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January 6, 2009, 7:06 PM CT

Drug to slow aging in making?

Drug to slow aging in making?
Recent animal studies have shown that clioquinol an 80-year old drug once used to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders can reverse the progression of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. Scientists, however, had a variety of theories to attempt to explain how a single compound could have such similar effects on three unrelated neurodegenerative disorders.

Scientists at McGill University have discovered a dramatic possible new answer: As per Dr. Siegfried Hekimi and his colleagues at McGill's Department of Biology, clioquinol acts directly on a protein called CLK-1, often informally called "clock-1," and might slow down the aging process. The advance online edition of their study was published in Oct. 2008 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry

"Clioquinol is a very powerful inhibitor of clock-1," explained Hekimi, McGill's Strathcona Chair of Zoology and Robert Archibald & Catherine Louise Campbell Chair in Developmental Biology. "Because clock-1 affects longevity in invertebrates and mice, and because we're talking about three age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases, we hypothesize that clioquinol affects them by slowing down the rate of aging".

Once usually prescribed in Europe and Asia for gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and shigella, clioquinol was withdrawn from the market after being blamed for a devastating outbreak of subacute myelo-optic neuropathy (SMON) in Japan in the 1960s. However, because no rigorous scientific study was conducted at the time, and because clioquinol was used safely by millions before and after the Japanese outbreak, some scientists think its connection to SMON has yet to be proven.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 6:56 PM CT

New risk assessment tools need to predict Coronary Heart Disease

New risk assessment tools need to predict Coronary Heart Disease
The Framingham and National Cholesterol Education Program tools, NCEP, do not accurately predict coronary heart disease, as per a research studyperformed at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.

The study included 1,653 patients who had no history of coronary heart disease; eventhough 738 patients were taking statins (cholesterol lowering drugs like Lipitor) because of increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. All 1,653 patients underwent a coronary CT angiogram and doctors compared their risk of coronary heart disease, determined by the Framingham and NCEP risk assessment tools, to the amount of plaque actually found in their arteries as a result of the scan. Results showed that 21% of the patients who were thought to need statin drugs before the scan (because of the Framingham and NCEP assessment tools) did not require them; "26% of the patients who were already taking statins (because of the risk factor assessment tools) had no detectable plaque at all," said Kevin M. Johnson, MD, main author of the study.

"Risk assessment tools are used by physicians implicitly. Physicians use them as a way to separate and treat patients accordingly. Ultimately, the Framingham influences what every doctor does, but I feel it is not good enough to show what is happening with each individual patient," said Dr. Johnson.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 6:50 PM CT

Wii Fit can promote physical activities

Wii Fit can promote physical activities
Image courtesy of Howstuffworks
While some emerging technologies can create environments that require very little physical effort, one Kansas State University researcher thinks games like Nintendo's Wii Fit can help promote physical rather than sedentary activities for people of all ages.

"I think there is a great potential to develop ways to promote physical activity through technology," said David Dzewaltowski, professor and head of the department of kinesiology at K-State and director of the university's Community Health Institute. "Kids innately like to move, so I think that there is a big future in games that use emerging technologies and require movement because the games will be enjoyed by children and also be more healthy than existing games".

In a commentary reported in the October 2008 Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, Dzewaltowski discussed how technology is changing our everyday life and affecting our health.

Wii Fit has games that incorporate yoga, strength training, balance and aerobics. The games are interactive and require the player to physically move, which is better than nothing, Dzewaltowski said. It uses a balance board and allows gamers to simulate challenges like snowboarding down a mountain.

"Anything that gets people to move more than they have in the past is positive, but if people are trying to replace physical activity that demands more movement with the Wii, then that will be negative," Dzewaltowski said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 6:38 PM CT

Helping Seniors to Live at Home Longer

Helping Seniors to Live at Home Longer
A number of elderly adults want to remain active and independent for as long as possible. Seniors want to age in their own homes and avoid moving to institutions or nursing homes. University of Missouri scientists are using sensors, computers and communication systems, along with supportive health care services to monitor the health of elderly adults who are living at home. As per the researchers, motion sensor networks installed in seniors' homes can detect changes in behavior and physical activity, including walking and sleeping patterns. Early identification of these changes can prompt health care interventions that can delay or prevent serious health events.

As part of the "aging in place" research at MU, integrated sensor networks were installed in apartments of residents at TigerPlace, a retirement community that helps senior residents stay healthy and active to avoid hospitalization and relocation. MU scientists collected data from motion and bed sensors that continuously logged information for more than two years. The scientists identified patterns in the sensor data that can provide clues to predict adverse health events, including falls, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

"The 'aging in place' concept allows elderly adults to remain in the environment of their choice and receive supportive health services as needed. With this type of care, most people wouldn't need to relocate to a nursing home," said Marilyn Rantz, professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "Monitoring sensor patterns is an effective and discreet way to ensure the health and privacy of elderly adults".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:43 PM CT

Healthy cells Vs cancer cells

Healthy cells Vs cancer cells
One of the current handicaps of cancer therapys is the difficulty of aiming these therapys at destroying cancerous cells without killing healthy cells in the process. But a newly released study by McMaster University scientists has provided insight into how researchers might develop therapies and drugs that more carefully target cancer, while sparing normal healthy cells.

Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and his team of researchers have demonstrated for the first time the difference between normal stem cells and cancer stem cells in humans.

The discovery, reported in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology today, could eventually help with the further customization and targeting of cancer therapys for the individual patient. It will immediately provide a model to discover drugs using robotic screening for available molecules that may have untapped potential to eradicate cancer.

"Normal stem cells and cancer stem cells are hard to tell apart, and a number of have misconstrued really good stem cells for cancer stem cells that have gone bad - we now can tell the ones masquerading as normal stem cells from the bad, malignant ones," said Bhatia.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:41 PM CT

Breast Cancer Gene Linked To Disease Spread

Breast Cancer Gene Linked To Disease Spread
Yibin Kang

Photo: Brian Wilson
A team of scientists at Princeton University and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey has identified a long-sought gene that is fatefully switched on in 30 to 40 percent of all patients with breast cancer, spreading the disease, resisting traditional chemotherapies and eventually leading to death.

The gene, called "Metadherin" or MTDH, is located in a small region of human chromosome 8 and may be crucial to cancer's spread or metastasis because it helps tumor cells stick tightly to blood vessels in distant organs. The gene also makes tumors more resistant to the powerful chemotherapeutic agents normally used to wipe out the deadly cells.

In identifying the genetic mechanism at play in the metastasis of breast cancer, the researchers may have answered one of the biggest mysteries in cancer research and paved the way for new drugs that could thwart the gene's diabolical actions.

"Inhibiting this gene in patients with breast cancer will simultaneously achieve two important goals -- reduce the chance of recurrence and, at the same time, decrease the risk of metastatic dissemination," said Yibin Kang, an assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton, who led the research. "Clinically, these are the two major reasons why patients with breast cancer die from the disease".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:36 PM CT

Hope for cancer straight from the heart

Hope for cancer straight from the heart
Digitalis-based drugs like digoxin have been used for centuries to treat patients with irregular heart rhythms and heart failure and are still in use today. In the Dec. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine now report that this same class of drugs may hold new promise as a therapy for cancer. This finding emerged through a search for existing drugs that might slow or stop cancer progression.

"This is really exciting, to find that a drug already deemed safe by the FDA also can inhibit a protein crucial for cancer cell survival," says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine.

Semenza and his team have long studied the hypoxia-inducible factor, or HIF-1, protein, which controls genes that help cells survive under low-oxygen conditions. HIF-1 turns on genes that grow new blood vessels to help oxygen-starved cells survive. Regions of low oxygen are common within the environment of fast-growing solid tumors.

"Oxygen-deprived cancer cells increase their HIF-1 levels to survive in these unfavorable conditions," says Semenza. "So turning down or blocking HIF-1 appears to be key to slowing or stopping these cells from growing."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:34 PM CT

New Tumor Suppressor genes for Lung Cancer

New Tumor Suppressor genes for Lung Cancer
Cancer and cell biology experts at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have identified a new tumor suppressor that may help researchers develop more targeted drug therapies to combat lung cancer.

The study, led by Jorge Moscat, PhD, appears in the January 2009 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Proto-oncogenes are genes that play a role in normal cell growth (turnover of cells and tissue) but, when genetically modified, can cause the out-of-control cell division that leads to cancer. Prior research had established that Ras, a proto-oncogene, is abnormally expressed in up to 25 percent of human lung cancers; however, scientists did not understand the specific cellular events by which abnormal Ras expression leads to transformation.

UC scientists sought to define the interim steps that occur in Ras-induced tumor development to better understand the underlying biological mechanisms leading to cancer.

"These interim steps are critical because they help us determine how best to intervene and stop cancer growth along the way," explains Moscat, corresponding author of the study and chair of UC's cancer and cell biology department. "Right now, cancer treatment is delivered with a sledgehammer and it needs to be more like a scalpel so we avoid unnecessary harm to the body".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:24 PM CT

Secrets of smoking addition

Secrets of smoking addition
Just seeing someone smoke can trigger smokers to abandon their nascent efforts to kick the habit, as per new research conducted at Duke University Medical Center.

Brain scans taken during normal smoking activity and 24 hours after quitting show there is a marked increase in a particular kind of brain activity when quitters see photographs of people smoking.

The study, which appears online in Psychopharmacology, sheds important light on why it's so hard for people to quit smoking, and why they relapse so quickly, explains Joseph McClernon, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

"Only five percent of unaided quit attempts result in successful abstinence," says McClernon. "Most smokers who try to quit return to smoking again. We are trying to understand how that process works in the brain, and this research brings us one step closer".

The Duke scientists used a brain-imaging tool called functional MRI to visualize changes in brain activity that occurs when smokers quit. The smokers were scanned once before quitting and again 24 hours after they quit. Each time they were scanned while being shown photographs of people smoking.

"Quitting smoking dramatically increased brain activity in response to seeing the smoking cues," says McClernon, "which seems to indicate that quitting smoking is actually sensitizing the brain to these smoking cues".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:22 PM CT

Controlling diabetes with Low carbohydrate diet

Controlling diabetes with Low carbohydrate diet
In a six-month comparison of low-carb diets, one that encourages eating carbohydrates with the lowest-possible rating on the glycemic index leads to greater improvement in blood sugar control, as per Duke University Medical Center researchers.

Patients who followed the no-glycemic diet experienced more frequent reductions, and in some cases elimination, of their need for medicine to control type 2 diabetes, as per main author Eric Westman, MD, director of Duke's Lifestyle Medicine Program. The findings are published online in Nutrition and Metabolism

"Low glycemic diets are good, but our work shows a no-glycemic diet is even better at improving blood sugar control," he says. "We found you can get a three-fold improvement in type 2 diabetes as evidenced by a standard test of the amount of sugar in the blood. That's an important distinction because as a doctor who is faced with the choice of drugs or diet, I want a strong diet that's shown to improve type 2 diabetes and minimize medicine use".

Eight-four volunteers with obesity and type 2 diabetes were randomized to either a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams of carbs/day) or a low-glycemic, reduced calorie diet (500 calories/day). Both groups attended group meetings, had nutritional supplementation and an exercise regimen.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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.

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