty are known to produce mood swings and stress for most teenagers, making it difficult to cope with this period of life. Until now, the specific causes of pubertal anxiety have not been identified, making it harder to understand and treat adolescent angst.

In the current edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists led by Sheryl S. Smith, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, report findings demonstrating that a hormone normally released in response to stress, THP, actually reverses its effect at puberty, when it increases anxiety.

This hormone normally acts like a tranquilizer, acting at sites in the brain that "calm" brain activity. In the adult, this stress hormone helps the individual adapt to stress, with a calming effect produced half an hour after the event.

Specifically, the GABA-A receptor is the target for steroids, such as THP (or allopregnanolone), which reduce anxiety. GABA-A receptors calm activity in the brain. As such, they are the targets for most sedative, tranquilizing drugs.

One sub-type, GABA-A receptors containing the delta subunit, such as alpha4-beta2-delta, has the highest sensitivity to steroids. In order to study its role in puberty, the scientists used a mouse model that reliably predicts the human condition. In this rodent model, the alpha4-beta2-delta receptor normally has very low expression, but increases dramatically at the onset of puberty in the part of the brain that regulates emotion. Paradoxically, THP reduced the inhibition produced by these alpha4-beta2-delta GABA-A receptors, increasing brain activity to produce a state of increased anxiety. Stress also increased anxiety at puberty, due to the paradoxical effects of this hormone that is released by stress.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 11, 2007, 8:31 PM CT

Target For Treatment For Leukemia

Target For Treatment For Leukemia
Ali Shilatifard, Ph.D., Investigator, has identified a cellular factor that can reverse histone trimethylation caused by the trithorax gene, the Drosophila homologue of the human mixed lineage leukemia gene, MLL. MLL, which is found in translocations in a variety of hematological malignancies, is a histone H3K4 methyltransferase.

The paper, "The trithorax-group gene little imaginal discs in Drosophila encodes a histone H3 trimethyl-Lys4 demethylase," was posted today in the Advanced Online Publication section of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. The publication identified a cellular factor that can reverse histone trimethylation linked to mixed lineage leukemia. This, in turn, may allow for the identification of new targets for the therapy of leukemia caused by MLL translocations.

"This work demonstrates that a Drosophila gene product, little imaginal discs (Lid), removes methyl groups from histone H3K4," explains Dr. Shilatifard. "A reduction of Lid results in a specific genome-wide increase in H3K4 trimethylation levels with no effect on other patterns of histone trimethylations. Animals with reduced Lid levels have higher levels of H3K4 trimethylation, resulting in altered distribution of the chromo-helicase protein, the CHD1."

"Dr. Shilatifards first publication since joining the Institute earlier this year is a fascinating one," said Robb Krumlauf, Ph.D., Scientific Director. "The role of MLL in a variety of blood-related cancers has been well-established. These findings give us a promising option for developing targeted therapys to combat these types of leukemia".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 8, 2007, 8:38 AM CT

Why women suffer more knee injuries

Why women suffer more knee injuries
Female athletes are up to eight times more likely to suffer knee injuries during their careers than males, and now scientists may be closer to understanding why.

A recent study of 10 female and 10 male NCAA athletes completed within the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Cleveland Clinic observed that female athletes tend to land from a jump with a more flexed ankle, the foot rolling outward with an elevated arch, and more knee abduction and knee internal rotation in comparison to male athletes.

When fatigued, differences between women and men in these movements and loads were even larger, possibly explaining why females may be at greater risk of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury during landing.

The study's lead researcher, Scott McLean, was previously at Cleveland Clinic and is now an assistant professor with the Division of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan. The study would be reported in the recent issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

As per the NCAA, female athletes are at least twice as likely to suffer an ACL injury as male athletes and in some cases up to eight times more likely. Research shows that one in 10 female athletes will experience an ACL injury at some point in their career.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 8, 2007, 7:55 AM CT

Mercury contamination of fish

Mercury contamination of fish
The health risks posed by mercury contaminated fish is sufficient to warrant issuing a worldwide general warning to the public particularly children and women of childbearing age-to be careful about how much and which fish they eat.

That is one of the key findings comprising "The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution" published recently in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio.

Developed at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant last August in Madison, Wis., the declaration is a synopsis of the latest scientific knowledge about the danger posed by mercury pollution. It presents 33 principal findings from five synthesis papers prepared by the world's leading mercury researchers and reported in the same issue of Ambio. The declaration and supporting papers summarize what is currently known about the sources and movement of mercury in the atmosphere, the socioeconomic and health effects of mercury pollution on human populations, and its effects on the world's fisheries and wildlife.

Five other major findings in the declaration were:
  • On average, three times more mercury is falling from the sky today than before the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago as a result of the increasing use of mercury and industrial emissions.........

    Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 4:05 PM CT

Musculoskeletal Care During Pregnancy

Musculoskeletal Care During Pregnancy
Despite the high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain during pregnancy, few women in underserved populations receive therapy for their low back pain, as per a February 2007 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT). Moreover, scientists observed that pain in a prior pregnancy may predict a high risk for musculoskeletal complaints in future pregnancies.

As per Clayton Skaggs, DC, the study's chief author, 85 percent of women surveyed reported that they had not received therapy for their musculoskeletal pain, and of the small percentage who perceived that their back complaints were addressed, less than 10 percent were satisfied with the symptom relief they obtained.

"Based on the findings of this study, doctors of chiropractic and other health care professionals need to expand the musculoskeletal care available during pregnancy, particularly in underserved populations," Dr. Skaggs said. "As a proactive step, health professionals should consider including back pain screening as part of early obstetrical care to help identify musculoskeletal risk factors and allow for early education and/or therapy".

Scientists surveyed more than 600 women at a clinic that serves predominantly an uninsured, underinsured or Medicaid-insured population. Surveys were offered to all obstetrical patients and were designed to collect information about pregnancy-related pain and quality of life issues. Of those women who responded to the survey, two-thirds reported back pain and nearly half of all women reported pain at two or more locations, including pelvic pain and mid-back pain.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 3:48 PM CT

Light-activated compound silences nerves

Light-activated compound silences nerves A compound that halts nerve cell activity only when exposed to light glows in this image of two nerve cells.
Credit: Washington University School of Medicin
Brain activity has been in comparison to a light bulb turning on in the head. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have reversed this notion, creating a drug that stops brain activity when a light shines on it.

The unexpected result, reported online in Nature Neuroscience, turned several lights on in researchers' heads.

"This is daydreaming at this point, but we might one day combine this drug with a small implanted light to stop seizures," says senior author Steven Mennerick, Ph.D. associate professor of psychiatry and of anatomy and neurobiology. "Some current experimental epilepsy therapys involve the implanting of an electrode, so why not a light?".

The new compound activates the same receptor used by a number of anesthetics and tranquilizers, making it harder for a brain cell to respond to stimulation. Mennerick and his colleagues including lead author Larry Eisenman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology, tested the drug on cells in culture set up to behave like they were involved in a seizure, with the cells rapidly and repeatedly firing. When they added the new drug and shone a light on the cells, the seizure-like firing pattern calmed.

If the drug is adapted for epilepsy, Mennerick notes, it is most likely to help in cases where seizures consistently originate from the same brain region. Theoretically, doctors could keep a patient on regular doses of the new drug and implant a small fiber optic light in the dysfunctional region. The light would activate the drug only when seizure-like firing patterns started to appear.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 3:43 PM CT

Probe To Detect Spread Of Breast Cancer

Probe To Detect Spread Of Breast Cancer Physicist Audrius Brazdeikis, right, London surgeon Dr. Michael Douek, left
Credit: Mark Lac
High-temperature superconductors hold the key to a handheld tool for surgeons that promises to be more accurate, cost-effective and safer than existing methods for staging and treating various cancers, including breast cancer.

Audrius Brazdeikis, research assistant professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Houston, and Quentin Pankhurst, a professor of physics from the University College of London (UCL), have developed a novel detection procedure combining nanotechnology and advanced magnetic sensing based on high-temperature superconductors. Their innovation will enable surgeons to more effectively locate the sentinel lymph node the first lymph node to which a tumors metastasizing cancer cells will drain.

The scientists produced an ultrasensitive magnetic probe to detect minuscule magnetic fields in the body. The probe is a supersensitive magnetometer an instrument used to track the presence of clinically introduced magnetic nanoparticles. During breast cancer surgery, a surgeon will inject a magnetic nanoparticle dye, already approved as an imaging contrast agent by the Food and Drug Administration, into the tumor or into tissues surrounding the tumor.

Receiving a $250,000 grant to be used from 2004 to 2006 from the United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry under the UK-Texas Bioscience Collaboration Initiative, Brazdeikis and Pankhurst were mandatory to show "proof of concept" by building a device and showing it worked. An ethics committee in the UK since has approved the detection procedure for a clinical trial of women undergoing breast cancer surgery at University College Hospital, London.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 3:31 PM CT

Receptor For Alcohol Pleasure And Problems

Receptor For Alcohol Pleasure And Problems
A genetic variant of a receptor in the brains reward circuitry heightens the stimulating effects of early exposures to alcohol and increases alcohol consumption, as per a new study by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Conducted in rhesus monkeys, the study extends prior research that suggests an important role for a similar brain receptor variant in the development of human alcohol use disorders. A report of the findings is reported in the March, 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Eventhough the pathway to alcoholism is influenced by a number of factors, our findings affirm that individuals who possess this receptor variant may experience enhanced pleasurable effects from alcohol that could increase their risk for developing alcohol abuse and dependence," notes Markus Heilig, M.D., Ph.D., NIAAA Clinical Director and the studys senior author.

Molecules known as opioid peptides bind to opioid receptors in the brain to signal experiences of reward and reinforcement, as well as the euphoria and other positive subjective effects produced by alcohol. Prior studies have shown that, among the brains various subtypes of opioid receptors, the mu-subtype is most likely responsible for transmitting alcohols positive effects.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 4:57 AM CT

Who is happy?

Who is happy?
Psychology experts have been fond of stating in recent years that human happiness, or what psychology experts call subjective well-being, is largely independent of our life circumstances. The wealthy arent much happier than the middle class, married people arent much happier than single people, healthy people arent much happier than sick people, and so on.

One might reasonably conclude, therefore, that changes in life circumstances would not have long-term effects on our happiness. This indeed has been the dominant model of subjective well-being: People adapt to major life events, both positive and negative, and our happiness pretty much stays constant through our lives, even if it is occasionally perturbed. Winning the lottery wont make you happier in the long run (goes the theory), and while a divorce or even a major illness will throw your life into upheaval for a while, your happiness level will eventually return to where it was at beforethat is, its set point.

But new research, and reexamination of old research, is challenging some of the claims of set-point theory.

In the recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Richard E. Lucas of Michigan State University and the German Institute for Economic Research, reviews some recent studies suggesting that adaptation to changing life circumstances only goes so far. "Happiness levels do change, adaptation is not inevitable, and life events do matter," Lucas asserts.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 6, 2007, 4:54 AM CT

Risk of HIV transmission highest early in infection

Risk of HIV transmission highest early in infection
New evidence suggests that the risk of HIV transmission may be highest in the early stages of infection. As per a research studyreported in the April 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online, early infection accounted for nearly half of all transmission occurrences in an HIV-infected population in the province of Quebec, Canada.

Bluma Brenner, PhD, and Mark Wainberg, PhD, of the McGill AIDS Centre in Montreal, and his colleagues from several hospitals and health clinics in Canada studied HIV transmission through phylogenetic analysisessentially, drawing the viruss family tree. The technique follows the history of a virus as it spreads from one person to another by looking at the evolution of viral genetic material in infected individuals.

Drs. Brenner, Wainberg, and his colleagues observed that 49 percent of early infections formed phylogenetic clustersvery close branches on the family tree. This indicated that a large portion of HIV acquisition could be attributed to individuals transmitting the virus who were themselves in the early stages of infection, before the virus had had time to mutate much. Therefore, early infectionalso known as primary infectionwhich represented less than 10 percent of the total samples, disproportionately accounted for about half of subsequent transmission events.........

Posted by: Mark      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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