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July 25, 2006, 8:13 PM CT

Nerve-stimulation Epilepsy Treatment

Nerve-stimulation Epilepsy Treatment
A unique nerve-stimulation therapy for epilepsy developed at UCLA offers a potential new alternative for tens of thousands of individuals unable to control their seizures with medicine and ineligible for surgery.

Developed by neuroresearchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Valencia, Calif.-based Advanced Bionics Corp., trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) uses a "brain pacemaker" to stimulate a nerve involved in inhibiting seizures.

The trigeminal nerve extends into the brain from the face and forehead, and is known to play a role in seizure inhibition. The stimulator and electrodes used to transmit an electrical current to the nerve can be worn externally or implanted.

A study reported in the July edition of the peer-evaluated journal Epilepsia reports that four of seven subjects who used an external stimulator for at least three months in a pilot human clinical trial enjoyed a 50 percent or better reduction in seizure frequency.

"Most people with chronic epilepsy who have continuing seizures are drug-resistant," said Dr. Christopher DeGiorgio, vice chair and professor in residence of neurology at UCLA, and co-developer of TNS and lead author of the study. "In addition, anti-seizure drugs can have significant side effects on behavior, thinking and alertness. Women taking anti-seizure drugs and their unborn children are at special risk because of the effect of these drugs on fetal growth and development.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 24, 2006, 6:34 AM CT

Slowing Alzheimer's disease

Slowing Alzheimer's disease
Scientists have uncovered the pathways behind the protection offered by environmental stimulation in Alzheimer's disease, further confirming that enhanced mental and physical activity slows neurological decline. The paper by Ambre et al., "Reduction of amyloid angiopathy and Aβ plaque burden after enriched housing in TgCRND8 mice: involvement of multiple pathways," appears in the recent issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of senile dementia, presents with cognitive and behavioral deficiencies resulting in part from accumulation of -amyloid (A) deposits within the brain (A plaques) and its blood vessels (amyloid angiopathy). Eventhough prior studies have shown that increased mental and physical activity can slow the progression of the disease, how such deceleration occurs has been unclear until now.

Dr. Kathy Keyvani's group at University Hospital Muenster examined the effects of environmental stimulation on the brain pathology of TgCRND8 mice. These mice, which express a mutant form of A found in some Alzheimer's patients, develop Alzheimer-like features including A plaques and cognitive deficits. To study the effects of enrichment, mice were housed in either standard cages or enriched cages, similar to the standard but with access to a stimulus cage containing permanent fixtures (rope and gnawing wood) as well as removable items (tunnels, balls, ladders, ramps, and exercise wheels) that were changed on a rotating basis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 19, 2006, 9:45 PM CT

Spinal Cord Stem Cell Transplantation is Safe

Spinal Cord Stem Cell Transplantation is Safe Hans Keirstead
Transplanting human embryonic stem cells does not cause harm and can be used as a therapeutic strategy for the therapy of acute spinal cord injury, as per a recent study by UC Irvine researchers.

UCI neurobiologist Hans Keirstead and his colleagues at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center observed that rats with either mild or severe spinal cord injuries that were transplanted with a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells suffered no visible injury or ill effects as a result of the therapy itself. Furthermore, the study confirmed prior findings by Keirstead's lab - since replicated by four other laboratories around the world - that replacing a cell type lost after injury improves the outcome after spinal cord injury in rodents. The findings appear in the current issue of Regenerative Medicine.

"Establishing the safety of implanted embryonic stem cells is crucial before we can move forward with testing these therapys in clinical trials," said Keirstead, an associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology and co-director of UCI's Stem Cell Research Center. "We must always remember that a human clinical trial is an experiment and, going into it, we need to assure ourselves as best as we can that the therapy will not cause harm. This study is an important step in that direction".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 18, 2006, 9:09 PM CT

Calorie Restriction Better Than Exercise

Calorie Restriction Better Than Exercise
Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have observed that eating a low-calorie yet nutritionally balanced diet lowers concentrations of a thyroid hormone called triiodothyronine (T3), which controls the body's energy balance and cellular metabolism.

The scientists also observed that calorie restriction (CR) decreases the circulating concentration of a powerful inflammatory molecule called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa). They say the combination of lower T3 levels and reduced inflammation may slow the aging process by reducing the body's metabolic rate as well as oxidative damage to cells and tissues.

Prior research on mice and rats has shown that both calorie restriction and endurance exercise protect them against a number of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. However, the research has shown that only CR increases the animals' maximum lifespan by up to 50 percent. These animal studies suggest that leanness is a key factor in the prevention of age-associated disease, but reducing caloric intake is needed to slow down aging.

For the new study, scientists examined 28 members of the Calorie Restriction Society who had been eating a CR diet for an average of six years. Eventhough the CR group consumed fewer calories - averaging only about 1,800 per day - they consumed at least 100 percent of the recommended daily amounts of protein and micronutrients. A second group of 28 study subjects was sedentary, and they ate a standard Western diet. A third group in the study ate a standard Western diet - approximately 2,700 calories per day - but also did endurance training. The scientists found reduced T3 levels - similar to those seen in animals whose rate of aging is reduced by CR - only in the people on CR diets.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 12, 2006, 9:50 PM CT

Brain-computer Helps Paralyzed Patients

Brain-computer Helps Paralyzed Patients
How can we make a paralyzed person perform actions that he or she wants to do? Technology is now coming to aid people who were paralyzed for long time.

People with long-standing, severe paralysis can generate signals in the area of the brain responsible for voluntary movements. These signals can be detected, recorded, routed out of the brain to a computer and converted into actions, enabling a paralyzed patient to perform basic tasks.

The results of the clinical trial evaluating this possibility are reported in the latest issued of Nature. In this study, the first patient, Matthew Nagle, a 25-year-old Massachusetts man with a severe spinal cord injury, has been paralyzed from the neck down since 2001. After having the BrainGate sensor implanted on the surface of his brain at Rhode Island Hospital in June 2004, he learned to control a computer cursor simply by thinking about moving it.

During 57 sessions, from July 2004 to April 2005, at New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, Nagle learned to open simulated e-mail, draw circular shapes using a paint program on the computer and play a simple video game, "neural Pong," using only his thoughts. He could change the channel and adjust the volume on a television, even while conversing. He was ultimately able to open and close the fingers of a prosthetic hand and use a robotic limb to grasp and move objects. Despite a decline in neural signals after 6.5 months, Nagle remained an active participant in the trial and continued to aid the clinical team in producing valuable feedback concerning the BrainGate technology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 7:02 AM CT

Link Between Pesticide and Parkinson's Disease

Link Between Pesticide and Parkinson's Disease
A team of Emory University scientists has found a connection in laboratory mice between developmental exposure to the pesticide dieldrin (now banned from use) during gestation and lactation and an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease (PD). The findings are significant because most studies aimed at determining the disease process in PD have been focused on events occurring during adulthood, not during developmental stages. The study results are published online today in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal (http://www.fasebj.org/papbyrecent.dtl).

The pesticide dieldrin was banned for most uses by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1974, then totally banned in 1987, as per the researchers. Dieldrin was most usually used for insect control in crops and for termite control in home foundations. "While a number of pesticides have been banned from use today, they still remain in the soil and can take decades to break down, as in the case of dieldrin," says Gary Miller, PhD, neurotoxicologist, researcher in Emory's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory. "Because of dieldrin's lingering effects, our research focuses on the role of the environment and its effects on PD." Dr. Miller is the senior author on this paper.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 6:52 AM CT

New sleep gene discovery

New sleep gene discovery
Proteins that regulate sleep and biological timing in the body work much differently than previously thought, meaning drug makers must change their approach to making drugs for sleep disorders and depression and other timing-related illnesses.

The surprise finding is an about-face from prior research, said Daniel Forger, assistant professor of math at the University of Michigan. Forger and his collaborators from the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute have written a paper on the topic, which will appear on in the July 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. It will appear the week of July 3 on line, at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0604511103.

Researchers studied two proteins (one called CKIe and another called PERIOD) that help regulate timing in the body, and looked at how those proteins function in cells, said Forger. One of the proteins causes the other protein to degrade, and the body knows what time it is by how much or how little PERIOD protein is present at any one time in the body. The body's clock is called a circadian rhythm.

Drug makers spend billions to develop drugs to help people with sleep disorders, and other disorders impacted by our biological clocks. Drugs to restore a healthy circadian rhythm by manipulating the levels of PERIOD proteins are currently under development.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 1, 2006, 10:01 AM CT

Gabapentin Cools Hot Flashes

Gabapentin Cools Hot Flashes Image courtesy of www.neurontin.com
University of Rochester researchers, who have been investigating new therapies for hot flashes for several years, report in the July Obstetrics and Gynecology journal that the seizure drug gabapentin is as effective as estrogen, which used to be the gold standard therapy for menopause symptoms.

Estrogen is no longer the preferred treatment because recent, large studies have shown that the hormone increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease for some women. Given that news, millions of women have abandoned hormone replacement treatment (HRT) and are seeking other ways to ease symptoms. So-called natural remedies such as soy, herbal products or acupuncture have not proven safe or effective at this point.

The latest Rochester study is the first to compare gabapentin and estrogen head-to-head against a placebo. Eventhough it showed a substantial placebo effect similar to other menopause studies - women taking the sugar pill reported a 54-percent reduction in hot flashes - the women taking gabapentin and estrogen reported even better results, with a 71 percent to 72 percent decline in symptoms.

"Gabapentin does appear to be as effective as estrogen," said lead author Sireesha Y. Reddy, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Until now its efficacy relative to estrogen was unknown".........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


June 29, 2006, 9:35 PM CT

With Cochlear Implants

With Cochlear Implants
"Bye-bye, bye-bye," said one 3 and a half-year old child, born deaf but with a cochlear implant that partially restored hearing nine months earlier. That's the most complex speech the child uttered during a testing session that involved play with a toy train set.

In contrast, a child of the same age who had a cochlear implant 31 months earlier made more sophisticated statements: "OK, now the people goes to stand there with that noise and now -- Woo! Woo!" and "OK, the train's coming to get the animals and people."

The testing session was part of research that indicates the earlier a deaf infant or toddler receives a cochlear implant, the better his or her spoken language skills at age 3 and a half. The research was conducted by Johanna Grant Nicholas, Ph.D., research associate professor of otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleague Ann E. Geers, Ph.D., from the Southwestern Medical School at the University of Texas at Dallas.

"Ninety percent of children born deaf are born to hearing parents, and these parents know very little about deafness," Nicholas says. "They don't know how to have a conversation in sign language or teach it to their children. A number of of these parents would like their children to learn spoken language."........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


June 27, 2006, 11:37 PM CT

Variable Blood Pressure Increases Risk Of Stroke Death

Variable Blood Pressure Increases Risk Of Stroke Death
Erratic blood pressure during the first hours after a stroke dramatically lowers the chances of survival. That's the finding of a Mayo Clinic study reported in the current issue of the journal Neurology.

The scientists studied 71 emergency room patients with ischemic stroke symptoms of less than 24 hours. Blood pressures were checked every five minutes during the patients' stay in the emergency department. Results showed that patients with widely fluctuating blood pressure during the first three hours in the emergency room were much less likely to survive more than 90 days after the stroke.

"These data suggest that additional studies are needed to clarify the optimal management of blood pressure in the setting of acute ischemic stroke," says Latha Stead, M.D., Mayo Clinic emergency medicine specialist and lead author of the study. "Until those studies are performed, health care providers should be careful not to overtreat hypertension acutely after ischemic stroke and need to consider urgently supporting blood pressure in those patients in whom the blood pressure is low".

In an earlier study, also published in Neurology, the research team had shown that a low initial blood pressure in stroke patients upon arrival in the emergency department was an early indicator of poorer survival. This new research supports that finding, but clarifies that of all the aspects of blood pressure studied, the variability -- particularly in diastolic blood pressure -- during the emergency room stay was the most predictive of a poor outcome. The scientists believe the increased mortality of patients in this study was due to impaired autoregulation of blood pressure and that those who had a more constant blood pressure had better flow of blood to the ischemic penumbra -- the part of the brain that lacked in blood supply, but had enough blood flow that it might still be saved with aggressive therapy. This differs from the infarcted tissue, which is damaged beyond repair.........

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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