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February 26, 2006, 11:58 PM CT

The Critical Role Of The Meniscus

The Critical Role Of The Meniscus
Cartilage loss is a major component of osteoarthritis (OA), a joint disease that affects over 20 million Americans. In knee OA, cartilage loss is influenced by knee injury, as well as obesity and age. Every healthy knee is supported and protected by a pair of meniscus. This C-shaped tissue has a number of functions in the knee, including load bearing, shock absorption, and stability enhancement. The onset of knee OA after meniscectomy, the surgical removal of all or part of a torn meniscus, is fairly common and traditionally considered a result of the joint injury that leads to the operation in the first place.

While meniscectomy appears to be a significant risk factor for OA, scientists know little about the effect of meniscal damage and abnormalities on cartilage loss in knees with a predisposition for the disease. The March 2006 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism ( shares the results of a study that sheds new light on the importance of an intact and functioning meniscus for patients with symptomatic knee OA.

The study, led by David Hunter of Boston University School of Medicine, focused on 257 subjects enrolled in the Boston Osteoarthritis of the Knee Study. The majority, 58 percent, were men and the mean age was 66.6 years. All subjects met the American College of Rheumatology criteria for symptomatic knee OA, confirmed by X-rays and self-reports of frequent knee pain and stiffness. At the study's onset and follow-up examinations at 15 and 30 months, participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the more symptomatic knee. Using the MR images, scientists measured the position of the meniscus, as well as evaluated and scored the severity of meniscal damage. Among the MRI-assessed knees, 29% had a prior injury, 27% had a prior surgery, and 5% had a prior meniscectomy.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

February 26, 2006, 11:38 PM CT

Fighting Tooth Decay With Electricity

Fighting Tooth Decay With Electricity The gel tray filled with gel and suitable to external power supply Image courtesy of IsraCast
The Israeli company Fluorinex Active has developed a new technology for fighting tooth decay. The company is currently working on a small device which together with a gel will impose an efficient ion exchange process through an Electro-chemical reaction in which fluor ions displace the Hydroxide ions at the outer layer of the tooth. This is intended to produce a new mineral layer with significantly improved chemical and physical resistance to the aggressive bacteria and the resulting acidic environment in the mouth.

The technology uses an existing fluoride-based gel along with a device which produces a small electric current (6-9 volt, at low amperage) to achieve activation of the teeth that will enable the formation of a genuine electrolyte when activated. This in turn enhances the fluor ion attraction to the teeth and its exchange that transforms into a highly resistant and protective mineral layer.

In the past there have been many attempts to create a lasting layer of protective coating over the teeth but all of them had failed due to a weak adherence of the fluor ions and rapid loss of fluorides.

Fluorinex claims the new product will be able to give protection for up to five years and will be administered by a simple procedure at the dental clinic. The new device should be ready for commercial use in a year and a half and is currently undergoing clinical trials after extensive research had been done at the Hebrew University last year.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 10:04 PM CT

'Virus Chip' Detects New Virus In Prostate Tumors

'Virus Chip' Detects New Virus In Prostate Tumors
UCSF and Cleveland Clinic scientists have discovered a new virus in human prostate tumors. The type of virus, closely related to viruses typically found in mice, has never been detected in humans. The virus's link to human disease is still unclear, and more study is needed to determine the relationship between the virus and cancer, if any, the scientists say.

The discovery was made with the same DNA-hunting "virus chip" used to confirm the identity of the SARS virus three years ago.

While the genetics of prostate cancer are complex, one of the first genes implicated in the disease was RNASEL, a gene that serves as an important defense against viruses. Given the anti-viral role of this gene, some scientists have speculated that a virus could be involved in some types of prostate cancers in men with mutated RNASEL genes.

In the new study, the researchers discovered the novel virus far more often in human prostate tumors with two copies of the RNASEL gene mutation than in those with at least one normal copy.

"This is a virus that has never been seen in humans before," said Eric Klein, MD, a collaborator in the research and head of urologic oncology at the Glickman Urologic Institute of Cleveland Clinic. "This is consistent with previous epidemiologic and genetic research that has suggested that prostate cancer may result from chronic inflammation, perhaps as a response to infection."........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 9:50 PM CT

X-ray Specs No Longer Required

X-ray Specs No Longer Required
A new optical effect has been created in a London laboratory that means solid objects such as walls could one day be rendered transparent, researchers report today in the journal Nature Materials.

Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, have pioneered the technique which could be used to see through rubble at earthquake sites, or look at parts of the body obscured by bone.

The effect is based on the development of a new material that exploits the way atoms in matter move, to make them interact with a laser beam in an entirely new way.

The work is based on a breakthrough which contradicts Einstein's theory that in order for a laser to work, the light-amplifying material it contains, commonly a crystal or glass, must be brought to a state known as 'population inversion'. This refers to the condition of the atoms within the material, which must be excited with enough energy to make them emit rather than absorb light.

Quantum physicists, however, have long predicted that by interfering with the wave-patterns of atoms, light could be amplified without population inversion. This has previously been demonstrated in the atoms of gases but has not before been shown in solids.

In order to make this breakthrough, the team created specially patterned crystals only a few billionths of a metre in length that behaved like 'artificial atoms'. When light was shone into the crystals, it became entangled with the crystals at a molecular level rather than being absorbed, causing the material to become transparent.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 9:23 PM CT

Burden of Illness in Drug abusers

Burden of Illness in Drug abusers
Little is known about the frequency, severity and risk factors for disease in drug and alcohol dependent persons without primary medical care. This article assesses the burden of medical illness and identifies patient and substance dependence characteristics associated with worse physical health in order to compare measures of illness burden in this population. Scientists conducted a cross-sectional study among alcohol, heroin or cocaine dependent persons without primary medical care admitted to an urban inpatient detoxification unit (mean age = 35.7 years; 76% male; 46% Black).

Forty-five percent reported being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and 80% had previous medical hospitalizations. The mean age-adjusted SF-36 Physical Component Summary (PCS) score was significantly lower than the general U.S. population norm (44.1 vs. 50.1). In multivariable analysis, the following factors were associated with worse health: female gender, problem use of hallucinogens, heroin, other opiates, living alone, having medical insurance, and older age. Alcohol and drug dependent persons without primary medical care have a substantial burden of medical illness compared to age and gender matched U.S. population controls. While the optimal measure of medical illness burden in this population is unclear, a variety of health measures document this medical illness burden in addicted persons.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink     

February 24, 2006, 0:07 AM CT

2-way Conversations Between Malignant, Normal Cells

2-way Conversations Between Malignant, Normal Cells
For more than seven decades, researchers have had tantalizing clues that cancer cells and neighboring non-malignant cells in the body communicate with one another. It now emerges that this dialog may explain the clinical observation that cancer cells grow to make secondary tumors (metastasize) in some organs of the body and not others. Findings published recently (Feb. 15) suggest that this may also have therapeutic implications.

With the aid of gene chip technology and other powerful new tools, scientists at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have shown clearly that there are two-way conversations taking place that are essential for metastatic cancer cells to form new tumors in distant organs. Further, they have been able to distinguish messages generated by the metastatic cells from those produced by the neighboring non-malignant cells.

"We now know that metastatic tumor cells do not act alone. They must find the right neighborhood, whose resident cells speak their language and are able to provide the support system necessary for the metastatic cells to survive and form secondary tumors," said David Tarin, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology and member of the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego. Tarin is the principal investigator of the study, published February 15 as an EarlyView article on the International Journal of Cancer web site at Wiley Interscience ( The DOI (digital object identifier) is 10.1002/ijc.21757.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 0:04 AM CT

Dvds, Books And Behavioural Problems In Children

Dvds, Books And Behavioural Problems In Children
Parents wanting to solve their children's behavioural problems may be well advised to turn to DVDs and self-help books, rather than to clinical help such as face-to-face cognitive-behavioural treatment, as per Oxford University research published in The Cochrane Library 2006.

Cognitive-behavioural interventions have shown to be highly effective for reducing behavioural problems in children, yet they are costly and not always available to all those needing help as times on waiting lists can be up to 30 weeks for non-urgent cases. If the information parents need in order to manage their children's behaviour presented in book (or other media format) more families could have access to practical help.

The authors of the study carried out the first systematic review of those studies which dealt with the question of improving children's behaviour. Analysing 11 studies including 943 participants, the authors found that media-based therapies for behavioural disorders in children had a moderate effect when compared with no therapy, or as an adjunct to medication. Significant improvements were made with the addition of up to two hours of therapist time.

Dr Paul Montgomery, Lecturer in Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford, said: 'Self-help books and other media on how to solve your child's behaviour problems abound in the shops, yet almost none have actually been scientifically tested. Our work suggests that self-help books may, in some cases, make significant changes in a child's behaviour. This means that, if used systematically, they may help reduce the time that primary care workers have to devote to each case. Such media could also be used as a first stage in a stepped up care approach. This would increase the number of families who could benefit from this type of intervention, and clinical time could be used for more complex cases.'.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

February 23, 2006, 11:26 PM CT

Revealing The Secrets Of The Brain

Revealing The Secrets Of The Brain Activity patterns in the brain elicited by electrical microstimulation are observed around the electrode and in other functionally connected visual areas. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure activation. Image credit: Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
Researchers from the MPI for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen have developed a new procedure which accurately maps the activity in primate brains by means of the BOLD-Signal (Blood Oxygen Level Dependent Signal). The combination of electrical microstimulation and FMRT promises substantially more precise insights into the functional organisation or the brain and its circuitry.

Over the last two centuries electrical microstimulation has been often used to demonstrate causal links between neural activity and specific behaviors or cognitive functions. It has also been used successfully for the therapy of several neurological disorders, most notably, Parkinson's disease. However, to understand the mechanisms by which electrical microstimulation can cause alternations in behaviors and cognitive functions it is imperative to characterize the cortical activity patterns that are elicited by stimulation locally around the electrode and in other functionally connected areas.

To this end, in a new study reported in the December, 2005, issue of Neuron, Andreas S. Tolias and Fahad Sultan, under the guidance of Prof. Nikos K. Logothetis from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, have for the first time developed a technique to record brain activity using the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal while applying electrical microstimulation to the primate brain. They found that the spread of activity around the electrode in macaque area V1 is larger than expected from calculations based on passive spread of current and therefore may reflect functional spread by way of horizontal connections. Consistent with this functional transsynaptic spread they also obtained activation in expected projection sites in extrastriate visual areas demonstrating the utility of their technique in uncovering in vivo functional connectivity maps.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

February 22, 2006, 10:57 PM CT

Obesity and asthma medications

Obesity and asthma medications Marc Peters-Golden, M.D
As the nation's collective waistline has swelled in recent decades, rates of asthma diagnoses also have accelerated. Indeed, much research has affirmed a link between the two conditions.

But doctors also recognize that asthma may not behave the same way among people who have different body types. With a variety of asthma medications on the market, what kinds work best for lean people and what kinds work best for obese people? The answer may be different for each group.

A new study suggests that people who are overweight or obese may have better results with the prescription pill sold as Singulair than with a type of inhaled steroid, while leaner people may have better luck with an inhaled steroid, called beclomethasone and sold as beclovent, vanceril and other brand names. The findings are reported in the new issue of the European Respiratory Journal.

"It is increasingly recognized that obese people are more prone to develop asthma, but there is no information about whether obesity influences people's responses to particular asthma medications," says lead author Marc Peters-Golden, M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Fellowship Program in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

"Our findings are the first to suggest the possibility that obesity might be a factor that influences how well asthmatics respond to particular medications," Peters-Golden says.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

February 22, 2006, 10:25 PM CT

Psychology Of Asthma Response In Children

Psychology Of Asthma Response In Children
While a number of urban children suffer from asthma, those who have high self-esteem and good problem-solving skills may be less likely to have their asthma symptoms interfere with school, a new study finds.

"Our results suggest that in spite of facing asthma symptoms, stressors correlation to urban residence, as well as family life stressors, children's individual characteristics such as higher levels of problem-solving beliefs and self-esteem were associated with fewer school absences, more participation in activities, and less missed sleep," says lead author, Daphne Koinis Mitchell, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC) and Brown Medical School.

This study, reported in the December 2005 issue of the Journal of School Health, is an important step towards identifying ways in which school systems can develop plans to help students with asthma improve their academic performance.

Asthma can influence school absences, increase emergency room visits, limit physical activities, and account for sleep loss. If not properly treated, asthma can negatively impact children's ability to learn when in school, the authors write.

But are there are factors that might mitigate these effects? The authors studied a group of urban, school-aged children (and their mothers) with asthma from minority backgrounds.........

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. Archives of health news blog

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