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April 25, 2006, 7:31 PM CT

New Hope For People Trying To Quit Smoking

New Hope For People Trying To Quit Smoking
In the first study of its kind, University of Pittsburgh psychology expert and professor Saul Shiffman has discovered that people who are trying to quit smoking by wearing the nicotine patch are less likely to spiral into a total relapse if they keep wearing the patch, even if they've "cheated" and smoked a cigarette. The groundbreaking study, titled Analyzing Milestones in Smoking Cessation: Illustration in a Nicotine Patch Trial in Adult Smokers, will be published May 2 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Shiffman and his associates not only examined the therapy's final outcome-the question of whether the patch worked-but also measured therapy milestones, such as momentary lapses, to try to find out more about why and how a nicotine patch works. Smokers in the study were using either a high-dose NicoDerm CQ nicotine patch (35 mg, 2/3 stronger than the currently marketed 21 mg patches) or a placebo patch. Using hand-held computers as electronic diaries, the 324 participants recorded exactly when they were craving a cigarette and if and when they lapsed and smoked one. The resulting data showed that people who wore the active patch after lapsing were 4 to 6 times less likely to "cheat" again and again. The nicotine patch not only helped prevent slips, but also was more effective in preventing the slip from turning into a full relapse. Previous to this, people who slipped while trying to quit were considered "failures," and no therapy was considered effective in helping ward off relapse. And, Shiffman calls the notion that a person who smokes while wearing a patch is risking a heart attack a "myth".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

April 25, 2006, 7:08 AM CT

Pioneer Of Angiogenesis Reports Panel Of Biomarkers For Early Cancer Diagnosis

Pioneer Of Angiogenesis Reports Panel Of Biomarkers For Early Cancer Diagnosis Judah Folkman
Dr. Judah Folkman, the scientist whose discoveries founded the growing field of angiogenesis research, now reports the finding of a panel of biomarkers in platelets that may permit very early diagnosis of cancer. Working with mice bearing human tumors, Dr. Folkman and Dr. Giannoula Klement found that platelets took up angiogenesis regulatory proteins secreted by these tumors. When the microscopic tumors began to grow new blood vessels and grow, these angiogenesis regulatory proteins began to appear in the plasma as well as in the platelets. If this biomarker can be validated in patients, says Dr. Folkman, it may be used in conjunction with other biomarkers to diagnose the recurrence of cancer years before such a minute tumor burden became symptomatic or able to be located by conventional methods such as imaging.

Dr. Folkman described the work April 2 in the keynote lecture of the American Association of Anatomists meeting, part of Experimental Biology 2006 in San Francisco.

The finding of selective uptake of angiogenesis regulatory proteins secreted by tumors also marks a novel function of platelets, the blood cells responsible for blood coagulation and repair of damaged blood vessels.

The "platelet angiogenesis proteome" provides a stable, sensitive, and reliable biomarker for very early diagnosis of cancer, says Dr. Folkman. It could be used to detect recurrence of cancer or to diagnose a new primary tumor, for example in women with the mutated breast cancer gene who have still not developed a clinically detectable cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

April 25, 2006, 7:01 AM CT

Taking Care Of ACL Tears

Taking Care Of  ACL Tears Murray envisions a simple outpatient procedure for repairing ACL tears: injection of a collagen gel, mixed with the patient's own platelets and plasma, via a small knee incision. [Image: P. Bibbins]
surgeon at Children's Hospital Boston may have found a better way to repair tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a knee injury suffered by more than 100,000 Americans each year, especially teenage girls. In the April Journal of Orthopaedic Research, orthopedic surgeon Martha Murray, MD reports that a collagen gel, enriched with blood platelets, can stimulate natural healing of a partial ACL tear, encouraging the body's cells to fill in the defect and restore mechanical strength to the ligament.

"This is a first important step in showing that the ACL can heal if we give it the right conditions," Murray says. "That's an important shift from thinking that the ACL has to be completely replaced after an injury".

ACL injuries are notorious for not healing well. Epidemic among teenage girls -- who are five times likelier than boys to tear the ligament -- they typically occur during sports that involve jumping and pivoting, like soccer or basketball. ACLs are currently reconstructed by replacing the torn ligament with a tendon graft. This painful operation allows patients to return to sports after significant rehabilitation, but it does not fully restore knee mechanics, and does not prevent arthritis from developing years later.

Working with an animal model of a partial ACL tear, Murray's team inserted a collagen gel, mixed with platelet-rich blood plasma, into the wound. The gel provided a physical "bridge" between the torn ligament ends, while the platelets churned out a variety of growth factors. Compared with untreated knees, knees treated with the gel showed greater defect filling at 6 weeks (43 percent versus 23 percent). The gel-treated ACL defects also had a 40 percent increase in mechanical strength at 6 weeks, compared with just 14 percent for untreated defects.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

April 25, 2006, 6:54 AM CT

Chemotherapy Gel To Fight Breast Cancer And Reduce Breast Deformity

Chemotherapy Gel To Fight Breast Cancer And Reduce Breast Deformity
Women who undergo surgery for breast cancer followed by radiation therapy often experience breast deformities that can only be corrected through reconstructive surgery. Researchers at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, in collaboration with bioengineers at Carnegie Mellon University, have developed a polymer-based therapy for breast cancer that could serve as an artificial tissue filler after surgery and a clinically effective therapy. Their findings, based on studies with mice, will be presented at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, April 25 at the World Congress on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, April 24 to 27, at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

"Although radiation therapy is the standard treatment for breast cancer following surgery, it is expensive, time consuming and increases the cosmetic deformity caused by surgery," said Howard D. Edington, M.D., associate professor of surgery and surgical oncology at the University of Pittsburgh and faculty member at McGowan. "We sought to develop a possible alternative to radiation therapy that would not only release chemotherapy slowly to kill the cancerous cells left behind after surgery but that also would fill in the dimples and sometimes quite significant indentations that are common after breast surgery and radiation".........

Posted by: Sherin      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 7:37 PM CT

National Confusion About Food Safety

National Confusion About Food Safety
Americans are confident about their ability to keep the food they eat safe - but a new survey shows they don't trust their neighbors, and they don't really have a good feel for how widespread food-borne illness is.

Survey results released recently in Washington, D.C., by a Michigan State University center show a country in cuisine conflict. The MSU Food Safety Policy Center seeks to understand U.S. attitudes about food safety - who we think should be responsible for it, who we think is most at risk, and even how severe we think the risk might be.

The survey shows that only 10 percent of Americans say they got food poisoning in the past year - yet statistics say a quarter of Americans suffered food-borne illnesses each year - data that itself is more than 10 years old.

"We get sick, by and large we know we get sick - but we don't know if it's food-borne illness," said Craig Harris, an MSU sociologist and study director of the Food Safety Policy Center. "We can see that Americans tend not to attribute as a number of of our illnesses to food as we should".

"People who got sick probably don't know that the foods they eat are unsafe," added Andrew Knight, a visiting professor in the center. "When you tell them how much food-borne illness there is out there, they find it unacceptable."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 7:29 PM CT

Damage To Brain Structure May Lead To Heart Attack

Damage To Brain Structure May Lead To Heart Attack
Scientists using a new method of analyzing brain images have identified an area of the brain that, when affected by a stroke, may also cause damage to the heart muscle. The study, from the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), finds that stroke patients with damage to the right insula, an area deep within the brain, were much more likely also to have biochemical evidence of myocardial damage occurring in the days following their stroke. Their report will appear in the May 9 issue of the journal Neurology and has received early online release.

"The link between the brain and the heart in stroke patients is fascinating. For instance, most patients with acute stroke have elevated blood pressure that returns to baseline over three to seven days. The connection is thought to bethrough the autonomic nervous system, but what the mechanism is has been unclear," says A. Gregory Sorensen, MD, of the Martinos Center, the paper's senior author. "By finding a specific brain area associated with a dramatically increased risk of heart damage, we can identify at-risk patients when they arrive at the hospital and put them on protective treatment, which should have a direct impact on their care".

About 5 percent of stroke patients will also have a heart attack - damage to their heart muscle - soon after the initial stroke. While a number of of these patients have generalized cardiovascular disease that can cause blockage to arteries supplying either the brain or the heart, some have no known prior vascular disease. One theory has been that the damaged brain sends signals through the autonomic nervous system - which controls heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and other involuntary activities - that stress the heart.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 7:24 PM CT

Anthrax Inhibitor Counteracts Toxin

Anthrax Inhibitor Counteracts Toxin A model of the anthrax toxin molecular structure displays the enzyme-binding surface in red. (University of Toronto/Jeremy Mogridge)
Scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Toronto have designed a nanoscale assembly of molecules that successfully counteracts and inhibits anthrax toxin in animal and laboratory experiments. The novel approach used to neutralize anthrax toxin could be applied in designing potent therapeutics for a variety of pathogens and toxins, as per the researchers.

Anthrax toxin, secreted by the anthrax bacterium, is made of proteins and toxic enzymes that bind together to inflict damage on a host organism. The inhibitor, which is described by the Rensselaer-Toronto team in the April 23 online edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology, works by preventing the assembly of toxic enzyme components, thereby blocking the formation of fully assembled anthrax toxin and neutralizing its activity.

The inhibitor protected rats from anthrax toxin in the study.

"Our eventual goal is to use the inhibitor as a human therapeutic for anthrax exposure, one that can stop the toxin from functioning inside the body," says Ravi Kane, the Merck Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer and a principal investigator of the project. "Combining the inhibitor with antibiotic treatment may increase the likelihood of survival for an infected person".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 6:59 PM CT

More Than Just Packaging

More Than Just Packaging
University Park, Pa. - People commonly think of the skull as packaging for the brain and scientists commonly investigate them separately, but a team of scientists now thinks that developmentally and evolutionarily that the two are incontrovertibly linked.

The researchers, including biological anthropologists, physicians and a computer scientist, looked at the Computerized axial tomography scans and MRIs of infants with particular types of craniosynostosis - a condition where one or more of the sutures -- fibrous bands that connect the bones -- of the baby's skull close too early and deform the skull and brain.

"We are interested in understanding craniosynostosis," says Dr. Joan T Richtsmeier, professor of biological anthropology at Penn State."We would like to know why it happens, particularly when it is not part of a syndrome, but when it occurs alone".

The scientists report in a recent early online publication of the Journal of Experimental Zoology: Molecular and Developmental Evolution: "Our study represents the first empirical evidence of phenotypic integration of brain and skull in 3D, eventhough indirect evidence has been accumulating for years".

The scientists are also interested in understanding how the skull and brain change jointly through evolution. Vertebrate evolution shows a trend toward fewer skull and jaw bones and loss of some intercranial joints. While craniosynostosis is considered a pathology in modern humans, it shares with evolutionary history a reduction in cranial elements and coincident changes in the shape of the skull and brain.The scientists think that studying craniosynostosis could shed light on the joint evolution of the brain and skull.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 6:53 PM CT

Eyeglass Injuries May Lead To Hospital Visit

Eyeglass Injuries May Lead To Hospital Visit
Injuries correlation to wearing glasses sent an estimated 27,000 people to the emergency department in 2002 and 2003, a new study suggests.

But the scientists say that such injuries could be avoided if people would wear protective eyewear during activities that put them at high risk of eye injury.

The scientists estimated that, in 2002 and 2003, some 27,000 people went to the emergency department seeking therapy for injuries correlation to wearing glasses. More than 1,000 of these cases were admitted to the hospital for further therapy.

"We also found that injuries correlation to wearing glasses vary by age and gender," said Huiyun Xiang, a co-author of study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

For example, people 65 and older were much more likely than younger adults to fall and hit their head, thus causing a glasses-related injury. Sports-related eyeglass injuries were more common in children 17 and younger.

The scientists also found that injuries to the eyeball were much more prominent among people age 18 to 64, compared to children and elderly adults.

Xiang and colleagues report their findings in a recent issue of the journal Ophthalmic Epidemiology. Xiang conducted the study with lead author Sara Sinclair, a research associate at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children's Hospital, and Gary Smith, the Center's director.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 6:50 PM CT

Nanotechnology May Find Disease Before It Starts

Nanotechnology May Find Disease Before It Starts Thomas J. Rosol
Nanotechnology may one day help physicians detect the very earliest stages of serious diseases like cancer, a new study suggests.

It would do so by improving the quality of images produced by one of the most common diagnostic tools used in doctors' offices - the ultrasound machine.

In laboratory experiments on mice, researchers found that nano-sized particles injected into the animals improved the resulting images. This study is one of the first reports showing that ultrasound can detect these tiny particles when they are inside the body, said Thomas Rosol, a co-author of study and dean of the college of veterinary medicine at Ohio State University.

"Given their tiny size, nobody thought it would be possible for ultrasound to detect nanoparticles," he said.

It turns out that not only can ultrasound waves sense nanoparticles, but the particles can brighten the resulting image. One day, those bright spots may indicate that a few cells in the area may be on the verge of mutating and growing out of control.

"The long-term goal is to use this technology to improve our ability to identify very early cancers and other diseases," said Jun Liu, a co-author of study and an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Ohio State University. "We ultimately want to identify disease at its cellular level, at its very earliest stage".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         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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