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July 7, 2006, 7:40 AM CT

Statins stop hepatitis C virus

Statins stop hepatitis C virus
A new study shows that statins, which are typically used as anti-cholesterol medications, can inhibit the replication of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). They could replace ribavirin in combination treatment with interferon. These findings appear in the July 2006 issue of Hepatology, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hepatology is available online via Wiley InterScience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology.

Currently, 170 million people worldwide are infected with HCV. The standard therapy is a combination treatment of interferon and ribavirin, which is only effective in about 55 percent of patients. The remaining 45 percent face a threat of the disease progressing to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Based on recent reports that one statin, lovastatin, inhibits HCV replication, scientists led by Masanori Ikeda of Okayama University in Japan, tested other statins in search of a more effective anti-HCV treatment.

Using the OR6 cell culture assay system, they evaluated the anti-HCV activities of five statins: atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin and simvastatin. When the statins were tested alone, all except pravastatin inhibited HCV replication. Fluvastatin had the strongest effect. Atorvastatin and simvastatin had moderate effects while lovastatin had a weak effect. While pravastatin exhibited no anti-HCV activity, it did work as an inhibitor for HMG-CoA reductase, suggesting that the anti-HCV activities of the other stains are not due to the direct inhibition of HMG-CoA.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 7:36 AM CT

light on cystic fibrosis-related diabetes

light on cystic fibrosis-related diabetes
A growing number of cystic fibrosis patients are battling a second, often deadly complication: a unique form of diabetes that shares characteristics of the type 1 and type 2 versions that strike a number of Americans.

A number of of these patients are teens who take enzymes to help digest their food and undergo daily physical treatment to loosen the thick, sticky mucus that clogs their lungs. But despite therapys that are helping thousands to live decades longer than ever before, when diabetes strikes, their life expectancy plummets -- on average by two years for men and an astounding 16 for women.

Now a University of Florida study in animals suggests diabetes in cystic fibrosis patients is not caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas -- as is often the case in patients with the traditional form of type 1 diabetes -- but by differences in how these cells function. The findings were published this month in the American Diabetes Association's journal Diabetes.

Cystic fibrosis patients with diabetes produce some insulin on their own, but they require daily injections to boost their levels when eating so they can properly use sugar and other food nutrients for energy. At times they also become very resistant to the insulin they do make, similar to people with type 2 diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 7:02 AM CT

Link Between Pesticide and Parkinson's Disease

Link Between Pesticide and Parkinson's Disease
A team of Emory University scientists has found a connection in laboratory mice between developmental exposure to the pesticide dieldrin (now banned from use) during gestation and lactation and an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease (PD). The findings are significant because most studies aimed at determining the disease process in PD have been focused on events occurring during adulthood, not during developmental stages. The study results are published online today in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal (http://www.fasebj.org/papbyrecent.dtl).

The pesticide dieldrin was banned for most uses by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1974, then totally banned in 1987, as per the researchers. Dieldrin was most usually used for insect control in crops and for termite control in home foundations. "While a number of pesticides have been banned from use today, they still remain in the soil and can take decades to break down, as in the case of dieldrin," says Gary Miller, PhD, neurotoxicologist, researcher in Emory's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory. "Because of dieldrin's lingering effects, our research focuses on the role of the environment and its effects on PD." Dr. Miller is the senior author on this paper.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 6:52 AM CT

New sleep gene discovery

New sleep gene discovery
Proteins that regulate sleep and biological timing in the body work much differently than previously thought, meaning drug makers must change their approach to making drugs for sleep disorders and depression and other timing-related illnesses.

The surprise finding is an about-face from prior research, said Daniel Forger, assistant professor of math at the University of Michigan. Forger and his collaborators from the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute have written a paper on the topic, which will appear on in the July 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It will appear the week of July 3 on line, at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0604511103.

Researchers studied two proteins (one called CKIe and another called PERIOD) that help regulate timing in the body, and looked at how those proteins function in cells, said Forger. One of the proteins causes the other protein to degrade, and the body knows what time it is by how much or how little PERIOD protein is present at any one time in the body. The body's clock is called a circadian rhythm.

Drug makers spend billions to develop drugs to help people with sleep disorders, and other disorders impacted by our biological clocks. Drugs to restore a healthy circadian rhythm by manipulating the levels of PERIOD proteins are currently under development.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 5, 2006, 8:25 AM CT

Antihistamine Does Not Improve Infant Sleep

Antihistamine Does Not Improve Infant Sleep
An antihistamine often recommended to parents whose infants do not sleep through the night may not be effective in reducing nighttime awakenings or improving parents' happiness with their children's sleep, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Between 20 and 46 percent of parents have reported that their infants have trouble sleeping, as per background information in the article. Some parents let their children cry for extended periods at night--this method, known as crying out, is popular but controversial among parents and health care professionals. Another usually used method is to give children medications--such as antihistamines, normally used to treat allergies--to sedate them at bedtime. Diphenhydramine hydrochloride, sold as Benadryl, is often used by parents and recommended by physicians despite the fact that it has not been studied in children younger than age 2 years.

Dan Merenstein, M.D., then at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, and now at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and his colleagues conducted a trial of diphenhydramine in 44 children ages 6 to 15 months who slept in cribs. Parents in the study had all reported that their children woke up two or more times per night. The participating infants were randomly assigned to receive 100 mL of diphenhydramine or placebo (inactive medication) in a cherry-flavored liquid 30 minutes before bedtime for one week between May 2004 and May 2005. Parents reported whether the child had fewer awakenings that mandatory parental intervention during that week and also tracked their child's sleep in a diary for the first 28 days. At four points during the first 43 days of the study, parents were asked to rate their happiness with their children's sleep on a scale of one to 10.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 5, 2006, 8:19 AM CT

Chornobyl Radiation Increases Thyroid Cancer Risk

Chornobyl Radiation Increases Thyroid Cancer Risk Chernobyl
Exposure to radioactive iodine increases the risk of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents, a study of thyroid cancer prevalence after the Chornobyl accident shows. The study is reported in the July 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In 1986, an accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant exposed large numbers of people in Belarus, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation to radioactive material high in isotopes of iodine and cesium. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to certain types of radiation increases the incidence of thyroid cancer in children and teens. However, few studies have examined the effects of exposure to radioactive iodines, and only three studies have examined cancer risk from the Chornobyl-related exposures.

Geoffrey R. Howe, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York, and his colleagues screened 13,127 people for thyroid cancer who at the time of the Chornobyl accident were under 18 and lived in highly contaminated areas of Ukraine. The scientists estimated each participant's individual radiation dose using thyroid radioactivity measurements made shortly after the accident and interview data obtained during screening.

The scientists found 45 cases of thyroid cancer in the screened group in comparison with the 11.2 cases expected without the accident. Subjects had a tendency toward lower risk of thyroid cancer with increasing age at the time of the exposure. The authors suggest that exposure to radioactive fallout from the Chornobyl accident increased thyroid cancer in those exposed as children and adolescents.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 5, 2006, 8:10 AM CT

Medication Helps Smoking Cessation

Medication Helps Smoking Cessation
The drug varenicline shows effectiveness in helping smokers quit and abstain from smoking when compared to placebo and the smoking cessation medicine bupropion, as per three studies in the July 5 issue of JAMA.

Eventhough nearly 41 percent of smokers try to quit smoking each year, relapse is common, and only about 10 percent achieve and maintain abstinence. The negative effects of nicotine withdrawal account, in part, for low success rates, as per background information in the article. Approved pharmacotherapies to treat nicotine dependence (e.g., nicotine replacement treatment and bupropion) have had important, but moderate efficacy, with reported rates of quitting generally twice those of placebo. Additional and more effective therapies are needed.

David Gonzales, Ph.D., of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and his colleagues with the Varenicline Phase 3 Study Group evaluated the efficacy of varenicline compared with placebo and sustained-release (SR) bupropion in generally healthy adult smokers. Varenicline is a non-nicotine drug that is believed to be beneficial for smoking cessation by stimulating the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain to reduce craving and withdrawal while simultaneously blocking the reinforcing effects of smoked nicotine. Most other smoking cessation pharmacotherapies are nicotine replacement products.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 5, 2006, 8:05 AM CT

Heat Stops Pain Inside The Body

Heat Stops Pain Inside The Body Image courtesy of Amazon
The old wives' tale that heat relieves abdominal pain, such as colic or menstrual pain, has been scientifically proven by a UCL (University College London) scientist, who will present the findings today at the Physiological Society's annual conference hosted by UCL.

Dr Brian King, of the UCL Department of Physiology, led the research that found the molecular basis for the long-standing theory that heat, such as that from a hot-water bottle applied to the skin, provides relief from internal pains, such as stomach aches, for up to an hour.

Dr King said: "The pain of colic, cystitis and period pain is caused by a temporary reduction in blood flow to or over-distension of hollow organs such as the bowel or uterus, causing local tissue damage and activating pain receptors.

"The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect - it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work. We have discovered how this molecular process works."

If heat over 40 degrees Celsius is applied to the skin near to where internal pain is felt, it switches on heat receptors located at the site of injury. These heat receptors in turn block the effect of chemical messengers that cause pain to be detected by the body.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


July 5, 2006, 7:51 AM CT

Higher Death Rates With Obesity

Higher Death Rates With Obesity
While obesity has generally been viewed as a single significant health concern, a University of Pittsburgh study suggests that not all obese women share the same health risks. This multi-center study of more than 90,000 women published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows extremely obese women to be at significantly higher risk of dying than women at normal weight and links the risk of death to specific categories of obesity.

To better quantify the health risks associated with obesity, the Pitt researchers, collaborating with scientists from six other institutions, examined the rates of death and of newly diagnosed coronary heart disease over a seven year period of 90,185 women in five specific weight categories. The women, all participants of the Women's Health Initiative-Observational Study, were assigned to the weight categories based on the weight-to-height ratio known as body mass index (BMI): normal (BMI 18.5 24.9), overweight (BMI 25.0 29.9), obesity 1 (BMI 30.0 34.9), obesity 2 (BMI 35.0 ┬ĘC 39.9) and extreme obesity (BMI 40).

The study showed that white women in the obesity 1 category (approximately 60 pounds above a normal weight for a 5-foot, 5-inch tall woman) to have a 12 percent higher risk of death over the seven year follow-up period, but extremely obese women (approximately 110 pounds above a normal weight for a 5-foot, 5-inch tall woman) had an alarming 86 percent higher risk of death than their normal weight counterparts.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 5, 2006, 7:43 AM CT

Eggs Survive In Older Ovaries

Eggs Survive In Older Ovaries
In research that could have broad implications for women's fertility therapys, researchers have found that despite their age, female mice have a renewable egg supply in their ovaries.

The discovery, by Professor Jock Findlay from Prince Henry's Institute and Associate Professor Jeff Kerr from Monash's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, has sparked controversy among biologists and challenged the theory, held for more than 50 years, that female mammals are born with a finite number of oocytes (eggs).

Two years ago, international scientists speculated that mice could continue to produce eggs throughout puberty and adulthood. Eventhough their speculation caused debate throughout the scientific community, the researchers could not produce evidence to confirm their idea. However, Professor Findlay and Dr Kerr's research gives support to the theory. Their findings have been reported in the recent issue of Reproduction.

In the mammalian ovary, reproductive cells called oocytes (eggs) develop within ovarian follicles. In humans, the eggs are believed to die off from late in foetal life, after birth and into adult life. When egg numbers decline towards zero females can no longer reproduce - resulting in the condition we know as menopause.

Professor Findlay, Dr Kerr and their colleagues have found that the total number of eggs in young and normal healthy adult female mice do not decline over time and that overall egg number is maintained for longer than previously thought. Their research suggests that mice have a source of renewable oocytes, Professor Findlay said.........

Posted by: Emily      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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