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July 1, 2008, 8:50 PM CT

A step towards better diabetes treatment

A step towards better diabetes treatment
In today's issue of the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism Uppsala researchers are presenting new findings that shed light on the processes that determine the release of the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. The discovery is based on the development of image analysis methods that make possible the detailed study of events immediately inside the plasma membrane of the insulin-secreting cells.

Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a universal messenger molecule that controls many different functions inside the cell. For example, it plays a role in the release of insulin from the beta cells in the pancreas (see Facts). It is well-known that the production of cAMP explains how certain hormones can amplify insulin secretion. Conversely, it has been unclear to what extent cAMP also contributes to the major release of insulin triggered by an increase in blood sugar (glucose).

Anders Tengholms research team at Uppsala University has developed methods that make it possible for the first time to measure both the secretion of insulin and the cAMP concentration in individual beta cells. The results show that ATP, the energy-rich molecule that is produced when glucose is metabolized, causes an increase in cAMP concentration right at the cell membrane where the release of insulin takes place. This increase varies rhythmically and coincides with similarly regular variations in another stimulant messenger, the calcium ion, resulting in pulsatile secretion of insulin.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 8:43 PM CT

15 human genomes each week

15 human genomes each week
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has sequenced the equivalent of 300 human genomes in just over six months. The Institute has just reached the staggering total of 1,000,000,000,000 letters of genetic code that will be read by scientists worldwide, helping them to understand the role of genes in health and disease. Researchers will be able to answer questions unthinkable even a few years ago and human medical genetics will be transformed.

The amount of data is remarkable: every two minutes, the Institute produces as much sequence as was deposited in the first five years of the international DNA sequence databases, which started in 1982. It is a global milestone.

"I am delighted that our rapid adoption of next-generation sequencing technologies has been so successful in driving forward our biomedical research," says Dr Harold Swerdlow, Head of Sequencing Technology at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Our internal projects, our work with external collaborators and our participation in major international programmes are all benefiting from our success. ".

The Institute has major roles in projects such as The 1000 Genomes Project, The International Cancer Genome Consortium and the second round of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, all of which will depend on DNA sequence to uncover genetics variants that are important for human disease. Next-generation sequencing is also enabling the Institute's own research portfolio.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 8:41 PM CT

Encouraging European cancer trends

Encouraging European cancer trends
Effel tower
The first research to look at recent trends in European cancer incidence, mortality and survival together has shown that cancer prevention and management in Europe is moving in the right direction. However, the research reveals that variations between countries in policies for mass screening, access to health care and therapy are reflected in the different cancer rates.

The research is published in a special issue of the European Journal of Cancer (the official journal of ECCO the European CanCer Organisation) on cancer control [1] and coincides with the start of work by the European Commission to draw up a new EU Cancer Action Plan. The co-editors of the issue, Jan Willem Coebergh and Tit Albreht, expect the special issue to inform the discussions during the drawing up of the Cancer Action Plan, as well as providing information for an updated version of the European Cancer Code.

In "Recent trends in cancer in Europe: a combined approach of incidence, survival and mortality for 17 cancer sites since the 1990s", one of ten papers reported in the EJC special issue, Prof Coebergh and his team obtained data on incidence, mortality and five-year survival from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s from cancer registries in 21 European countries, and used it to analyse trends.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 8:36 PM CT

Designer diet for prostate cancer

Designer diet for prostate cancer
Eating one or more portions of broccoli every week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and the risk of localised cancer becoming more aggressive.

For the first time, a research group at the Institute of Food Research led by Professor Richard Mithen has provided an explanation of how eating broccoli might reduce cancer risk based upon studies in men, as opposed to trying to extrapolate from animal models. Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer for males in western countries. The research has provided an insight into why eating broccoli can help men stay healthy.

For the study, reported in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on July 2, men who were at risk of developing prostate cancer ate either 400g of broccoli or 400g of peaccording to week in addition to their normal diet over 12 months. Tissue samples were taken from their prostate gland before the start of the trial and after 6 and 12 months, and the expression of every gene measured using Affymetrix microarray technology.

It was observed that there were more changes in gene expression in men who were on the broccoli-rich diet than on the pea diet, and these changes may be linked to the reduction in the risk of developing cancer, that has been reported in epidemiological studies.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 30, 2008, 6:59 PM CT

The perils of overconfidence

The perils of overconfidence
Overestimating one's abilities can have hazardous consequences. The overconfident investment banker may lose millions on a "can't-miss" start up or a driver who's had one too a number of may insist on making it home in the car. Research has backed up this notion but with one glaring problem: It relies on participants to give accurate reports of their own confidence.

But Pascal Mamassian, a researcher at CNRS and Universit Paris Descartes, France, believes he has found a way to circumvent this problem. In a paper reported in the recent issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Mamassian demonstrates that overconfidence can be revealed using a natural and objective visuo-motor task.

Participants in Mamassian's study sat at a computer and were asked to press a key in synchrony with a visual "blob" that would appear on the screen. Participants would be awarded points if they succeeded and docked points if they pressed the key prematurely or too late.

Mamassian then used a mathematical model to examine how participants would need to adjust their key tapping strategy in order to maximize their gain and minimize their loss.

Mamassian observed that participants routinely failed to aim toward the optimal time, instead displaying overconfidence in their action. Specifically, "They underestimated the magnitude of their uncertainty and the cost of their error," he writes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 30, 2008, 6:55 PM CT

Watermelon May Have Viagra-Effect

Watermelon May Have Viagra-Effect
A cold slice of watermelon has long been a Fourth of July holiday staple. But as per recent studies, the juicy fruit may be better suited for Valentine's Day.

That's because researchers say watermelon has ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the body's blood vessels and may even increase libido.

"The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is in providing natural enhancers to the human body," said Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center in College Station.

"We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important healthful benefits grows longer with each study".

Beneficial ingredients in watermelon and other fruits and vegetables are known as phyto-nutrients, naturally occurring compounds that are bioactive, or able to react with the human body to trigger healthy reactions, Patil said.

In watermelons, these include lycopene, beta carotene and the rising star among its phyto-nutrients - citrulline - whose beneficial functions are now being unraveled. Among them is the ability to relax blood vessels, much like Viagra does.

Researchers know that when watermelon is consumed, citrulline is converted to arginine through certain enzymes. Arginine is an amino acid that works wonders on the heart and circulation system and maintains a good immune system, Patil said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 26, 2008, 9:22 PM CT

Promising cancer drug target in prostate tumors

Promising cancer drug target in prostate tumors
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report they have blocked the development of prostate tumors in cancer-prone mice by knocking out a molecular unit they describe as a "powerhouse" that drives runaway cell growth.

In an article that is being published recently as an advanced online publication by the journal Nature, the scientists say the growth-stimulating molecule called p110beta -- part of a cellular signaling network disrupted in several common cancers -- is a promising target for novel cancer therapies designed to shut it down. The report's lead authors are Shidong Jia, MD, PhD, Zhenning Liu, PhD, Sen Zhang PhD, and Pixu Liu, MD, PhD.

The p110beta molecule and a counterpart, p110alpha, are "isoforms" -- slightly different forms of an enzyme called PI(3)K that is an intense focus of cancer research and drug development. PI(3)K is the linchpin of a cell-signal pathway that responds to growth factor signals from outside the cell.

When activated by growth factor receptors, PI(3)K turns on a cascade of genes and proteins that drives cells to divide and grow. The molecular accelerator is normally kept under control by a tumor-suppressor protein, PTEN, which acts like a brake to curb excess cell growth that could lead to cancer.

Mutations that inactivate PTEN -- in effect releasing the brake on growth signals -- are found in a significant proportion of prostate, breast and brain tumors. The senior authors of the new report, Jean Zhao, PhD, and Thomas Roberts, PhD, previously showed that blocking p110alpha protein inhibits malignant growth induced by various cancer-causing proteins, such as Her2 and EGFR. With that knowledge in hand, the researchers, in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, are in the process of developing p110alpha blockers.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 26, 2008, 9:18 PM CT

'No men allowed' in women's secret world

'No men allowed' in women's secret world
From the Petri dish in the controlled environment of a sterile laboratory to the faraway fields of another country, virtually anything can be the topic of scientific study. However, a University of Missouri religion professor observed that if the researcher is a male fieldworker studying women, the situation can be challenging.

"The question of whether men can conduct field research on women ultimately will be determined by the quality and type of the data that they gather," said Robert M. Baum, professor of religious studies in the MU College of Arts and Science. "The subject matter of the field research will profoundly shape the possibilities of success. For example, access to women's ritual spaces and esoteric knowledge may be too restricted for male researchers. Research on female religious leaders whose teachings are designed for both men and women and who preside over mixed congregations will be far more fruitful for men to conduct".

His conclusions about male scientists studying female subjects are based on his extensive observations of the Diola (pronounced joe-la) people. Baum has been traveling to southwestern Senegal on the African continent and conducting field research among the Diola communities, approximately 600,000 people, for more than 30 years. The modern Diola are primarily rice farmers.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 26, 2008, 9:16 PM CT

Device blocking stomach nerve signals shows promise in obesity

Device blocking stomach nerve signals shows promise in obesity
A new implantable medical device, developed in collaboration with Mayo Clinic researchers, shows promise as a reversible and less extreme alternative to existing bariatric surgeries, as per findings reported in the current issue of the journal Surgery

In a six-month open label trial involving three medical centers in Australia, Mexico and Norway, the 31 obese participants who received the vagal nerve blocking device, also called VBLOCTM vagal blocking treatment, lost an average of nearly 15 percent of their excess weight. A quarter of the participants lost more than 25 percent, and three patients lost more than 30 percent.

Michael Camilleri, M.D., is a gastroenterologist who helped design the study and one of the Mayo Clinic scientists whose prior work and know-how contributed to development of the device in collaboration with EnteroMedics, Inc. Dr. Camilleri says the goal is to find a less drastic alternative to bariatric surgery that will still yield significant weight loss. Bariatric surgery techniques include "banding" -- placement of a band around the top part of the stomach to reduce its capacity -- or bypass procedures which reroute food and remove part of the stomach.

"For this study, we wanted to get an initial assessment of whether blocking the vagus nerve electrically could cause obese patients to feel full after a normal-sized meal," Dr. Camilleri explains. "Patients were not put on any restricted diets or given counseling that typically accompanies gastric banding or bypass. We wanted to determine how much weight loss could be attributed to the device alone".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 26, 2008, 8:48 PM CT

Higher Coffee Consumption: Lower Liver Cancer Risk

Higher Coffee Consumption: Lower Liver Cancer Risk
Higher Coffee Consumption Linked to Lower Liver Cancer Risk.

Liver Cancer is the Third Most Common Global Cause of Cancer Death.

A new large, prospective population-based study confirms an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and liver cancer risk. The study also observed that higher levels of gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) in the blood were linked to an increased risk of developing the disease. These findings appear in the recent issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article and an accompanying editorial are also available online at Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com).

Scientists led by Gang Hu at the University of Helsinki set out to examine the associations between coffee consumption and serum GGT with the risk of liver cancer in a large prospective cohort. Residents of Finland drink more coffee per capita than the Japanese, Americans, Italians, and other Europeans, so Hu and his colleagues studied 60,323 Finnish participants ages 25 to 74 who were cancer-free at baseline. The Finns were included in seven independent cross-sectional population surveys conducted between 1972 and 2002 and followed up through June 2006.........

Posted by: Janet      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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