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December 25, 2005

Compounds prevens brain cell death

Compounds prevens brain cell death
Spanish chemists have developed a promising set of synthetic compounds that one day could help slow or perhaps halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. The preliminary finding, based on test tube studies by scientists at the Universidad de Granada and others, appears in the Dec. 29 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

The compounds, especially a synthesized metabolite of the hormone melatonin, all inhibit an enzyme called inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), which is needed to produce nitric oxide (NO). NO, a signaling molecule that can activate the immune system, plays an important role in the brain, according to the researchers. But too much NO can trigger the death of brain cells and some researchers theorize the compound is involved in the development of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Like melatonin, the new synthetic compounds apparently can cross biological barriers, suppress iNOS production, and, in turn, prevent NO-induced brain damage, the scientists say. However, they caution that additional research will be needed to verify these results.........

Daniel      Permalink

December 25, 2005, 10:32 AM CT

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers
Medicineworld wishes all our readers merry Christmas.

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells

Jingle all the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

In a one horse open sleigh

Jingle bells, jingle bells

Jingle all the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

In a one horse open sleigh........

Daniel      Permalink

December 23, 2005

Langerhans Cells And Immune System

Langerhans Cells And Immune System Langerhans cells in red
The langerhans cells are marked in red and another cell type are in green. Wild-type mice are on the bottom and have both the red and green cells. Then transgenic mice are on the top and still have the green cells but the red cells are missing.

New Haven, Conn. - Scientists at Yale School of Medicine have demonstrated that Langerhans cells in the skin, which had been thought to alert the immune system to pathogens, instead dampen the skin's reaction to infection and inflammation.

This has the potential to significantly alter understanding of the mechanisms underlying a number of skin disorders such as psoriasis, lupus and skin cancer.

Dendritic cells are found throughout the body and are extremely efficient at alerting the immune system to the presence of pathogens and other foreign materials. Langerhans cells are dendritic cells in the skin. Skin is an important barrier to infection and it has been generally assumed that the Langerhans cells only serve to warn the immune system of skin pathogens.

According to the study, featured on the cover of the December 15 issue of Immunity, Langerhans cells are not mandatory and, in fact, inhibit or modulate immune responses in the skin.

Daniel H. Kaplan, M.D., and Mark J. Shlomchik, M.D., used a technology called Bacterial Artificial Chromosome transgenics to develop a mouse model that lacks Langerhans cells in the skin from birth. They stimulated the skin of these mice to create hypersensitivity similar to a poison ivy reaction. They expected that mice without Langerhans cells would have less immune response in the skin.

"Unexpectedly, instead of a decreased immune response to contact hypersensitivity, we found a reproducible and significant increase," said first author Kaplan, assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "Langerhans cells are thus not mandatory to generate immune responses in the skin and more profoundly, they actually regulate immune responses in the skin".........

JoAnn      Permalink

December 23, 2005

genetic link between asthma and obesity

genetic link between asthma and obesity
A study about the relationship between asthma and obesity, which uses a community-based twin registry from the University of Washington in Seattle, has found a strong genetic link between the two disorders, according to findings published in the recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

While this study replicates prior findings that have shown asthma to be more common in obese individuals, it goes on to show that the largest portion of the association between the two disorders could be explained by a common set of genetic factors.

Dr. Teal Hallstrand, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, led the study, which compared the frequency of asthma and obesity in both identical and fraternal, or non-identical, twins. The scientists analyzed 1001 identical and 383 fraternal same-sex twin pairs within the University of Washington Twin Registry. They found that the largest portion of the association between asthma and obesity could be attributed to a common set of genetic factors, referred to as genetic pleiotropy, which implies that the same genetic factors may have a causal influence on both asthma and obesity.

Asthma and obesity are increasingly common disorders, particularly in Westernized societies. A fundamental question about the relationship between obesity and asthma is whether the association between these two disorders is predominantly genetic or environmental.

The scientists also report that the effects of environmental exposures on asthma and obesity are likely to occur primarily in the context of a specific genetic background, referred to as gene-by-environment effects.

JoAnn      Permalink

December 23, 2005

Chinese Remedy For Breast Cancer

Chinese Remedy For Breast Cancer
A derivative of the sweet wormwood plant used since ancient times to fight malaria and shown to precisely target and kill cancer cells may someday aid in stopping breast cancer before it gets a toehold.

In a new study, two University of Washington bioengineers found that the substance, artemisinin, appeared to prevent the onset of breast cancer in rats that had been given a cancer-causing agent. The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Cancer Letters.

"Based on earlier studies, artemisinin is selectively toxic to cancer cells and is effective orally," according to Henry Lai, research professor in the Department of Bioengineering, who conducted the study with fellow UW bioengineer Narendra P. Singh, a research associate professor in the department. "With the results of this study, it's an attractive candidate for cancer prevention".

The properties that make artemisinin an effective antimalarial agent also appear responsible for its anti-cancer clout. When artemisinin comes into contact with iron, a chemical reaction ensues that spawns free radicals -- highly reactive chemicals that, when formed inside a cell, attack the cell membrane and other structures, killing the cell.

The malaria parasite can't eliminate iron in the blood cells it eats, and stores it. Artemisinin makes that stored iron toxic to the parasite.

The same appears to be true for cancer. Because they multiply so rapidly, most cancer cells have a high rate of iron uptake. Their surfaces have large numbers of receptors, which transport iron into the cells. That appears to allow the artemisinin to selectively target and kill the cancer cells, based on their higher iron content.

In the latest study, the researchers administered to rats a single oral dose of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene, a substance known to induce multiple breast tumors. Half of the rats then were fed regular food, while the other half were fed food with 0.02 percent artemisinin added. For 40 weeks, researchers monitored each group for the formation of breast tumors.........

Emily      Permalink

December 23, 2005

How To Control The Christmas Alcohol Craving

How To Control The Christmas Alcohol Craving
Festive Season drinkers who feel they are losing control of their alcohol consumption can join an innovative drug-free program run by scientists at The University of Queensland.

Professor David Kavanagh of UQ's School of Medicine is piloting a program that is free for participants and especially useful for people who find that their drinking is damaging other areas of their lives.

The program involves "owning and managing" your alcohol craving, rather than fighting it, Professor Kavanagh said.

"For most of us there is nothing wrong with small or moderate amounts of alcohol," he said.

"However, at least once a year 35 percent of Australians drink in a way that puts them at short-term risk of physical harm.

"Alarmingly, 40 percent of teenagers aged 14-19 and 61 percent of 20-29 year-olds risk their health in this way.

"For a number of, Christmas-New Year is a really perilous time because it is easy to lose track of alcohol consumption when you are out partying."

Professor Kavanagh said the program, at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital at Herston, is designed for people who want to stop drinking altogether, as well as those who want to cut back.

"It is never easy to kick a habit like drinking, particularly when we are surrounded by alcohol and images that promote drinking.........

Janet      Permalink

December 23, 2005

Epstein-Barr Virus In Blood Cancers

Epstein-Barr Virus In Blood Cancers
Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine identified a link between a critical cancer pathway and an Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) protein known to be expressed in many EBV-associated cancers. Their findings demonstrated a new mechanism by which EBV can transform human B cells from the immune system into malignant cells, which can lead to B-cell lymphomas. Now, they have found that the viral protein--called EBNA3C (for EBV nuclear antigen)--mediates the degradation of the retinoblastoma protein, an important molecular brake for cell proliferation.

Erle S. Robertson, PhD, an Associate Professor of Microbiology who leads the Tumor Virology Program at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, and MD/PhD student Jason Knight, published their results last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The retinoblastoma protein (Rb) is a major regulator of several genes in charge of cell proliferation and cell-cycle regulation. In the nucleus, Rb normally binds to E2F, turning off genes involved with cell proliferation. Using human cell cultures infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, the researchers found that EBNA3C recruits a group of molecules called the SCF complex, which attaches ubiquitin to Rb. This inadvertently tags Rb for degradation by the proteosome machinery, the cell's recycling plant. With Rb out of the way, the cell now reproduces uncontrollably.

"It's as simple as that, but it's a major mystery solved that a number of scientists have been working on for at least 15 years," says Robertson.

EBV, a member of the herpesvirus family and one of the most common human viruses, plays a role in cancers such as lymphoproliferative diseases in transplant or AIDS patients, Burkitt's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and also causes the well-known disease infectious mononucleosis. As a number of as 95 percent of adults 20 years and older have been infected with EBV, but show no symptoms.........

Daniel      Permalink

December 23, 2005

Medical Errors Reporting Law

Medical Errors Reporting Law
A new state law that will require Indiana hospitals to report medical errors in more than two dozen categories can help hospital patients, a Purdue University health-care expert said.

Under the rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, the state will make the errors at each hospital available for public review. Indiana and Minnesota are the only states in the nation that not only require error reporting but also will identify the hospitals reporting errors.

"Change is a constant in the health-care industry, and this law focuses attention on helping Indiana hospitals better track their errors and making them more effective," said Joseph Pekny, interim director of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, a research facility at Purdue that's applying engineering principles to help eliminate inefficiencies in the health-care industry.

At Regenstrief, Purdue scientists are focusing on improving safety and efficiency of patient care, providing more effective deployment of physicians, nurses and other health-care personnel, and better coordinating inpatient and outpatient therapy so providers can focus on patients and care.

In this case, Regenstrief's goal is to help providers learn as much as possible from medical errors to improve the delivery of health care, Pekny said.

"Health care provides some of the most complex and important services, so providing resources to help providers be the best they can be is our primary mission," he said.

Data from Indiana's hospitals will be collected during 2006, and the state's first report will be available to consumers in 2007.

Realizing there was a dearth of data in Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered the Indiana State Department of Health to establish the Medical Error Reporting System to make Indiana hospitals more accountable to patients. Under the new law, hospitals and surgery centers must report mistakes within 15 days of their discovery.........

Sue      Permalink

December 23, 2005

Parrots For Studying Mental Disorders

Parrots For Studying Mental Disorders
The bird doing loop-the-loops in the cage and pulling out its feathers is not just playing and preening. Stress may cause these activities and also may provide insight into similar human behaviors, according to researchers.

A study of abnormal repetitive behaviors practiced by Orange-winged Amazon parrots indicates that environment plays a role in two types of behavior that the caged birds perform. One of the behaviors, feather picking, closely mirrors compulsive behaviors in humans, according to Purdue University and University of California at Davis researchers. The study also helped debunk a time-worn belief that parrots teach each other feather picking.

"There is a lot of merit in studying abnormal behaviors just in terms of figuring out ways to control them for the welfare of both companion animals and those bred for production agriculture," said Joseph Garner, a Purdue assistant professor of animal sciences and the study's lead author. "Another benefit is that if animal abnormal behavior is caused in the same way as in humans, then we may have a whole new range of model animals for studying human mental disorders".

Results of the research are scheduled for publication in the recent issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science and currently are published on the journal's Web site.

The scientists initially were trying to determine if parrots' abnormal behaviors are of two categories. One category is composed of a constant repetition of meaningless gestures or movements called stereotypies, and the other is a repetition of inappropriate complex behavior that normally would have a specific goal, such as feather picking.

"I've thought for awhile that we should start looking at these behaviors in animals as if they are two different types," Garner said. "Then, if we treated stereotypies and compulsive behaviors as if they were in humans, maybe we would improve our therapys in birds".........

JoAnn      Permalink

December 23, 2005

Dangers Of Treated Wood

Dangers Of Treated Wood
Arsenic from treated lumber used in decks, utility poles and fences will likely leach into the environment for decades to come, possibly threatening groundwater, according to two research papers published online Wednesday.

Scientists from the University of Miami, the University of Florida and Florida International University examined arsenic leaching from chromated copper arsenate, or CCA-treated wood, from a real deck as well as from simulated landfills.

Their conclusion: The deck wood leached high levels of arsenic into rainwater runoff and the soil - and treated wood only continued leaching arsenic while sitting in simulated landfills.

The papers appeared in the online version of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, Research ASAP. The bulk of the funding for the research came from the Florida Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, a statewide research center hosted by the UF College of Engineering.

"What's important for people to realize is that arsenic is relatively mobile, so it's something we have to be relatively concerned about - how to manage this huge stock of CCA wood that remains to be disposed of," said Tim Townsend, a UF associate professor of environmental engineering.

Earlier studies on the arsenic leaching problem prompted the wood products industry to phase out CCA-products for residential use in 2003, but CCA-wood can still be used in utility poles and industrial timbers.

Helena Solo-Gabriele, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Miami, Townsend and their colleagues studied rainwater runoff from a CCA-treated deck for a year. Their conclusion: Arsenic contamination was 100 times higher than runoff from an untreated deck.

Not only that, but a layer of sand underneath the deck had arsenic levels 15 to 30 times higher than background levels, while water that percolated through the sand also was contaminated by the toxic metal.........

Sue      Permalink

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