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August 27, 2006, 9:14 PM CT

Aromatherapy To Soothe And Heal

Aromatherapy To Soothe And Heal
A bubble bath that improves memory. A kitchen cleaner that wards off nausea and energizes. A scented handkerchief that calms a patient entering the MRI. The benefits of aromatherapy are real. Below, learn the uses, healing properties and how-tos of using aromatherapy to heal and de-stress from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Scan the shelves of the local bath and body stores and one is sure to find products labeled for aromatherapy. Many might be surprised to learn the science behind it. So what is aromatherapy, how is it used and will those products actually work?

Cherie Perez, a supervising research nurse in the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, teaches a monthly aromatherapy class to answer those questions for cancer patients and caregivers undergoing treatment at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Perez's classes are offered free of charge through M. D. Anderson's Place. of wellness, a center within the institution that focuses on helping patients and caregivers deal with the non-medical issues of living with cancer, and is the first complementary therapy facility to be built on the campus of a comprehensive cancer center.

Perez, who first became involved with aromatherapy to help relieve the physical pain and discomfort caused by fibromyalgia, shares her professional knowledge of the basics of aromatherapy, safety precautions and interactive demonstrations in each hour-long class.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:56 PM CT

Identifying People Most At Risk For Alcoholism

Identifying People Most At Risk For Alcoholism
Scientists at the Molecular Neurobiology Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, have completed the most comprehensive scan of the human genome to date associated with the ongoing efforts to identify people most at risk for developing alcoholism. This study represents the first time the new genomic technology has been used to comprehensively identify genes associated with substance abuse. The study can be viewed online and would be reported in the December 2006 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B (Neuropsychiatric Genetics).

"Tools such as pooled data genome scanning give us a completely new way of looking at complex biological processes, such as addiction," says Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health. "The ability to pinpoint genes in the human genome responsible for disease has the potential to revolutionize our ability to treat and even prevent diseases." .

"Prior studies established that alcoholism runs in families, but this research has given us the most extensive catalogue yet of the genetic variations that may contribute to the hereditary nature of this disease," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "We now have new tools that will allow us to better understand the physiological foundation of addiction."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:50 PM CT

Gut Tissue A Major Reservoir For HIV

Gut Tissue A Major Reservoir For HIV
FINDINGS: UCLA scientists have found the human gut to be a major reservoir harboring the HIV virus -- holding almost twice as much as a person's blood. In addition, the virus stored in the gut does not decay or reduce over time, as is also the case with blood-related reservoirs. It is well-known that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and lymph nodes are principal reservoirs harboring the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The role of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) in this setting, however, had not been properly reviewed until now. Scientists from the Center for Prevention Research and the UCLA AIDS Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, in collaboration with the AIDS Research Alliance in West Hollywood, Calif., collaborated on this research.



IMPACT:
The findings further confirm that HIV remains persistent and elusive, and that eradicating the virus using current anti-retroviral treatment alone is not enough. Despite using fully suppressive treatment, patients in the study still had evidence of persistent, steady levels of HIV in gut tissue as well as in the blood.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:41 PM CT

High Levels Of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

High Levels Of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Alcohol consumption in Western Europe is generally considered to be more moderate in nature - daily, and with meals - than it is in other countries such as the United States. New research indicates that this may be an "urban myth," and that drinking levels in Italy - as measured by the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Italian primary schools - are just as high as they are in the new world.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Both human and animal studies have shown that heavy and binge drinking are the most highly linked to FAS damage," said Philip A. May, professor of sociology, and family and community medicine, at The University of New Mexico. "A common perception is that daily drinking with meals is less damaging to the fetus, and that this drinking pattern is the norm in Western Europe. While we have not yet untangled or answered this relationship, our study results do show that there are individuals in Italy who drink heavily enough to produce a rate of FAS which needs our attention." May, also an epidemiologist, is the study's corresponding author.

"Previous to this study," said Robert J. Sokol, distinguished professor of obstetrics and gynecology and Director of the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development at Wayne State University, "I don't believe there was a good number for prevalence of FAS in Italy. This says Italy looks like the rest of the world in terms of drinking patterns, and that related birth outcomes are similar amongst the relatively heavily exposed kids."........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:19 PM CT

Acamprosate may help abstinent alcoholics sleep better

Acamprosate may help abstinent alcoholics sleep better
Alcoholics generally don't sleep well. Nor does abstinence improve the situation much. In fact, sleep difficulties during alcohol abstinence may be responsible for a relapse to alcoholism as individuals attempt to self medicate their sleeping problems. New findings show that an alcoholism-treatment drug called acamprosate, widely used in Europe, can alleviate post-withdrawal sleep disturbances by influencing glutamatergic transmission.

Results are published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"During chronic and excessive use of alcohol, short periods of deep sleep become interrupted by brief periods of restlessness," said Luc Staner, director of the Sleep Laboratory of the Centre Hospitalier de Rouffach. "This may also be accompanied by sleep terrors, sleepwalking and exacerbation of loud snoring or sleep apnea. During the day, alcohol intake can exacerbate sleepiness, which disrupts performance and contributes to accidents even when an individual is not significantly intoxicated." Staner is also a researcher at FORENAP, an organization that specializes in early drug development and research in neuroscience, located in Rouffach, France.

Sleep dysfunction does not necessarily improve with abstinence from alcohol, added Staner, who is also the corresponding author for the study. "Sleep is initially characterized by occasional nights of very little sleep and nightmares, followed by either progressive improvement or, very often, long-lasting sleep difficulties," he said. "If the latter, consequences may include decreased attention, vigilance, energy and concentration; increase in fatigue and malaise, irritability, etc. These often protracted symptoms lead some patients to resume drinking in an attempt to self-medicate their sleep problems. Probably for this reason, persistent post-withdrawal sleep complaints have been shown to predict relapse to alcoholism." ........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:14 PM CT

A Pint Of Cider To Keep The Doctor Away

A Pint Of Cider To Keep The Doctor Away
The saying goes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away but now researchers at the University of Glasgow are looking into whether a pint of cider could have the same effect. Scientists have discovered that English cider apples have high levels of phenolics antioxidants associated with protection against stroke, heart disease and cancer and are working with volunteers to see whether these health benefits could be passed onto cider drinkers.

In the next few weeks 12 volunteers will each drink a pint of cider, while avoiding all other dietary sources of antioxidants, to give the research team a unique insight into how phenolics are absorbed and metabolised by humans. The research is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Association of Cider Makers.

Serena Marks, who is leading the study, explains: "Prior research suggests there may be an association between phenolics and protection against some serious diseases, so we are trying to find out how we get phenolics from our diet. We know that apples are high in phenolics and our research shows that cider apples have a higher phenolic content than dessert apples".

The cider industry has long been interested in phenolics, because these compounds play an important role in the taste and colour of cider, but Marks hopes her research will show that phenolic levels also have a beneficial health role.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:06 PM CT

How brain cells categorize images?

How brain cells categorize images?
Socks in the sock drawer, shirts in the shirt drawer, the time-honored lessons of helping organize one's clothes learned in youth. But what parts of the brain are used to encode such categories as socks, shirts or any other item, and how does such learning take place?

New research from Harvard Medical School (HMS) researchers has identified an area of the brain where such memories are found. They report in the advanced online Nature that they have identified neurons that assist in categorizing visual stimuli. They observed that the activity of neurons in a part of the brain called the parietal cortex encode the category, or meaning, of familiar visual images and that brain activity patterns changed dramatically as a result of learning. Their results suggest that categories are encoded by the activity of individual neurons (brain cells) and that the parietal cortex is a part of the brain circuitry that learns and recognizes the meaning of the things that we see.

"It was previously unknown that parietal cortex activity would show such dramatic changes as a result of learning new categories," says lead author David Freedman, PhD, HMS postdoctoral research fellow in neurobiology. "Some areas of the brain, especially the frontal and temporal lobes, have been linked to visual categorization. Since these brain areas are all interconnected, an important next step will be to determine their relative roles in the categorization process".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:02 PM CT

Tricking Cancer Cell To Self-destruction

Tricking Cancer Cell To Self-destruction
Researchers have found a way to trick cancer cells into committing suicide. The novel technique potentially offers an effective method of providing personalized anti-cancer treatment.

Most living cells contain a protein called procaspase-3, which, when activated, changes into the executioner enzyme caspase-3 and initiates programmed cell death, called apoptosis. In cancer cells, however, the signaling pathway to procaspase-3 is broken. As a result, cancer cells escape destruction and grow into tumors.

"We have identified a small, synthetic compound that directly activates procaspase-3 and induces apoptosis," said Paul J. Hergenrother, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and corresponding author of a paper to be posted online this week ahead of regular publication by the journal Nature Chemical Biology. "By bypassing the broken pathway, we can use the cells' own machinery to destroy themselves".

To find the compound, called procaspase activating compound one (PAC-1), Hergenrother, with colleagues at the U. of I., Seoul National University, and the National Center for Toxicological Research, screened more than 20,000 structurally diverse compounds for the ability to change procaspase-3 into caspase-3.

The scientists tested the compound's efficacy in cell cultures and in three mouse models of cancer. The testing waccording toformed in collaboration with William Helferich, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the U. of I., and Myung-Haing Cho at Seoul National University. The scientists also showed that PAC-1 killed cancer cells in 23 tumors obtained from a local hospital.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 25, 2006, 5:09 AM CT

Researchers Restore Memory Lost In Mice With Alzheimer's

Researchers Restore Memory Lost In Mice With Alzheimer's
Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center have successfully restored normal memory and synaptic function in mice suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The study was published recently on the website of the journal Cell.

Researchers at Columbia's Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain have identified an enzyme that is mandatory for normal cognition but that is impaired in a mouse model of Alzheimer's. They discovered that mice regained the ability to form new memories when the enzyme's function was elevated.

The research suggests that boosting the function of this enzyme, known as ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 (Uch-L1), may provide a promising strategy for battling Alzheimer's disease, and perhaps reversing its effects.

In the new study, the Columbia scientists discovered that the enzyme Uch-L1 is part of a molecular network that controls a memory molecule called CREB, which is inhibited by amyloid beta proteins in people with Alzheimer's. By increasing Uch-L1 levels in mice that had Alzheimer's, they were able to improve the animals' ability to create new memories.

"Because the amyloid beta proteins that cause Alzheimer's may play a normal, important physiological role in the body, we can't destroy them as a treatment," explained Ottavio Arancio, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology at Columbia University Medical Center and co-principal investigator of the study with Michael Shelanski, MD, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Pathology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "What makes this newly discovered enzyme exciting as a potentially effective treatment is that it restores memory without destroying amyloid beta proteins".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 25, 2006, 4:59 AM CT

Adult stem cells are touchy

Adult stem cells are touchy
A certain type of adult stem cell can turn into bone, muscle, neurons or other types of tissue depending on the "feel" of its physical environment, as per scientists at the University of Pennsylvania.

The scientists discovered that mesenchymal stem cells, which regularly reside in the bone marrow as part of the body's natural regenerative mechanism, depend on physical clues from their local environment in order to transform into different types of tissue. The scientists were even able to manipulate stem cells by changing the firmness of the gel on which they were grown.

The scientists think that their findings, which appear in the Aug. 25 issue of the journal Cell, could change the way in which people work with stem cells.

"Basically, mesenchymal stem cells feel where they're at and become what they feel," said Dennis Discher, a professor in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science. "The results begin to establish a physical basis for both stem-cell use against diseases and for stem-cell behavior in embryonic development,".

Much of the work in stem-cell science has involved the study of the chemical microenvironment, the soup of chemical messenger signals that are generally thought to guide stem cells through the process of differentiation, where relatively "blank" stem cells turn into specific cell types. For the first time, the Penn scientists have proven that the physical microenvironment is also crucial for guiding the cells through differentiation. As per Adam Engler, the first author on the study and a graduate student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, soft microenvironments, that mimic the brain, guide the cells toward becoming neurons, stiffer microenvironments, that mimic muscle, guide the cells toward becoming muscle cells and comparatively rigid microenvironments guide the cells toward becoming bone.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         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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