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December 7, 2006, 9:47 PM CT

Growing Heart Muscle

Growing Heart Muscle A length of bioengineered heart muscle, or BEHM, grown at the University of Michigan
Credit: Ravi Birla, University of Michiga
It looks, contracts and responds almost like natural heart muscle - even though it was grown in the lab. And it brings researchers another step closer to the goal of creating replacement parts for damaged human hearts, or eventually growing an entirely new heart from just a spoonful of loose heart cells.

This week, University of Michigan scientists are reporting significant progress in growing bioengineered heart muscle, or BEHM, with organized cells, capable of generating pulsating forces and reacting to stimulation more like real muscle than ever before.

The three-dimensional tissue was grown using an innovative technique that is faster than others that have been tried in recent years, but still yields tissue with significantly better properties. The approach uses a fibrin gel to support rat cardiac cells temporarily, before the fibrin breaks down as the cells organize into tissue.

The U-M team details its achievement in a new paper published online in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A.

And while BEHM is still years away from use as a human heart therapy, or as a testing ground for new cardiovascular drugs, the U-M scientists say their results should help accelerate progress toward those goals. U-M is applying for patent protection on the development and is actively looking for a corporate partner to help bring the technology to market.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


December 7, 2006, 9:41 PM CT

The Friendship Clinic

The Friendship Clinic
A number of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder suffer through a range of problems, from poor grades to poor relations with parents and teachers. But more than half of these children also have serious problems making friends. Too often they live lonely lives, never learning to develop the social skills they need to make friends as children or as adults.

"Children with ADHD often are peer-rejected, and their difficulties multiply as they grow to adulthood," said Amori Yee Mikami, assistant professor of psychology and principal investigator for a new clinical study designed to help children with ADHD become better at making friends.

"Children with ADHD often grow up with depression and relationship problems, some may develop criminal behavior and substance abuse problems," Mikami said. "There can be a spiral of failure that is partly the result of not having learned to make and keep friends as children".

About 5 percent of school-age children are affected by ADHD. Symptoms include a short attention span, poor organization, excessive talking, disruptive and aggressive behavior, restlessness and irritability. Children with ADHD often are uncooperative and may make their own rules.

"These symptoms get in the way of making and keeping friends," Mikami said. "The child with ADHD can become stigmatized, known as 'the bad kid,' and this can lead to more inappropriate behavior. It can become a vicious cycle resulting in more social isolation".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:51 PM CT

Evolutionary Risk of Cancer And Body Mass

Evolutionary Risk of Cancer And Body Mass
A key enzyme that cuts short our cellular lifespan in an effort to thwart cancer has now been associated with body mass.

Until now, researchers believed that our relatively long lifespans controlled the expression of telomerase-an enzyme that can lengthen the lives of cells, but can also increase the rate of cancer.

Vera Gorbunova, assistant professor of biology at the University of Rochester, conducted a first-of-its-kind study to discover why some animals express telomerase while others, like humans, don't. The findings are reported in today's issue of Aging Cell.

"Mice express telomerase in all their cells, which helps them heal dramatically fast," says Gorbunova. "Skin lesions heal much faster in mice, and after surgery a mouse's recovery time is far shorter than a human's. It would be nice to have that healing power, but the flip side of it is runaway cell reproduction-cancer".

Up until now, researchers assumed that mice could afford to express telomerase, and thereby benefit from its curative powers, because their natural risk of developing cancer is low-they simply die before there's much likelihood of one of their cells becoming malignant.

"Most people don't know that if you put mice in a cage so the cat can't eat them, 90 percent of them will die of cancer," says Gorbunova.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:46 PM CT

Statin Users Risk Heart Attacks By Dropping Treatment

Statin Users Risk Heart Attacks By Dropping Treatment
Thousands of statin users worldwide are suffering preventable heart attacks, simply because they are not complying with their therapy or are taking too low a dose, as per new research published on-line (Thursday 7 December) in European Heart Journal[1].

These life-saving drugs, used to lower cholesterol levels in people who are at risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), can only be optimally effective if patients use them properly - and a number of are not.

That is the conclusion by the research team, who followed the prescription records of nearly 60,000 patients in the Netherlands for up to 14 years.

Dr Fernie Penning-van Beest and his colleagues from the PHARMO Institute[2], the Utrecht Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Academic Hospital in Amsterdam, analysed 548,084 prescriptions of statin therapy issued over the first two years of therapy[3] in 59,094 new users in the period January 1991-December 2004, and followed the patients until their first hospital admission for heart attack, death, or the end of the study in December 2004.

The aim was to see how effective robust statin therapy was for primary and secondary CHD in the 'real world' - as opposed to in clinical trials. Their results enabled them to calculate the absolute number of avoidable heart attacks that occurred because patients had stopped taking their drugs or were not taking them consistently. They were also able to compare the preventive effects of different doses and types of statins.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:42 PM CT

Abnormal Pap Smears Not Unusual

Abnormal Pap Smears Not Unusual
A report, published in health journal Sexual Health, has found nearly all women had had at least one Pap smear test in their lives with 26 percent reporting an abnormal result.

Two thirds of these women were treated at clinics after abnormal tests with about one in five women reporting negative effects on their sex lives.

More than 900 women aged between 18-59, randomly selected from the Commonwealth electoral roll, took part in the survey from 1999.

Dr Fran Boyle, a contributing author and UQ School of Population Health Senior Lecturer, said abnormal test results were more common than what most women thought.

"With widespread screening inevitably comes a greater likelihood of detecting abnormalities," Dr Boyle said.

"An abnormal result can arise for many reasons, a number of of which are not cause for alarm.

"For a number of women the immediate assumption is that it is something very serious.

"We really need to think about how the term abnormal Pap smear and the different meanings of such a result are communicated to women.

"We also need to ensure that women are well-prepared for the possibility of an abnormal result because it is something that is relatively common in the community."

Dr Boyle said the strength of this study was that it was one of the few that were based on women from the general community and not on women who had been to clinics.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:33 PM CT

How We Put Stress Into Words

How We Put Stress Into Words
How does a child learn that the stress is on the second syllable of giraffe, and on the first of zebra?.

Is it memory, the structure of the word itself or clues provided by the sounds in the word?.

New research by psychology expert Dr Padraic Monaghan, of the University of York, will try to answer the question. He is leading a new project to study the mechanism of language processing that governs how stress is assigned in words.

The research findings may help in the therapy of reading difficulties and assist in learning a second language, as well as potentially helping recovery after brain injury.

In a joint study with social researchers at Charles Sturt University, in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia, he will examine what role the mechanism plays in learning to read. The research, which is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Australian Research Council, will also focus on the variation between languages in the patterns of stress.

Dr Monaghan, of the University of York's Department of Psychology, said: "This research has implications for the developmental processes of reading and language development. It is critically important to be able to understand the process of reading in order to more thoroughly help children with difficulties in reading.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:17 PM CT

Sleep Problems In Overweight Children

Sleep Problems In Overweight Children
One-fourth of overweight children may have sleep problems that regular physical activity can largely resolve, scientists say.

Research reported in the recent issue of Obesity shows a surprising 25 out of 100 overweight, inactive children tested positive for sleep-disordered breathing, including telltale snoring.

After about three months of vigorous after-school physical activity such as jumping rope, basketball and tag games, the number of children who tested positive for a sleep disorder was cut in half, as per lead researcher, Dr. Catherine L. Davis. In children who exercised the longest, the number was reduced by 80 percent.

The children were among 100 black and white boys and girls ages 7 to 11 enrolled in a study looking at the effect of exercise on metabolism. For the purposes of that study, the children were divided into three groups: a control group as well as those who exercised 20 or 40 minutes daily.

In fact scientists found the average score for all children who exercised - even those who did not test positive for sleep disorders - improved on the Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire.

"Existing data suggests about two percent of children have sleep problems but with 37 percent of children now considered overweight, the percentage may be much higher," says Dr. Davis, clinical health psychology expert at the Medical College of Georgia and the study's first author.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:13 PM CT

New Treatment Approaches For Glaucoma

New Treatment Approaches For Glaucoma
New research from Children's Hospital Boston and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) may help explain how glaucoma causes blindness, revealing the chain of cellular and molecular events that ultimately damage the optic nerve, preventing visual information from traveling from the eye to the brain. The study, done in mice, indicates possible targets for intervention, including an inflammatory molecule called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), which is already targeted by some existing drugs.

"These findings give a whole new approach to thinking about glaucoma treatment," says Joan Miller, MD, chief of Ophthalmology at the MEEI and a coauthor of the study, which will appear online December 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Glaucoma affects an estimated 3 million Americans, and it's speculated that an equal number of people are affected but undiagnosed. The disease is six to eight times more common in African-Americans (in whom it is the leading cause of blindness) than in Caucasians, and six times more common in people over age 60 than in younger people. The primary risk factor for glaucoma is increased pressure in the eye, measured by the familiar "puff" test and other screening examinations. If glaucoma is diagnosed early, eyedrops or surgery to lower intraocular pressure can often prevent further optic-nerve damage and halt vision loss. However, it has not been understood how the increased pressure leads to optic-nerve damage.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:08 PM CT

Asian Immigrants Have Fewer Mental Health Problems

Asian Immigrants Have Fewer Mental Health Problems
Immigrants from Asia have lower rates of psychiatric disorders than American-born Asians and other native-born Americans, as per the first national epidemiological survey of Asian Americans in the United States.

The study showed different mental health patterns among women and men, with birthplace the key factor for women and English-language proficiency the main variable among men. Asian-American immigrant women were far less likely to suffer from a depressive, anxiety, substance abuse or psychiatric disorder in their lifetime than were U.S.-born women. Immigrant men who reported good or excellent English skills were less likely to have mental health problems than were those who had poorer English proficiency or American-born men.

"In comparison to all Americans, Asian Americans had lower lifetime rates of any disorder," said David Takeuchi, a sociologist and University of Washington social work professor and lead author of the study. "Roughly 48 percent of Americans will have some kind of a lifetime disorder. In our study, less than one in four Asian-American immigrants will have a disorder. However, that won't necessarily be the case for their children and grandchildren. If trends continue, rates for them will go up and that suggests that more investment is needed for prevention programs."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 5, 2006, 9:25 PM CT

Virtual Reality Can Improve Memory

Virtual Reality Can Improve Memory
Conventional wisdom tells us that experience is the best teacher. But a new study of virtual marketing strategies finds that this isn't always true. Ann E. Schlosser (University of Washington) tested how well people used a camera after learning about its functions two different ways: either through an interactive virtual rendition or through text and static pictures. She observed that though virtual experiences improved people's memories of the camera's functions, it also increased false positives that is, more people believed it could do things that it couldn't do.

"Eventhough object interactivity may improve memory of associations in comparison to static pictures and text, it may lead to the creation of vivid internally-generated recollections that pose as memories," Schlosser writes in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

In addition, though the virtual experience was better for retaining information, it didn't help test subjects recognize the actual items when presented in real life: "The benefits of learning via virtual experience may come with costs: the ease of generating mental images may create later confusion regarding whether a retrieved mental image waccording toceived or imagined," she writes.

Schlosser also warns that while it might seem advantageous if consumers think a product has features it doesn't actually have, this can actually lead to customer dissatisfaction. She explains, "Consumers who discover that the product does not have these attributes will likely feel misled by the company".........

Posted by: Daniel      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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