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October 4, 2007, 5:11 AM CT

Fu vaccination for health-care workers

Fu vaccination for health-care workers
The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends that an annual influenza vaccine should be mandatory for every health care worker with direct patient care activities.

Only 36 percent of all health care workers are immunized against influenza each year. Transmission of influenza from health care workers to patients has been documented in nearly every health care setting, and multiple studies show that 70 percent or more of health care workers continue to work despite being ill with influenza, increasing exposure of patients and co-workers.

"Immunizing health care workers safely and effectively prevents a significant number of influenza infections, hospitalizations, and deaths among the patients they care for, as well as preventing workplace disruption and medical errors by workers absent from work due to illness, or present at work but ill," said Vincenza Snow, MD, FACP, Director, Clinical Programs and Quality of Care at ACP.

Every year, flu infects up to 20 percent of the population, causes the hospitalization of about 200,000 people, and kills 36,000.

Major professional medical societies have endorsed and published recommendations requiring health care workers with direct patient care to be immunized, unless they sign an informed declination. ACP encourages organizations to establish an annual influenza vaccination program, educate staff and physicians about flu vaccination, evaluate vaccination rates and reasons for nonparticipation in the immunization program at the unit level, and implement enhancements to the program to increase participation.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 4, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

Converting brain signals into action

Converting brain signals into action
MIT scientists have developed a new algorithm to help create prosthetic devices that convert brain signals into action in patients who have been paralyzed or had limbs amputated.

The technique, described in a paper published as the cover article in the October edition of the Journal of Neurophysiology, unifies seemingly disparate approaches taken by experimental groups that prototype these neural prosthetic devices in animals or humans.

"The work represents an important advance in our understanding of how to construct algorithms in neural prosthetic devices for people who cannot move to act or speak," said Lakshminarayan "Ram" Srinivasan (S.M., Ph.D. 2006), lead author of the paper.

Srinivasan, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Nervous System Repair at Massachusetts General Hospital and a medical student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), began working on the algorithm while a graduate student in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

Trauma and disease can lead to paralysis or amputation, reducing the ability to move or talk despite the capacity to think and form intentions. In spinal cord injuries, strokes, and diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), the neurons that carry commands from the brain to muscle can be injured. In amputation, both nerves and muscle are lost.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 4, 2007, 5:03 AM CT

Combination vaccines okay for infants

Combination vaccines okay for infants
A University of Rochester study brings relief to new parents who, while navigating a jam-packed childhood vaccine schedule, can expect to soothe their newborn through as a number of as 15 pokes by his or her six-month checkup.

The study, recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics, shows that no efficacy or safety is compromised when clinicians administer a new combination vaccine that streamlines the process in effect, tripling up three of the recommended shots to reduce the poke total from five to three, at each of three bimonthly, well-child checkups.

Only more immunizations will enter the schedule, said Michael Pichichero, M.D., professor of Microbiology/Immunology, Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Rochester and the studys lead author. Coupling or tripling of these vaccines is increasingly important, as this streamlining helps to promote parent compliance, timely vaccination and fewer administration errors.

The study overturns findings (and fears) from a prior study that suggested problems when two specific vaccines were given at the same time Pediarix, a combination of vaccines that guard against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and poliovirus, and Prevnar, which protects against 76 strains of Streptococcus pneumonia. The earlier studies observed that when the vaccines were co-administered, a suboptimal immune response was produced against whooping cough, and more uncomfortable reactions, such as swelling at the injection site, could be expected.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 4, 2007, 4:53 AM CT

Apple compounds reduce risk of pancreatic cancer

Apple compounds reduce risk of pancreatic cancer
Eating flavonol-rich foods like apples may help reduce the risk of pancreas cancer, says a team of international researchers. Quercetin, which is found naturally in apples and onions, has been identified as one of the most beneficial flavonols in preventing and reducing the risk of pancreas cancer. Eventhough the overall risk was reduced among the study participants, smokers who consumed foods rich in flavonols had a significantly greater risk reduction.

This study, reported in the October 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, is the first of its kind to evaluate the effect of flavonols compounds found specifically in plants on developing pancreas cancer. As per the research paper, only a few prospective studies have investigated flavonols as risk factors for cancer, none of which has included pancreas cancer.

Scientists from Gera number of, the Univ. of Hawaii and Univ. of Southern California tracked food intake and health outcomes of 183,518 participants in the Multiethnic Cohort Study for eight years. The study reviewed the participants food consumption and calculated the intake of the three flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin. The analyses determined that flavonol intake does have an impact on the risk for developing pancreas cancer.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


October 4, 2007, 4:50 AM CT

Stomach stem cell discovery could bring cancer insights

Stomach stem cell discovery could bring cancer insights
Researchers have identified and described stem cells specific to several tissues and organs of the body key master cells that give rise to the specialized cell types characteristic of that organ. But to date, it hasnt been possible to pinpoint functioning stem cells in the stomach, either in laboratory animals or people.

Now, a group of University of Michigan Medical School scientists has succeeded in finding and manipulating a population of cells that strongly resemble stem cells in the stomachs of mice. They have been able to show that these cells, which they call gastric progenitor cells, can give rise to all the different types (or lineages) of specialized cells needed to form the functional stomach glands that line the lower portion of the stomach. This property of multi-lineage potential is considered a key stem cell property.

The identification of these progenitor cells will not only aid in our understanding of normal cell turnover in the stomach, but could potentially open some new and exciting doors in our investigation of the origins of gastric cancer, says Deborah Gumucio, Ph.D., a U-M developmental biologist and senior author of a study which appears online ahead of print in the journal Gastroenterology.

The epithelial cells that make up the millions of glands of the stomach are constantly turning over. Most of the mature functioning cells live only 20 to 60 days before being replaced by progeny of dividing resident stem cells. These stem cells are not only a constant source of new cells, but they represent an important reservoir for repair of damage to the stomach caused by injury or inflammation. In addition, since the stem cells are the longest-lived of the gastric cells, it is thought that these are the only cells that live long enough to accumulate the multiple mutations that can cause cancers. For these reasons, the ability to identify and manipulate stomach progenitor cells has been an important goal for decades.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 10:34 PM CT

First significant genetic finding in severe PMS

First significant genetic finding in severe PMS
The first significant genetic finding in premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) has now been reported. PMDD is a very severe form of the more usually known premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. PMDD is heritable, affects 5-8% of women, and is linked to severe emotional and physical problems, such as irritability, marked depressed mood, anger, headaches, weight gain and more, to such an extent that quality of life is seriously impacted. Previously, scientists have shown that women with PMDD have an abnormal response to normal hormone levels and, thus, are differentially sensitive to their own hormone changes. Huo and his colleagues now report their new findings, which link PMDD with common variants in the estrogen receptor alpha gene, in an article scheduled for publication in the October 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry.

Huo and his colleagues performed genetic testing and analyses on women diagnosed with PMDD and healthy control subjects to investigate possible sources of the genetic susceptibility to experience PMDD, and found variants in the estrogen receptor alpha gene that are linked to PMDD. In other words, women with these particular genetic variants were more likely to suffer from PMDD. Importantly, the authors also discovered that this association is seen only in women with a variant form of another gene, catechol o methyltransferase (COMT), which is involved in regulating the function of the prefrontal cortex, a critical regulator of mood. David Rubinow, M.D., lead author on this project, notes that these findings may help fill in the picture of how changes in ovarian hormones can lead to depression and why they do so only in a small subset of women.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 10:08 PM CT

Female Academic Performance Lies In The (gender) Balance

Female Academic Performance Lies In The (gender) Balance
Have you ever felt outnumbered? Like there are just not that a number of people like you around? We've all felt outnumbered in one situation or another and walking into a situation in which you sense the possibility of being ostracized or isolated can be quite threatening.

One group that may experience this kind of threat is women who participate in math, science, and engineering (MSE) settings- settings in which the gender ratio is approximately 3 men to every 1 woman. Recently, in the wake of comments made by former Harvard University President, Larry Summers, suggesting that women may not possess the same "innate ability" or "natural ability" in these fields as do men, several leading scientific institutions and university presidents publicly lamented the underrepresentation of women in Math, Science and Engineering fields and put out a call to study the reasons for the numbers gap in these areas.

While prior research offers biological and socialization explanations for differences in the performance and representation of men and women in these fields, Stanford psychology experts, Mary Murphy and Claude Steele argue that the organization of Math, Science and Engineering environments themselves plays a significant role in contributing to this gap. Murphy contends that situational cues (i.e. being outnumbered) may contribute to a decrease in women's performance expectations, as well as their actual performance.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 10:01 PM CT

Path to new leukemia drug

Path to new leukemia drug
Feverfew

Image courtesy of ucdavis.edu
A new, easily ingested form of a compound that has already shown it can attack the roots of leukemia in laboratory studies is moving into human clinical trials, as per a new article by University of Rochester researchers in the journal, Blood.

The Rochester team has been leading the investigation of this promising treatment on the deadly blood cancer for nearly five years. And to bring it from a laboratory concept to patient studies in that time is very fast progress in the drug development world, said Craig T. Jordan, Ph.D., senior author of the Blood article and director of Translational Research for Hematologic Malignancies at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Clinical trials are expected to begin in England by the end of 2007. Investigators expect to initially enroll about a dozen adult volunteers whove been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or other types of blood or lymph cancers, Jordan said.

Under development is dimethylamino-parthenolide (DMAPT), a form of parthenolide (PTL) that is derived from a daisy-like plant known as feverfew or bachelors button. DMAPT is a water-soluble agent that researchers believe will selectively target leukemia at the stem-cell level, where the malignancy is born. This is significant because standard chemotherapy does not strike deep enough to kill cancer at the roots, thus resulting in relapses. Even the most progressive new therapies, such as Gleevec, are effective only to a degree because they do not reach the root of the cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 9:55 PM CT

On-screen smoking in movies and young adult smoking

On-screen smoking in movies and young adult smoking
New study findings show that exposure to on-screen smoking in movies has a strong correlation with beginning to smoke or becoming established smokers among young adults 18-25, a critical age group for lifelong smoking behavior.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of California, San Francisco. Prior studies from around the world observed that viewing on-screen smoking was associated with recruitment of adolescent smokers, but this is the first time that smoking among young adults has been linked to their exposure to smoking scenes on screen, said senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Ages 18 to 25 are critical years, when one-third of smokers start and others who began smoking as adolescents either stop smoking or become regular smokers, he said.

The research team found a dose-response relationship between exposure to smoking on screen and the likelihood of having smoked in the past 30 days in a sample of 1,528 young adults. The study findings appear in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Young adults who saw the most smoking on screen have a 77 percent greater chance of having smoked at least once in the last 30 days (a measure of smoking initiation) and an 86 percent increased chance of being regular established smokers in comparison to young adults who saw little smoking in movies, the study showed. Established smokers are defined as those who have smoked 100 cigarettes or more and currently smoke.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 9:06 PM CT

FDA approves knee-injury device

FDA approves knee-injury device
Image courtesy of wmt.com
A new knee-surgery device investigated by University of Missouri-Columbia scientists that will help to repair meniscus tears, which were previously defined as irreparable, has been approved by the FDA for use in humans.

Prior therapy options forced surgeons to completely remove the damaged portion of the meniscus. Typically the removal of the meniscus leads to painful, debilitating arthritis in the knee. Herb Schwartz, president and CEO of Schwartz Biomedical, LLC, and James Cook, MU professor of veterinary medicine and surgery and William C. Allen Endowed Scholar for Orthopedic Research in MUs College of Veterinary Medicine, developed the BioDuct Meniscal Fixation Device. Schwartz and Cook think that patients with meniscus tears will now be able to have their meniscus saved along with long-term knee function.

In the past, when faced with meniscus injuries, surgeons were often forced to completely remove the torn meniscal cartilage, leaving a deficient knee that was doomed to develop arthritis, Cook said. With the BioDuct Meniscal Fixation Device, surgeons will be able to repair torn menisci and induce healing. People with meniscus injuries now have a better future ahead.

The meniscus, a padding tissue that provides shock absorption and joint stability in the knee, is crucial for normal knee function. Surgeries for meniscus tears are common with approximately one million occurring in the United States each year. When meniscus function is deficient, bone rubs on bone and arthritis is likely to develop and progress. Because two-thirds of the meniscus is avascular (lacks a blood supply), a tear in that region will not repair itself. This new device will transport blood and cells from the vascular portion of the knee to the avascular portion of the meniscus. Supplied with blood and cells for healing, the previously untreatable meniscal tear now has the potential for allowing the knee joint to be saved.........

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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