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November 8, 2006, 9:08 PM CT

Muscle Protein Drives Prostate Cancer

Muscle Protein Drives Prostate Cancer
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have for the first time implicated the muscle protein myosin VI in the development of prostate cancer and its spread.

In a series of lab studies with human prostate cancer cells, the Hopkins researchers were surprised to find overproduction of myosin VI in both prostate tumor cells and premalignant lesions. When the researchers genetically altered the cells to "silence" myosin VI, they discovered the cells were less able to invade in a test tube.

"Our results suggest that myosin VI may be critical in starting and maintaining the cancerous properties of the majority of human prostate cancers diagnosed today," says Angelo M. De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D., a study coauthor and associate professor of pathology, urology and oncology.

The Hopkins work, reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Pathology, has potential value for better ways to diagnose the disease, treat and track the effects of drugs and surgery. "Targeting myosin VI represents a promising new approach that could lead eventually new approaches to treating the disease," says Jun Luo, Ph.D., senior author of the paper and assistant professor of urology.

Myosins are a class of 40 motor proteins that power cell movement and muscle contractions. Normally, as they work, myosins slide in a single direction along the threads of a protein called actin. But myosin VI moves against the grain, and it does not function as a classical "muscle" protein.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:01 PM CT

Traditional Books Provide Parent-child Interaction

Traditional Books Provide Parent-child Interaction
Parents and pre-school children have a more positive interaction when sharing a reading experience with a traditional book as opposed to an electronic book or e-book, according scientists at Temple University's Infant Laboratory and Erikson Institute in Chicago. This shared positive experience from traditional books characteristically promotes early literacy skills.

The scientists presented the findings of their study, "Electronic books: Boon or Bust for Interactive Reading?" on Nov. 3 as part of the Boston University Conference on Language Development.

The first-of-its-kind study was conducted by Julia Parish-Morris, a graduate student in developmental psychology at Temple University, and Molly F. Collins, assistant professor at Erikson Institute. Parish-Morris and Collins collaborated with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, the Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology and director of the Temple Infant Lab.

"It is very obvious from the media, from toy stores and bookstores that electronic learning products are becoming very, very popular," said Parish-Morris. "Parents are really buying into the idea that electronic media is essential to their children's development".

Parish-Morris recruited 19 children ages 3-5, along with their parents, at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum; Collins recruited 14 at the Chicago Children's Museum.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Gene Therapy Inhibits Epilepsy

Gene Therapy Inhibits Epilepsy
For the first time, scientists have inhibited the development of epilepsy after a brain insult in animals. By using gene treatment to modify signaling pathways in the brain, neurology scientists observed that they could significantly reduce the development of epileptic seizures in rats.

"We have shown that there is a window to intervene after a brain insult to reduce the risk that epilepsy will develop," said one of the lead researchers, Amy R. Brooks-Kayal, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and associate professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "This provides a 'proof of concept' that altering specific signaling pathways in nerve cells after a brain insult or injury could provide a scientific basis for treating patients to prevent epilepsy".

Dr. Brooks-Kayal and Shelley J. Russek, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine were senior authors of the study in the Nov. 1 Journal of Neuroscience.

Working in a portion of the brain called the dentate gyrus, the scientists focused on one type of cell receptor, type A receptors, for the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When GABA(A) receptors are activated, they inhibit the repetitive, excessive firing of brain cells that characterizes a seizure. Seizures are thought to occur, at least in part, because of an imbalance between two types of neurotransmitters: the glutamate system, which stimulates neurons to fire, and the GABA system, which inhibits that brain activity.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 8:50 PM CT

About Reading Difficulty

About Reading Difficulty
At least one in three children in this country has difficulty learning to read. Research shows that children's aggressive behavior and reading difficulties during early elementary school years are risk factors for adolescent problem behaviors such as delinquency, academic failure, and substance use. Oregon Research Institute (ORI) researchers recently received high marks for their work to reverse this trend.

An evaluation of a reading program for elementary students conducted by ORI researchers has been identified as the only study in the country that met the highest standards for research on programs for English language learners. The What Works Clearinghouse, in their review of research on effective interventions for English language learners, identified the reading program used in ORI's Schools and Homes in Partnership (SHIP) project as having potentially positive effects on the reading achievement of English language learners.

"This is quite an honor for us," notes ORI scientist Barbara Gunn, Ph.D., who directed the study. "Eventhough there are a number of studies of the effectiveness of instructional practices, few are well-designed experimental evaluations and even fewer focus on effective approaches for teaching beginning readers."

As teachers face growing requirements to improve academic outcomes for their students it is very important that scientists give them the information they need to make knowledgeable decisions on programs and approaches to use in their classrooms. This research was unique because it used the highest standards set for educational research and demonstrated that this kind of study can be done in schools across the state.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 11:32 PM CT

Most Canadian Med School Grads Lack Basic Surgical Skills

Most Canadian Med School Grads Lack Basic Surgical Skills
A number of medical school graduates in Canada have not received adequate training in basic surgical skills, such as suturing and tube placements, says a new study published recently in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.

"There is compelling evidence to suggest that undergraduate surgical education may fail to provide appropriate instruction in basic surgical skills and principles, writes Dr. Daniel Birch, a professor in the University of Alberta Department of Surgery and the lead author of the study.

The scientists gathered their results from surveys of 123 recent medical school graduates and 55 surgeons. The results show that the respondents felt there are at least 8 to 10 surgical skills that are highly relevant to current medical practices; however, the average medical graduates will achieve proficiency in only three of them.

"You want to think that med graduates feel comfortable with their basic surgery skills, but a number of of them don't. And this is important because it's very likely that they will have to use these skills at some point in their careers," Birch added.

There are a number or reasons for the deficient surgical training in Canada, with the prime one being a lack of time and resources, Birch noted. Currently, when medical students go through surgical clerkships (commonly lasting about four weeks), the skills they learn are correlation to whatever situations they encounter during their clerkship.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 11:14 PM CT

Gene Shapes Brain Region

Gene Shapes Brain Region Researchers led by Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry, have discovered that a gene variant linked to mental illness is associated with enlargement of a brain region that handles negative emotions.
A gene variant linked to mental illness goes hand-in-hand with enlargement of a brain region that handles negative emotions, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System have found.

The region of the brain called the pulvinar is larger and contains more nerve cells in humans who carry the gene.

"This might indicate that the brain regions that receive input from the pulvinar are more strongly influenced in such individuals, and the pulvinar communicates with brain regions involved in negative emotional issues," said Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of a study available online and in a future issue of Biological Psychiatry

The scientists focused on a gene correlation to the neurotransmitter serotonin, one of the chemical messengers that nerves use to communicate with one another. Once specific nerve cells release serotonin, a molecule called the serotonin transporter (SERT) brings it back into the cell. Thus, serotonin has only a brief influence on the target neurons. Drugs that prevent this re-uptake, such as Prozac, are frequently used to treat patients with depression.

The serotonin transporter gene has two forms, or variants: short, or SERT-s, and long, SERT-l. A person can have two copies of the short gene, one copy each of the short and long, or two copies of the long gene. It is estimated that about 17 percent of the population has two copies of the SERT-s gene.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 11:06 PM CT

Bones At The Nanoscale

Bones At The Nanoscale The hierarchical structure of bone gives rise to a hierarchical deformation via a staggered load transfer mechanism at the nanoscale.
A bone is made up of two different elements: half of it is a stretchable fibrous protein called collagen and the other half a brittle mineral phase called apatite. These components make this biomineralized tissue highly strong and tough. at the same time, In order to understand how this construction is achieved and functions, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam (Gera number of) came to the ESRF. Using X-rays they were able to see for the first time the simultaneous re-arrangement of organic and inorganic components at a micro and nanoscale level under tensile stress.

The researchers realised that when strain/pressure is applied to a bone, this is absorbed by soft layers at successively lower length scales, and less than a fifth of the strain is actually noticed in the mineral phase. The soft structures form a single rigid unit at the next level and so on, enabling the tissue to sustain large strains. This is why the brittle apatite remains shielded from excessive loads and does not break.

The results also showed that the mineral crystallites are nonetheless very strong, capable of carrying more than 2 - 3 times the fracture load of bulk apatite. Their small size preserves them from large cracks. This is the first experimental evidence for this effect in biomaterials - small particles resist failure better.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 10:26 PM CT

Novel Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease

Novel Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease
Virginia Commonwealth University scientists have developed a unique anti-sickling agent that may one day be effective in treating sickle cell disease, a painful and debilitating genetic blood disorder that affects approximately 80,000 Americans.

The research team led by Donald Abraham, Ph.D., the Alfred and Frances Burger Professor of Biological and Medicinal Chemistry, in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in VCU's School of Pharmacy, has shown that 5-HMF, a pure compound developed by the team, has a high affinity for sickle cell hemoglobin and holds promise for the therapy of sickle cell disease.

"Our findings suggest that this anti-sickling agent may lead to new drug therapys and may one day help those suffering with sickle cell disease. This molecule, 5-HMF, is the most promising molecule to treat sickle cell anemia to come from our research group in more than 30 years," said Abraham, who is also the director of the Institute of Structural Biology and Drug Discovery.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently issued VCU a Notice of Allowance for a patent relating to a method of treating sickle cell disease with 5-HMF compound. A Notice of Allowance is a written notification that a patent application has cleared an internal review and it has been approved for issuance.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 10:10 PM CT

Happy People Are Healthier

Happy People Are Healthier
Happiness and other positive emotions play an even more important role in health than previously thought, as per a research studyreported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine by Carnegie Mellon University Psychology Professor Sheldon Cohen. The paper will be available online at www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/.

This recent study confirms the results of a landmark 2004 paper in which Cohen and colleagues observed that people who are happy, lively, calm or exhibit other positive emotions are less likely to become ill when they are exposed to a cold virus than those who report few of these emotions. In that study, Cohen observed that when they do come down with a cold, happy people report fewer symptoms than would be expected from objective measures of their illness. In contrast, reporting more negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and anger was not linked to catching colds. That study, however, left open the possibility that the greater resistance to infectious illness among happier people may not have been due to happiness, but rather to other characteristics that are often linked to reporting positive emotions such as optimism, extraversion, feelings of purpose in life and self-esteem.

Cohen's recent study controls for those variables, with the same result: The people who report positive emotions are less likely to catch colds and also less likely to report symptoms when they do get sick. This held true regardless of their levels of optimism, extraversion, purpose and self-esteem, and of their age, race, gender, education, body mass or prestudy immunity to the virus.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 7:48 PM CT

One Millisecond After Head Hits Car Windshield

One Millisecond After Head Hits Car Windshield
Research by a Sandia National Laboratories engineer and a University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center neurologist shows that brain injury may occur within one millisecond after a human head is thrust into a windshield as a result of a car accident.

This happens previous to any overall motion of the head following impact with the windshield and is a new concept to consider for doctors interested in traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Paul Taylor of Sandia's Multiscale Computational Materials Methods Department and Corey Ford, neurologist at UNM's Department of Neurology and MIND Imaging Center, made the discovery after modeling early-time wave interactions in the human head following impact with a windshield, one scenario leading to the onset of TBI.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

TBI is linked to loss of functional capability of the brain to perform cognitive and memory tasks, process information, and perform a variety of motor and coordination functions. More than five million people in the U.S. live with disabilities linked to TBI.

"In the past not a lot of attention was paid to modeling early-time events during TBI," Taylor says. "People would - for example - be in a car accident where they hit their head on a windshield, feel rattled, go to an emergency room, and then be released. We were interested in why people with head injuries of similar severity often have very different outcomes in memory function or returning to work".........

Posted by: Daniel      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.

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