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July 19, 2007, 10:28 PM CT

Obesity a risk factor for multiple myeloma

Obesity a risk factor for multiple myeloma
An obese person is more likely than a lean person to develop multiple myeloma, as per scientists from Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health. Their findings indicate that Body Mass Index (BMI) a statistical measure that scales weight to height provides an indicator for ones risk of developing multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells that produce antibodies. Multiple myeloma currently affects more than 50,000 people in the U.S., and the five-year survival rates of the cancer are below 40 percent.

The study, reported in the recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, takes its data from over 100,000 participants in the on-going Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, two similar large-scale studies. The study findings were similar to those from previously published studies that included smaller numbers of multiple myeloma patients, and/or were based on a one-time recording of height and weight.

I find the results of these studies encouraging, since they show consistent results about the first risk factor for multiple myeloma that people can actually modify, said the studys lead author Brenda M. Birmann, Sc.D., a researcher in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Treatment options for this disease are improving, but it is also important to identify risk factors that could be modified. We would like to learn how to prevent its occurrence.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 19, 2007, 10:25 PM CT

How Anaesthetics Work In The Brain

How Anaesthetics Work In The Brain
Image courtesy of Montefiore Professionals
An important clue to how anaesthetics work on the human body has been provided by the discovery of a molecular feature common to both the human brain and the great pond snail nervous system, researchers say today. Scientists hope that the discovery of what makes a particular protein in the brain sensitive to anaesthetics could lead to the development of new anaesthetics with fewer side effects.

The study focuses on a particular protein found in neurons in the brain, known as a potassium channel, which stabilises and regulates the voltage across the membrane of the neuron. Communication between the millions of neurons in the brain which is the basis of human consciousness and perception, including perception of pain - involves neurons sending nerve impulses to other neurons. In order for this to happen, the stabilising action of the potassium channel has to be overcome. Earlier studies on great pond snails by the same team identified that anaesthetics seemed to selectively enhance the regulating action of the potassium channel, preventing the neuron from firing at all meaning the neuron was effectively anaesthetised.

The new research has identified a specific amino acid in the potassium channel which, when mutated, blocks anaesthetic activation. Lead author, Biophysics Professor Nick Franks from Imperial College London, explains how this will allow the importance of the potassium channel in anaesthetic action to be established:.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 19, 2007, 9:49 PM CT

Medication That Helps Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Medication That Helps Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
Scientists at the University of Minnesota have observed that a drug originally developed to fight tuberculosis may help people with obsessive-compulsive disorder make more progress in treatment sessions.

Now they want to see if this drug could have a similar effect on people who want to quit smoking.

The research, led by Matt Kushner, Ph.D., was reported in the online edition of Biological Psychiatry, and will appear in an upcoming print edition. Kushners collaborators include Suck Won Kim, M.D., and Christopher Donahue, Ph.D.

The drug, D-Cycloserine, is believed to help accelerate extinction learning. On a basic level, people associate positive or negative feelings with various cues from the external world. Behavioral treatment attempts to help the person disassociate problematic reactions that are either positive (e.g., craving to use an addictive substance) or negative (e.g., fear of some catastrophic outcome) from the cues that trigger these feelings.

This offers another therapeutic approach where we can attempt to manipulate the memory process and the brains reward/punishment system so people can learn healthier responses to various cues, Kushner said.

For example, a person with OCD may have negative feelings before or after touching a doorknob. In psychotherapy, the person would work on disassociating the negative feeling with the external cue of seeing or touching a doorknob.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 19, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

Probing biology's dark matter

Probing biology's dark matter
Image courtesy of Tenafly Public Schools
A typical human mouth teems with as many as 700 different species of microbes. A handful of these have been specifically implicated in promoting gum disease, dental cavities, and bad breath, but for the most part, the make-up of this complex ecosystem and its impact on human health remain largely unexplored. A new device created by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers, however, may make some of the most reclusive members of this and other microscopic communities much more accessible for laboratory study.

The vast majority of microbes are notoriously resistant to growing in laboratory cultures because they are so intricately linked to their own unique ecosystems. Microbiologists have coaxed less than one percent of the bacterial species that inhabit natural environments into growing in culture. But a microfluidics device created by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Stephen R. Quake and colleagues at Stanford University an intricate system of miniscule valves and chambers -- may help scientists who want to identify and characterize new microbes circumvent the need to culture them at all.

Research on the device published in the July 9, 2007, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has far-reaching implications for the rapidly developing field of microbial ecology, as well as advancing microfluidics technologies, which could do for biology what silicon chips did for electronics. Quake and his colleagues have already used the device to analyze a rare bacteria found in the human mouth, using just a single cell.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 18, 2007, 9:43 PM CT

Why Placebo Effect Varies From Person To Person

Why Placebo Effect Varies From Person To Person
Why do some people experience a placebo effect that makes them feel better when they receive a sham therapy they believe to be real while other people dont respond at all to the same thing, or even feel worse".

A new study from the University of Michigan Health System may help explain why.

Using two different types of brain scans, U-M scientists have observed that the extent to which a person responds to a placebo therapy is closely associated with how active a certain area of their brain becomes when theyre anticipating something beneficial.

Specifically, the research finds strong links between an individuals response to a placebo painkiller, and the activity of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine in the area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. Thats a small region at the center of the brain thats involved in our ability to experience pleasure and reward, and even to become addicted to the high caused by illicit drugs.

The new research, reported in the July 19 issue of the journal Neuron, builds on research previously published by the same U-M team in 2005. That study was the first to show that just thinking a placebo medicine will relieve pain is enough to prompt the brain to release its own natural painkillers, called endorphins, and that this corresponds with a reduction in how much pain a person feels.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 18, 2007, 9:37 PM CT

The end of barroom brawls

The end of barroom brawls
The link between alcohol and aggression is well known. Whats not so clear is just why drunks get belligerent. What is it about the brain-on-alcohol that makes fighting seem like a good idea" And do all intoxicated people get more aggressive" Or does it depend on the circumstances".

University of Kentucky psychology expert Peter Giancola and his student Michelle Corman decided to explore these questions in the laboratory. One theory about alcohol and aggression is that drinking impairs the part of the brain involved in allocating our limited mental resourcesspecifically attention and working memory. When we can only focus on a fraction of whats going on around us, the theory holds, drunks narrow their social vision, concentrating myopically on provocative cues and ignoring things that might have a calming or inhibiting effect.

The researchers tested this idea on a group of young Kentucky men. Some of the men drank three to four screwdrivers before the experiment, while others stayed sober. Then they had them all compete against another person in a somewhat stressful game that mandatory very quick responses. Every time they lost a round, they received a shock varying in intensity. Likewise, when they won a round they gave their opponent a shock. The idea was to see how alcohol affected the mens belligerence, as measured by the kinds of shocks they chose to hand out.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 18, 2007, 9:36 PM CT

Alcohol Related Visits To Emergency Care

Alcohol Related Visits To Emergency Care
Changes to the UK licensing laws have trebled the number of overnight visits to emergency care for alcohol related problems, reveals research in Emergency Medicine Journal.

The new licensing law, which allows alcohol to be available around the clock, took effect in November 2005.

The legislation was introduced in a bid to curb the amount of binge drinking and associated crime and disorder, and boost public safety.

The study findings are based on emergency care visits to one inner city London teaching hospital across two separate months, before and after the changes had been introduced.

Only those adults aged over 16, and who had been drinking before they came to the emergency department, were included in the audit.

The emergency care department at the hospital is one of the largest in the UK, and close to an array of licensed premises in central London.

The figures showed that in March 2005, before the licensing law changes, more than 10,000 visits were made to the department. In March 2006, there were 3% fewer visits.

But the number of overnight visits increased, and the proportion of those with alcohol related problems trebled.

In March 2005, there were over 2700 overnight visits to emergency care. But in March 2006, there were more than 3100 overnight visits, equivalent to a rise of 15% over the two months.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 18, 2007, 9:34 PM CT

Very young babies vulnerable to sudden death

Very young babies vulnerable to sudden death
Very young babies are vulnerable to sudden death, when seated, warns a study published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Babies less than a month old are most at risk, the research indicates.

The scientists base their findings on an analysis of all sudden unexpected deaths occurring among babies up to 12 months of age in the Canadian Province of Quebec between 1991 and 2000.

In all, 534 babies died during this period, but the cause of death was fully investigated in only 508.

In 99 cases, the cause of death came to light after further investigation, but in 409 cause of death remained unexplained.

Seventeen (3.3%) of the 508 deaths had occurred in babies who were seated, predominantly, but not exclusively, in car seats. Ten of these were unexplained.

Premature babies were not at greater risk. But those aged under a month, were almost four times as likely to die suddenly while seated as were older babies.

And babies under one month old in the group of unexplained deaths were more than seven times as likely to die while seated.

The authors point out that their research indicates that the rate of deaths among seated babies is relatively small at just over 3%. And there are no questions about the necessity or safety of car seats.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 18, 2007, 7:32 PM CT

Novel Hydrogels For Repairing, Regenerating Human Tissue

Novel Hydrogels For Repairing, Regenerating Human Tissue
Close-up of the UD hydrogels.
University of Delaware researchers have invented a novel biomaterial with surprising antibacterial properties that can be injected as a low-viscosity gel into a wound where it rigidifies nearly on contact--opening the door to the possibility of delivering a targeted payload of cells and antibiotics to repair the damaged tissue.

Regenerating healthy tissue in a cancer-ridden liver, healing a biopsy site and providing wounded soldiers in battle with pain-killing, infection-fighting medical therapy are among the myriad uses the researchers foresee for the new technology.

The patented invention by Joel Schneider, UD associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Darrin Pochan, associate professor of materials science, and their research groups marks a major step forward in the development of hydrogels for medical applications.

Formulating hydrogels as delivery vehicles for cells extends the uses of these biopolymers far beyond soft-contact lenses into an intriguing realm once viewed as the domain of science fiction, including growing bones and organs to replace those that are diseased or injured.

"This is an area that will be exploding over the next decade," Pochan said.

Hydrogels are formed from networks of super-absorbent, chain-like polymers. Eventhough they are not soluble in water, they soak up large amounts of it, and their porous structure allows nutrients and cell wastes to pass right through them.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 17, 2007, 10:52 PM CT

Nonsmall cell lung cancer: chemotherapy before surgery

Nonsmall cell lung cancer: chemotherapy before surgery
Combining pre-operative chemotherapy and surgery increases the average chance of survival at five years by approximately 6% compared with surgery alone.

This conclusion was drawn by a team of Cochrane Scientists from the MRC Clinical Trials Unit in London after they identified 12 eligible randomised controlled trials. Data from seven of these trials were available from trial reports and were combined in a meta-analysis. The seven trials involved a total of 988 patients.

This is currently the best estimate of the effectiveness of this treatment, but is based on a relatively small number of trials and patients, says lead researcher Sarah Burdett.

There was, however, insufficient data to break the patients down into sub-groups and see whether the effectiveness varies for different types of patients or stages of the disease.

This research is important because around the world more than a million new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year, around 80% of which are non-small cell lung cancer. In addition, a number of patients are only diagnosed after the disease has progressed, so survival rates across all stages of disease tend to be fairly low at around 14%, with only a quarter of patients being suitable for surgery.

The Cochrane Systematic Review observed that using chemotherapy before surgery can reduce the size of tumours making the surgery simpler, and increasing the number of patients who may be candidates for surgery. The worry is, however, that having a course of chemotherapy delays the operation, and could therefore leave patients at risk of allowing the tumour to spread.........

Posted by: Scott      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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