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January 15, 2007, 5:04 AM CT

Gene That Regulates Adult Stem Cell Growth

Gene That Regulates Adult Stem Cell Growth Ying Liang, a University of Kentucky postdoctoral fellow, works in Van Zant's lab
Credit: Lee Thomas
A new discovery in stem cell research may mean big things for cancer patients in the future. Gary Van Zant, Ph.D., and a research team at the University of Kentucky published their findings today in Nature Genetics, an international scientific journal.

The scientists genetically mapped a stem cell gene and its protein product, Laxetin, and building on that effort, carried the investigation all the way through to the identification of the gene itself. This is the first time such a complete study on a stem cell gene has been carried out. This particular gene is important because it helps regulate the number of adult stem cells in the body, especially in bone marrow. Now that it has been identified, scientists hope the gene, along with its protein product Latexin, can be used clinically, such as for ramping up the stem cell count in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation.

The scientists agreed that this very process is not only interesting, but important because of its usefulness in a wide variety of future genetics studies.

"We're thinking about cancer in a big way," Van Zant said. "This is a great example of translational research - from the most basic type of genetic research all the way to possible therapys for patients."........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

January 15, 2007, 4:58 AM CT

Dual Gene Therapy Suppresses Lung Cancer

Dual Gene Therapy Suppresses Lung Cancer
Combination gene treatment delivered in lipid-based nanoparticles drastically reduces the number and size of human non-small cell lung cancer tumors in mice, scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center report in the Jan. 15 edition of Cancer Research.

Two tumor-suppressing genes given intravenously reduced cancer separately but had their most powerful effect when administered together, cutting the number of tumors per mouse by 75 percent and the weight of tumors by 80 percent.

"In cancer therapy we have combination chemotherapy, and we also combine different modes of treatment - surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Now you've got the possibility of combined targeted gene treatment," said Jack Roth, M.D., professor and chair of the M. D. Anderson Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and a senior researcher on the project.

The genes wrapped in the nanoparticles were p53, a well-known tumor suppressor that works by causing defective cells to commit suicide and is often shut down or defective in cancer cells, and FUS1, a tumor-suppressor discovered by the research group that is deficient in most human lung cancers. Each nanoparticle carried one of the two genes.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

January 15, 2007, 4:54 AM CT

Marker For Aggressive Form Of Breast Cancer

Marker For Aggressive Form Of Breast Cancer
Researchers have linked a structural protein called nestin to a particularly deadly form of breast cancer, identifying a new biomarker that could lead to earlier detection and better treatment.

In the January 15 issue of Cancer Research, researchers from Dartmouth Medical School demonstrate that nestin could represent a selective biological marker for basal epithelial breast tumors, a highly aggressive cancer with similarities to mammary stem cells, the regenerative cells believed to be the site of breast cancer initiation.

"Patients with this type of breast cancer are at high risk for recurrence," said James DiRenzo, Ph.D., assistant professor at Dartmouth Medical School. "Ideally, a marker like nestin would enable clinicians to monitor these patients through frequent tests of a biomarker and, in doing so, detect the cancer before it has a chance to come back".

Basal epithelial tumors lack important molecular targets such as the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and Her2. This not only makes positive diagnosis difficult, say researchers, but also eliminates several important lines of therapy, such as tamoxifen or Herceptin, that work well for other breast cancer subtypes.

"Currently, there is no direct means of determining if a breast cancer is a basal epithelial tumor - doctors only know for certain once the other forms of breast cancer are ruled out," DiRenzo said. "This type of breast cancer is generally difficult to manage, but several important studies have shown that it is more likely than other breast cancer subtypes to respond to certain types of therapy, which highlights the need for a definitive diagnostic marker".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

January 12, 2007, 4:57 AM CT

Bilingualism Has Protective Effect On Dementia

Bilingualism Has Protective Effect On Dementia
Canadian researchers have found astonishing evidence that the lifelong use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by four years in comparison to people who are monolingual.

There has been much interest and growing scientific literature examining how lifestyle factors such as physical activity, education and social engagement may help build "cognitive reserve" in later years of life. Cognitive reserve refers to enhanced neural plasticity, compensatory use of alternative brain regions, and enriched brain vasculature, all of which are thought to provide a general protective function against the onset of dementia symptoms.

Now researchers with the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain have found the first evidence that another lifestyle factor, bilingualism, may help delay dementia symptoms. The study is reported in the February 2007 issue of Neuropsychologia (Vol.45, No.2).

"We are pretty dazzled by the results," says principal investigator Ellen Bialystok, Ph.D., whose research team at Baycrest included psychology expert Dr. Fergus Craik, a world authority on age-related changes in memory processes, and neurologist Dr. Morris Freedman, an eminent authority on understanding the mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment due to diseases such as Alzheimer's.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

January 12, 2007, 4:46 AM CT

High-Power MRI in Unusual Tumor Cases

High-Power MRI in Unusual Tumor Cases
A Mayo Clinic surgical team has observed that using a 3-Tesla MRI in surgical decision making provides a new level of capability to predict surgical outcomes that improves patient care by minimizing the potential for unsuccessful tumor-removal surgeries. The Mayo Clinic report appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery

In their report, Mayo physicians describe a case study of five patients. Four had neurofibromatosis, a condition with a predisposition to nerve-related tumors. All patients suffered from growths called "sciatic notch dumbbell-shaped" tumors. The tumors were benign, but resulted in neurologic dysfunction and disabling pain.

"In the past, if surgeons couldn't tell previous to surgery where the exact location of the large tumor was in relation to the sciatic nerve, it meant they couldn't predict in which cases surgery could be performed safely," explains Robert Spinner, M.D., the lead neurosurgeon on the Mayo Clinic team.

The team used an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system performed on a 3-Tesla magnet to help identify suitable candidates for a difficult tumor-removal surgery. A Tesla is a unit of magnet strength. A 3-Tesla is one of the strongest commercially available.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

January 12, 2007, 4:43 AM CT

Novel Radiation Technique To Treat Liver Cancer

Novel Radiation Technique To Treat Liver Cancer
Physicians at Mayo Clinic are now using tiny glass bubbles filled with radioactive material to deliver high doses of tumor-killing radiation directly to liver tumors. They say the procedure is better tolerated than other forms of intra-arterial liver cancer therapys, and may be the best option for some patients who aren't candidates for other therapys, including surgery or liver transplantation.

The technique, called either radioembolization or intra-arterial brachytherapy, uses the blood supply to send the little spheres, smaller in diameter than a human hair, into the newly formed, microscopic vessels that feed cancer. They eventually become lodged at the tumor sites where they deliver a high dose of radiation.

And because these liver tumors use a supply of blood that is largely separate from the blood that nourishes normal liver tissue, few of the microspheres end up in the healthy liver, Mayo clinicians say.

"The technique is a clever way of exploiting the differences in blood supply between the liver tumor and normal liver tissue," says Mayo Clinic interventional radiologist Ricardo Paz-Fumagalli, M.D. He, along with Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists, deliver the treatment to patients.

There are two primary blood vessels that bring blood to the liver. Normal liver tissue receives about three-fourths of its blood supply from the portal vein and only about one-fourth from the hepatic artery and its branches, explains Paz-Fumagalli. Liver tumors, conversely, get most of their life-sustaining blood supply from the hepatic artery and absorb a greater proportion of the radioactive microspheres. "So if you give a therapy through the arteries, it more specifically hits the tumor, and the normal liver is relatively spared," he says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

January 11, 2007, 9:07 PM CT

Intervention Can Cut Job Stress

Intervention Can Cut Job Stress
A simple workplace intervention can reduce the impact of stress on the heart, scientists reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Office workers who faced layoffs - a significant stress-inducer - were able to achieve small, but significant changes in heart rate variability and a small decrease in arterial blood pressure by participating in a stress management program at work.

After participating in the year-long stress management program, workers' scores on a test that measures perceived stress were significantly lower than baseline scores. Moreover, workers said they felt less tired than they did before the stress management training.

"And we were able to achieve these results in a working environment, without impinging on productivity, and with zero cost to the company," said Massimo Pagani, M.D., senior author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of Milan in Italy.

Job-related stress is one of several factors that may increase the risk of heart attack. So by addressing stress "at work, where stress occurs, rather than in a clinic, we may be able to prevent these workers from becoming patients," Pagani said.

Scientists recruited 91 office workers at a DuPont subsidiary in Italy which was downsizing its workforce by 10 percent. The average age of the volunteers was 40 years of age, 59 were men, who were, on average, normal weight with a body mass index (BMI) of 24 kg/m2. All of the volunteers said they were experiencing work-related stress.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

January 11, 2007, 7:48 PM CT

A nanotech solution to wrinkled skin

A nanotech solution to wrinkled skin
Those of us unhappy with our ageing skin may find solace in nanotechnology. Researchers who have discovered that nanoparticles prevent thin polymer films from buckling say their concept could be applied to stop human skin wrinkling too.

Nanoparticles are already marketed in cosmetic skin products; usually because they can penetrate much deeper into skin than conventional creams, delivering vitamins that are supposed to plump and soften the skin, reducing wrinkling. The approach of Ilsoon Lee, of Michigan State University, US, is somewhat different: nanoparticles in sufficient concentration, he suggests, may stop the skin ever wrinkling in the first place.

That's because the same underlying principles of wrinkling lie behind human skin and the polymer film systems which Lee has been investigating. Human skin, Lee says, consists of a thinner outer layer (the epidermis, around 50-100 ┬Ám thick) resting on top of a thicker layer (the dermis, around 1-3 mm thick). Similarly, thin polymer films used to create anticorrosion, water-repelling, or biocompatible surfaces, and also in electronic devices like thin film transistor (TFT) screens, are formed on top of a thicker substrate - a flexible plastic, for example.

Although skin is a living material, vastly more complicated than a polymer film, Lee believes that both heated film and aged skin wrinkle permanently because they stiffen up more than the soft plastic or dermis below them. The same effect is seen in dried fruits, when thin dried skin stiffens over a soft interior.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

January 11, 2007, 4:38 AM CT

Less Experienced Surgeons Practice On Black Patients

Less Experienced Surgeons Practice On Black Patients
Cardiac surgeons who are less experienced with the recently introduced off-pump techniques in coronary bypass surgery are more likely to perform such operations on black patients, as per US researchers.

Writing in the Royal Society of Medicine's, Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, the findings are based on over 15,000 coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) patients in New York State.

Traditionally, CABG is performed using the cardiopulmonary bypass to circulate blood externally during the operation, giving the surgeon a stable and blood-free environment in which to operate. The use of the cardiopulmonary bypass is not without risk and a number of cardiac surgeons associate it with serious complications, including cognitive deficits, stroke, renal failure, and pulmonary dysfunction.

Off-pump surgery, which is performed on the beating heart without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass, was reintroduced in the late 1990s because a number of surgeons believed it may decrease the occurence rate of complications.

"Our research shows that surgeons who have less experience with the off-pump technique are more likely to perform this technique on black patients, rather than on white patients," said Professor Dana Mukamel of the University of California, Irvine.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

January 10, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

People With Mental Health Disabilities

People With Mental Health Disabilities
Sixteen years after Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with psychiatric disabilities are faring worse in court cases against employers for discrimination than are people with physical disabilities, scientists have found in a national study.

"People with psychiatric disabilities were less likely to receive a monetary award or job-related benefit, more likely to feel as though they were not treated fairly during the legal proceedings and more likely to believe they received less respect in court," said Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D., a study investigator and an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

"When people with disabilities sue their employers for discriminating against them, they are hoping to achieve a tangible result, such as getting their job back or receiving some monetary compensation," Swanson said. "But that's not the only thing that matters. They want to be heard and treated fairly. Sometimes that alone can signal victory for a plaintiff, but if that doesn't happen, it can add insult to injury."

The findings are reported in the current issue (Volume 66, Issue 1) of the Maryland Law Review. The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The scientists said the study is the first to examine how individuals with psychiatric disabilities fare in the court system.........

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. Archives of health news blog

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