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April 23, 2007, 11:04 PM CT

Cortex area thinner in youth with Alzheimer's-related gene

Cortex area thinner in youth with Alzheimer's-related gene Credit: Philip Shaw, M.D., NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch
A part of the brain first affected by Alzheimers disease is thinner in youth with a risk gene for the disorder, a brain imaging study by scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found. A thinner entorhinal cortex, a structure in the lower middle part of the brains outer mantle, may render these youth more susceptible to degenerative changes and mental decline during the later part of life, propose Drs. Philip Shaw, Judith Rapoport, Jay Giedd, and NIMH and McGill University colleagues. They report on how variation in the gene for apoliproprotein (ApoE), which plays a critical role in repair of brain cells, affects development of this learning and memory hub in the June, 2007 Lancet Neurology.

"People with the Alzheimers-related variant of the ApoE gene might not be able to sustain much aging-related tissue loss in the entorhinal cortex before they cross a critical threshold," explained Shaw. "But the early thinning appears to be a harmless genetic variation rather than a disease-related change, as it did not affect youths intellectual ability. Only long-term brain imaging studies of healthy aging adults will confirm whether this anatomical signature detectible in childhood predisposes for Alzheimers." .........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 9:42 PM CT

School Environment And Student Aggression

School Environment And Student Aggression Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
The culture of a school can dampen - or exacerbate - the violent or disruptive tendencies of aggressive young teens, new research indicates. A large-scale study from the University of Illinois observed that while personal traits and peer interactions have the most direct effect on the aggressive behavior of middle school students, the school environment also influences student aggression.

The study assessed individual, family and school predictors of aggression in 111,662 middle school students. The findings are reported in the March 2007 issue of the journal, Youth & Society.

The scientists used a statistical method called hierarchical linear modeling, which separates individual and contextual effects to determine the relative importance of each. The data were compiled from surveys of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at geographically, socioeconomically and racially diverse middle schools.

In the surveys, the students were asked to report how a number of times in the prior six months they had acted mean toward others, hit others or got into fights. The students also reported on how they reacted to events that upset them, their daily experience of problems or hassles, and their perceptions of family and teacher social and emotional support.

Other questions measured the students' sense of belonging in school, their perception of the fairness of school disciplinary actions and policies, and the presence or absence of cultural sensitivity training. The students were also asked to report on whether their school offered them opportunities to participate in rule making or otherwise contribute to shaping the school environment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 9:37 PM CT

HIV Survivors Prompts New Treatment Studies

HIV Survivors Prompts New Treatment Studies
A number of patients diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s and 1990s have survived and now are entering their golden years. AIDs cases among the over-50 crowd reached 90,000 in 2003, and as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will account for half of all HIV/AIDS cases in the United States by 2015.

Consequently, health care providers and social service workers are pioneering new ground to treat the growing number of HIV-positive elderly adults. Timothy Heckman, an Ohio University health psychology expert, has been on the forefront of research involving HIV-infected elderly adults.

Heckman recently received a $1.5 million, four-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Nursing Research to nationally test the effectiveness of a telephone support group for elderly adults with HIV.

Seniors often feel embarrassment or out-of-place among what is commonly a gathering of young people at traditional AIDS support groups. The seniors have different needs, which may not be met, or they may be uncomfortable talking about issues, such as sex, among younger people.

"The telephone, as a tool for delivering support, is financially and psychologically easier for a number of elderly adults," said Heckman, who has spent the past eight years conducting AIDs research among the elderly and in rural populations.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 5:26 PM CT

Progress On MS research and care

Progress On MS research and care
'Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders' has just been published by the International Pediatric MS Study Group as a supplement to the journal Neurology. The Group was founded by the National MS Society (USA) to foster global cooperation in studying and addressing the challenges linked to what is generally thought of as an adult neurological disease when it occurs in a non-adult population. It is estimated that there are at least 8,000 10,000 children who have MS and another 10,000-15,000 who have experienced what may be symptoms of MS.

The compendium that offers nine peer-evaluated papers describes the current state of clinical care, research and knowledge correlation to pediatric MS and lays out research and clinical directions for the future. Until recently, there was little attention or understanding about the occurrence of MS in children and its management.

The compendium of papers (Neurology 2007; 68 {Suppl 2} includes the first proposed consensus definitions for pediatric MS and related disorders. It also reviews published research on topics such as the use of MRI brain scans in diagnosis, and the psychosocial impacts of MS including issues correlation to school, social milestones and family life.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 5:22 PM CT

Adjustable chairs reduce shoulder and neck pain

Adjustable chairs reduce shoulder and neck pain
Adjustable-height chairs with ergonomically curved seats can significantly reduce neck and shoulder pain in garment workers, as per a new study in the April 20 issue of Spine.

The study shows that chair design affects neck and shoulder pain among garment workers -- and possibly in other laborers engaged in visually intensive manufacturing work, the scientists say.

The study was led by David Rempel, MD, MPH, director of the ergonomics program at San Francisco General Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; and Beate Ritz, MD, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, at University of California, Los Angeles.

As per the authors, garment workers typically work in a seated position for seven to 10 hours per day, using their hands to manipulate cloth or to complete fine-motor tasks while sewing. The work is visually intensive, so workers often lean forward and hold their arms and shoulders up. In 2000, the garment industry employed 11 million workers worldwide. Approximately 350,000 of these workers were in the United States. Los Angeles is the home of the largest garment production center in the country.

"Garment workers have not been the focus of a number of studies, despite the fact that they face important occupational health risks," Rempel explained. "Their work is physically demanding, particularly on the upper extremities and neck."........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 5:19 PM CT

Prostate Cancer Treatments Impact On Quality Of Life

Prostate Cancer Treatments Impact On Quality Of Life
A rigorous, long-term study of quality of life in patients who underwent one of the three most common therapys for prostate cancer observed that each affected men's lives in different ways. The findings provide invaluable information for men with prostate cancer who are facing vital therapy decisions.

Scientists studied quality of life in men who either underwent radical prostatectomy, implantation of radioactive seeds in their prostate gland or had external beam radiation treatment. The three therapy options rank about equally in survival outcomes for most men, so specific impacts on quality of life become paramount in making therapy decisions, said Dr. Mark Litwin, the study's lead author and a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center.

"The good news is that overall mental and physical well-being were not profoundly affected by any of the three therapy choices," Litwin said. "That's good news for men with the sword of prostate cancer hanging over their heads. In general, they'll be OK no matter which of the three options they choose".

However, each of the three options did negatively affect quality of life, at least temporarily, with problems ranging from erectile dysfunction and minor incontinence to urinary and bowel irritation.

The study tracked 580 men for five years. The study results, reported in the June 1, 2007 issue of the peer-evaluated journal CANCER, represent data from the first two years of the study. Those years, Litwin said, are when most of the negative impacts surface and resolve.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 5:17 PM CT

Protecting Nerve Fibers In MS

Protecting Nerve Fibers In MS
Oregon Health & Science University neuroresearchers are eyeing a protein as a potential therapeutic target for multiple sclerosis because de-activating it protects nerve fibers from damage.

OHSU researchers, working with colleagues at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Padova in Italy, have shown that genetically inactivating a protein called cyclophilin D can protect nerve fibers in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Cyclophin D is a key regulator of molecular processes in the nerve cell's powerhouse, the mitochondrion, and can participate in nerve fiber death. Inactivating cyclophilin D strengthens the mitochondrion, helping to protect nerve fibers from injury. The findings are published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We're extremely excited," said Michael Forte, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Vollum Institute at OHSU and the study's lead author. "While we can't genetically inactivate cyclophilin D in people, there are drugs out there that can block the protein. Our research predicts that drugs that block cyclophilin D should protect nerve fibers from damage in MS".

Such a drug would be the first treatment specifically for secondary-progressive MS, one of the more debilitating forms of MS involving an initial period of relapsing and remitting, followed by a steady worsening of symptoms. It affects half of the estimated 2 million people with MS.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

April 23, 2007, 5:14 PM CT

Protein Is Critical To Formation Of Muscles

Protein Is Critical To Formation Of Muscles
Proper formation of the proteins that power heart and skeletal muscle seems to rely on a precise concentration of a "chaperone" protein known as UNC-45, as per a new study.

This basic discovery may have important implications for understanding and eventually treating heart failure and muscle wasting elsewhere in the body resulting from burns, brain trauma, diabetes, cancer and the effects of aging, the senior author of the paper said. The finding resulted from experiments using tiny, genetically engineered worms at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), and is reported in a paper featured on the cover of the April 23, 2007, issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.

Chaperone proteins (known to biologists simply as chaperones) guide other newly formed proteins into the shapes that enable them to perform their specific functions.

In muscle cells, UNC-45 acts as a chaperone for myosin proteins, helping them fold into long, thin stable structures which clump together to form the thicker filaments that give heart and skeletal muscle its striated appearance. Chemical signals cause these myosin filaments to contract -- producing a heartbeat, for example, or an arm movement.

Researchers already knew that a shortage of UNC-45 disrupted myosin formation, leading to muscle paralysis. The reason: when there's not enough UNC-45 to go around, myosin proteins still not in their final, stable form fall victim to a cellular cleanup squad called the ubiquitin/proteasome system (UPS), which breaks unstable (and presumably malfunctioning) proteins down into their amino acid components.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

April 21, 2007, 8:39 AM CT

Monkeys' ability to reflect on their thoughts

Monkeys' ability to reflect on their thoughts
New research from Columbia's Primate Cognition Laboratory has shown for the first time that monkeys could acquire meta-cognitive skills: the ability to reflect about their thoughts and to assess their performance.

The study was a collaborative effort between Herbert Terrace, Columbia professor of psychology & psychiatry, and director of its Primate Cognition Laboratory, and two graduate students, Lisa Son now professor of psychology at Barnard College and UCLA postdoctoral researcher Nate Kornell.

The study, which appears in the recent issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, was designed to show that a monkey could express its confidence in its answers to multiple-choice questions about its memory based on the amount of imaginary currency it was willing to wager. Their experiment was derived from the observation that children often make pretend bets to assert that they know the answer to some question. As per Son, "the ability to reflect on one's knowledge has always been thought of as exclusively human. We designed a task to determine if a non-human primate could similarly learn to express its confidence about its knowledge by making large or small wagers."

In the experiment, two monkeys were trained to play a video game that would test their ability to remember a particular photograph while also allowing them to make a large or a small bet. Ultimately, this wager would reflect the monkey's perception of their memory accuracy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

April 21, 2007, 8:16 AM CT

Benefits Of Remote Monitoring

Benefits Of Remote Monitoring Image courtesy of
Scientists from Canada and Australia have observed that the use of remote monitoring for patients with chronic heart failure has the potential to significantly improve clinical outcomes (mortality, morbidity and quality indicators).

The use of remote monitoring (telephone support or telemonitoring) to electronically transfer a patients' physiological data such as blood pressure, weight and ECG and oxygen details, to their healthcare provider has increased in prevalence over the past years. As per research recently published in The British Medical Journal, remote monitoring for patients with chronic heart failure helped reduce heart failure admissions to hospitals and lowered all cause mortality by nearly twenty per cent.

"What we found is that the use of remote monitoring programs can improve outcomes in patients with heart failure and such an approach could help deal with the increasing number of patients with chronic heart failure that cannot be accommodated in existing specialty clinics due to access issues correlation to geography, lack of resources or infirmity, said Dr. Finlay McAlister, University of Alberta researcher.

Because remote monitoring (either through close telephone follow-up with specially trained nurses or telemonitoring involving the daily transmission of a patients vital signs, weight and symptoms to health care providers) permits closer follow-up of patients with heart failure, this allows for the potential for earlier detection and management of changes in a patients health.........

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. Archives of health news blog

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