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November 13, 2006, 8:14 AM CT

MRI Detects Heart Damage In Patients With Sarcoidosis

MRI Detects Heart Damage In Patients With Sarcoidosis
To detect heart damage early in patients with the immune system disorder sarcoidosis, who are at elevated risk of dieing from heart problems, magnetic resonance imaging is twice as sensitive as conventional methods, as per a research studyby Duke University Medical Center heart specialists.

By using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to discover minute areas of heart damage before they grow larger, physicians may be able to take action to prevent sudden cardiac death, which is a leading cause of death in patients with sarcoidosis, the scientists said.

Typically sarcoidosis is characterized by the formation of tiny inflammatory growths called granulomas. Eventhough granulomas tend to cluster in the lungs, in lymph nodes and under the skin, they also can form in the heart. When they do, it currently is difficult to determine which patients will develop heart damage, the scientists said.

"We observed that MRI was sensitive in detecting small areas of damage in the hearts of patients with sarcoidosis, and we were further able to correlate these areas of damage with future adverse outcomes," said Duke heart specialist Manesh Patel, M.D., who presented the results of the study on Sunday, Nov. 12, at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, in Chicago. "The MRI technology is very good at obtaining high-resolution images of heart muscle and distinguishing normally functioning heart cells from those that are damaged or destroyed".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 8:05 AM CT

Detecting Heart Trouble Early

Detecting Heart Trouble Early
Working with dogs and using the latest in imaging software and machinery, also known as a 64-slice Computerized axial tomography scanner, Johns Hopkins cardiologists have developed a fast and accurate means of tracking blood that has been slowed down by narrowing of the coronary arteries. Scientists say it took them less than half the time of exercise stress tests and echocardiograms currently used to find early warning of vessels more likely to become blocked and cause heart attack.

The Hopkins team will present their initial findings Nov. 12 at the American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago. Already, the Hopkins technique, in which patients are given a drug to stress their heart during the scan, is undergoing clinical testing. Results among 60 patients are expected within a year.

If the human trials prove equally successful, senior investigator Albert C. Lardo, Ph.D., an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University of School of Medicine and its Heart Institute, says the new scanner "could dramatically change the way we diagnose coronary disease in patients with initial symptoms of chest pain, by providing a safe, non-invasive and fast method to detect blood-flow problems in heart tissue.

"Because it takes less than 15 minutes to perform and does not require patients to be stabilized ahead of scanning, it could replace most other more time-consuming tests that help find blockages, including not only exercise stress testing and echocardiograms, but also positron electron tomography (PET) imaging or magnetic resonance imaging," he says.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 8:00 AM CT

Vaccine Shows Promise Against Breast Cancer

Vaccine Shows Promise Against Breast Cancer
A diagnosis of breast cancer has taken on a new meaning in the past 10 years, as research has produced a host of new therapies and detection techniques, significantly improving long-term survival for women who have been fighting the disease. To build on these successes, scientists are now harnessing what they have learned about treating breast cancer and applying it to possible methods of prevention to reduce the total occurence rate of the disease. One study presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Boston looks at a specific target in the fight against breast cancer and evaluates a potential vaccine that is yielding promising results for women who are at high-risk for the disease.

Targeted immunoediting of critical pathways responsible for breast cancer development: therapy of early breast cancer using HER-2/neu pulsed dendritic cells.

Multiple genetic targets have been discovered that may help fight breast cancer, including BRCA, estrogen receptors, and HER-2/neu, all of which have been known to predict the severity of disease, recurrence and overall survival. Developing novel therapies that target these specific genetic variances may be extremely beneficial in preventing breast cancer for a number of women.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:42 AM CT

Researchers Deciphering Flu Virus

Researchers Deciphering Flu Virus
As the Northern Hemisphere braces for another flu season, scientists at Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory are making strides toward better understanding the mechanics of the virus that causes it -- a virus that kills between one-quarter and one-half million people each year.

Tim Cross, director of the lab's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) program, and collaborators from Brigham Young University are trying to understand the minute parts of the highly virulent Influenza Type A virus. To do that, they are using all of the magnet lab's NMR resources, including its 15-ton, 900-megahertz magnet, to produce a detailed picture of the virus's skin.

"Using the magnet helps us build a blueprint for a virus's mechanics of survival," said Cross, who also is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU. "The more detailed the blueprint, the better our chances of developing drugs capable of destroying it".

The only magnet of its kind in the world, the "900" is critical to the project's process. Otherwise, an image this complicated would be impossible to obtain.

Cross and David Busath, a biophysicist at Brigham Young University, recently discovered key components of the protein holes, or "channels," in the influenza viral skin. These components lead to unique chemical reactions that are believed to be important clues for understanding how the channels regulate whether the virus can distribute its genes into host cells and reproduce or not. The researchers' findings were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:37 AM CT

Antioxidant Therapies And Radiation Treatment

Antioxidant Therapies And Radiation Treatment
Cancer patients can get the vital nutritional benefits from taking antioxidants without the risk of interfering with radiation therapy, as per research findings being presented this weekend at the Society of Integrative Oncology's Third International Conference in Boston. The Society for Integrative Oncology is a non-profit organization of oncologists and other health professionals studying and integrating effective complementary therapies in cancer care.

The study, Effect of Concomitant Naturopathic Therapies on Clinical Tumor Response to External Beam Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer, was conducted by scientists at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and evaluated PSA levels of patients with prostate cancer after receiving radiation treatment. Scientists found no difference between patients taking antioxidants and those who did not. Antioxidants used in the study included green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America chose this study to address clinical concerns about the use of dietary supplements in conjunction with conventional cancer therapies. The study addressed the concern that antioxidants might interfere with cancer cell oxidation levels that contribute to tumor killing by chemotherapy and radiation treatment.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:33 AM CT

How Genes Affect Antipsychotic Drug Response?

How Genes Affect Antipsychotic Drug Response?
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy are attempting to discover how genes determine how well an antipsychotic medicine works in adults and children and the side effects it will cause.

Risperidone, a popular "atypical" antipsychotic medication, is used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Jeffrey Bishop, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, is examining the effects of one gene, catechol-o-methyltransferase, on brain activity, cognition and symptom response to the drug.

The study is being done in adults who are experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia who are treated with risperidone for six weeks as part of UIC's First Episode Program.

"Allowing patients with schizophrenia an increased chance at medicine response literally could change their lives," Bishop said.

"While we know a great deal about the pharmacology of antipsychotics like risperidone, there is still much to learn about their influence on cognition and brain function, as well as how genetics affect overall medicine response," he said.

Bishop says the project will serve as a first step toward a comprehensive pharmacogenetic analysis of metabolic pathways affecting response to the drug. He was presented with an award for new researchers from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy for the project.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:26 PM CT

Blocking Gene Improves Radiation Effectiveness

Blocking Gene Improves Radiation Effectiveness
Inhibiting a particular cancer-causing gene can enhance the cell-killing effects of radiation, a team of radiation oncologists and cancer biologists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have found.

Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology at Jefferson Medical College and his co-workers used an increasingly common animal model, the zebrafish, and antisense technology to show that the drug flavopiridol works by blocking the activity of the gene, cyclin D1, which is made in excessive amounts in about half of all breast cancers. Using similar techniques in the future, the researchers say, may enable scientists to better gauge the effects of drugs.

As per Dr. Dicker, flavopiridol was found to inhibit cyclins, a family of genes vital to cell functioning. When it was initially tested in clinical trials, it was found to be toxic in humans. But in the laboratory, it added to the cell-killing effects of ionizing radiation, which is used to treat cancer. No one was sure why.

To find out, Dr. Dicker and his group turned to zebrafish. If they understood how the drug was causing toxicity, they or someone else could potentially design molecular copycat drugs that worked just as well, but were less toxic.

"Zebrafish enabled us to add a vertebrate system to examine both efficacy and toxicity issues," he notes.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Gene Therapy Inhibits Epilepsy

Gene Therapy Inhibits Epilepsy
For the first time, scientists have inhibited the development of epilepsy after a brain insult in animals. By using gene treatment to modify signaling pathways in the brain, neurology scientists observed that they could significantly reduce the development of epileptic seizures in rats.

"We have shown that there is a window to intervene after a brain insult to reduce the risk that epilepsy will develop," said one of the lead researchers, Amy R. Brooks-Kayal, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and associate professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "This provides a 'proof of concept' that altering specific signaling pathways in nerve cells after a brain insult or injury could provide a scientific basis for treating patients to prevent epilepsy".

Dr. Brooks-Kayal and Shelley J. Russek, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine were senior authors of the study in the Nov. 1 Journal of Neuroscience.

Working in a portion of the brain called the dentate gyrus, the scientists focused on one type of cell receptor, type A receptors, for the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When GABA(A) receptors are activated, they inhibit the repetitive, excessive firing of brain cells that characterizes a seizure. Seizures are thought to occur, at least in part, because of an imbalance between two types of neurotransmitters: the glutamate system, which stimulates neurons to fire, and the GABA system, which inhibits that brain activity.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 11:14 PM CT

Gene Shapes Brain Region

Gene Shapes Brain Region Researchers led by Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry, have discovered that a gene variant linked to mental illness is associated with enlargement of a brain region that handles negative emotions.
A gene variant linked to mental illness goes hand-in-hand with enlargement of a brain region that handles negative emotions, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System have found.

The region of the brain called the pulvinar is larger and contains more nerve cells in humans who carry the gene.

"This might indicate that the brain regions that receive input from the pulvinar are more strongly influenced in such individuals, and the pulvinar communicates with brain regions involved in negative emotional issues," said Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of a study available online and in a future issue of Biological Psychiatry

The scientists focused on a gene correlation to the neurotransmitter serotonin, one of the chemical messengers that nerves use to communicate with one another. Once specific nerve cells release serotonin, a molecule called the serotonin transporter (SERT) brings it back into the cell. Thus, serotonin has only a brief influence on the target neurons. Drugs that prevent this re-uptake, such as Prozac, are frequently used to treat patients with depression.

The serotonin transporter gene has two forms, or variants: short, or SERT-s, and long, SERT-l. A person can have two copies of the short gene, one copy each of the short and long, or two copies of the long gene. It is estimated that about 17 percent of the population has two copies of the SERT-s gene.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 11:06 PM CT

Bones At The Nanoscale

Bones At The Nanoscale The hierarchical structure of bone gives rise to a hierarchical deformation via a staggered load transfer mechanism at the nanoscale.
A bone is made up of two different elements: half of it is a stretchable fibrous protein called collagen and the other half a brittle mineral phase called apatite. These components make this biomineralized tissue highly strong and tough. at the same time, In order to understand how this construction is achieved and functions, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam (Gera number of) came to the ESRF. Using X-rays they were able to see for the first time the simultaneous re-arrangement of organic and inorganic components at a micro and nanoscale level under tensile stress.

The researchers realised that when strain/pressure is applied to a bone, this is absorbed by soft layers at successively lower length scales, and less than a fifth of the strain is actually noticed in the mineral phase. The soft structures form a single rigid unit at the next level and so on, enabling the tissue to sustain large strains. This is why the brittle apatite remains shielded from excessive loads and does not break.

The results also showed that the mineral crystallites are nonetheless very strong, capable of carrying more than 2 - 3 times the fracture load of bulk apatite. Their small size preserves them from large cracks. This is the first experimental evidence for this effect in biomaterials - small particles resist failure better.........

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.

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