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July 9, 2008, 9:13 PM CT

A short and sweet diagnosis for cancer?

A short and sweet diagnosis for cancer?
A high-resolution structure of a prostate-specific protein with a tumor associated sugar linkage. The sugar molecule is shown in green.
In order to provide the most effective therapys for cancer patients, it is essential to develop methods of sensitive and specific early detection of the disease. A team of researchers from the NIBRT Dublin-Oxford Glycobiology Laboratory at UCD has developed a system which aims to pinpoint potential "biomarkers" of early forms of the disease. They do this by looking at the structures of specific sugar molecules which are attached either to proteins made by malignant cells or to proteins involved in the host response. It is hoped that the availability of such cancer biomarkers would also allow disease progression and response to treatment to be monitored more accurately than is currently possible. Professor Pauline Rudd, who is leading the team, will be presenting some of their results on Thursday 10th July at the Society for Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Marseille [Session C4].

It is known that cancer cells not only have different sets of proteins from normal human cells, but that their proteins have changes in the types and numbers of sugar molecules that are attached to them. Dr Rudd and her colleagues think that being able to detect these changes holds the key to developing a new approach for diagnosing cancer. "We have observed that there are alterations in sugars attached to proteins in blood serum from all cancers we have looked at, and some of these appear to be early markers of the disease processes. What is more, we have been able to isolate several sugar-linked variants of particular proteins which are linked to different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic and ovarian and breast cancers," she reveals. "In the long term, we envisage that by finding more specific sugar variants, we will be able to use combinations of these as biomarkers to allow very accurate early diagnosis of particular cancers". These techniques could act alongside or even replace physical methods, such as scanning, which are less dependable for early diagnosis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 9:08 PM CT

The Internet, alcohol and sleep

The Internet, alcohol and sleep
Girls moving through adolescence may experience unhealthy levels of weight gain, but the reasons for this are not always clear. In fact, a number of potential causes of weight gain are easily overlooked. A new study soon would be published in The Journal of Pediatrics analyzes the effect of Internet usage, sleep, and alcohol and coffee consumption on weight gain in adolescent girls.

Dr. Catherine Berkey and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Washington University led the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), which surveyed more than 5000 girls between the ages of 14 and 21 years from all 50 states. They asked the girls to reflect on their weekly habits over the past year and report the following: 1) hours of sleep per night; 2) time spent on the Internet (excluding time for work or school); 3) number of alcoholic beverages consumed; and 4) number of coffee beverages consumed. The girls also reported their height and weight at the beginning and end of the one-year study.

The scientists observed that more Internet time, more alcohol consumption, and less sleep resulted in extra weight gain during the study year. Girls aged 18 years or older who consumed 2 or more alcoholic beverages a week or slept less than 6 hours a night gained more weight than other study participants. In fact, when combined with Internet use, girls in this group have the potential to gain four extra pounds a year. The scientists did not find a link between coffee consumption and weight gain, eventhough they point out that this information was collected before high calorie coffee drinks became popular.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 8:59 PM CT

Ionophore reverses Alzheimer's within days

Ionophore reverses Alzheimer's within days
Alzheimer tangles
Researchers report a remarkable improvement in Alzheimer's transgenic mice following therapy with a new drug. The study, published by Cell Press in the July 10th issue of the journal Neuron, provides the first demonstration that an ionophore, a compound that transports metal ions across cell membranes, can elicit rapid and pronounced improvement in neuropathology and cognitive function in mouse models of Alzheimer's Disease (AD).

Recent research has implicated dysregulation of metal ions in the brain, especially copper and zinc, in the pathogenesis of AD and the damaging accumulation of amyloid beta (A?) protein that is characteristic of this devastating disease. The ionophore clioquinol (CQ), an 8-hydroxyquinoline, has been shown to increase intracellular copper and zinc levels and decrease A? levels in cultured cells and in the brains of transgenic (Tg) AD mice. However, further studies in mice and humans demonstrated that brain entry of CQ was quite limited.

Dr. Ashley I. Bush from the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria in Australia, with Dr. Paul A. Adlard and his colleagues examined the therapeutic potential of PBT2, a second generation 8-hydroxyquinoline designed for easier synthesis, higher solubility and increased blood-brain barrier permeability, in two well established Tg mouse models of AD. The Tg mice examined in the study overexpress the precursor protein for A? and possess mutations that cause AD in humans. One of the Tg models also expresses the human presenilin deletion mutation that also causes AD.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 7:37 PM CT

Obese men have less semen, more sperm abnormalities

Obese men have less semen, more sperm abnormalities
Obese men should consider losing weight if they want to have children, a scientist told the 24th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Wednesday 9 July). Dr. A Ghiyath Shayeb, from the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK, said that his research had shown that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) had lower volumes of seminal fluid and a higher proportion of abnormal sperm.

Dr. Shayeb and his colleagues looked at the results of seminal fluid analysis in 5316 men attending Aberdeen Fertility Centre with their partners for difficulties in conceiving. 2037 of these men had complete data on their BMIs. "We felt that it was possible that male overweight might contribute to fertility problems," he said, "especially since it is a known risk factor for problems in conceiving among women".

The researchers divided the men into four groups as per their BMI, from being underweight to being considerably overweight. Taking into account other characteristics that could confound the analysis, such as smoking, alcohol intake, age, social deprivation, and the length of time of abstinence from sex previous to producing a semen sample for analysis, they looked for a relationship between BMI and semen quality. The analysis showed that the men in Group B, who had an optimal BMI (20-25, as classified by WHO), had higher levels of normal sperm than those in the other groups. They also had higher semen volume. There was no significant difference between the four BMI groups in sperm concentration or motility.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 7:32 PM CT

Vaccinated infants are well protected

Vaccinated infants are well protected
In 2006, a pneumococcal vaccine (Prevenar®) was introduced in the childhood vaccination programme in Norway. Two years later, the experiences have been reported in the journal Vaccine. The results show a strong decline in serious pneumococcal infections among young children.

Pneumococcus is a bacterium that can cause serious illnesses in some young children, e.g. meningitis, blood poisoning and pneumonia. Most of those who become ill are previously healthy without any known predisposing factors. The bacterium is present in the nose of up to 80 - 90% of healthy young children.

A growing problem.

A major reason for the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine in the childhood vaccination programme was a steady increase in the number of cases of severe pneumococcal infection among young children in Norway. The vaccine protects against seven serotypes of pneumococcus which account for 70% of the serious cases of the disease.

Good effect with no vaccine failures.

- Having summed up the experience gained from the first two years after introducing the vaccine, the results confirm that it works as well as intended," says Marianne R. Bergsaker, senior medical officer at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and co-author of the article in Vaccine.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 7:30 PM CT

Predicting birthweights in obese mothers

Predicting birthweights in obese mothers
Scientists have found what they believe to be the most accurate way of predicting the birth-weight of babies born to the growing number of obese mothers, as per a research studyin the UK-based journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Experts from the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, USA, have recorded accurate results in more than nine out of ten cases using the gestation-adjusted projection method (GAP).

The GAP method uses a range of ultrasound measurements, taken when the mother is 34 to 36 weeks pregnant, and a mathematical formula to determine whether the baby is larger than the average size of babies for its gestational age. This data is then used to predict the final birth weight.

GAP is very useful when a pregnant woman is obese, as this often makes it difficult for medical staff to obtain a clear ultrasound image of her baby. This is especially true at the end stages of pregnancies, when most birth weight measurements are obtained, so doing this earlier in the pregnancy is a distinct advantage. Prior research carried out at the University of Rochester has already shown GAP to be accurate when used on diabetic and non-diabetic patients.

"Obesity is a risk factor for almost all complications correlation to pregnancy" explains Dr Loralei Thornburg from the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University. "It is especially important to identify high birth-weight babies over 4,000 grams (just under nine pounds) as these are linked to higher complication rates for mothers and babies.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 7:28 PM CT

Herceptin targets breast cancer stem cells

Herceptin targets breast cancer stem cells
Her2
A gene that is overexpressed in 20 percent of breast cancers increases the number of cancer stem cells, the cells that fuel a tumor's growth and spread, as per a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The gene, HER2, causes cancer stem cells to multiply and spread, explaining why HER2 has been associated with a more aggressive type of breast cancer and to metastatic disease, in which the cancer has spread beyond the breast, the scientists say.

Further, the drug Herceptin, which is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, was found to target and destroy the cancer stem cells. Results of the study appear online in the journal Oncogene.

"This work suggests that the reason drugs that target HER2, such as Herceptin and Lapatanib, are so effective in breast cancer is that they target the cancer stem cell population. This finding provides further evidence for the cancer stem cell hypothesis," says study author Max S. Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The cancer stem cell hypothesis says that tumors originate in a small number of cells, called cancer stem cells, and that these cells are responsible for fueling a tumor's growth. These cells represent fewer than 5 percent of the cells in a tumor. Wicha's lab was part of the team that first identified stem cells in human breast cancer in 2003.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 9:02 PM CT

The association with stress and depression

The association with stress and depression
The brain is the key organ in the response to stress. Brain reactions determine what in the world is threatening and might be stressful for us, and regulate the stress responses that can be either adaptive or maladaptive. Chronic stress can affect the brain and lead into depression: Environmental stressors correlation to job or family situation are important triggers of depressive episodes and major life events such as trauma or abuse amongst the most potent factors inducing depression.

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that major depression will soon be the worlds greatest public health burden. Thus optimising antidepressive treatment with regard to delayed or insufficient therapy response and unwanted side effects is urgent. Since the development of novel antidepressants is based upon an improved neurobiological understanding of this condition, new information about the cellular changes that take place in the brain is required.

Professor Fuchs from the Clinical Neurobiology Laboratory, German Primate Center in Goettingen, will present the latest findings on how brain cells can be adversely affected by stress and depression. He will explain how the adult brain is generating new cells and which impact these findings will have on the development of novel antidepressant drugs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 9:00 PM CT

Study points to cocktail therapy for Alzheimer's

Study points to cocktail therapy for Alzheimer's
A dietary cocktail that includes a type of omega-3 fatty acid can improve memory and learning in gerbils, as per the latest study from MIT scientists that points to a possible beverage-based therapy for Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

The combination of supplements, which contains three compounds normally found in the bloodstream, is now being tested in Alzheimer's patients. The cocktail has previously been shown to promote growth of new brain connections in rodents.

"It may be possible to use this therapy to partially restore brain function in people with diseases that decrease the number of brain neurons, including, for example, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, strokes and brain injuries. Of course, such speculations have to be tested in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials," said Richard Wurtman, Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor of Neuropharmacology and senior author of a paper on the new work.

Such trials are now underway in Europe. A paper describing preliminary results has been submitted to the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, to be held in Chicago July 26-31.

The new findings in gerbils appeared in the July 7 online edition of the Journal of FASEB (Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 8:50 PM CT

Keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss

Keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss
Keeping a food diary can double a person's weight loss as per a research studyfrom Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research. The findings, from one of the largest and longest running weight loss maintenance trials ever conducted, would be reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the study is one of the few studies to recruit a large percentage of African Americans as study participants (44 percent). African Americans have a higher risk of conditions that are aggravated by being overweight, including diabetes and heart disease. In this study, the majority of African American participants lost at least nine pounds of weight, which is higher than in prior studies.

"The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said lead author Jack Hollis Ph.D., a researcher at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. "Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories".

In addition to keeping food diaries and turning them in at weekly support group meetings, participants were asked to follow a heart-healthy DASH (a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat or non-fat dairy, attend weekly group sessions and exercise at moderate intensity levels for at least 30 minutes a day. After six months, the average weight loss among the nearly 1,700 participants was approximately 13 pounds. More than two-thirds of the participants (69 percent) lost at least nine pounds, enough to reduce their health risks and qualify for the second phase of the study, which lasted 30 months and tested strategies for maintaining the weight loss.........

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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