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September 4, 2007, 7:02 PM CT

Ibuprofen for children with cystic fibrosis

Ibuprofen for children with cystic fibrosis
The results of a clinical trial, published in late August in the Journal of Pediatrics, indicates that, when used as part of routine treatment, high-dose ibuprofen is safe, and effective in slowing down lung disease in children with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Headed by Dr. Larry Lands, Director of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine at Montreal Childrens Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre, the multi-centre study monitored 142 children aged six to 18 with mild lung disease over two years.

Children given high-dose ibuprofen twice a day showed a significant reduction in the rate of decline in lung function, and had fewer and shorter hospital stays.

Slowing the rate of the decline of lung function will result in enhanced longevity and quality of life for patients with CF, said Dr. Larry Lands.

A number of therapys for cystic fibrosis can be a financial hardship for families, said Cathleen Morrison, Chief Executive Officer at the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. News that ibuprofen a relatively inexpensive therapy in comparison to other therapies for CF is effective, is very exciting.

"We are delighted to share this great news. The findings of this study show that through research and innovation, a simple inexpensive therapy can have a profound impact on the lives of children affected by CF and their families," said Dr. Peter Liu, Scientific Director of CIHR's Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 3, 2007, 11:32 AM CT

First Common Height Gene Identified

First Common Height Gene Identified
Whilst we all know that tall parents are more likely to have tall children, researchers have been unable to identify any common genes that make people taller than others. Now, however, researchers have identified the first gene, known as HMGA2, a common variant of which directly influences height.

The difference in height between a person carrying two copies of the variant and a person carrying no copies is just under 1cm in height, so does not on its own explain the range of heights across the population. However, the scientists believe the findings may prove important.

Prior studies have suggested that, unlike conditions such as obesity, which is caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors so called "nature and nurture" 90% of normal variation in human height is due to genetic factors rather than, for example, diet. However, other than very rare gene variants that affect height in only a small number of people, no common gene variants have until now been identified.

The research was led by Dr Tim Frayling from the Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, Professor Mark McCarthy from the University of Oxford and Dr Joel Hirschhorn from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Cambridge, US. Dr Frayling and Professor McCarthy were also part of a Wellcome Trust-funded study team that discovered the first common gene associated with obesity in April this year.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 31, 2007, 5:08 AM CT

The science of growing neurons

The science of growing neurons
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a method for culturing mammalian neurons in chambers not much larger than the neurons themselves. The new approach extends the lifespan of the neurons at very low densities, an essential step toward developing a method for studying the growth and behavior of individual brain cells.

The technique is described this month in the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry - Lab on a Chip.

"This finding will be very positively greeted by the neuroscience community," said Martha Gillette, who is an author on the study and the head of the cell and developmental biology department at Illinois. "This is pushing the limits of what you can do with neurons in culture".

Growing viable mammalian neurons at low density in an artificial environment is no easy task. Using postnatal neurons only adds to the challenge, Gillette said, because these cells are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions.

All neurons rely on a steady supply of proteins and other "trophic factors" present in the extracellular fluid. These factors are secreted by the neurons themselves or by support cells, such as the glia. This is why neurons tend to do best when grown at high density and in the presence of other brain cells. But a dense or complex mixture of cells complicates the task of characterizing the behavior of individual neurons.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 31, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

HPV vaccines may decrease risk of oral cancer

HPV vaccines may decrease risk of oral cancer
Oral cancer
The Centers for Disease Control report that nearly 25 million women are infected with some form of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Of those, more than three million are thought to have one of the four strains known to cause cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.

HPV is associated with oropharyngeal cancer and may be associated with oral cancers as well, and vaccines that have been developed to treat HPV might decrease the risk of these cancers, as per a research studyin the May/recent issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-evaluated journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

James J. Closmann, BS, DDS, the lead author of the study, observed that oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OOSCC) have been associated with high-risk HPV strains, the same strains that cause cervical cancer.

Recently, a vaccine was developed to treat patients with HPV against cervical cancer, and this could have an effect on womens oral health.

More than 100 strains of HPV have been identified, says Dr. Closmann. They have been shown to cause other non-malignant and cancerous disorders, which now include those in the mouth. Nearly 30,000 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer are reported each year. Its possible that oral and oropharyngeal cancers could be reduced if vaccination were more widespread; however, additional research is needed.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 26, 2007, 10:58 AM CT

First Out-of-body Experience In Laboratory

First Out-of-body Experience In Laboratory
The study participant sits in a chair wearing a pair of head-mounted video displays. These have two small screens over each eye, which show a live film recorded by two video cameras placed beside each other two metres behind the participant's head. The image from the left video camera is presented on the left-eye display and the image from the right camera on the right-eye display. The participant sees these as one 'stereoscopic' (3D) image, so they see their own back displayed from the perspective of someone sitting behind them. (Credit: Image courtesy of University College London)
A neuroscientist working at UCL (University College London) has devised the first experimental method to induce an out-of-body experience in healthy participants. In a paper published in Science, Dr Henrik Ehrsson, UCL Institute of Neurology, outlines the unique method by which the illusion is created and the implications of its discovery.

An out-of-body experience (OBE) is defined as the experience in which a person who is awake sees his or her own body from a location outside the physical body. OBEs have been reported in clinical conditions where brain function is compromised, such as stroke, epilepsy and drug abuse. They have also been reported in association with traumatic experiences such as car accidents. Around one in ten people claim to have had an OBE at some time in their lives.

Dr Ehrsson said: "Out-of-body experiences have fascinated mankind for millennia. Their existence has raised fundamental questions about the relationship between human consciousness and the body, and has been much discussed in theology, philosophy and psychology. Eventhough out-of-body experiences have been reported in many clinical conditions, the neuro-scientific basis of this phenomenon remains unclear.

"The invention of this illusion is important because it reveals the basic mechanism that produces the feeling of being inside the physical body. This represents a significant advance because the experience of one's own body as the centre of awareness is a fundamental aspect of self-consciousness".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 26, 2007, 10:43 AM CT

Clues To Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Clues To Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
SAPAP3 knockout mouse has a raw bald patch on its face from compulsive grooming behavior. (Credit: Guoping Feng, Ph.D., Duke University)
Mice born without a key brain protein compulsively groom their faces until they bleed and are afraid to venture out of the corner of their cages. When given a replacement dose of the protein in a specific region of the brain, or the drugs used to treat humans suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a number of of these mice seem to get better.

Duke University Medical Center investigators, in their basic research into how individual brain cells communicate with each other, discovered serendipitously that mice with a genetic mutation that prevents their brain cells from producing one key protein exhibited OCD-like behavior.

The finding may have uncovered important clues about a possible mechanism for OCD, a debilitating psychiatric condition affecting up to 2 percent of the world's people.

The international team of researchers, led by Duke molecular geneticist Guoping Feng, Ph.D., reported its findings in the August 23 issue of the journal Nature. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, and the Hartwell Foundation.

"The mice that could not produce this protein exhibited behaviors similar to that of humans with OCD, a compulsive action coupled with increased anxiety," Feng said. "We obviously cannot talk to mice to find out what they are thinking, but these mutant mice clearly did things that looked like OCD".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 25, 2007, 6:27 AM CT

Novel Approach to Uncover Genetic Components of Aging

Novel Approach to Uncover Genetic Components of Aging
People who live to 100 or more are known to have just as a number of-and sometimes even more-harmful gene variants compared with younger people. Now, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered the secret behind this paradox: favorable "longevity" genes that protect very old people from the bad genes' harmful effects. The novel method used by the scientists could lead to new drugs to protect against age-related diseases.

"We hypothesized that people living to 100 and beyond must be buffered by genes that interact with disease-causing genes to negate their effects," says Dr. Aviv Bergman, a professor in the departments of pathology and neuroscience at Einstein and senior author of the study, which appears in the August 31 issue of PLoS Computational Biology.

To test this hypothesis, Dr. Bergman and colleagues examined individuals enrolled in Einstein's Longevity Genes Project, initiated in 1998 to investigate longevity genes in a selected population: Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. They are descended from a founder group of just 30,000 or so people. So they are relatively genetically homogenous, which simplifies the challenge of associating traits (in this case, age-related diseases and longevity) with the genes that determine them.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 24, 2007, 5:06 AM CT

MSU engineering team designs innovative medical device

MSU engineering team designs innovative medical device
Blood oxygen meter

Credit: Tongtong Li
A Michigan State University engineering design team has developed a medical diagnosis system that would allow people to be inexpensively screened for a variety of medical problems.

With Tongtong Li, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, as the faculty facilitator, Joe Hines, Janelle Shane, Kevin Scheel, Thomas Casey and Kurtis Hessler teamed up with students from China and Italy in the project.The device will address the issue of affordable health care in China, where health care costs are major contributors to poverty. Eventhough Chinas health care system is in a state of reform, lack of health insurance, particularly in rural areas, prevent a number of Chinese people from seeking medical care.


The goal of the project is to develop a multifunctional medical device to help detect symptoms at no cost to patients, as well as to provide other useful healthcare-related functions.

The device performs many diagnostic functions, all of which are pressing health-care needs in rural China: blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, temperature, glucose level and electrocardiogram. An additional online database system for patient records, and a wireless infusion bottle monitoring system, will be useful to doctors and other hospital workers, making the device beneficial not just to patients.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 21, 2007, 6:08 PM CT

Vaccine thwarts the tangles of Alzheimer's

Vaccine thwarts the tangles of Alzheimer's
A new study by NYU Medical Center scientists shows for the first time that the immune system can combat the pathological form of tau protein, a key protein implicated in Alzheimers disease. The researchers, led by Einar Sigurdsson Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pathology at New York University School of Medicine, created a vaccine in mice that suppresses aggregates of tau. The protein accumulates into harmful tangles in the memory center of the brains of Alzheimers patients.

The vaccine successfully slowed the deterioration of motor abilities produced by excessive amounts of tau in the central nervous system of mice, as per the study reported in the August 22, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Dr. Sigurdsson plans to conduct follow-up studies using mice that slowly develop tangles and cognitive impairments without movement problems.

The study used mice that were genetically engineered to produce abnormal tau proteins early in life. These became entangled in several regions of the central nervous system. The resulting loss of motor coordination was significantly reduced in those immunized with a specific piece of the detrimental tau protein. By producing antibodies that could enter the brain and bind to irregular tau, the immune system prevented their harmful aggregation and associated behavioral impairments.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 21, 2007, 5:35 PM CT

AIDS vaccine field moves toward larger-scale efficacy trials

AIDS vaccine field moves toward larger-scale efficacy trials
Leading scientists from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (USMHRP) presented final results today from a collection of independent studies reexamining the medical criteria for including African volunteers in AIDS vaccine trials. The findings, presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2007 Conference in Seattle, suggest that a number of healthy Southern and East Africans have, in the past, been excluded from participating in trials based on laboratory reference ranges that were developed for Western populations and may not be appropriate locally. Implementation of the results of the studies should improve participation of African volunteers in clinical trials for new drugs and vaccines against emerging infectious diseases currently ravaging Africa, including AIDS, TB and malaria, and enable clinicians to better monitor and define adverse events in trials.

In the first reference range studies conducted on such a large scale, scientists from the involved organizations examined the blood tests of approximately 5,500 clinically healthy HIV-negative volunteers across a dozen clinical sites in four African countries. For some markers, the studies revealed differences between the norms commonly found in healthy Africans and the reference values developed for populations in North America and Europe.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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