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May 7, 2007, 11:00 PM CT

immune dysfunction in melanoma patients

immune dysfunction in melanoma patients
Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have begun to shed light on why the human immune system isn't able to stop such cancers as melanoma, suggesting answers that could pave the way for better therapy of this often-fatal illness.

In a small study, the researchers observed that the immune cells in a majority of people with this deadly skin cancer fail to respond properly to a molecule called interferon, which normally activates the immune system. Without the ability to respond to interferon, the cells are less able to fend off the cancer, as per the study that would be reported in the recent issue of Public Library of Science-Medicine.

These results help explain a decade of research showing that people with cancer often have dysfunctional immune systems. Until now, scientists could tell that the immune system wasn't working properly but didn't know which genes or pathways were involved in that failure. Finding the disruption in the cancer cells' interferon response could help in the development of vaccines to treat cancers.

"We think this is a dominant way that immune dysfunction occurs in people with cancer," said senior author Peter Lee, MD, associate professor of medicine.

Lee was interested in melanoma rather than other forms of cancer in part because of the deadly nature of the disease, which will kill about one in six of the 47,700 people it is expected to strike this year. Unless melanoma is caught early and removed, there is no effective therapy, eventhough research groups have been testing vaccine therapies for the disease. However, Lee worried that unless scientists better understood immune dysfunctions in those people, the vaccines would have a low probability of success. "If you don't address the underlying immune defects, then vaccines won't do any good," Lee said.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source

May 7, 2007, 10:58 PM CT

Many older Americans not treated for glaucoma

Many older Americans not treated for glaucoma
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- Almost one-third of older Americans diagnosed with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) are not treated medically or surgically for the condition as per a research studyto be presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The presentation will be held on Monday, May 7, 2007, at 11:45 a.m. in the Grand Floridian H of the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

The study is the first investigation of glaucoma-therapy use in the U.S. to utilize longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of Medicare patients. The scientists examined trends in glaucoma medicine use and surgeries among adults aged 65 and older by analyzing data collected from 1992 through 2002 as part of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS). A total of 3,020 MCBS participants were identified as having diagnosed POAG.

A major finding of this study is that, on average, 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with POAG did not use any glaucoma medicine and did not undergo any type of glaucoma-related surgery in a given study year. Among those patients who did use glaucoma-related medications, the classes of prescription eye drops used changed over the study period, with a substantial increase in the use of prostaglandin analogues.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source

May 7, 2007, 10:41 PM CT

Diabetes Drug With Chemotherapy

Diabetes Drug With Chemotherapy
A widely used diabetes drug dramatically boosted the potency of platinum-based cancer drugs when administered together to a variety of cancer cell lines and to mice with tumors, researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report.

Combining a platinum chemotherapy agent and the diabetes drug rosiglitazone halted or shrank mouse tumors as much as three times more effectively than either of the drugs given alone, as per the article in the recent issue of Cancer Cell.

If pairing the drugs has the same synergistic effect in humans, the scientists say, it could improve control of ovarian, lung and other cancers routinely treated with platinum-based chemotherapy, to which tumors eventually become resistant. Moreover, the experiments suggest the combination might extend the use of platinum drugs to other cancers where they haven't previously been shown to be effective.

"There's still a huge gulf between these experiments and human cancers," said Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, senior author of the report. "But it's worked in every animal model of cancer weve looked at, and I think theres a fair chance it will help people".

Dana-Farber scientists are already drawing up plans for initial clinical trials, which could begin sometime this year.

"We really see a way forward here to improve the chemotherapy's effectiveness for multiple forms of cancer," said George Demetri, MD, a Dana-Farber researcher who is preparing a proposal for a pilot study of rosizitaglone and platinum chemotherapy drugs in lung and ovary cancer and sarcomas.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

May 7, 2007, 10:39 PM CT

More Than 4 Percent Of Us Adults Have Bipolar Disorder

More Than 4 Percent Of Us Adults Have Bipolar Disorder
Approximately 4.4 percent of U.S. adults may have some form of bipolar disorder during some point in their lifetime, including about 2.4 percent with a "sub-threshold" condition, as per an article in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Individuals with bipolar disorder tend to fluctuate between periods of maniaan inappropriately elevated mood, characterized by impulsive behavior and an increased activity leveland periods of depression. They are at increased risk of suicide and other medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, as per background information in the article. Previously, scientists estimated that about 1 percent of adults had bipolar disorder. But evidence indicates that current diagnostic criteria may be too narrow to effectively detect bipolar disorder in the general population, and that a broader definition of bipolar spectrum disorder would identify a number of more individuals with bipolar symptoms, the authors note.

Kathleen R. Merikangas, Ph.D., National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues estimated the national prevalence of bipolar disorder using data from 9,282 individuals chosen to represent the general population. The scientists conducted interviews between February 2001 and April 2003 to assess the presence of bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions. Participants were classified as having bipolar disorder I, characterized by at least one episode of mania and one of depression; bipolar disorder II, requiring an episode of depression plus hypomania, a milder form of mania that does not require hospitalization; and a milder, sub-threshold bipolar disorder that involves hypomania with or without depression, otherwise classified as bipolar disorder "not otherwise specified" in the current diagnostic nomenclature of the American Psychiatric Association.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

May 7, 2007, 10:37 PM CT

Adult Drug Abuse Rate 10 Percent

Adult Drug Abuse Rate 10 Percent
Approximately 10.3 percent of U.S. adults appear to have problems with drug use or abuse during their lives, including 2.6 percent who become drug dependent at some point, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Drug abuse refers to the intense desire to take drugs at the exclusion of other activities, and dependence occurs when the body becomes physically dependent on an illicit substance. Both are widespread and linked to substantial costs to society and individuals, as per background information in the article. "Eventhough extensive data on drug use in the U.S. population have been available on an ongoing basis for adults and adolescents, epidemiologic data on the prevalence, correlates, disability, therapy and comorbidity of drug use disorders among adults are seldom collected," the authors write. "In fact, it has been more than 16 years since such detailed information on drug use disorders in the United States has been published".

Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E., of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism used data from in-person interviews conducted in 2001 and 2002 with 43,093 adults representative of the entire U.S. population to determine the prevalence of abuse or dependence on nicotine, alcohol or one of 10 classes of other drugs: sedatives, tranquilizers, opiates [other than heroin], stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, cocaine, inhalants/solvents, heroin and other drugs. Participants were also assessed for other psychiatric disorders, including mood (such as depression), anxiety (such as panic disorder) and personality disorders (including obsessive-compulsive disorder). For those with drug use disorders, level of disabilityhow much the disorder affected their daily lifewere ranked on a scale of zero to 100, with lower scores indicating more disability.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

May 7, 2007, 10:35 PM CT

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Not Common In Childhood

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Not Common In Childhood
Potentially traumatic events are common in children but do not typically result in post-traumatic stress symptoms or disorder, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a unique psychiatric diagnosis because it requires an initiating event, such as war, rape, natural disaster or serious illness, as per background information in the article. In children, the list of events that could lead to PTSD includes a parent being sent to prison, sudden separation from a loved one and learning of a traumatic event occurring to a loved one.

William E. Copeland, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., conducted annual interviews with 1,420 children from age 9, 11 or 13 through age 16. Between 1993 and 2000, participants and their parents were interviewed in separate rooms and asked about traumatic events that may have occurred in the prior year. In addition, they reported any symptoms of post-traumatic stress that the children displayed, including compulsive behaviors to suppress memories, panic attacks and engaging in dangerous activities.

More than two-thirds of the children reportedly experienced at least one traumatic event by age 16, including 30.8 with exposure to one event and 37 percent to multiple events. The most common events were witnessing or learning about a trauma that affected othersknown as vicarious events.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:48 PM CT

Computer-aided detection of breast cancer

Computer-aided detection of breast cancer
The use of computer-aided detection (CAD) with computed radiography (CR) is effective in the detection of breast cancer, as per a recent study conducted by radiologists at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC and iCAD in Nashua, NH.

"I wanted to undertake this study because we need to further define the performance of CAD with CR," said Rachel Brem, MD, lead author of the study. "There is no doubt that CR will be an increasingly important technology in breast imaging and multiple studies have unequivocally demonstrated the improved detection of breast cancer with CAD. Therefore, we wanted to investigate these two technologies' synergies," she said.

The study included 53 cases with breast cancer that were reviewed using a CAD system. The scientists assessed the sensitivity of cancer detection by CAD, and the mammmographic density as well as cancer sizes.

The study showed that 47 of 53 cancer cases were detected by CAD (30 cancers in non dense breasts and 17 cancers in dense breasts). As per the study results, CAD detected 11 of 12 cancers manifesting as calcifications and 36 out of 41 masses.

"CAD had a high sensitivity of 89% with CR mammography that was maintained even in conditions that may lower the sensitivity of mammography, such as dense breasts and small lesions one millimeter or less," said Dr. Brem.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:46 PM CT

Diagnosis Of Lower Back Pain Cause

Diagnosis Of Lower Back Pain Cause Image courtesy of
Functional anesthetic discography (FAD), a new diagnostic procedure involving injecting anesthetic directly into a spinal disc, can be used to confirm the presence of injured discs as the source of a patients lower back pain symptoms, as per a new study by scientists from Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY.

For the study, the scientists performed FAD in 19 consecutive patients who underwent lumbar discography for suspected disc-caused lower back pain. A total of 29 discs were injected with anesthetic and then studied afterward using MDCT and patient response. The scientists observed that 19 out of the 29 discs showed a favorable response to the injection in the form of pain relief of the patient.

We hoped that by using FAD in our practice we could isolate patients that would likely benefit from disc surgery. FAD is a functional examination; it relies on the patients induction of pain during active patient movement, which is far different than the typical discogram. When the patient performs the movement or position that causes pain, we then inject anesthetic into the disc in hopes of relieving the pain. If the pain is or is not alleviated, then this either confirms the discogram results or proves a false negative or positive discogram, respectfully, said Jonathan Luchs, MD, lead author of the study.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:38 PM CT

Financial Loss And Brain's Processing Of Pain

Financial Loss And Brain's Processing Of Pain
People process information about financial loss through mechanisms in the brain similar to those used for processing physical pain, as per a new imaging study. The results could provide a new understanding of excessive gambling.

The new study detected activity in the striatum, a region that processes signals in the brain's system of reward and defensiveness. Prior studies had shown activity in the striatum increasing when subjects were awarded money, but falling silent when subjects lost money. The new study's lead author, Ben Seymour, MD, and his colleagues at the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging in London suggest that the negative value people associate with losing money stems from an evolutionarily old system involved in fear and pain. This could provide some biological justification for the popular concept of "financial pain." Their study was reported in the May 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience

"This work extends our understanding of how the striatum processes both gains and losses and why other experiments have had difficulty eliciting the striatum's involvement in losses," says Read Montague, PhD, at the Baylor College of Medicine, who did not participate in the research.

In the study, 24 subjects13 male and 11 femalelearned to associate abstract image cues with a specific amount of money: 50 pence (equivalent to $1) or ₤1 ($2). The scientists recorded their brain activity over 200 trials as they showed subjects first the original image then an outcome screen indicating whether they had won the associated amount of money, lost it, or received nothing.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

May 6, 2007, 5:20 PM CT

Antidepressants stimulate new nerve cells

Antidepressants stimulate new nerve cells
In adult monkeys, an antidepressant therapy has induced new nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for learning and memory. A similar process may occur in humans, the research suggests, and may help explain the effectiveness of antidepressant therapys.

The results, the first from nonhuman primates, are similar to those previously seen in rodents. They suggest that creation of new nerve cells, a process known as neurogenesis, is an important part of antidepressant treatment. Researcher Tarique Perera, MD, at Columbia University, and his colleagues observed changes in the number of brain cells in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus. The study is reported in the May 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience

The growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus has been suggested as the way antidepressants work in rodents, says Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "However, the clinical relevance of this action has remained controversial, in part, because of uncertainty as to whether similar neurogenesis occurs in humans," he says. "This finding further supports the potential clinical relevance of changes in neurogenesis seen in rodent models."

Perera and the team treated a group of monkeys with electroconvulsive shock (ECS), an animal version of the highly effective clinical antidepressant electroconvulsive treatment. They saw an increase in new nerve cells in the hippocampus. Over four weeks, a majority of these cells became mature neurons.........

Posted by: Daniel      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. Archives of health news blog

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