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August 30, 2006, 4:55 AM CT

Repeated Alcohol Exposures Can Affect Brain

Repeated Alcohol Exposures Can Affect Brain
Scientists at the University at Buffalo studying the effects of alcohol on the brain, using zebrafish as a model, have identified several novel central nervous system proteins that are affected by chronic alcohol exposure.

They also confirmed the involvement of additional proteins previously suggested as targets of alcohol toxicity, and observed abnormal behavior in the fish resulting from chronic alcohol exposure.

Results of the research appeared in the Aug. 15 online edition of the European Journal of Pharmacology.

Five proteins were found to be overexpressed and three were found to be underexpressed. These proteins are believed to be involved in critical mechanisms such as programmed cell death, cholesterol balance, amino acid metabolism, oxidative stress and signal transduction.

"Identification of proteins that show selective changes in abundance after alcohol exposure has the potential to unlock new pathways both for understanding the mechanisms of alcoholism and alcohol toxicity, as well as its amelioration," said Richard A. Rabin, Ph.D., professor in the UB Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and senior author on the study.

Senthilkumar Damodaran, doctoral student in pharmacology, is first author.

The study involved 16 long-fin striped zebrafish, in two trials of eight each, which were placed as a group in a tank with ethyl alcohol for four weeks. Rabin said the scientists chose zebrafish because they are easy to breed and maintain, their DNA sequences are similar to that of humans and they are sensitive to alcohol concentrations.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 30, 2006, 4:46 AM CT

Aspirin And NSAIDs To Prevent Prostateenlargement

Aspirin And NSAIDs To Prevent Prostateenlargement
Scientists at Mayo clinic have observed that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may prevent or delay non-malignant prostatic hyperplasia, an enlarged prostate which can cause urinary symptoms in men as they age such as frequent urination, trouble starting urination, awakening frequently at night to urinate, weak urine stream and an urgent need to urinate. Details would be reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

"This study suggests that men's urinary health may be improved by taking NSAIDs," says Michael Lieber, M.D., Mayo Clinic urologist and study investigator. He and his colleagues found the risk of developing an enlarged prostate was 50 percent lower in NSAID users in comparison to non-users, and risk of developing moderate to severe urinary symptoms was 35 percent lower, he says.

Jenny St. Sauver, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and lead study investigator, says, "The association between intake of NSAIDs and the reduction of non-malignant prostatic hyperplasia is strengthened by the consistency and magnitude of our findings. We would not recommend that every man go out and take aspirin, but if they are already taking it regularly for other reasons, our findings suggest another benefit as well." .........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:52 PM CT

New device may improve vision

New device may improve vision
Researchers at Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, say a visual aid they invented promises to improve the visual abilities of people with tunnel vision. In the first study to evaluate this small high tech device, the research team saw a significant increase in the effectiveness and speed with which visually impaired individuals found objects. The study -- in the recent issue of the Journal of Investigative.

Ophthalmology & Visual Science -- shows that this device, which combines a tiny camera, pocket-sized computer and transparent computer display on a pair of glasses, may offer the most effective assistance to date for this patient population.

"We are very pleased with the results of this first evaluation and hope that with further study and refinement, we may soon make this device available for the public," says low vision expert Dr. Eli Peli, the inventor, a senior scientist at Schepens, and a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and the senior author of the study, .

About one in 200 Americans over age 55 suffers from tunnel vision, as a result of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and glaucoma. RP can begin to affect vision in one's teen years and may become quite severe tunnel vision by middle age. Residual tunnel vision occurs when peripheral or side vision is destroyed, leaving only a small window of central vision. The field of view of these patients can be likened to looking through the tube of a roll of paper towels. Thus, tunnel vision can often cause the individual to bump into or trip over obstacles. "Navigating city streets or buildings can be quite challenging," says Dr. Gang Luo, the study's first author, adding that for a person with tunnel vision, finding a misplaced item is like searching for a key in a dark room using a tiny flashlight. Luo is a research associate at Schepens Eye Research Institute and an instructor in Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:50 PM CT

More than just pretty faces

More than just pretty faces
You'll find more than faces in these places. Stanford University scientists have taken the closest look yet at a region of the brain that was believed to be devoted solely to face recognition and discovered that this particular patchwork of neurons does much more: It also responds to such objects as cars, animals and sculptures.

Current face perception theories suggest neurons in a portion of the brain called the fusiform gyrus light up in response to a face, leading scientists to refer to this region as the "fusiform face area." But a study would be reported in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience reports that this area also shows a localized - albeit less extensive - response to more than just faces.

"We've looked at the fine structure of face-selective regions in the brain, and it argues against prevailing theories," said first author Kalanit Grill-Spector, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and a researcher in the Neuroscience Institute at Stanford.

Using high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging, Grill-Spector and his colleagues imaged regions of the brain at a magnification of 27 to 70 times smaller than a traditional fMRI scan. Like viewing a grain of sugar rather than the whole cube, this allowed the team to "zoom in" on a hybrid of neural patches, each of which responds to a different category of objects.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

Malpractice Concerns Deter Residents

Malpractice Concerns Deter Residents
The survey results were announced earlier this month at the Florida Obstetric and Gynecological Society (FOGS) annual meeting in West Palm Beach. Aaron Deutsch, MD, lead author of the study and chief resident in the USF Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, presented the findings. The paper received the 2006 first-place resident research award from FOGS.

"Florida is already a state without enough obstetrician/gynecologists to meet the needs of patients. In some parts of the state, women must wait several months to see an obstetrician, and there are no perinatologists or maternal-fetal medicine specialists to take care of high-risk pregnancies," Dr. Deutsch said. "Our findings suggest this shortage may get even worse".

The USF scientists sent surveys to all fourth-year medical students in Florida in fall 2005. The senior year is when medical students find out where they will conduct their residencies the period of specialized training for licensed medical graduates in their chosen medical field.

Florida mirrors a national trend of fewer medical students applying for ob/gyn residencies. The USF scientists hypothesized that student concerns about the rising cost of malpractice premiums and medical liability in Florida may contribute to the marked decline of students specializing in ob/gyn.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:36 PM CT

Higher Risk For Cesarean

Higher Risk For Cesarean
For mothers at low risk, infant and neonatal mortality rates are higher among infants delivered by cesarean section than for those delivered vaginally in the United States, as per recent research reported in the latest issue of Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed over 5.7 million live births and nearly 12,000 infant deaths over a four-year period. In general, neonatal (<28 days of age) deaths were rare for infants of low-risk women (about 1 death per 1,000 live births). However, neonatal mortality rates among infants delivered by cesarean section were more than twice those for vaginal deliveries, even after adjustment for socio-demographic and medical risk factors.

The overall rate of babies delivered by cesarean increased by 41% between 1996 and 2004, while the rate among women with no indicated risk for cesarean delivery (term births with no indicated medical risk factors or complications of labor and delivery) nearly doubled.

"These findings should be of concern for clinicians and policy makers who are observing the rapid growth in the number of primary cesareans to mothers without a medical indication," says lead researcher Marian MacDorman. While timely cesareans in response to medical conditions have proven to be life-saving interventions for countless mothers and babies, we are currently witnessing a different phenomenon- a growing number of primary cesareans without a reported medical indication. Eventhough the neonatal mortality rate for this group of low-risk women remains low regardless of the method of delivery, the resulting increase in the cesarean rate may inadvertently be putting a larger population of babies at risk for neonatal mortality.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:19 PM CT

How Cancer Drug Aids An Anti-cancer Virus

How Cancer Drug Aids An Anti-cancer Virus
Scientists here have discovered how a specific chemotherapy drug helps a cancer-killing virus. The virus is being tested in animals for the therapy of incurable human brain tumors.

The virus, a modified herpes simplex virus, is injected directly into the tumor, where it enters only the cancer cells and kills them. The study found, however, that within hours of the injection, infection-fighting immune cells are drawn into the tumor to attack the virus, reducing the therapy's effectiveness.

They also observed that a chemotherapeutic drug called cyclophosphamide briefly weakens those immune cells, giving the anti-cancer virus an opportunity to spread more completely through the tumor and kill more cancer cells.

Specifically, the drug slows the activity of immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages, which are the body's first line of defense against infections.

The virus and drug cannot be used yet in humans because they require further study, as well as testing for safety and effectiveness through the clinical trials process.

The research, led by researchers with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, is reported in the Aug. 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:15 PM CT

Stress And Alzheimer's Disease

Stress And Alzheimer's Disease
Stress hormones appear to rapidly exacerbate the formation of brain lesions that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, as per scientists at UC Irvine. The findings suggest that managing stress and reducing certain medications prescribed for the elderly could slow down the progression of this devastating disease.

In a study with genetically modified mice, Frank LaFerla, professor of neurobiology and behavior, and a team of UCI scientists observed that when young animals were injected for just seven days with dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid similar to the body's stress hormones, the levels of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain increased by 60 percent. When beta-amyloid production increases and these protein fragments aggregate, they form plaques, one of the two hallmark brain lesions of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers also observed that the levels of another protein, tau, also increased. Tau accumulation eventually leads to the formation of tangles, the other signature lesion of Alzheimer's. The findings are published in this week's issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"It is remarkable that these stress hormones can have such a significant effect in such a short period of time," LaFerla said. "Eventhough we have known for some time that higher levels of stress hormones are seen in individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer's, this is the first time we have seen how these hormones play such a direct role in exacerbating the underlying pathology of the disease".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 5:11 AM CT

Proton Treatment Could Replace Radiation Therapy

Proton Treatment Could Replace Radiation Therapy
Researchers at MIT, collaborating with an industrial team, are creating a proton-shooting system that could revolutionize radiation treatment for cancer. The goal is to get the system installed at major hospitals to supplement, or even replace, the conventional radiation treatment now based on x-rays.

The fundamental idea is to harness the cell-killing power of protons -- the naked nuclei of hydrogen atoms -- to knock off cancer cells before the cells kill the patient. Worldwide, the use of radiation therapy now depends mostly on beams of x-rays, which do kill cancer cells but can also harm a number of normal cells that are in the way.

What the scientists envision -- and what they're now creating -- is a room-size atomic accelerator costing far less than the existing proton-beam accelerators that shoot subatomic particles into tumors, while minimizing damage to surrounding normal tissues. They expect to have their first hospital system up and running in late 2007.

Physicist Timothy Antaya, a technical supervisor in MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center, was deeply involved in developing the new system and is now working to make it a reality. He argues it "could change the primary method of radiation therapy" as the new machines are put in place.

The beauty of protons is that they are quite energetic, but their energy can be controlled so they do less collateral damage to normal tissues, in comparison to powerful x-ray beams. Protons enter the body through skin and tissue, hit the tumor and stop there, minimizing other damage.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 5:03 AM CT

Dogs And Smog Don't Mix

Dogs And Smog Don't Mix
A new study from scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) suggests that having a dog in the home may worsen the response to air pollution of a child with asthma. The study was published this week in the online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

In "Dog Ownership Enhances Symptomatic Responses to Air Pollution in Children with Asthma," scientists looked at the relationship between chronic cough, phlegm production or bronchitis and dog and cat ownership among 475 southern California children with asthma who participated in the Children's Health Study, a longitudinal study of air pollution and respiratory health.

Children with dogs had significantly increased cough, phlegm production and bronchitis responses to the measured pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter and acid vapor. There were no increases of these symptoms in children who lived in homes without pets or who lived with only cats.

"Further work is needed to determine what it is about dogs that may increase an asthmatic child's response to air pollution," says Rob McConnell, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author of the study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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