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June 23, 2008, 7:16 PM CT

Retinal hemorrhaging and motor vehicle crashes

Retinal hemorrhaging and motor vehicle crashes
The severity of retinal hemorrhaging for young children in motor vehicle crashes is closely corcorrelation to the severity of the crash, as per a new study by scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Retinal hemorrhages occur when the blood vessels lining the retina rupture, resulting in bleeding onto the surface of the retina.

The study, by Jane Kivlin, M.D., and Kenneth Simons, M.D., professors of ophthalmology at the Medical College, is reported in the recent issue of Archives of Ophthalmology

"The severity of the retinal injuries is similar to that seen in nonaccidental childhood neurotrauma, or shaken baby syndrome," as per Dr. Kivlin, a pediatric ophthalmologist and lead author, who sees patients at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. "A number of perpetrators of shaken baby syndrome have confessed to violently shaking the child, subjecting the child to severe rotational force".

The retrospective study examined ten cases of children younger than three years taken from autopsies performed by the Milwaukee County medical examiner from January 1, 1994, to December 31, 2002. All patients died in motor vehicle crashes as passengers or pedestrians. They were subjected to extremely severe forces involving rapid deceleration with a rotational, or whiplash-like, component.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


June 23, 2008, 7:13 PM CT

Anticancer agents on patients with heart disease

Anticancer agents on patients with heart disease
A set of promising new anticancer agents could have unforeseen risks in individuals with heart disease, suggests research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The anticancer drugs which go by the strange name of hedgehog antagonists interfere with a biochemical process that promotes growth in some cancer cells. But the scientists showed that interfering with this biochemical process in mice with heart disease led to further deterioration of cardiac function and ultimately death.

"This finding should serve as a warning that these drugs might have adverse effects on the heart and that it could be very important to monitor patients' cardiovascular health when using this type of anticancer drug," says senior author David Ornitz, M.D., Ph.D., the Alumni Endowed Professor and head of Developmental Biology. The research was reported June 20, 2008, in advance online publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation

Hedgehog antagonists are drugs that inhibit the hedgehog signaling pathway, a chain of biochemical signals that regulate cellular growth and differentiation. The odd term hedgehog has little to do with the small, spiny mammals it originated when researchers noted the spiky, hedgehog-like appearance of fly embryos with abnormal hedgehog genes. Every organism in the animal kingdom has hedgehog genes, which play an essential role in guiding cells to mature into the appropriate form for proper function.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 23, 2008, 7:10 PM CT

Idle Computers Offer Hope

Idle Computers Offer Hope
A biomedical engineering professor at The University of Texas at Austin is using a concept called "grid computing" to allow the average person to donate idle computer time in a global effort to fight cancer.

Muhammad Zaman, assistant professor in biomedical engineering, recently introduced Cellular Environment in Living Systems @Home or CELS@Home for short. The program already has more than 1,000 computer users worldwide contributing to the project. And the numbers keep growing.

The idea is based on what is called grid computing. Instead of using local computing resources, which are almost always limited, grid computing allows Internet users worldwide to contribute their idle computer time, creating a "virtual" supercomputer to solve a difficult problem. In this case, the grid computing program is calculating cellular interactions in different environments to help understand the principles of cell migration and cancer cell metastasis, or the spread of cancer from the original tumor to other parts of the body.

"We have launched a global effort to recreate the in vivo (live) environment of cancer cells in a computer model. This allows us to perform virtual experiments and study processes that are too costly or technically very difficult to study," says Zaman, who also directs the Laboratory for Molecular and Cellular Dynamics. "By recreating this whole 'system of processes inside a cancer cell' we will be in a position to fully comprehend the problem and hopefully identify targets that will one day translate into anti-cancer drugs".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 19, 2008, 10:20 PM CT

On the path to personalized medicine

On the path to personalized medicine
Medicine has moved a little bit closer to the era of tailor-made therapys, based on the unique genetic profiles of individual patients, as per recent research conducted by Dr Rima Rozen of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) at the Montreal Children's Hospital and McGill University. Her study, published June 18 in the journal Pharmacogenetics and Genomics, shows how minor genetic differences between individuals alter the way a common drug affects the body.

Rozen has measured the impact of Methotrexate -- a drug that inhibits the metabolism of folate -- on mice with an altered MTHFR gene, which is a gene crucial for folate metabolism. The results were striking: after therapy with Methotrexate, mice with the altered gene had approximately 20 per cent less hemoglobin and red blood cells than their counterparts with non-altered genes. The altered mice also showed increased susceptibility to liver and kidney damage following therapy.

"We know that these results are applicable to humans because a parallel mutation in the human MTHFR gene affects human folate metabolism similarly. The results demonstrate that medicine affects subjects differently as per individual genetic traits," Dr. Rozen explained. "And tests exist to detect this mutation." Genetic testing would allow physicians the modify therapy based on each patient's personal genetic makeup, limiting potential side effects.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 19, 2008, 10:18 PM CT

Weight-loss surgery can cut cancer risk

Weight-loss surgery can cut cancer risk
Successful bariatric surgery allows morbidly obese patients to lose up to 70 percent of their excess weight and to maintain weight loss. The latest study by Dr. Nicolas Christou of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University shows that this surgery also decreases the risk of developing cancer by up to 80 percent. Dr. Christou presented his preliminary results yesterday at the 25th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery.

The scientists compared 1,035 morbidly obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery at the MUHC between 1986 and 2002 with 5,746 patients with the same weight profile who did not undergo the operation. The number of cancer diagnoses in first group was 85 percent lower for breast cancer and 70 percent lower for colon and pancreas cancers, and was also distinctly lower for several other types of cancer.

"The relationship between obesity and a number of forms of cancer is well established," said Dr. Christou. "This is one of the first studies to suggest that bariatric surgery might prevent the risk of cancer for a significant percentage of morbidly obese people".

Obesity affects the body in multiple ways, so a single hypothesis cannot fully explain these results, say the researchers. However, excess body fat is widely believed to be responsible for increased hormone production, a major risk factor for breast and colon cancer. Thus so modifications to the patient's hormonal metabolism due to weight loss might explain the lower occurence rate of these cancers in patients who underwent surgery.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 19, 2008, 10:17 PM CT

Math could help cure leukemia

Math could help cure leukemia
When kids complain that math homework won't help them in real life, a new answer might be that math could help cure cancer.

In a recent study that combined math and medicine, scientists have shown that patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) may be cured of the disease with an optimally timed cancer vaccine, where the timing is determined based on their own immune response.

In the June 20 edition of the journal PLoS Computational Biology, University of Maryland associate professor of mathematics Doron Levy, Stanford Medical School doctor and associate professor of medicine (hematology) Peter P. Lee, and Dr. Peter S. Kim, cole Suprieure d'lectricit (Gif-sur-Yvette, France) describe their success in creating a mathematical model which predicts that anti-leukemia immune response in CML patients using the drug imatinib can be stimulated in a way that might provide a cure for the disease.

"By combining novel biological data and mathematical modeling, we found rules for designing adaptive therapys for each specific patient," said Levy, of the University of Maryland Center for Scientific Computation and Mathematical Modeling. "Give me a thousand patients and, with this mathematical model, I can give you a thousand different customized therapy plans".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 19, 2008, 9:03 PM CT

Canadian physicians to become medical brokers

 Canadian physicians to become medical brokers
Health-care system constraints combined with a lack of a uniform referral process are leaving Ontario physicians brokering which patients are in greatest need of hip and knee replacement, a study led by a St. Michael's Hospital researcher funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has revealed. The variability in this process means not everyone who needs this surgery will actually get surgery.

"Findings from our study suggest several system factors are shifting the onus to physicians and surgeons to prioritize which candidates will receive hip and knee replacement," said lead author Pamela Hudak, a researcher in the Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital. "Physicians appear to adjust their criteria, often on a case-by-case basis, to identify which patients will be referred for or, in the case of surgeons, offered surgery. Ultimately this results in a varied approach in determining the best candidates, leaving a number of eligible and suitable candidates on waiting lists or to manage their problems as best they can with conservative approaches like medications".

The study, conducted by a team of scientists from across the University of Toronto and published last week in the journal Medical Decision Making, published by SAGE, examined the impact of patient characteristics, including age, weight/obesity, comorbidity and perioperative risk, and gender and caretaker roles in the decision-making process of 18 family physicians, 15 rheumatologists and 17 orthopedic surgeons from across Ontario.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 18, 2008, 9:08 PM CT

Caesarean sections associated with risk of asthma

Caesarean sections associated with risk of asthma
Babies born by Caesarean section have a 50 % increased risk of developing asthma in comparison to babies born naturally. Emergency Caesarean sections increase the risk even further. This is shown in a new study based on data from 1.7 million births registered at the Medical Birth Registry at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The goal of the study was to investigate the possible link between being born by Caesarean section and later development of asthma.

Summarised results from the study:.
  • In comparison to children born in the natural way (i.e. spontaneously and vaginally), children born by Caesarean section had an approximately 50 % increased risk of developing asthma.
  • Children born vaginally, but with assistance from vacuum or forceps, had a 20 % increased risk of asthma.
  • For children born between 1988 and 1998, planned Caesarean section was linked to an approximately 40 % increased risk of asthma while emergency Caesarean section was linked to a 60 % increased risk.
.

Why do Caesarean sections give an increased risk of asthma?

- We found a moderately strong association between birth by Caesarean section and asthma in childhood, says doctor and research fellow Mette Christophersen TollÄnes, who works for both the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care at the University of Bergen, Norway.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 18, 2008, 9:06 PM CT

Computers as safe as medical experts

Computers as safe as medical experts
The largest ever study into the administration of blood thinning drugs, principally Warfarin, has concluded that dosages calculated by computer are at least as safe and reliable as those provided by expert medical professionals.

Increasing evidence of the value of these anticoagulant drugs in a wide range of clinical disorders such as abnormal heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation, has led to a rapid rise in their use around the world.

However, prescribing the right oral dose of anticoagulant to patients, even for experienced medical staff, can be problematic as individuals differ greatly in response to a given dose and a single patient's response can change over the period of an illness. Too high a dose for an individual and the blood becomes too thin and can lead to internal bleeding, too low and the blood clots too readily.

Prior studies supporting the use of computer-assisted dosage have depended solely on laboratory results and have not been sufficiently large to determine whether prolongation of normal blood clotting - measured as the 'international normalised ratio' or INR - resulted in clinical benefit and improved safety.

But now results from the five-year clinical trial have shown that computer-assisted dosage is as good, if not better, at prescribing the correct dosage to prolong the INR in patients as dosages given by expert medical professionals.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 18, 2008, 9:02 PM CT

Understanding Of Cell Behaviour In Breast Cancer

Understanding Of Cell Behaviour In Breast Cancer
The invasion and spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body, known as metastasis, is a principal cause of death in patients diagnosed with breast cancer. Eventhough patients with early stage, small, breast tumours have an excellent short term prognosis, more than 15 to 20 per cent of them will eventually develop distant metastases, and die from the disease. Vascular invasion - through lymphatic and blood vessels - is the major route for cancer spreading to regional lymph nodes and to the rest of the body.

Dr Stewart Martin, Professor Ian Ellis and their colleagues at The University of Nottingham, and worldwide, are combining many approaches in a dynamic effort to improve our understanding of cell behaviour in breast cancer. Discovering how these cells operate is vital in improving diagnosis and therapy for the cancer patient in the longer term, and in identifying therapeutic targets. Already the results of their work have been excellent - with findings in relation to the spread of cancer through the lymphatic vessels prompting a much larger study funded by Cancer Research UK.

A research student within the Nottingham team, Rabab Mohammed, showed recently that specific factors that regulate the growth of blood and lymphatic vessels can identify a subset of tumours which have a high probability of recurring or spreading.........

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.

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