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March 21, 2007, 5:13 AM CT

Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia

Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia
Psychiatric scientists at The Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have uncovered evidence of a new gene that appears to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, a disorder characterized by distorted thinking, hallucinations and a reduced ability to feel normal emotions.

Working in conjunction with scientists at the Harvard Medical School Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics in Boston, MA, the Zucker Hillside team utilized a cutting-edge technology called whole genome association (WGA) to search the entire human genome in 178 patients with schizophrenia and 144 healthy individuals. WGA technology was used to examine over 500,000 genetic markers in each individual, the largest number of such markers examined to date, and the first published study to utilize WGA technology in a psychiatric illness. Prior studies have been much more limited in scope, often incorporating less than 10 markers.

The study results are scheduled would be published online Tuesday in Molecular Psychiatry, which can be accessed at

Of the 500,000 genetic markers, the scientists observed that the most significant link with schizophrenia came from a marker located in a chromosomal region called the pseudoautosomal region 1 (PAR1), which is on both the X and Y chromosomes. The marker was located adjacent to two genes, CSF2RA and IL3RA, which previously were thought to play a role in inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Those two genes produce receptors for two cytokines, GM-CSF and interleukin-3. Cytokines are involved in the body's response to infection, and may play a role in the brain's response to injury.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:59 PM CT

Do feelings matter?

Do feelings matter?
Providence, RI As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adolescents and young adults currently account for fifty percent of new HIV infections on an annual basis. As a result, ongoing research and information on HIV prevention has become a high priority for this age group. Now a new study reveals that helping adolescents manage their emotions may be just as important as providing them with information on the practical side of safe sex in order to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Scientists from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University studied 222 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 with psychiatric disorders and observed that feelings do matter when it comes to making decisions about safe sex. Specifically, the findings suggest that lack of self-efficacy (the belief that one could effectively engage in a particular behavior) when confronted with the stress of using condoms is a powerful barrier to their use.

"We observed that adolescents need help feeling more comfortable and less distressed about discussing and using condoms," says lead author Celia Lescano, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:23 PM CT

Root Beer May Be "Safest" Soft Drink for Teeth

Root Beer May Be
Exposing teeth to soft drinks, even for a short period of time, causes dental erosion-and prolonged exposure can lead to significant enamel loss. Root beer products, however, are non-carbonated and do not contain the acids that harm teeth, as per a research studyin the March/April 2007 issue of General Dentistry, the AGD's clinical, peer-evaluated journal. That might be something to consider during the next visit to the grocery store.

Consumers often consider soft drinks to be harmless, believing that the only concern is sugar content. Most choose to consume "diet" drinks to alleviate this concern. However, diet drinks contain phosphoric acid and/or citric acid and still cause dental erosion-though considerably less than their sugared counterparts.

"Drinking any type of soft drink poses risk to the health of your teeth," says AGD spokesperson Kenton Ross, DMD, FAGD. Dr. Ross recommends that patients consume fewer soft drinks by limiting their intake to meals. He also advises patients to drink with a straw, which will reduce soda's contact with teeth.

"My patients are shocked to hear that a number of of the soft drinks they consume battery acid," Dr. Ross explains. For example, one type of cola ranked 2.39 on the acid.

scale, in comparison to battery acid which is 1.0.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:11 PM CT

Cancer Patients' Opinions About Doctors

Cancer Patients' Opinions About Doctors
Accessing high-quality health information on the Internet may improve patients with breast cancer' opinions about their doctors, as per a new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research, funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Previous research shows that a number of patients with breast cancer go to the Internet to learn about their disease. This is the first study to examine how patients' opinions about their health-care providers affects how they seek online health education and support and, in turn, how using these services influences how they feel about their doctors.

The study sample included 231 recently diagnosed patients with breast cancer who were referred by their health-care providers to a study in which they were provided a free computer, Internet access and training on how to use an online health education and support system called the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS) "Living with Breast Cancer" program, a computer-based health education and support system. The patients were recruited from Wisconsin and Michigan. Surveys were administered before group access and then four months later. Data about how women used the system were also collected.

Generally, a worse doctor-patient relationship was linked to higher use of the information-related services, while more frequent use of the information services was linked to patients being more satisfied with their doctors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 20, 2007, 9:10 PM CT

Tracking Cells In The Body

Tracking Cells In The Body
Scientists' inability to follow the whereabouts of cells injected into the human body has long been a major drawback in developing effective medical therapies. Now, scientists at Johns Hopkins have developed a promising new technique for noninvasively tracking where living cells go after they are put into the body. The new technique, which uses genetically encoded cells producing a natural contrast that can be viewed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), appears much more effective than present methods used to detect injected biomaterials.

Described in the February edition of Nature Biotechnology, the method was developed by a team of scientists from Johns Hopkins' Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, the Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, and the F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

In their study, the scientists used a synthetic gene, called a reporter gene, which was engineered to have a high proportion of the amino acid lysine, which is particularly rich in accessible hydrogen atoms. Because MRI detects energy-produced shifts in hydrogen atoms, when the "new" gene was introduced into animal cells and then "pelted" with radiofrequency waves from the MRI, it became readily visible. Using the technique as a proof of principle, the scientists were able to detect transplanted tumor cells in animal brains.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Stem Cell Signaling Pathway

Stem Cell Signaling Pathway
A newly discovered small molecule called IQ-1 plays a key role in preventing embryonic stem cells from differentiating into one or more specific cell types, allowing them to instead continue growing and dividing indefinitely, as per research performed by a team of researchers who have recently joined the stem-cell research efforts at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Their findings are being published recently in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This discovery takes researchers another step closer to being able to grow embryonic stem cells without the feeder layer of mouse fibroblast cells that is essential for maintaining the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells, says the studys primary investigator, Michael Kahn, Ph.D., who was recently named the first Provosts Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy at USC. Such a layer is needed because it is currently the only proven method to provide the stem cells with the necessary chemical signals that prompt them to stay undifferentiated and to continue dividing over and over.

Still, growing human embryonic stem cells on a layer of mouse fibroblasts has never made much sense to the researchers forced to do just that. Stem cells that grow on feeders are contaminated with mouse glycoproteins markers, Kahn says. If you use them into humans, youd potentially have a horrible immune response.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 9:38 PM CT

Cause of Smokers' Cravings

Cause of Smokers' Cravings
Video of Jed Rose explaining the regions of the brain that control craving is available in the following formats: RealMedia, QuickTime and Windows Media Video.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Within the mind of every smoker trying to quit rages a battle between the higher-order functions of the brain wanting to break the habit and the lower-order functions screaming for another cigarette, say scientists at Duke University Medical Center. More often than not, that cigarette gets lit.

Brain scans of smokers studied by the scientists revealed three specific regions deep within the brain that appear to control dependence on nicotine and craving for cigarettes. These regions play important roles in some of the key motivations for smoking: to calm down when stressed, to achieve pleasure and to help concentration.

"If you can't calm down, can't derive pleasure and can't control yourself or concentrate, then it will be extremely difficult for you to break the habit," said lead study investigator Jed E. Rose, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research. "These brain regions may explain why most people try to quit several times before they are successful."

Understanding how the brain responds to cigarette cravings can help doctors change nicotine cessation therapys to address all three of these components of withdrawal, Rose said. Drugs or therapies that target these regions may help smokers stave off the cravings that often spoil their attempts to quit.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 9:26 PM CT

Protein May Increase Chances of Pregnancy

Protein May Increase Chances of Pregnancy
In its early and most critical stages, human reproduction requires precise, vital functions. The role of one sperm-delivered protein, which is crucial to the process, is being closely observed by researchers from the United States and Canada. Lab tests in recent years have produced valuable information and hopes of regulating that protein to enhance fertility.

Peter Sutovsky, assistant professor of animal sciences in the University of Missouri-Columbia's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine, has collaborated with Richard Oko, professor of anatomy and cell biology at Queen's University (Ontario), and other academic scientists examining the role of postacrosomal sheath WW domain binding protein (PAWP), which during fertilization must function properly to initiate the reproduction process. If not, reproduction won't occur, Sutovsky said.

PAWP's role is one of the earliest reproduction requirements, he said. The protein is located inside of the sperm head and separates from the sperm shortly after the sperm fuses with the egg cell. PAWP activates the fertilized egg to divide and become an embryo, and triggers a defense mechanism that stops additional sperm from penetrating the egg cell.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 5:15 AM CT

Virtual racing games linked to risk taking

Virtual racing games linked to risk taking
Psychology experts have taken the "media priming" effects of popular video console and PC-based games on the road, finding that virtual racing seems to lead to aggressive driving and a propensity for risk taking. Extending previous findings on how aggressive virtual-shooter games increase aggression-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors, scientists at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Allianz Center for Technology observed that of 198 men and women, those who play more virtual car-racing games were more likely to report that they drive aggressively and get in accidents. Less frequent virtual racing was linked to more cautious driving.

The findings are reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

Linking media priming effects the way virtual aggression can lead to the real thing -- to behavior, a second study observed that men who played even one virtual racing game subsequently took significantly higher risks in critical traffic situations on a computer simulator than did men who played a neutral game. Sixty-eight men were in this study.

Finally, the scientists assigned 83 men to play either typical racing or neutral games on a Sony Playstation. In the racing games, say the authors, "To win, participants had to massively violate traffic rules (e.g., drive on the sidewalk, crash into other cards, drive at high speed)." Those who raced subsequently reported a significantly higher accessibility of thoughts and feelings associated with risk-taking than did those who played a neutral game.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 5:14 AM CT

Inflammation And Metastasis Of Prostate Cancer

Inflammation And Metastasis Of Prostate Cancer
A number of would assume that "mounting an immune response" or "having your body fight the cancer" is a good thing. Now, research at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine strongly suggests that inflammation linked to the progression of tumors actually plays a key role in the metastasis of prostate cancer.

The research, appearing online March 19 in advance of publication in the journal Nature, identifies a mechanism which triggers metastasis, which is the spread of cancer in late stages of prostate cancer development. The findings by Michael Karin, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology in UCSD's Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, and his colleagues may help solve the puzzle of why it takes so long for cancer to metastasize, as well as what causes it to do so. Furthermore, this new work may lead to development of anti-metastatic therapies.

A major hypothesis in cancer research has been that whether the cancer metastisizes or not is determined by genetic changes within the cancer cell itself. But this hypothesis didn't explain why metastases appear a number of years after the initial tumor.

"Our findings suggest that promoting inflammation of the malignant tissue, for instance, by performing prostate biopsies, may, ironically, hasten progression of metastasis," said Karin. "We have shown that proteins produced by inflammatory cells are the 'smoking gun' behind prostate cancer metastasis. The next step is to completely indict one of them".........

Posted by: Mark      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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