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October 12, 2006, 10:22 PM CT

Stroke rates falling in the West

Stroke rates falling in the West
The occurence rate of stroke in Perth, Western Australia has declined 43% over the last decade, as per new research announced recently by The George Institute for International Health at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Stroke Society of Australasia held in Adelaide.

Stroke affects around 17 million people globally and is widely recognised as one of the biggest killers in Australia. Nationally, over 53,000 strokes occur each year, of which one third will die in the first 12 months. Without prevention, the annual rate of strokes in Australia has been predicted to rise to 74,000 by 2017 due to the ageing of the population.

The pivotal eleven-year Perth Community Stroke Study, conducted from 1989 to 2001, focused on the trends of strokes in both men and women, and the frequency of risk factors that play a key role in the occurence rate of stroke. The project involved collaboration between leading stroke research centres, The George Institute, Royal Perth Hospital, the University of Western Australia and The University of Queensland.

"The study observed that despite the population in inner-metropolitan Perth increasing over the eleven-year study period, the number of strokes declined significantly," said Professor Craig Anderson, Director of Neurological Disease and Mental Health at The George Institute.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 12, 2006, 5:10 AM CT

Potential New Drug For Multiple Sclerosis

Potential New Drug For Multiple Sclerosis
Virginia Commonwealth University scientists have identified a unique mechanism of action of a new drug that shows great promise for the therapy of multiple sclerosis.

The scientists report the unique action of FTY720, or Fingolimod, an immunosuppressant drug that was already known to affect the functioning of the immune system by preventing the egress of white blood cells from the lymph nodes into the blood. The article was pre-published as a First Edition Paper in Blood, The Journal of the American Society of Hematology, which appeared online on Sept. 28.

In this study, the research team found that FTY720 also inhibited the activity of a key enzyme called cPLA2, which is necessary for the production of inflammatory mediators, known as eicosanoids. Eicosanoids drive inflammatory disorders such as asthma and multiple sclerosis.

As per Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., professor and chair in the VCU Department of Biochemistry, and lead author on the study, the inhibition of cPLA2 would shut down the entire inflammatory pathway, possibly without the side-effects caused by medications such as Vioxx, that have been withdrawn from the pharmaceutical market.

FTY720, a drug developed by Novartis, has shown considerable therapeutic effects in a recent small, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis. The study was reported in the September 2006 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) by an international research team. With its novel mode of action and the added benefit of an oral formulation, further clinical development of FTY720 might have a major impact on therapy of MS, said Spiegel.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 11, 2006, 5:22 AM CT

Innovative Surgery Corrects Vision

Innovative Surgery Corrects Vision Lawrence Tychsen performs a visual examination of a young patient in his clinic.
Children with cerebral palsy and other neurological problems often have extremely poor eyesight. Their ability to read, pick up objects and "see" the world is so impaired and complicated to treat that a number of go untreated, even though they may be legally blind.

Janice Brunstrom, M.D., assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Loius and a neurologist at St. Louis Children's Hospital, saw firsthand how her patients' poor vision interfered with every aspect of their daily lives. Having cerebral palsy herself and wanting to help reverse the isolation that a number of of these children endure because of their poor vision, she approached pediatric ophthalmologist Lawrence Tychsen, M.D., to help devise some solutions.

He did. Tychsen, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, of pediatrics and of neurobiology and ophthalmologist in chief at St. Louis Children's Hospital, developed specialized testing and now does vision correction, or refractive surgery, on children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and neurobehavioral disorders such as autism. To date, St. Louis Children's Hospital is one of the only U.S. medical centers performing refractive surgery on these children and has the highest volume, operating on about 60 special-needs children a year.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source


October 8, 2006, 5:46 PM CT

Marijuana's Ingredient May Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease

Marijuana's Ingredient May Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease
Researchers are reporting discovery in laboratory experiments of a previously unknown molecular mechanism in which the active ingredient in marijuana may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Scripps Research Institute's Kim D. Janda and his colleagues used laboratory experiments to show that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) preserves brain levels of the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Existing medications for AD, including donepezil and tacrine, also relieve AD symptoms by inhibiting the enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine. THC does so by inhibiting an alternative site on acetylchlolinesterase and at lower concentrations, Janda's group reports in an article in the current (Oct. 2) issue of the ACS bimonthly journal, Molecular Pharmaceutics. Their experiments show that THC also prevents formation of the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of AD and its damage to the brain.

"Our results provide a mechanism whereby the THC molecule can directly impact Alzheimer's disease pathology," they state. They also note that THC may provide a "drug lead" -- a model for developing new and more effective medications with more targeted effects on AD.

The scientists explain that such compounds "may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease, augmenting acetylcholine levels by preventing neurotransmitter degradation and reeducating amyloid beta aggregation, thereby simultaneously treating both the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 8, 2006, 5:10 PM CT

More Than Meets The Eye

More Than Meets The Eye
Ever watch a jittery video made with a hand-held camera that made you almost ill? With our eyes constantly darting back and forth and our body hardly ever holding still, that is exactly what our brain is faced with. Yet despite the shaky video stream, we commonly perceive our environment according tofectly stable.

Not only does the brain find a way to compensate for our constantly flickering gaze, but scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have observed that it actually turns the tables and relies on eye movements to recognize partially hidden or moving objects. Their findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature Neuroscience.

"You might expect that if you move your eyes, your perception of objects might get degraded," explains senior author Richard Krauzlis, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute. "The striking thing is that moving your eyes can actually help resolve ambiguous visual inputs."

Our eyes move all the time, whether to follow a moving object or to scan our surroundings. On average, our eyes move several times a second in fact, in a lifetime, our eyes move more often than our heart beats. "Nevertheless, you don't have the sense that the world has just swept across or rotated around you. You sense that the world is stable," says Krauzlis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 5, 2006, 10:00 PM CT

Brain Mapping Safe For Children

Brain Mapping Safe For Children
Dispelling a stubborn myth, scientists at Johns Hopkins have shown that children with strokes, brain tumors and other cerebrovascular diseases can safely undergo a potentially life-saving brain-mapping test that a number of doctors have long shunned over concerns for side effects. Analysis of 241 cerebral angiograms performed on 205 children at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center between 1999 and 2006 showed that not a single patient suffered complications during or immediately following the procedure.

Results of the analysis, thought to bethe first study in more than 25 years to look at the safety of cerebral angiographies in children, are published in the recent issue of Stroke.

Performed by threading a catheter into the patient's groin, through the abdomen and the chest and upward into the arteries of the neck, cerebral angiography is the most accurate brain-vessel imaging technique available and a critical diagnostic and therapy tool, says Lori Jordan, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Center and a co-author of the report.

"The assumption that angiographies in children are more dangerous than in adults haccording tosisted over the years-mostly due to lack of evidence," says study senior author Philippe Gailloud, M.D., an interventional neuroradiologist at Johns Hopkins. "When we ask parents to sign consent for an angiography, their first question is how safe it is, and up until now, we didn't have any hard data to show them. Given the very low risk of complications we see, pediatric neurologists should not hesitate to order the procedure, and we can say to them that we have research showing this procedure is indeed very safe in children".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 1, 2006, 7:54 PM CT

Helping Children, Women To Sleep Better

Helping Children, Women To Sleep Better
The refusal of young children to go to bed at night can cause unnecessary stress for members of their family. However, parents and guardians can take comfort in knowing that behavioral therapys are an effective means for resolving a child's bedtime problems and night wakings.

The study, conducted by Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, is based on a review of 52 therapy studies, participated by 2,500 infants and toddlers, by a task force appointed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

"The results indicate hat behavioral therapies produce reliable and durable changes in bedtime problems and night wakings in infants and children," wrote Mindell. "Across all studies, 94 percent report that behavioral interventions produced clinically significant improvements in bedtime problems and/or night wakings. Approximately 82 percent of children benefit from therapy and the majority maintain these results for three to six months".

Mindell noted that additional research is needed to examine the delivery methods of therapy, longer term efficacy and the role of pharmacological agents.

As per Mindell, studies have shown that 20 to 30 percent of young children have significant bedtime problems and/or night wakings. In addition, night wakings are among the most common sleep problems in infants and toddlers, with 25 to 50 percent of children over the age of six months waking during the night, added Mindell.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 1, 2006, 7:46 PM CT

Treatment For Sleeplessness In The Elderly

Treatment For Sleeplessness In The Elderly
Insomnia or lack of sleep is a common problem among elderly people. It is a more widespread problem than we recognize. Now scientists are suggesting that a brief behavioral therapy for insomnia (BBT) could help those elderly individuals suffering from insomnia.

Brief behavioral therapy for insomnia (BBTI) appears to be a promising intervention for elderly adults who suffer from insomnia.

The study, conducted by Anne Germain, PhD, and his colleagues of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, focused on 17 elderly adults who were randomly assigned to receive BBTI, and 18 selected to receive an information-only control (IC) condition. All participants completed clinician-administered and self-report measures of sleep quality, as well as a sleep diary. Interventions were delivered in a single individual session with a booster session administered two weeks later. Postintervention assessments were completed after four weeks.

The results showed significant improvements in sleep measures and in daytime symptoms of anxiety and depression in 71 percent of those individuals who received BBTI, in comparison to 39 percent favorable response among IC participants. Furthermore, 53 percent of BBTI participants met criteria for remission, while 17 percent of those in the IC group met the same criteria.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 1, 2006, 7:17 PM CT

A Rheostat In Brain For Emotions

A Rheostat In Brain For Emotions
Scientists are revealing secrets about serotonin system and a serotonin receptor called the 5-HT1A autoreceptor.

Eventhough drugs that target the brain's serotonin system are widely used to treat depression, the basic biological mechanism by which they help to alleviate symptoms is poorly understood. Now, new University of Pittsburgh research suggests these drugs work by acting on a specific serotonin receptor called the 5-HT1A autoreceptor, which the study's researchers found plays a key role in regulating the response of the amygdala.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also provide a model of how specific changes in 5-HT1A autoreceptors and associated amygdala reactivity may impact a person's risk for developing depression. Much like a rheostat, these serotonin receptors regulate the brain's emotional responses and may contribute to one's vulnerability for depression and other psychiatric disorders.

The amygdala is a critical component of brain circuitry that processes clues from the environment about potential threats and generates appropriate behavioral and physiological responses such as the "fight or flight" response to these challenges. Research has indicated that depression and other mood disorders, such as anxiety, are linked to emotional brain circuitry problems involving the amygdala.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 27, 2006, 9:01 PM CT

Genetic Variations In Parkinson's Disease

Genetic Variations In Parkinson's Disease
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have completed one of the first large-scale studies of the role of common genetic variation in Parkinson's disease (PD). While the results fill in some missing pieces of the genetic puzzle, they are primarily of benefit as a starting point for more detailed studies. The information generated by the study is now publicly available in a database that will serve as a valuable research tool for the future.

The study was led by scientists at the National Institute of Aging (NIA) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The data were derived from blood samples of 267 people with PD and 270 neurologically normal individuals. These samples were made available by The NINDS Human Genetics Resource Center at the Coriell Institute (http://ccr.coriell.org/ninds), a publicly-funded bank for human cells, DNA samples, clinical data, and other information that aims to accelerate research on genetics of disorders of the nervous system. Results of the study appear in the September 27, 2006, early online publication of The Lancet Neurology.

"This is, to my knowledge, the first publicly available genotype data of this magnitude outside of the International HapMap effort, and certainly the first disease-linked dataset. I hope that this will prove to be a valuable resource for future genetics work in Parkinson's disease, both for our laboratory and for other scientists around the world," says Andrew Singleton, Ph.D., the NIA researcher who led the study. "The use of neurologically normal controls from the NINDS neurogenetics repository means that these data can be readily used as a control group in future large scale SNP studies performed in a number of other neurological diseases".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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