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April 29, 2006, 10:35 PM CT

Calcium May Prevent Fractures In Elderly Women

Calcium May Prevent Fractures In Elderly Women
Calcium supplements may be an ineffective way of preventing bone fractures among the population of elderly women because of poor long-term compliance with the treatment, but appear to be effective for women who take the supplements regularly, as per a research studyin the April 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Menopause reduces women's levels of the hormone estrogen, and these lowered levels can contribute to calcium deficiencies, as per background information in the article. Calcium supplements can be used to correct this imbalance, but it is not known if these supplements can prevent fractures in bones weakened by the loss of calcium, a condition known as osteoporosis.

Richard L. Prince, M.D., University of Western Australia, Western Australian Institute of Medical Research and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Devine, and his colleagues studied the effect of calcium supplementation on 1,460 women older than age 70 years. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to take 600-milligram calcium carbonate tablets twice per day and the other half took identical placebo tablets. X-rays, bone ultrasounds and bone scans were performed at the beginning of the study and after five years, and adverse events that mandatory a visit to a health care provider were recorded at four-month intervals. Participants returned their unused pills at the end of each year-long period and those who took fewer than 80 percent were classified as noncompliant.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 29, 2006, 9:43 AM CT

Neuroimaging Tools Available On Web

Neuroimaging Tools Available On Web The Biomedical Informatics Research Network has developed open-source neuroimaging tools and datasets available to researchers around the world as they investigate the causes and potential therapies for Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and other brain-related disorders. (Image courtesy of The BIRN Coordinating Center, University of California, San Diego)
A roving band of five unnamed researcher participants-who traveled across the country to nine different sites to have their brains examined via MRI-has contributed to a first-of-its-kind neuroimaging dataset that will help researchers to standardize and calibrate imaging data for multisite studies for years to come. The dataset, known as the Function BIRN Phase I Traveling Subjects Dataset, is the latest of more than two dozen open-source data and software tools made available to researchers worldwide by the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN).

Created in 2001 with NCRR support, BIRN is a national consortium of 28 research institutions and 37 research groups dedicated to creating a usable cyberinfrastructure that shares and integrates data, expertise, and unique technologies from multiple disciplines and research institutions thereby enabling collaborations that address complex health-related problems. (For more information, see the NCRR Reporter, Fall 2003, BIRN Putting Heads Together in Cyberspace.) Initial efforts focus on neuroimaging data, but the tools and technologies developed by BIRN will ultimately be applicable to other disciplines.

Calibration across sites is important, because brain scans from a single individual can appear surprisingly dissimilar when collected using different MRI instruments and methodologies. "In fact, we found there is more variation between sites than there is between subjects," says Steven Potkin, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, and head of a series of BIRN projects correlation to functional imaging. "Unless this can be corrected, there is no point in doing a multisite imaging study".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


April 29, 2006, 9:31 AM CT

Use Of Information Technology In Hospitals

Use Of Information Technology In Hospitals Physician Homer Warner (seated) consults with colleagues Alan Pryor (center) and Reed Gardner in 1970—in the early days of hospital information technology. (Photo courtesy of LDS Hospital)
Eventhough information technology is now common in a number of hospitals and biomedical laboratories, in the 1950s only a small number of scientists imagined its enormous potential. In 1967, supported by NCRR, doctor Homer Warner led a seminal effort that created one of the first bioinformatics systems. This work has influenced patient care, increased safety, and produced cost-effective service in hospitals around the nation. Today, NCRR continues its support of clinical bioinformatics as an integral component of the new Clinical and Translational Science Awards.

Clinical application of bioinformatics began in earnest when the University of Utah installed a state-of-the-art computer in the early part of 1960s. Back then, Warner became intrigued by the possibility of using this new technology with patients at the Latter-day Saints (LDS) Hospital. It wasn't long before he gained access to the giant machine and began writing programs to study coronary blood flow. Because the computer was only available at night, he set a cot beside it to sleep on while the computer slowly crunched numbers.

One of the central questions in his mind was how to obtain around-the-clock physiological information from post-operative cardiac patients. Warner resolved this problem by inserting catheters into patients' arteries. When connected through a computer, the apparatus calculated stroke volume, heart rate, cardiac output, and blood pressure on demand. Resulting data were displayed on the screen of an oscilloscope, and three small lights alerted nurses of abnormal vital signs that could lead to complications. This was one of the first uses of computers for preemptive patient monitoring, a concept now propagated through nearly every intensive care unit.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 29, 2006, 9:24 AM CT

Daring To Take Risks and Reap the Rewards

Daring To Take Risks and Reap the Rewards Innovative brain-mapping techniques allow scientists to detect subtle disease-associated brain changes, including percentages of brain tissue loss, represented by different colors, in AIDS patients. (Image courtesy of The Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, University of California, Los Angeles)
Medical advances often originate with a flash of creativity and a tolerance for risk. Recognizing that the safe bet is not always the best path when pursuing scientific knowledge, NCRR funds Exploratory/Developmental Research Projects, known as R21 grants, to give researchers the freedom to pursue innovative, high-risk scientific ideas, methods, or technologies that may ultimately lead to significant health-related payoffs. For instance, neuroscientist Paul Thompson depended on R21 funding to develop sophisticated computational tools for imaging and analyzing how diseases or adverse events affect the brain. A different R21 grant allowed geneticist Carl Pinkert to create a unique animal model for studying mitochondria disease, which has broad implications for human health.

NIH created the R21 funding mechanism to provide up to two years of support for the early and conceptual stages of innovative research projects. NCRR funds R21 grants in two broad categories: biomedical technology and comparative medicine.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, Thompson and colleagues developed a novel computational framework that effectively stretches, contorts, and changes the geometry of highly detailed three-dimensional brain images obtained via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These manipulations allow researchers to overlap and meld multiple brain images, collected over time or from multiple individuals, and enable comparisons between normal and dysfunctional brains. To date, the images have clearly revealed the changes wrought by Alzheimer's disease, methamphetamine abuse, schizophrenia, and AIDS. "With R21 funding, we developed new mathematical methods for understanding the effects of disease," says Thompson, an associate professor of neurology. "These images are really snapshots of a disease spreading over time".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


April 29, 2006, 9:00 AM CT

Diagnostic Tests for Highly Infectious Agents

Diagnostic Tests for Highly Infectious Agents The monkeypox virus, shown here, can be deadly to humans. Diagnostic technologies and therapies developed for monkeypox might also apply to smallpox and related viruses. (John Kaprielian, courtesy of CDC/Photo Researchers, Inc.)
Researchers at the Oregon NPRC developed a novel series of tests that show evidence of being more sensitive and accurate in diagnosing human monkeypox infections than current tests approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The studies may lead to improved diagnoses, therapies, and preventive measures for monkeypox and other sometimes-deadly agents that might proliferate in a natural outbreak or a bioterror attack.

NPRC scientists Mark Slifka and Matt Lewis traveled to Wisconsin to examine more than 40 individuals who had been exposed to the monkeypox virus, a close relative of the smallpox virus. In 2003, dozens of people in the Midwest had been exposed to pet prairie dogs infected with monkeypox, and 72 cases of human infections were later reported to the CDC.

The Oregon scientists used a unique series of diagnostic tests to confirm previously unverified human infections. The diagnostic series also identified an additional three individuals whose infections had been undiagnosed because they lacked obvious symptoms. These three people, having been vaccinated against smallpox more than a decade before, were fully protected against monkeypox disease.

Slifka notes that the biocontainment level-3 laboratory associated with the Oregon NPRC is one of the few in the country with the appropriate safeguards, expertise, and authorization to conduct experiments with monkeypox. "Our studies would not have been possible without access to the NPRC or the resources of the General Clinical Research Center, where some blood analyses were performed," Slifka says. "While this research primarily focused on monkeypox, this same technology could also be used to better detect a smallpox outbreak." Eventhough smallpox no longer exists in nature, having been eradicated through effective worldwide vaccine programs, the virus is still considered a significant bioterror threat.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


April 28, 2006, 6:49 AM CT

Chamomile Tea And Lotion May Cause Internal Bleeding

Chamomile Tea And Lotion May Cause Internal Bleeding Chamomile
Scientists at the MUHC in Montreal have documented a severe case of internal hemorrhaging in a patient that drank chamomile tea and used chamomile lotion while taking anti-coagulant medicine for a heart condition. The 70-year old patient was admitted to the MUHC ER in Montreal after using chamomile to help soothe her sore throat. The case reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) this week, highlights the need for caution when taking alternative (natural) therapies while on doctor prescribed medications.

The patient had been implanted with a mechanical valve and was taking an anti-coagulant medicine called warfarin, designed to thin the blood and reduce the chances of stroke. "Warfarin is an effective and reliable anti-coagulant and as a result is used commonly," says Dr. Louise Pilote an internist and epidemiologist at the MUHC and Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University. "We are aware of several herbal products that should not be taken with warfarin, such as garlic, onion and ginger, but this is the first time we have documented a life-threatening reaction when combined with chamomile."

Warfarin is derived from coumarin, a chemical compound with anti-coagulant properties found in a number of plants, including chamomile. "It seems the chamomile acted synergistically with the warfarin in this case," says Dr. Pilote. "Eventhough this is a rare case, it highlights the potential dangers of mixing herbal remedies with doctor prescribed medications."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 28, 2006, 6:42 AM CT

Impact Of Injury On Cartilage Cells

Impact Of Injury On Cartilage Cells
Documented in extensive studies, backed by the anecdotal evidence of professional athletes, impact injury to joints causes degeneration of cartilage. In most cases, the eventual result is the pain, stiffness, and compromised mobility of osteoarthritis (OA). Yet, questions remain surrounding the role of the inflammatory system in the cartilage destruction following mechanical trauma.

Tissue damage typically stimulates an influx of leukocytes, white blood cells known for promoting tissue regeneration and healing--to tissue protecting organs. However leukocytes can be a double edged sword. In the May 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas, present the results of a study to test the hypothesis that leukocytes extend the zone of damage and cell death in cartilage after an acute injury.

The research team began with a collection of dog bones--the hind knee joints of 24 fresh young adult cadaver canines. Within one hour after death, each bone was subjected to impact injury with a metal weight, determined sufficient to cause cartilage damage without shattering the bone. A comparable collection of cadaver canine bones was preserved to serve as controls. All of the knee joints were cultured with blood leukocytes from the same dogCartilage biopsies were taken at various intervals between 12 hours and 7 days.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


April 28, 2006, 0:13 AM CT

Stem Cell Technology For Spinal Cord Repair

Stem Cell Technology For Spinal Cord Repair
Scientists believe they have identified a new way, using an advance in stem-cell technology, to promote recovery after spinal cord injury of rats, as per a research studypublished in today's Journal of Biology.

Researchers from the New York State Center of Research Excellence in Spinal Cord Injury showed that rats receiving a transplant of a certain type of immature support cell from the central nervous system (generated from stem cells) had more than 60 percent of their sensory nerve fibers regenerate. Just as importantly, the study showed that more than two-thirds of the nerve fibers grew all the way through the injury sites eight days later, a result that is much more promising than prior research. The rats that received the cell transplants also walked normally in two weeks.

The University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y., and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, collaborated on the work. Scientists believe they made an important advance in stem cell technology by focusing on a new cell type that appears to have the capability of repairing the adult nervous system.

"These studies provide a way to make cells do what we want them to do, instead of simply putting stem cells into the damaged area and hoping the injury will cause the stem cells to turn into the most useful cell types," explains Mark Noble, Ph.D., co-author of the paper, professor of Genetics at the University of Rochester, and a pioneer in the field of stem cell research. "It really changes the way we think about this problem."........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 27, 2006, 11:51 PM CT

Arthritis For Fatigue In Cancer Patients

Arthritis For Fatigue In Cancer Patients
Scientists here have found evidence that combining a drug typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis with chemotherapy might help reduce fatigue and muscle wasting that often afflicts cancer patients.

The findings of the preliminary study with 24 patients are published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Even though this was a small study, we found that we could deliver more chemotherapy when combined with the drug etanercept," said lead author Miguel A. Villalona-Calero, an associate professor of hematology and oncology and of pharmacology at Ohio State.

"This shows promise in helping reduce fatigue in cancer patients while increasing their ability to tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy on a more frequent basis," said Villalona-Calero, who is also researcher at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James).

Patients' fatigue - the state of overwhelming and sustained exhaustion that is not relieved by rest - often hinders physicians' ability to deliver chemotherapy to them on schedule because of their weakened state.

The fatigue and muscle wasting that are associated with cancer are largely caused when immune cells release a substance known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Eventhough TNF historically has been studied for its anticancer properties, recent studies indicate that TNF probably promotes tumor growth instead of hindering it.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 27, 2006, 11:48 PM CT

Researchers Identify Intelligence Gene

Researchers Identify Intelligence Gene Caption: Anil Malhotra, MD, and Katherine Burdick, PhD Credit: Adam Cooper, RBP North Shore-LIJ Studios
Psychiatric scientists at The Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have uncovered evidence of a gene that appears to influence intelligence. Working in conjunction with scientists at Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics in Boston, the Zucker Hillside team examined the genetic blueprints of individuals with schizophrenia, a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by cognitive impairment, and compared them with healthy volunteers. They discovered that the dysbindin-1 gene (DTNBP1), which they previously demonstrated to be associated with schizophrenia, may also be linked to general cognitive ability. The study is reported in the May 15 print issue of Human Molecular Genetics, available online today, April 27.

"A robust body of evidence suggests that cognitive abilities, especially intelligence, are significantly influenced by genetic factors. Existing data already suggests that dysbindin may influence cognition," said Katherine Burdick, PhD, the study's primary author. "We looked at several DNA sequence variations within the dysbindin gene and found one of them to be significantly associated with lower general cognitive ability in carriers of the risk variant compared with non-carriers in two independent groups."

The study involved 213 unrelated Caucasian patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 126 unrelated healthy Caucasian volunteers. The scientists measured cognitive performance in all subjects. They then analyzed participants' DNA samples. The scientists specifically examined six DNA sequence variations, also known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in the dysbindin gene and found that one specific pattern of SNPs, known as a haplotype, was associated with general cognitive ability: Cognition was significantly impaired in carriers of the risk variant in both the schizophrenia group and the healthy volunteers as compared with the non-carriers.........

Posted by: Scott      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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