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December 5, 2006, 9:26 PM CT

Virtual Reality Can Improve Memory

Virtual Reality Can Improve Memory
Conventional wisdom tells us that experience is the best teacher. But a new study of virtual marketing strategies finds that this isn't always true. Ann E. Schlosser (University of Washington) tested how well people used a camera after learning about its functions two different ways: either through an interactive virtual rendition or through text and static pictures. She observed that though virtual experiences improved people's memories of the camera's functions, it also increased false positives that is, more people believed it could do things that it couldn't do.

"Eventhough object interactivity may improve memory of associations in comparison to static pictures and text, it may lead to the creation of vivid internally-generated recollections that pose as memories," Schlosser writes in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

In addition, though the virtual experience was better for retaining information, it didn't help test subjects recognize the actual items when presented in real life: "The benefits of learning via virtual experience may come with costs: the ease of generating mental images may create later confusion regarding whether a retrieved mental image waccording toceived or imagined," she writes.

Schlosser also warns that while it might seem advantageous if consumers think a product has features it doesn't actually have, this can actually lead to customer dissatisfaction. She explains, "Consumers who discover that the product does not have these attributes will likely feel misled by the company".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 8:09 PM CT

Cause Of Cancer Drug Side Effect

Cause Of Cancer Drug Side Effect This figure shows where gefinitib first comes into contact with the transporter ABCG2
St. Jude Children's Research Hospita
A troublesome side effect caused by some cancer drugs appears to be caused by a broken "pump" in the liver that fails to push these medicines into a "drain," as per researchers at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. The finding offers clinicians a way to identify patients who are likely to develop diarrhea as a side effect from taking these drugs, the scientists said.

The discovery also has implications for people taking other drugs, since this pump controls the blood levels of a number of of the prescription drugs on the market. This study is the first to show that a specific gene mutation disables the pumpa protein called ABCG2preventing it from disposing of these drugs. The mutation, a type of alteration called a single nucleotide polymorphism, is designated 421C>A in reference to the specific change in one of the DNA building blocks of the gene.

ABCG2 pushes drugs out of cells and back into the blood, or in the case of the liver, the pump pushes drugs into a tube-like structure called the bile canaliculum, which eventually leads to the intestine, from which it is excreted, as per the researchers. ABCG2 also pumps drugs out of the cells lining the intestine, preventing drugs taken by mouth from flooding into the body. Once past the intestine, blood vessels pick up the drugs and bring them to the liver and other parts of the body.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 4:48 AM CT

How Movement Lubricates Bone Joints

How Movement Lubricates Bone Joints Flexing Joints in the Lab
Credit: UC San Dieg
Taking a cue from machines that gently flex patients knees to help them recover faster from joint surgery, bioengineering scientists at UC San Diego have shown that sliding forces applied to cartilage surfaces prompt cells in that tissue to produce molecules that lubricate and protect joints.

The results reported in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage are important in the ongoing efforts of the group led by Robert Sah, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professor at UCSDs Jacobs School of Engineering, to grow cartilage in the laboratory that can be used to replace patients injured or diseased joint surfaces.

We have shown that shear forces on cartilage prompt chondrocyte cells in it to produce proteoglycan 4, said Sah. This is an important step toward our goal of eventually growing joint tissue for transplantation.

Proteoglycan, a name that reflects its protein and polysaccharide components, is a basic building block of connective tissue throughout the body. The chondrocyte cells of cartilage make several forms of proteoglycans, including several that build up in cartilage and contribute to its stiffness. However, proteoglycan-4 is primarily secreted into the joint fluid where it coats and lubricates cartilage surfaces.

Researchers have known for years that defects in a gene for proteoglycan 4 result in a type of childhood joint failure that resembles osteoarthritis in the elderly. Sahs goal is to stimulate healthy chondrocytes in cartilage tissue grown in the laboratory to form robust tissue that makes proteoglycan 4 and has a smooth, well-lubricated surface.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 4:31 AM CT

Uterine Preservation In Treating Fibroids

Uterine Preservation In Treating Fibroids
Eventhough fibroidsnon-malignant tumors that grow in the uteruscan cause pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding and infertility, women of childbearing age often choose to forego therapy because the available therapy options dont guarantee fertility.

In a study in the recent issue of The Female Patient, physicians at.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia present a case history of a 35-year-old women whose numerous fibroids formed a large mass in her pelvic area that, when initially diagnosed, was of a size comparable to a full-term pregnancy.

"Traditionally, therapy for such a large fibroid mass in the uterus has been limited to hysterectomy, because the patient would bleed extensively if an attempt was made to merely remove the fibroids." says Jay Goldberg, M.D., MSCP, lead author and director of the Jefferson Fibroid Center at Thomas Jefferson University. "In this particular case though, hysterectomy was not an option because the patient strongly desired future fertility and uterine preservation".

To meet the patients wishes and remove the fibroids, the physicians developed a plan to perform two procedures a month apart.

The Jefferson physicians first performed a uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive radiologic procedure that blocks the arteries that supply blood to the fibroid tumors. The procedure was done to reduce the blood flow within the patients uterus and the risk of hemorrhaging at the time of surgery.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source

December 3, 2006, 9:13 PM CT

Gene Therapy For Erectile Dysfunction

Gene Therapy For Erectile Dysfunction
The first human trial of gene transfer treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) indicates that gene treatment that lasts for months and eliminates the patient's need for on-demand drugs (such as Viagra and Cialis), could become the future therapy of choice for this common problem, as per a paper in the most recent issue of Human Gene Therapy.

Lead author Arnold Melman, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Urology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center, says, "This is an exciting field of research because current therapys for men with erectile dysfunction, whether pills or minimally invasive therapies, must be used 'on demand', thereby reducing the spontaneity of the sexual act." .

Erectile dysfunction affects more than 50 percent of men aged 40 to70 and 70 percent above age 70, as per the Massachusetts Male Aging Study.

Dr. Melman and two study centers worked with 11 men and administered various doses of a transfer gene called hMaxi-K. "While this phase 1 safety trial was not designed to provide efficacy answers, one patient in each of the higher dose groups (5000 and 7500 micrograms) reported clinically significant and sustained improvements in ED. And, there have been no adverse effects with the patients in the study, so it has been proven to be safe," he adds.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

December 3, 2006, 8:28 PM CT

Better Tumor Vaccines

Better Tumor Vaccines
A "super" form of the enzyme Akt1 could provide the key to boosting the effect of tumor vaccines by extending the lives of dendritic cells, the immune-system master switches that promote the response of T-cells, which attack tumors, said scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the "advance online publication" section of the current issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

"By keeping the dendritic cells alive longer, you extend the window of activation, promoting the desirable immune response, which in the case of cancer, is the expansion of T-cells," said Dr. David Spencer, associate professor of immunology at BCM. "The longer your dendritic cells are alive and active, the more likely you are to expand the appropriate T-helper repertoire and ultimately the desirable cytotoxic (cell killing) T-lymphocytes".

"The dendritic cells are the master switch in the immune system. They decide whether there will be a robust immune response or a tempered immune response to pathogens or cancer," he said.

Using a variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques, Spencer and colleagues observed that Akt1 "was in fact essential for dendritic cell survival," he said. Then they sought to develop a more potent form of Akt1 that would enable the dendritic cells to live longer, boosting immune response.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

November 30, 2006, 4:57 AM CT

Pregnant Women With Placental Infection

Pregnant Women With Placental Infection Dr. Vanessa Laibl, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology
Pregnant women who develop an infection of the placenta or nearby membranes in their first pregnancy have twice the risk of getting it in their second pregnancy, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The infection, called chorioamnionitis, occurs in 0.5 percent to 10 percent of births. It can cause bleeding and widespread infection in the mother and infect the fetus as well, possibly resulting in cerebral palsy. If the infection develops during gestation, the baby must be delivered immediately, sometimes prematurely, to protect its health. Mother and child can then be treated with antibiotics.

The longer the time between the amniotic sac (waters) breaking and birth, the higher the risk for the infection at the time of birth. The infection can also take root before the waters break.

The study, which involved reviewing the records of 28,410 women who gave birth at Parkland Memorial Hospital, indicates that there may be one or more intrinsic risk factors that predispose women to the infection, the scientists report. Those might be the genetic makeup of their immune response or stronger bacteria in their genital tracts, they said.

We do think that there probably is a genetic component that predisposes women to intrauterine infection, said Dr. Vanessa Laibl, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study. We also think that certain women could be colonized with bacteria that are more virulent and more likely to cause infection.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source

November 30, 2006, 4:30 AM CT

Predicting The Risk Of Glaucoma

Predicting The Risk Of Glaucoma
Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a model to identify patients at high risk of developing glaucoma. Their research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Las Vegas.

The model that predicts glaucoma risk relies on five key risk factors. It was developed using data from two landmark clinical trials: the Ocular High blood pressure Treatment Study (OHTS) and the European Glaucoma Prevention Study (EGPS).

"The Ocular High blood pressure Treatment Study was really designed to answer two questions," says Michael A. Kass, M.D., national chair of the 22-center study and head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine. "We wanted to learn whether preventive therapy could reduce the occurence rate of glaucoma, and we also wanted to learn whether we could determine what risk factors might help us predict which patients will go on to develop glaucoma."

The first question was answered more than four years ago when the results of the OHTS study were announced. That study had looked at patients at risk for glaucoma because of high pressure in the eyes. Kass and his colleagues concluded at that time that treating those people with pressure-lowering eye drops could delay, or possibly even prevent, glaucoma.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source

November 30, 2006, 4:17 AM CT

Vegetables May Help Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Vegetables May Help Protect Against Prostate Cancer
Our parents may have been on to something when they told us to eat our vegetables, finish eating every pea and bean on our plates.

In two separate studies it was observed that nutrients in certain foods might reduce the risk for prostate cancer, as per Jackilen Shannon, Ph.D., M.P.H., a member of the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Shannon will present these findings Tuesday, Nov. 14 between 6 and 8 p.m. in Boston, Mass., at the Fifth Annual International Conference of the American Association of Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention.

In the "Folate Nutrition, Alcohol Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk" study, Shannon looked at the folate and alcohol consumption among two groups of veterans: 137 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and 238 men who had a normal prostate specific antigen (PSA) level and thus were considered to be at low risk for prostate disease. Folate is found in foods such as dark, green leafy vegetables; liver; kidney; dried beans and mushrooms. Folate is mandatory for the production of red blood cells but also plays an important role in inhibiting a certain type of DNA damage known as methylation. DNA damage is believed to be important in the development of cancer.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

November 29, 2006, 9:36 PM CT

Risks Increase On Episodic Antiretroviral Therapy

Risks Increase On Episodic Antiretroviral Therapy
Results from one of the largest HIV/AIDS therapy trials ever conducted show that a specific strategy of interrupting antiretroviral treatment more than doubles the risk of AIDS or death from any cause. In the study, the researchers used two predetermined levels of CD4+ T cells, the primary immune cell targeted by HIV, to guide them in respectively suspending or restarting the study participants on antiretroviral treatment.

A report describing this researchwhich involved 318 clinical sites in 33 countriesappears in this week's issue of The New England Journal (NEJM). The trial, known as Strategies for Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapies, or SMART, was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

"The SMART trial has provided important new data that will help physicians and their HIV-infected patients make therapy decisions," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "The study reflects an extraordinary global collaboration among hundreds of dedicated AIDS clinicians and thousands of their patients, all of whom should be commended for their contributions to this pivotal HIV/AIDS therapy study".

As HIV/AIDS has evolved into a chronic disease without a cure, lifelong antiretroviral treatment has become the norm. Lifelong treatment, however, can be difficult to adhere to as well as expensive. For these reasons, there has been a concerted research effort to test therapy interruption strategies that may enhance patients' quality of life and limit adverse drug effects. The experimental strategies vary in their approach to when to interrupt treatment. Some, like SMART, use a specific CD4+ count as a guide; others schedule regular time periods during which therapy is stopped (for example, alternating one month off and three months on).........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         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. Archives of research news blog

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