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July 8, 2008, 8:49 PM CT

Young women's breast cancers have more aggressive genes

Young women's breast cancers have more aggressive genes
Young women's breast cancers tend to be more aggressive and less responsive to therapy than the cancers that arise in older women, and scientists at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy may have discovered part of the reason why: young women's breast cancers share unique genomic traits that the cancers in older women do not exhibit.

"Clinicians have long noted that the breast cancers we see in women under the age of 45 tend to respond less well to therapy and have higher recurrence rates than the disease we see in older women, especially those over the age of 65," said Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., a breast oncologist at Duke and senior investigator on the study. "Now we're really understanding why this is the case, and by understanding this, we may be able to develop better and more targeted therapies to treat these younger women".

The results appear in the July 10 Journal of Clinical Oncology The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Duke scientists looked at samples of nearly 800 breast tumors from women in five countries on three continents, and divided them into age-specific cohorts. The researchers found more than 350 sets of genes that were active only in the tumors from women under age 45. On the other hand, tumors arising in women over age 65 did not share these activated gene sets.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 8:44 PM CT

Higher education and mortality reduction from cancers

Higher education and mortality reduction from cancers
Deaths due to the four most common cancerslung, colorectal, prostate, and breasthave dropped substantially in the United States from 1993 to 2001 in working-aged individuals. However, not all Americans are equally likely to benefit from those gains. A study reported in the July 8 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that more highly educated individuals had mortality reductions in nearly all of these cancers, while less educated individuals had a mortality reduction in only one of the cancer types.

In prior studies, scientists examined the impact of area-level socioeconomic status (SES) on cancer mortality trends and found an association between higher SES and bigger gains in mortality reduction. Investigators have not previously examined the association of individual SES components, such as education level, with cancer mortality.

In the current study, Ahmedin Jemal, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society and his colleagues obtained individual education and mortality data from death certificates for non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks between the ages of 25 and 64 who died from one of the four major cancers between 1993 and 2001. The data are from the National Center for Health Statistics and cover approximately 86 percent of the U.S. population.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 8:28 PM CT

How the malaria parasite hijacks human red blood cells

How the malaria parasite hijacks human red blood cells
A new studydone on a scale an order of magnitude greater than anything previously attempted in the field of malariahas uncovered an arsenal of proteins produced by the malaria parasite that allows it to hijack and remodel human red blood cells, leaving the oxygen-carrying cells stiff and sticky. Those effects on the blood cells play a major role in the development of malaria, a disease responsible for millions of deaths every year, the scientists report in the July 11th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication.

" It's a nice piece of biology revealing how the parasite survives in and totally changes red blood cells," said Alan Cowman of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia. Now that those players have been found, "there may be some way of inhibiting these processes by drugs or possibly a live vaccine".

Plasmodium falciparum causes the most severe form of malaria in humans with one to three million deaths annually, the scientists said. Once in the blood, multiplication of the parasite inside red blood cells (also known as erythrocytes) is responsible for its severity and mortality linked to the disease. After the parasite invades, the red cells undergo profound structural and morphological changes, dramatically altering their physical properties and impairing circulation. In contrast to normal red blood cells, parasitized cells are rigid and adhere to the lining of the blood vessels and other cell types.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 6:38 PM CT

Insect warning colors aid cancer drug discovery

Insect warning colors aid cancer drug discovery
Colorful beetle may indicate useful plant chemicals.

Credit: Don Windsor, STRI
Brightly colored beetles or butterfly larvae nibbling on a plant may signal the presence of chemical compounds active against cancer cell lines and tropical parasitic diseases, as per scientists at Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Such clues could speed drug discovery and provide insight into the ecological relationships between tropical-forest plants and insects that feed on them. The report is reported in the Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

"These findings are incredibly exciting and important," said Todd Capson, STRI research chemist, who directed the project. "The results of this study could have direct and positive impacts on the future of medical therapy for a number of diseases around the world".

For this research researchers used plants already known to have anti-cancer compounds; those proven to be active against certain disease-carrying parasites; and plants without such activity. The study showed that beetles and butterfly larvae with bright warning coloration were significantly more common on plants that contained compounds active against certain diseases, such as breast cancer and malaria. There was no significant difference in the number of plain-colored insects between plants with and without activity, as per the study by the Smithsonian's Panama International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 10:07 PM CT

Schizophrenia linked to dysfunction in molecular brain pathway

Schizophrenia linked to dysfunction in molecular brain pathway
Alterations in a molecular brain pathway activated by marijuana may contribute to the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Expression of the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R), the site of action of the main chemical ingredient of marijuana, is significantly reduced in the brains of individuals with schizophrenia. Activation of CB1R impairs signaling by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an important neurotransmitter essential for core cognitive processes such as working memory. The use of marijuana in individuals with schizophrenia appears to worsen this deficit in GABA synthesis.

Since reduced GABA is known to be present in schizophrenia, these findings suggest possible new drug targets that could help to improve function in people with the mental illness, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists report.

"Heavy marijuana use, especially in adolescence, appears to be linked to an increased risk for the later development of schizophrenia, and the course of illness is worse for people with schizophrenia who use marijuana," said David A. Lewis, M.D., corresponding author of the study and UPMC Endowed Professor in Translational Neuroscience, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We wanted to understand the biological mechanisms that could explain these observations, and with this study, I think that we can narrow down at least part of the 'why' to CB1R, the receptor for both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and the brains own cannabinoid chemical messengers".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:58 PM CT

A baby's smile is a natural high

A baby's smile is a natural high
The baby's smile that gladdens a mother's heart also lights up the reward centers of her brain, said Baylor College of Medicine scientists in a report that appears in the journal Pediatrics today.

The finding could help researchers figure out the special mother-infant bond and how it sometimes go wrong, said Dr. Lane Strathearn, assistant professor of pediatrics at BCM and Texas Children's Hospital and a research associate in BCM's Human Neuroimaging Laboratory.

"The relationship between mothers and infants is critical for child development," said Strathearn. "For whatever reason, in some cases, that relationship doesn't develop normally. Neglect and abuse can result, with devastating effects on a child's development".

To study this relationship, Strathearn and colleagues asked 28 first-time mothers with infants aged 5 to 10 months to watch photos of their own babies and other infants while they were in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner. The machine measures blood flow in the brain. In the scans, areas of increased blood flow "light up," giving scientists a clue as to where brain activity takes place.

In some of the photos, babies were smiling or happy. In others they were sad, and in some they had neutral expressions.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:56 PM CT

Can recycling be used to treat cancer?

Can recycling be used to treat cancer?
We already know that recycling benefits our planet; and now new research suggests that the cellular version might be useful for battling cancer. Researchers at Stanford University have identified a molecule that uses this unexpected pathway to selectively kill cancer cells. The research, published by Cell Press in the July 8th issue of the journal Cancer Cell, may drive therapy strategies for cancer in an entirely new direction.

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form of kidney cancer, is nearly always caused by mutation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene and often does not respond well to therapy.

"Since RCCs have a poor prognosis and are refractory to standard chemotherapies, there is a need to develop new therapies for kidney cancer," says senior author Dr. Amato J. Giaccia. Dr. Giaccia and his colleagues used a sophisticated screening procedure to search for molecules that could selectively destroy VHL-deficient kidney cancer.

"Specifically identifying and targeting the cancer cells, while leaving normal cells intact should have great therapeutic impact. Most side effects people associate with chemotherapy, such as nausea and hair loss, are due to toxic effects of drugs on normal tissues. Exploiting a feature of cancer cells should spare the normal tissue and decrease these awful side effects," explains Dr. Giaccia.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:50 PM CT

PTSD causes early death from heart disease

PTSD causes early death from heart disease
Vietnam veterans who experienced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were twice as likely to die from heart disease as veterans without PTSD, a new Geisinger study finds.

As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, Geisinger Senior Investigator Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH examined the prevalence of heart disease, PTSD and other problems in more than 4,000 Vietnam veterans.

The more severe the PTSD diagnosis, the greater the likelihood of death from heart disease, the study showed.

Vietnam veterans with PTSD--like chronic smokersare at higher risk of early death from heart disease, Dr. Boscarino concluded. Boscarino equated PTSD to smoking two to three packs of cigarettes per day for more than 20 years.

PTSD causes the body to release stress hormones, which leads to the inflammation and damage to the arteries and cardiovascular system damage. Stress hormones also tend to reduce the amount of inflammation-reducing cortisol in the bodythough scientists aren't sure why.

"Increased levels of stress hormones and less cortisol from PTSD are a bad combination," Dr. Boscarino explained. "Basically, PTSD just cooks your arteries in this situation."

Dr. Boscarino previously observed that people with PTSD had dramatically higher rates of chronic health problems such as psoriasis, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:43 PM CT

Newborn vitamin A reduces infant mortality

Newborn vitamin A reduces infant mortality
A single, oral dose of vitamin A, given to infants shortly after birth in the developing world can reduce their risk of death by 15 percent, as per a research studyconducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study is reported in the July 2008 edition of the journal Pediatrics

"It has long been known that vitamin A supplementation can reduce mortality in children over 6 months of age. Our study showed that vitamin A given at birth can also improve infant survival within the first 6 months of life," said Rolf D.W. Klemm, DrPH, MPH, the study's lead author and a researcher with the Bloomberg School's Center for Human Nutrition.

The study enrolled 15,937 newborns from rural communities in northwest Bangladesh, where over 90 percent of babies are born at home. Half were randomly selected to receive a 50,000 IU dose of vitamin A, while the other half received a placebo. A 200,000 IU dose of vitamin A is recommended semi-annually for older children. The vitamin A was given orally to the infants within a few days of birth, commonly by 7 hours after delivery. The mortality rate for the vitamin A group was 38.5 deaths per 1,000 births in comparison to 45.1 deaths per 1,000 births for the non-vitamin A group.

Eventhough vitamin A reduced infant deaths from all causes, lives were likely saved by reducing the severity of potentially fatal infections which are responsible for most deaths in early infancy in South Asia.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:37 PM CT

Combination drug taken early relieves migraine symptoms

Combination drug taken early relieves migraine symptoms
A combination drug taken within an hour after the start of a migraine is effective in relieving symptoms, as per research reported in the July 8, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The drug combines sumatriptan, a migraine-specific drug that affects the constriction of blood vessels, with naproxen sodium, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that works on the inflammatory aspect of migraine and relieves non-traditional migraine symptoms such as sinus pain and pressure and neck pain.

"Unfortunately, a number of migraine sufferers put off therapy," said study author Stephen Silberstein, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "This study provides more evidence that treating a migraine at the first sign of pain increases the likelihood of relief".

The research involved two studies with a total of 1,111 people with migraine who had experienced two to six attacks per month in the three months before the study started. Half of the people were given the sumatriptan/naproxen drug within an hour after migraine pain started and while the pain was still mild; the other half were given a placebo.

Two hours after the dose was given, about 50 percent of those who received the drug were free of any pain, in comparison to about 16 percent of those who got the placebo. The people who took the placebo were also two to three times more likely to progress to moderate or severe pain over four hours than those who took the drug.........

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.

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