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January 3, 2008, 9:29 PM CT

Gene dose affects tumor growth

Gene dose affects tumor growth
Scientists at Johns Hopkins and Ohio State University have observed that the number of copies of a particular gene can affect the severity of colon cancer in a mouse model. Publishing in the Jan. 3 issue of Nature, the research team describes how trisomy 21, or Down syndrome in humans, can repress tumor growth.

We took a new approach to a 50-year-old debate about whether people with Down syndrome develop cancer less often than other people, says Roger H. Reeves, Ph.D., professor of physiology in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins. Studying the genetic differences linked to Down syndrome has revealed a new way of thinking about repressing cancer growth in everyone.

The research team started with a mouse model that carries, rather than a whole extra copy of chromosome 21 as is seen in trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, a partial copy containing 108 genes. They then mated those trisomic mice to mice that carry a mutation that causes intestinal tumors, similar to those seen in colon cancer in humans. The trisomic, colon cancer mice had 44 percent fewer intestinal tumors in comparison to the colon cancer mice without the extra 108 genes.

The team then used another mouse model of Down syndrome, one that carries extra copies of only 33 of the genes on chromosome 21, and repeated their genetic crosses. Mice with three copies of the 33 genes developed half the number of tumors as mice with the standard two copies. Mice carrying a deletion that left them with only one copy of these 33 genes developed twice the number of tumors as usual.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:19 PM CT

Why Some Depressed Girls Can't Smell The Roses

Why Some Depressed Girls Can't Smell The Roses
Can't smell the roses? Maybe you're depressed. Smell too much like a rose yourself? Maybe you've got the same problem. Researchers from Tel Aviv University recently linked depression to a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands. It might explain why some women, without realizing it, wear too much perfume.

Scientific research that supports this theory was published this year in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. "Our scientific findings suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell, and may overcompensate by using more perfume," explains researcher Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, a member of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. "We also think that depression has biological roots and may be an immune system response to certain physiological cues".

Women who are depressed are also more likely to lose weight. With a reduced sense of smell, they are less likely to have a healthy appetite, he says.

Prof. Shoenfeld draws his conclusions from lifetime research on autoimmune diseases, focusing on conditions such as lupus, arthritis and rheumatism.

More Than a Feeling

Affecting about 1.5 million Americans, depression accompanying lupus, Prof. Shoenfeld has found, is much more than an emotional reaction to being ill. It appears to have a biological cause.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:14 PM CT

Thyroid treatment no 'quick fix' for weight loss

Thyroid treatment no 'quick fix' for weight loss
Children treated for hypothyroidism aren't likely to drop pounds with therapy for the condition says a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics. The study is the first to examine the link between hypothyroidism therapy and weight loss in pediatric patients.

Parents of overweight children often desire a quick fix for the problem and request thyroid tests, but, unfortunately, screening for hypothyroidism is not the answer," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jefferson P. Lomenick, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics' Division of Pediatric Endocrinology. "Most experts agree thyroid function tests are generally unnecessary in an overweight child if he/she has normal linear growth and no other symptoms of hypothyroidism. The results of our study support this.

The study followed 68 children with acquired hypothyroidism treated in the pediatric endocrinology clinic at Kentucky Childrens Hospital from 1995 to 2006. Most of the subjects had severe cases of hypothyroidism. Scientists found therapy with levo-thyroxine, which normalized the childrens thyroid levels, did not lower weight or BMI from baseline to any time point measured, either short-term or long-term.

"These findings were true for the group as a whole, as well as those children who were overweight," Lomenick said. "In fact, the entire group of 68 subjects actually gained 2.4 pounds by the first follow up visit despite their therapy. We did find that about a third of the children experienced weight loss by the second visit. However, these subjects had extremely severe cases of hypothyroidism, far worse than the children who did not lose weight, and they didnt lose that much, only about five pounds.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:11 PM CT

Healing Value of Magnets

Healing Value of Magnets
Thomas Skalak
(Photo: Melissa Maki)
Magnets have been touted for their healing properties since ancient Greece. Magnetic treatment is still widely used today as an alternative method for treating many conditions, from arthritis to depression, but there hasn't been scientific proof that magnets can heal.

Lack of regulation and widespread public acceptance have turned magnetic treatment into a $5 billion world market. Hopeful consumers buy bracelets, knee braces, shoe inserts, mattresses, and other products that are embedded with magnets based on anecdotal evidence, hoping for a non-invasive and drug-free cure to what ails them.

"The FDA regulates specific claims of medical efficacy, but in general static magnetic fields are viewed as safe," notes Thomas Skalak, professor and chair of biomedical engineering at U.Va.

Skalak has been carefully studying magnets for many years in order to develop real scientific evidence about the effectiveness of magnetic treatment.

Skalak's lab leads the field in the area of microcirculation research-the study of blood flow through the body's tiniest blood vessels. With a five-year, $875,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Skalak and Cassandra Morris, former Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, set out to investigate the effect of magnetic treatment on microcirculation. Initially, they sought to examine a major claim made by companies that sell magnets: that magnets increase blood flow.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:06 PM CT

Novel anticancer strategy moves from laboratory to clinic

Novel anticancer strategy moves from laboratory to clinic
Scientists at Emory University have developed a novel anti-tumor compound that represents a distinct strategy: targeting one of the most important "intercept points" for cancer cells.

The results of research on the compound in mice appear in the Jan. 1 issue of Cancer Research. The article is highlighted on the cover.

The compound was used for the first time in human patients with solid tumors in 2007.

The idea behind the intercept point strategy is to shut down the transmission of a large number of growth signals in cancer cells at once, says senior author Donald L. Durden, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute.

Dr. Durden, scientific director of the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, compares a cancer cell to a building with too a number of of the lights left on.

"Doctors have been trying to treat cancer by turning out the lights in one room at a time, instead of going after the transformer box," he says.

Dr. Durden and colleagues targeted a class of enzymes called PI-3 kinases, which represent an intercept point and occupy valuable real estate in almost every cell in the body.

"Nature made these enzymes central in controlling growth, differentiation and survival," he says. But you can't hit only one of them; they're redundant."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:03 PM CT

Mom's obesity during conception

Mom's obesity during conception
The number of overweight and obese Americans continues to grow rapidly. Today, 50 percent of adults are overweight and up to 20 percent are obese. While the number of overweight/obese children is at an all time high, the steady increase of overweight infants -- individuals under 11 months old -- is alarming.

Research studies have observed that pregnant women who are overweight/obese are more likely to give birth to heavier babies, and the risk of overweight children becoming obese adults is nearly nine times greater than for children who are not overweight. Studies also show that greater body-weight at birth and weight gain early in life increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese as an adult. Inheritance studies show that a child's body mass index (BMI) correlates more closely with the mother's BMI than with it's father's, suggesting that an interaction of both genetic and intrauterine influences, may contribute to later-life obesity risk in the offspring.

Armed with these and other data, a team of scientists from the USDA-Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center has examined whether the subtle effects of fetal exposure to the mother's obesity can have a latent effect on the offspring. In a new report, researchers studied whether fetal exposure to gestational obesity leads to a self-reinforcing viscious cycle of excessive weight gain and body fat which passes from mother to child. The results of the new study suggest they do.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:01 PM CT

Most TV prescription drug ads minimize risk information

Most TV prescription drug ads minimize risk information
Prescription drug ads on television first hit the airwaves just over a decade ago, but a new University of Georgia study finds that most of them still do not present a fair balance of information, particularly when it comes to the risk of side effects.

A team led by Wendy Macias, associate professor in the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, analyzed a week's worth of direct-to-consumer ads on broadcast and cable television. The observed that the average 60-second ad contained less than 8 seconds (13 percent of total ad time) of side effect disclaimers, while the average 30-second ad has less than 4.4 seconds (15 percent of total ad time) of disclaimers. Most of the 15-second ads studied devoted no time at all to disclaimers.

"These ads clearly don't devote enough time to information about risk," said Macias, whose results appear in the November/recent issue of the journal Health Communication. "Adding to the problem is that the information is often presented in a way that people aren't likely to comprehend or even pay attention to".

Macias and her team, which includes Kartik Pashupati at Southern Methodist University and Liza Lewis at The University of Texas at Austin, observed that almost all of the ads disclosed side effects solely in a voice-over portion of the ad. Only 2.2 percent of ads had the disclosure in voice-over as well as in text form.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 8:43 PM CT

Acid Reflux and Survival

Acid Reflux and Survival
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often known as acid reflux, is a common problem that has been linked to cancers, asthma, recurrent aspiration and pulmonary fibrosis. A new study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology examines whether GERD sufferers may have shorter lifespans than those without the disease.

Drawing on over 50,000 person-years of data, the study provides reassuring evidence that people with acid reflux symptoms do not have an increased risk of death, finding no difference in survival rates between sufferers and non-sufferers.

In fact, the study finds that people with infrequent acid reflux may actually have better survival rates than those with either daily symptoms, or none at all. "It may be that occasional reflux symptoms are a reflection of potential protective behaviors that are linked to reflux, such as regular exercise or modest amounts of alcohol ingestion," suggest Nicholas J. Talley and G. Richard Locke, III, co-authors of the study.

The study adds perspective to the risk of acid reflux symptoms. While there are a large number of acid reflux sufferers in the U.S., incidences of related cancer are extremely rare. "Eventhough extraesophageal manifestations occur in some people with reflux disease, our results suggest that this disease is a non-malignant condition in the vast majority of sufferers," say the authors.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


January 2, 2008, 10:39 PM CT

Osteoarthritis and index to ring finger length ratio

Osteoarthritis and index to ring finger length ratio
Index to ring finger length ratio (2D:4D) is a trait known for its sexual differences. Men typically have shorter second than fourth digits; in women, these fingers tend to be about equal in length. Smaller 2D:4D ratios have intriguing hormonal connections, including higher prenatal testosterone levels, lower estrogen concentrations, and higher sperm counts. Reduction in this ratio has also been associated with athletic and sexual prowess. Whether this trait affects the risk of osteoarthritis (OA), a progressive joint disease linked to both physical activity and estrogen deficiency, has not been examined. Until recently.

Scientists with the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom conducted a case-control study to assess the relationship between the 2D: 4D ratio and the risk of knee and hip OA. Their findings, featured in the January 2008 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), suggest that having unusually long ring fingers raises the risk for developing OA of the knee, independent of other risk factors and especially among women.

For the study, 2,049 case subjects were recruited from hospital orthopedic surgery lists and a rheumatology clinic in Nottingham. All had clinically significant symptomatic OA of the knees or hips, requiring consideration of joint replacement surgery. Recruited from hospital lists of patients who had undergone intravenous urography (IVU) within the past five years, 1,123 individuals with no radiographic evidence of hip or knee OA, no present hip or knee symptoms, and no history of joint disease or joint surgery served as controls. The study population was comprised of both men and women, with an average age of roughly 67 years for cases and 63 years for controls.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 2, 2008, 10:25 PM CT

Putting Cancer On The Firing Line

Putting Cancer On The Firing Line
Dr. Yukai He wants to put cancer in the bull's eye.

"Cancer really comes from us," the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center immunologist says of the scary reality that cancer cells are our own cells gone awry. That means our immune system doesn't always see cancer as a horrific invader.

"Tumors and T cells, the cellular arm of the immune system and the main player in anti-tumor immunity, cohabitate for a number of years before the tumor grows," says Dr. He, who recently was named one of the first Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigators, a new initiative to support outstanding young investigators.

The tumor is smart, he says, changing just enough to stay out of the line of fire.

He and collaborators at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the University of Chicago and now MCG are putting together a package they believe will place it dead center.

The scientists are packaging an antigen gene that will alert the immune system in a novel viral vector delivery system while quashing the body's misguided efforts to protect a tumor.

The therapy could one day follow tumor surgery and chemotherapy in patients when recurrence is likely, says Dr. He, who came to MCG in August from the University of Pittsburgh. It also could work for persistent viral infections such as HIV and human papillomavirus, parasitic diseases such as malaria and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis.........

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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