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December 2, 2007, 8:22 PM CT

Exercise gene could help with depression

Exercise gene could help with depression
Boosting an exercise-related gene in the brain works as a powerful anti-depressant in micea finding that could lead to a new anti-depressant drug target, as per a Yale School of Medicine report in Nature Medicine.

The VGF exercise-related gene and target for drug development could be even better than chemical antidepressants because it is already present in the brain, said Ronald Duman, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study.

Depression affects 16 percent of the population in the United States, at a related cost of $83 billion each year. Currently available anti-depressants help 65 percent of patients and require weeks to months before the patients experience relief.

Duman said it is known that exercise improves brain function and mental health, and provides protective benefits in the event of a brain injury or disease, but how this all happens in the brain is not well understood. He said the fact that existing medications take so long to work indicates that some neuronal adaptation or plasticity is needed.

He and colleagues designed a custom microarray that was optimized to show small changes in gene expression, especially in the brains hippocampus, a limbic structure highly sensitive to stress hormones, depression, and anti-depressants.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:20 PM CT

Cancer cells 'feel' much softer than normal cells

Cancer cells 'feel' much softer than normal cells
A multidisciplinary team of UCLA researchers were able to differentiate metastatic cancer cells from normal cells in patient samples using leading-edge nanotechnology that measures the softness of the cells.

The study, published Dec. 2, 2007 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, represents one of the first times scientists have been able to take living cells from cancer patients and apply nanotechnology to analyze them and determine which were malignant and which were not. The nano science measurements may provide a potential new method for detecting cancer, particularly in cells from body cavity fluids where diagnosis using current methods is typically very challenging. The method also may aid in personalizing therapys for patients.

When cancer is becoming metastatic, or invading other organs, the diseased cells must travel throughout the body. Because the cells need to enter the bloodstream and maneuver through tight anatomical spaces, cancer cells are much more flexible, or softer, than normal cells. These spreading, invading cancer cells can cause a build-up of fluids in body cavities such as the chest and abdomen. But fluid build-up in patients does not always mean cancer cells are present. If the fluid could be quickly and accurately tested for the presence of cancer, oncologists could make better decisions about how aggressive a therapy should be administered or if any therapy is necessary at all.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:18 PM CT

A real attention grabber

A real attention grabber
The person youre speaking with may be looking at you, but are they really paying attention" Or has the person covertly shifted their attention, without moving their eyes" Dr. Brian Corneil, of the Centre for Brain and Mind at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada has found a way of actually measuring covert attention. His research Neuromuscular consequences of reflexive covert orienting is posted on the Advance Online Publication of "Nature Neuroscience".

Our results demonstrate for the first time that covert attention can be measured in real-time via recordings of muscle activity in the neck, says Corneil, an assistant professor of physiology & pharmacology and psychology. This finding may fundamentally change how attention is measured, grounding it in an objective and straightforward technique.

Until now, measuring attention was based on indirect measures of changes in reaction time, or stimulus detection. In furthering our understanding of how the brain works, Corneil has discovered that neck muscles are recruited during covert orienting, even in the absence of eye movements. This finding could help in assessing the effectiveness of therapies for stroke or other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons disease.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 1, 2007, 6:44 PM CT

Difficult Choice: Low-Calorie or Low Prices?

Difficult Choice: Low-Calorie or Low Prices?
High-calorie foods tend to cost less than lower-calorie items and are less likely to increase in price due to inflation a possible explanation for why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups, as per scientists at the University of Washington.

High-calorie foods provide the most calories at the least cost, the scientists found in a survey of more than 370 food items at three Seattle-area supermarket chains. The lowest calorie-dense foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, while foods highest in calories include candy, pastries and other baked goods and snacks. The survey found low-calorie foods increased in price by 19.5 percent over a two-year period, while high-calorie items dropped in price by 1.8 percent.

The findings that energy-dense foods are not only the least expensive but also most resistant to inflation may help explain why the highest rates of obesity continue to be observed among groups of limited economic means, as per the researchers.

The scientists conclude: The sharp price increase observed for vegetables and fruit relative to fats and sweets suggest that the ability to adopt more-healthful diets may be limited by economic constraints.

Additional research articles in the December Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 1, 2007, 6:35 PM CT

Sleep-disorder obesity and African-Americans

Sleep-disorder obesity and African-Americans
As the obesity epidemic grows in the U.S., doctors are discovering more and more far reaching health concerns for overweight children. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which can include various sleep behaviors ranging in severity from snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), disproportionately affects children who are overweight and African- American, as per a new study reported in the December 2007 edition of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can pose serious health threats, including high blood pressure and higher risk for cardiac disease.

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond studied 299 children, ages 2 to 18 years old. The principal study group consisted of children scheduled to undergo adenotonsillectomy for therapy of SDB. The control group consisted of children presenting to a primary care pediatric clinic for well-child visits on randomly selected dates.

Each childs chart was evaluated for demographic data that included age, gender, race/ethnicity, height, and weight. Body mass index was calculated from the height and weight of each child.

Results showed that 46 percent of children scheduled for surgery for SDB were overweight, compared with 33 percent in the control group. This ratio is far less than would be expected in the general population, where obesity in children with SDB would occur approximately ten times more usually than obesity in the general pediatric population. A possible explanation for the smaller ratio of obesity in children with SDB in comparison to controls, is that there may be a lack of awareness of the link between obesity and SDB among primary healthcare providers and caregivers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:55 PM CT

Researchers link enzyme to breast cancer malignancy

Researchers link enzyme to breast cancer malignancy
This release is available in French.

McGill University scientists have uncovered the crucial role played by the enzyme focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in the onset of breast cancer. The research, led by Dr. William Muller along with colleagues from McGill and the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Scotland was published the week of November 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study's first author is Dr. Hicham Lahlou, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Muller's lab.

Using transgenic mice with pre-existing cancers, the McGill team was able to disable the function of FAK in the mammary gland. "When we did that, we basically blocked tumour progression in our mouse model," said Dr. Muller, Professor of Biochemistry at McGill, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology and a researcher with the Molecular Oncology Group at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). "This shows that FAK, which was already associated with tumour growth in skin carcinomas, is very critical for tumour progression from a pre-cancerous to a cancerous state in the mammary tumour system."

Dr. Muller and his team made a similar breakthrough with an earlier discovery in 2004, when they showed that the protein beta1-integrin was similarly critical in the initiation of tumour growth and development of breast cancer in genetically engineered mice. Likewise, when this gene was blocked, malignant tumours ceased to grow. The current discovery about FAK is an exciting sequel to the earlier research, says Dr. Muller, because, unlike beta1-integrin, kinase enzymes are eminently "druggable" with current technology.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:51 PM CT

Biomarkers for epithelial ovarian cancer

Biomarkers for epithelial ovarian cancer
With the genomic revolution radical improvement has been made in methods of detection of ovary cancer. This is of the utmost importance, since the chances of successful therapy are strongly enhanced with early detection. In a special issue of Disease Markers, published by IOS Press, eleven articles explore new developments in the identification and understanding of biomarkers for epithelial ovary cancer.

A number of of these biomarkers may serve not only as markers of clinical and biology interest but also as potential therapeutic and imaging targets which could significantly improve the survival of patients with this disease, states Prof. Michael J. Birrer (National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research, Cell and Cancer Biology Department, MD, USA).

Discussed in the issue are new hypotheses on the molecular development of ovary cancer, SP markers of risk, biomarkers that are specific for the different histological subtypes, and new biomarkers and approaches for the early detection of ovary cancer. Furthermore, new molecular technologies have allowed for the analysis and characterization of specific cellular components of ovarian tumors identifying biomarkers of tumor associated immune and endothelial cells.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:42 PM CT

New treatment for age-related macular degeneration

New treatment for age-related macular degeneration
With 8 million people at high risk for advanced age-related macular degeneration, scientists from Harvard and Japan discovered that the experimental drug, endostatin, may be the cure. A research report reported in the December 2007 issue of The FASEB Journal, describes how giving endostatin to mice significantly reduced or eliminated abnormal blood vessel growth within the eye, which is ultimately why the disease causes blindness.

Our study provides intriguing findings that may lead to a better therapy of age-related macular degeneration, said Alexander Marneros, the first author of the report, but clinical studies in patients with age-related macular degeneration are still necessary.

In this study, scientists describe testing the effects of endostatin on mice lacking this naturally occurring substance. The mice without endostatin were about three times more likely to develop advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than normal mice. Then the scientists administered endostatin to both sets of mice. In the mice lacking endostatin, the number of abnormal blood vessels that cause AMD were reduced to normal levels. In control mice with normal levels of endostatin, the number of abnormal blood vessels were practically undetectable.

With Baby Boomers reaching advanced ages, new therapys are desperately needed to keep age-related macular degeneration from becoming a national epidemic, said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. This research provides hope for those at risk for blindness, and it gives everyone another glimpse of how investments in molecular biology will ultimately pay off in terms of new therapys and cures.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:40 PM CT

Post-treatment PET scans for cervical cancer patients

Post-treatment PET scans for cervical cancer patients
Whole-body PET (positron emission tomography) scans done three months after completion of cervical cancer treatment can ensure that patients are disease-free or warn that further interventions are needed, as per a research studyat Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"This is the first time we can say that we have a reliable test to follow cervical cancer patients after treatment," says Julie K. Schwarz, M.D., Ph.D., a Barnes-Jewish Hospital resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology. "We ask them to come back for a follow-up visit about three months after therapy is finished, and we perform a PET scan. If the scan shows a complete response to therapy, we can say with confidence that they are going to do extremely well. That's really powerful."

Schwarz and his colleagues published their study in the Nov. 21, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Without a test like PET, it can be difficult to tell whether therapy has eliminated cervical tumors, Schwarz says. That's because small tumors are hard to detect with pelvic exams, and overt symptoms, such as leg swelling, don't occur until tumors grow quite large. Furthermore, CT and MRI scans often don't differentiate tumor tissue from surrounding tissues, Pap tests can be inaccurate because of tissue changes induced by radiation treatment, and no blood test exists to detect the presence of cervical cancer.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:29 PM CT

Personality Traits Influence Perceived Attractiveness

Personality Traits Influence Perceived Attractiveness
A new study published in Personal Relationships examines the way in which perceptions of physical attractiveness are influenced by personality. The study finds that individuals - both men and women - who exhibit positive traits, such as honesty and helpfulness, are perceived as better looking. Those who exhibit negative traits, such as unfairness and rudeness, appear to be less physically attractive to observers.

Participants in the study viewed photographs of opposite-sex individuals and rated them for attractiveness before and after being provided with information on personality traits. After personality information was received, participants also rated the desirability of each individual as a friend and as a dating partner. Information on personality was found to significantly alter perceived desirability, showing that cognitive processes and expectations modify judgments of attractiveness.

"Perceiving a person as having a desirable personality makes the person more suitable in general as a close relationship partner of any kind," says study author Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. The findings show that a positive personality leads to greater desirability as a friend, which leads to greater desirability as a romantic partner and, ultimately, to being viewed as more physically attractive. The findings remained consistent regardless of how "attractive" the individual was initially perceived to be, or of the participants' current relationship status or commitment level with a partner.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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