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March 6, 2007, 4:33 AM CT

Measles Virus To Kill Multiple Myeloma

Measles Virus To Kill Multiple Myeloma Measles Virus
Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has opened a new Phase I clinical trial testing an engineered measles virus against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow that currently has no cure. This is the third of a series of molecular medicine studies in patients testing the potential of measles to kill cancer.

This is the beginning of a long but exciting process, says Angela Dispenzieri, M.D., hematologist and lead researcher on the multiple myeloma clinical trial in the measles virus investigation. We are very hopeful that this will be a step toward helping our patients.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is the only institution in the world currently pursuing using engineered measles viruses for cancer therapy. It has shepherded the research from basic laboratory science to therapies being tested today in several tumor types, including glioblastoma multiforme (a brain tumor), recurrent ovary cancer and now multiple myeloma.

The measles viruses being used for these studies were constructed by inserting additional genes into the measles vaccine strain.

A number of cancers, including multiple myeloma, overexpress a protein, CD46, which allows them to evade destruction by the immune system. Laboratory strains of measles virus seek out this protein and use it as a receptor by which to enter the cancer cells. Upon entry, the virus spreads, infecting nearby tumor cells and fusing them together, increasing cancer cell death.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 10:08 PM CT

Surprising Culprit in Diabetic Birth Defects

Surprising Culprit in Diabetic Birth Defects
Over the past several years, Joslin Investigator Mary R. Loeken, Ph.D., and her colleagues at Joslin Diabetes Center have unlocked several mysteries behind what puts women with diabetes more at risk of having a child with birth defects. Even though those risks have decreased significantly over the years, thanks in part to advancements at Joslin, women with diabetes still are two to five times more likely than the general population to have a baby with birth defects, particularly of the heart and spinal cord, organs that form within the first few weeks of pregnancy.

In past work, Dr. Loeken and her research team were able to establish through their studies in mice that the mother's high blood glucose levels are the cause of these defects. This is one of the reasons why women with diabetes who are planning a pregnancy are encouraged to have their blood glucose levels under good control previous to conception. The Joslin scientists also have shown that the damage occurs because the extra glucose in the mother's blood inhibits the expression of embryonic genes that control essential developmental processes.

Now, in this latest study done in mice, Dr. Loeken and her colleagues have discovered that the protein called glucose transporter 2 (Glut2) makes it possible for the high concentrations of glucose to get into the embryonic cells efficiently when the mother's blood glucose concentrations are high. Also involved in the study was Rulin Li, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow at Joslin. The study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, will appear in the March print edition of Diabetologia and was published online by the journal on Jan. 18.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 9:57 PM CT

Protein That Appears To Regulate Bone Mass Loss

Protein That Appears To Regulate Bone Mass Loss
Typically an estimated ten million americans suffer from osteoporosis, and another 34 million americans are at risk of developing the disease, which is characterized by a severe loss of bone mineral density, fragile bones and an increased risk of hip, spine and wrist fractures. The basic mechanism behind osteoporosis involves an imbalance between bone mineral formation and loss, but the detailed biological processes that lead to this imbalance are not completely understood. Now scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and his colleagues are reporting new insights into the biology of bone loss based on a study of 14 people with a rare genetic disorder called X-linked Hyper IgM Syndrome.

X-linked Hyper IgM Syndrome strikes about one in a million American--all males--and is caused by a deficiency in an important immune system protein known as CD40 ligand. This protein is crucial for the development and maturation of immune cells, and without it people with X-linked Hyper IgM Syndrome are susceptible to a range of opportunistic infections. Last year, an NIAID doctor treating children with this disease found that several of them sustained unexplained rib fractures that he hypothesized could be, like osteoporosis, caused by a loss of bone mineral density. A new study, published online this week, confirms this unexpected connection. CD40 ligand appears to regulate cells that secrete chemicals that block bone metabolism, and the loss of this protein in people with X-linked Hyper IgM Syndrome appears to accelerate bone loss. The next step, say the researchers, is to determine whether experimental therapys designed to correct the immune deficiency of X-linked Hyper IgM Syndrome can also reverse the bone loss. If so, the knowledge gained from these studies may benefit people who are at risk of developing osteoporosis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 5:10 AM CT

Natural antibiotics yield secrets

Natural antibiotics yield secrets
Frog skin and human lungs hold secrets to developing new antibiotics, and a technique called solid-state NMR spectroscopy is a key to unlocking those secrets.

That's the view of University of Michigan researcher Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, who will discuss his group's progress toward that goal March 3 at the annual meeting of the Biophysical Society in Baltimore, Md.

Ramamoorthy's research group is using solid-state NMR to explore the germ-killing properties of natural antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are produced by virtually all animals, from insects to frogs to humans. AMPs are the immune system's early line of defense, battling microbes at the first places they try to penetrate: skin, mucous membranes and other surfaces. They're copiously produced in injured or infected frog skin, for instance, and the linings of the human respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts also crank out the short proteins in response to invading pathogens.

In addition to fighting bacteria, AMPs attack viruses, fungi and even cancer cells, so drugs designed to mimic them could have widespread medical applications, said Ramamoorthy, who is an associate professor of chemistry and an associate research scientist in the Biophysics Research Division.

While scientists have identified hundreds of AMPs in recent years, they're still puzzling over exactly how the peptides wipe out bacteria and other microbes. Unlike conventional antibiotics, which typically inhibit specific bacterial proteins, AMPs get downright physical with invaders, punching holes into their membranes. But they're selectively pugnacious, targeting microbes but leaving healthy host cells alone.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

Severe PTSD damages children's brains

Severe PTSD damages children's brains
Severe stress can damage a child's brain, say scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. The scientists observed that children with post-traumatic stress disorder and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were likely to experience a decrease in the size of the hippocampus - a brain structure important in memory processing and emotion.

Eventhough similar effects have been seen in animal studies, this is the first time the findings have been replicated in children. The scientists focused on kids in extreme situations to better understand how stress affects brain development.

"We're not talking about the stress of doing your homework or fighting with your dad," said Packard Children's child psychiatry expert Victor Carrion, MD. "We're talking about traumatic stress. These kids feel like they're stuck in the middle of a street with a truck barreling down at them".

Carrion, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the medical school and director of Stanford's early life stress research program, and his collaborators speculate that cognitive deficits arising from stress hormones interfere with psychiatric treatment and prolong symptoms.

The children in the study were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as a result of undergoing physical, emotional or sexual abuse, witnessing violence or experiencing lasting separation and loss. This type of developmental trauma often impairs the child's ability to reach social, emotional and academic milestones.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

Childhood obesity may contribute to earlier puberty

Childhood obesity may contribute to earlier puberty
Increasing rates of childhood obesity and overweight in the United States may be contributing to an earlier onset of puberty in girls, say scientists at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

In a new study reported in the recent issue of the journal Pediatrics, the scientists reveal that a higher body mass index (BMI) score in girls as young as age 3, and large increases in BMI between 3 years of age and first grade are linked to earlier puberty, defined as the presence of breast development by age 9. This longitudinal study is unique in that it included girls younger than age 5 to examine the association between weight status and timing of puberty.

"Our finding that increased body fatness is linked to the earlier onset of puberty provides additional evidence that growing rates of obesity among children in this country may be contributing to the trend of early maturation in girls," says lead author and U-M pediatric endocrinologist Joyce Lee, M.D, MPH.

Studies have suggested that girls in the United States are entering puberty at younger ages today than they were 30 years ago, says Lee. Since rates of childhood obesity also have significantly increased during the same time period, scientists have speculated that childhood obesity may be contributing to a trend of earlier puberty in girls.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 5:02 AM CT

Teenagers with retail, service jobs

Teenagers with retail, service jobs
Despite federal regulations intended to protect them, a number of teenagers in the U.S. use dangerous equipment or work long hours during the school week, as per a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

The national study was based on telephone surveys of 928 teenaged workers, 14 to 18 years old. The results show 52 percent of males and 43 percent of females use dangerous equipment such a box crushers and slicers, or serve and sell alcohol where it is consumed, despite federal child labor laws prohibiting these practices.

The results were reported in the March 1, 2007 editor of the journal Pediatrics.

Additionally, 84 percent of females and 61 percent of males handle cash in their jobs, exposing them to risks linked to robberies. Homicides during robberies were the cause of up to one half of all youth fatalities in the retail trade.

"A number of teenagers start working at an early age, and most find jobs in retail or service industries. Our aim is to examine the conditions under which they are working, and suggest ways to protect them at work," said lead study author Carol Runyan, Ph.D., director of UNC's Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) and professor of health behavior and health education in the UNC School of Public Health.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 5, 2007, 4:59 AM CT

MMR, chicken pox vaccines work for preemies

MMR, chicken pox vaccines work for preemies
Vaccines for measles-mumps-rubella and varicella, or chicken pox, are effective in extremely preterm infants, even though preemies' immune systems are not as developed as full-term babies. This confirms a long-held assumption by pediatricians and neonatologists across the country.

"The assumption has always been that it would be OK, that very early babies would have enough immunity, but no one had formally researched the subject," said Carl D'Angio, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and author of a paper on the subject in Pediatrics this month. "I'm happy be able to reassure my colleagues and parents that it is OK."

The study, which included 16 term and 16 extremely preterm (born before about 6 months of pregnancy) infants born between May 2002 and May 2005, is the first of its kind to examine the antibody levels of measles, mumps, rubella and varicella in this population before and after vaccination. It was published in this month's Pediatrics.

The same number of preterm infants and full-term infants in the study reached a level of immunity considered protective against the diseases. This positive outcome, however, was not guaranteed because preemies' immune systems do not always react the same way as full-term infants. For instance, a change in the types of vaccine used in the UK apparently resulted in an increase in Haemophilus influenzae type b infections, like bloodstream infection or meningitis, in children. Children born prematurely appeared to be especially at risk for this, alluding to potential problems this population may have with responding to vaccines.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 2, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

A key to male fertility

A key to male fertility
Until now, mutations of the LH hormone receptor were the only explanation known for sexual precocity in boys. A team at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC, CNRS / Inserm / Universit Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg)), in collaboration with scientists at the University of Dallas and the University of Louvain, has just identified a key regulator of male fertility, the SHP protein, bringing to light the major role it plays in controlling the synthesis of testosterone and in differentiation of germ cells in mouse testes. This work, reported in the journal Genes & Development, suggests that it is worth exploring the signalling pathways controlled by SHP in men suffering from fertility disorders.

Puberty is the result of endocrine alterations programmed from the moment of sexual differentiation in the embryo and ftus. Typically it is characterized by anatomical alterations: the maturation of primary sexual characteristics (penis, scrotum and testes) and the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics (hair growth, breaking of the voice, growth, etc). Such changes are caused by processes within the brain, and in particular by a neuroendocrine gland, the pituitary gland, which secretes two hormones, FSH and LH. Both these hormones act on the testes, causing the production of sperm as well as the secretion of testosterone. Testosterone in particular is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in boys. At the current time, mutations of the LH receptor are the only known causes of sexual precocity in boys, which shows the important role that this signaling pathway plays in the control of the endocrine system.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 1, 2007, 9:54 PM CT

Steroid Use Fails To Boost Pregnancy Rates

Steroid Use Fails To Boost Pregnancy Rates Image courtesy of .squirreltales.com
There is no clear benefit from a hormone usually prescribed to enhance the effectiveness of infertility therapys, as per a new review of studies.

The steroid hormones called glucocorticoids have potent effects on the bodys inflammatory and immune responses, so a number of fertility specialists prescribe them in hopes of making the lining of the uterus more receptive to embryo implantation. But lead review author Carolien Boomsma says that routine practice should stop.

This meta-analysis shows that empirical use of glucocorticoids is not supported by evidence from studies, she said. Moreover, we dont know enough about the possible adverse effects of glucocorticoids in early pregnancy. Therefore, at present, glucocorticoids should not be prescribed in this way, said Boomsma, a researcher at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The review appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

The review compares success rates between would-be mothers who took glucocorticoids around the time of embryo implantation and those who did not. All of the women underwent one of two types of assisted reproductive technology. In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves removing mature eggs from a womans ovary, mixing them with sperm in the laboratory, and placing the embryos in the womans reproductive tract. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is another in vitro fertilization practice where a single sperm is injected directly into a harvested egg.........

Posted by: Emily      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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