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April 9, 2008, 9:43 PM CT

Forecasting Physicians' Choice of Prescriptions?

Forecasting Physicians' Choice of Prescriptions?
Physicians' choice of prescriptions are often influenced by patients, with patient experience with specific drugs playing a strong role, as per the Management Insights feature in the current issue of Management Science, the flagship journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®). The results have important implications for those who market pharmaceuticals.

Management Insights, a regular feature of the journal, is a digest of important research in business, management, operations research, and management science. It appears in every issue of the monthly journal.

"A Dynamic Competitive Forecasting Model Incorporating Dyadic Decision-Making" is by Min Ding of Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University and Jehoshua Eliashberg of the Wharton School.

The scientists addressed several questions: Do physicians incorporate patients' inputs into their prescription decisions? If so, to what extent modeling such inputs improves the forecasting performance in comparison to models that do not explicitly incorporate patients' inputs? Additionally, to what extent do the patients' inputs depend on the type of patients, disease, and the physicians themselves?.

Using prescription data from different therapeutic classes and doctor specialties, the empirical results indicate improvement in forecasting when patients' inputs are explicitly considered.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 9, 2008, 8:45 PM CT

First do no harm?

First do no harm?
Richard Bond, associate professor of pharmacology at UH, pictured in his lab with tools he's used in research that takes a new approach to treating asthma by using a concept called "paradoxical pharmacology."

Credit: Thomas Shea
One month of tough breathing may help asthma sufferers breathe easier in the long run, as per research from one University of Houston professor.

In a move that challenges one of the most basic tenets of the Hippocratic Oath first do no harm Richard Bond, associate professor of pharmacology at UH, is relying on a long-standing medical taboo to treat asthma. Eventhough counterintuitive, Bonds studies are reminiscent of hair-of-the-dog folk wisdom to treat like with like, in this case using beta blockers (or antagonists) instead of stimulants (or agonists) in asthmatics.

Coining the term paradoxical pharmacology treating patients with medicine that initially worsens their symptoms before eventually improving their overall health Bond first applied this hypothesis in studies with mice and then moved on to two clinical trials with humans. Currently in the second clinical trial, the part of this research analyzing mice was recently reported in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, which cited the relevance of Bonds work as possibly leading to a paradigm shift in the therapy of asthma. The results of the first human trial were also recently published in Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Acute asthma attacks have traditionally been treated with inhaler-type stimulant drugs that open constricted airways. Giving beta blockers to asthmatics has long been believed to be contraindicated, because their acute use may cause increased airway resistance. While the use of beta-stimulants is known to provide temporary relief, their effectiveness declines over time.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 10:22 PM CT

Pistachios are smart for the heart

Pistachios are smart for the heart
More good news for pistachio fans! As per new data unveiled this week at the Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, snacking on pistachios has proved once again to have a positive impact on improving cardiovascular health by significantly reducing inflammation in the body, a prominent cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor.

CVD remains the number one cause of death in the U.S., with millions more Americans currently living with the disease. A new study, led by researcher Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton from Penn State Universitys Department of Nutritional Sciences, looked at the effects of pistachios on multiple CVD risk factors, some of which include cholesterol, blood pressure and the genetic expression of various genes correlation to inflammation. The study positively supports other recent studies that show a diet rich in pistachios packs a powerful nutrition punch.

Pistachios contain a number of important nutrients that contribute to their positive effect on health. Every new study adds another piece to the puzzle of how eating pistachios may benefit heart health, said Dr. Constance Geiger, nutrition expert for the Western Pistachio Association (WPA).

The Penn State study was a randomized, crossover, controlled study of 28 healthy men and women (ages 30-70) with slightly-elevated cholesterol levels (similar to cholesterol levels of the general population). It tested three cholesterol-lowering diets, one without pistachio consumption and two with varied levels of pistachios in relation to total caloric intake (on average, 1.5 ounces and 3.0 ounces). All diets provided the same amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, but different amounts of unsaturated fat delivered by pistachios. Participants were fed the same diet for two weeks, which served as a baseline before the test diets began. Each subject tested all diets for a period of four weeks, and results were measured after each diet cycle was completed.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity

Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity
Marijuana is among the most frequently used illicit drugs by women during their childbearing years and there is growing concern that marijuana abuse during pregnancy, either alone or in combination with other drugs, may have serious effects on fetal brain development. There is good evidence that THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, crosses the placenta, that maternal marijuana abuse results in intrauterine growth retardation and that infants exposed to marijuana exhibit a temporary syndrome that includes lethargy and decreased muscle tone. Fetal exposure to THC can also result in attention deficits, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. A new study using rats observed that THC combined with mildly intoxicating doses of alcohol induced widespread nerve cell death in the brain. The study is reported in the Annals of Neurology (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana), the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Henrik Hansen and Chrysanthy Ikonomidou, at the Neuroscience Research Center of the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Department of Pediatric Neurology, University of Technology Dresden, Gera number of, scientists administered THC, a synthetic form of THC, ethanol, MK-801 (an anticonvulsant) and phenobarbital by injection to rats between 1 and 14 days old. A prior study by the same group had shown that ethanol and drugs such as sedatives, anesthetics and anticonvulsants triggered widespread nerve cell death in the developing brain of immature rodents; the current study was conducted to determine if cannabinoids had the same effect.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 10:01 PM CT

Back pain may be in your genes

Back pain may be in your genes
What do you learn by looking at the spines of hundreds of Finnish twins? If you are the international team of scientists behind the Twin Spine Study, you find compelling proof that back pain problems may be more a matter of genetics than physical strain.

The findings of the Twin Spine Study, an ongoing research program started in 1991, have led to a dramatic paradigm shift in the way disc degeneration is understood. Last month a paper presenting an overview of the Twin Spine Studys multidisciplinary investigation into the root causes of disc degeneration received a Kappa Delta Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, arguably the most prestigious annual award in musculoskeletal research.

In the past, the factors most usually suspected of accelerating degenerative changes in the discs were various occupational physical loading conditions, such as handling of heavy materials, postural loading and vehicular vibration, said lead researcher Michele Crites-Batti of the University of Albertas Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Drawing on information from 600 participants in the population-based Finnish Twin Cohort147 pairs of identical and 153 pairs of fraternal male twinsthe Twin Spine Study has turned the dominant injury model approach to disc degeneration on its head. Scientists from Canada, Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom compared identical twin siblings who differed greatly in their exposure to a suspected risk factor for back problems; for example, one of the twins had a sedentary job while the other had heavy occupational physical demands, or one routinely engaged in occupational driving while the other did not. The studies yielded startling results, suggesting that genetics play a much larger role in disc degeneration than previously thought.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 9:58 PM CT

Cholesterol, blood pressure control in diabetics

Cholesterol, blood pressure control in diabetics
Aggressively lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels below current targets in adults with type 2 diabetes may help to prevent and possibly reverse hardening of the arteries, as per new research supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. Hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is the number one cause of heart disease and can lead to heart attack, stroke, and death.

The three-year study of 499 participants is the first to compare two therapy targets for LDL (bad) cholesterol and systolic blood pressure levels, key risk factors for heart disease, in people with diabetes. Results are reported in the April 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This study provides good news for adults with type 2 diabetes, said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., NHLBI director. These patients are two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to die from heart disease. For the first time, we have evidence that aggressively lowering LDL cholesterol and blood pressure can actually reverse damage to the arteries in middle-aged adults with diabetes.

In the Stop Atherosclerosis in Native Diabetics Study (SANDS), approximately one-half of the participants (247) were asked to lower to standard levels their LDL cholesterol (to 100 milligrams per deciliter) and blood pressure (systolic blood pressure of 130 mmHg or lower), while the other half (252) aimed for more aggressive lowering of LDL cholesterol to 70 mg/dL or lower and of systolic blood pressure to 115 mmHg or lower. All participants were American Indians 40 years or older (average age of 56) who had diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and hypertension but no history of heart attack or other evidence of heart disease. The study was conducted at four clinical centers in southwestern Oklahoma; Phoenix, Ariz.; northeastern Arizona; and South Dakota. All participants continued to receive their medical care, including diabetes management, dietary and exercise counseling, and smoking cessation, from their health care providers with the Indian Health Service. Like the NIH, the Indian Health Service is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 9:42 PM CT

Misery, Not Miserly

Misery, Not Miserly
Off to buy a new handbag and fabulous red shoes, or how about overalls and a riding lawnmower? Before going, a mood check for signs of despair and gloom might be in order because how a person feels can impact routine economic transactions, whether he or she is aware of it or not.

So says a team of behavioral researchers from four major U.S. universities, whose research study finds that sadness impacts spending. Specifically, people who feel sad and self-focused pay more money for goods than those in neutral states, even when purchasing the same item.

"The tendency is to focus on oneself when sad drives this effect," says the study's lead author Cynthia E. Cryder, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. "Our studies revealed the more self-focused people were in the sad condition, the more money they spent.".

"More studies are needed to determine whether participants are deliberately trying to improve their sense of self by acquiring goods," adds co-author of study Jennifer Lerner, an experimental social psychology expert at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass.

The study, "Misery is not Miserly: Sad and Self-Focused Individuals Spend More," was funded by the National Science Foundation and was presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in Albuquerque, N.M. in February of this year. It would be reported in the June 2008 issue of Psychological Science--a premier journal for scientific experiments in psychology.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 7, 2008, 10:55 PM CT

Where College Students Live Can Impact Their Weight

Where College Students Live Can Impact Their Weight
The first year of college is often linked to the "freshman 15," a reference to the 15 pounds that female college freshman are alleged to gain during the first year of higher education. The causes of the freshman 15 range from stress-related over-eating to excessive consumption of alcohol. A new study of female freshman dorm residents adds a new perspective to this phenomenon, finding that those who avail themselves of school housing consume significantly higher numbers of calories and more sugar and - unlike their off-campus counterparts - engage in higher levels of calorie- curbing physical activity.

Study Being Presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society.

The study was conducted by Sukho Lee and Kyung-shin Park, both of the Department of Fitness & Sports in Teacher Preparation, Texas A & M International University, Laredo, TX. Dr. Lee will present their findings, entitled On Campus Living Increases Level of Physical Activity While Consuming More Calories at the 121st Annual Meeting of The American Physiological Society (APS; www.the-APS.org/press), part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.

The Study:

The purpose of the study was to compare the levels of physical activity and diet patterns between students who lived on campus and off campus. Forty-three first-year female students at Texas A & M International University participated in the one-year study, which was conducted during the 2006-2007 school year. At the beginning of the study the women completed a detailed lifestyle questionnaire. At both the beginning and the end of the study they underwent measurements of body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist and hip (W/H) ratio and percentage of body fat. Physical activity levels were monitored using a pedometer for seven days per week once a month. Personal daily logs (recording sheet for food consumption) were given to the subjects. The subjects were asked to record food consumption for seven days per week once a month. Dietary patterns were analyzed using specialized computer software.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 7, 2008, 10:50 PM CT

When poor communication pokes you in the eye

When poor communication pokes you in the eye
Cataract in human
The ocular lens belongs to the optical apparatus and focuses incidental beams of light onto the retina. Now, a research team led by Professor Dr. Jochen Graw of the Institute of Developmental Genetics, of the Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen, has been able to decipher a genetic defect responsible for small eyes and an incomplete, clouded lens in the so-called Aey12 mouse mutants. These results lead to conclusions concerning cataracts in humans, because, in this case too, the lens loses its transparency.

The development of the eye in mammals (and this naturally includes humans) is an extraordinarily complex process beginning in an early embryonic phase. The same applies also to the formation in healthy eyes of elastic and transparent lenses, which focus light beams. With the aid of the ciliary muscles, the lens can change its degree of curvature and thus set itself on varied, far distant objects. As a result, a pin sharp image is created on the retina. "As with humans, with mice too, the development of the lens starts with the formation of a spherical, hollow sac," Graw says. "That is the lens vesicle, the cover of which is surrounded by the lens epithelium, composed of a layer of cells. The vesicle is then filled in with fiber cells. In the following course of development, additional fibers originate in the equator of the lens. These scale up the diameter of the lens: a process that lasts a lifetime."........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


April 7, 2008, 10:45 PM CT

Asthma and Smoker's Lung

Asthma and Smoker's Lung
Dry airways may not only play a central role in the development of the in-herited lung disease cystic fibrosis, but also in much more common ac-quired chronic lung diseases such as asthma and smoker's lung, the ciga-rette smoke-induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is the conclusion reached by researchers at Heidelberg University Hospital under the direction of Assistant Professor Dr. Marcus Mall from the Department of Pediatrics at Heidelberg University Hospital and Professor Dr. Richard Boucher of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In ani-mal studies, they observed that insufficient hydration of the airway surfaces leads to pathologies typical of chronic obstructive lung diseases in humans.

Thus, these findings point to a new approach for the therapy of these diseases, which are listed by the World Health Organization WHO as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. There are currently no causal therapies available for treating these diseases; only the symptoms such as shortness of breath and oxygen deficiency can be treated. The results of the study have now been reported in the "American Journal of Respira-tory and Critical Care Medicine".

Cystic fibrosis gene causes airways to dry out and thickens mucus.

In the hereditary disease cystic fibrosis, which affects about 8,000 people in Gera number of (about 80,000 people in the Western world), a defective gene causes a change in the transport of salt and water across the mucosal sur-faces in the lungs, the intestine and other organs, and thus produce a change in the composition of the secretions.........

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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