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November 5, 2007, 10:22 PM CT

Changing the way doctors treat high blood pressure

Changing the way doctors treat high blood pressure
A simplified, step-care protocol for treating hypertension was more effective than guidelines-based practice in helping people reduce their blood pressure, as per late-breaking clinical trial results presented at the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions 2007.

The Simplified Treatment Intervention to Control High blood pressure (STITCH) trial was a study of 2,104 patients with hypertension (hypertension) at 45 family practices in southwestern Ontario, Canada. In order to increase the number of people with high blood pressure who reduce their blood pressure to goal levels, scientists wanted to see if there was a simpler way to direct therapy for high blood pressure than by following national guidelines for optimal management of blood pressure.

The complexity of existing guidelines for the management of high blood pressure could be a barrier to effective treatment, said Ross D Feldman, M.D., R.W. Gunton Professor of Therapeutics, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. To examine this question, we conducted a cluster randomization trial. Family practices were randomly assigned to implement a simplified step-care algorithm (STITCH-care) or Guidelines-based care for the management of hypertension.

The STITCH algorithm consisted of 4 steps: 1) initiate treatment with ACE-inhibitor/diuretic or Angiotensin receptor blocker/diuretic combination 2) up-titrate combination treatment to the highest does 3) add a calcium channel blocker and up-titrate 4) add one of the non-first line antihypertensive agents. In the Guidelines-care arm physicians were educated on the use of existing national guidelines of the Canadian High blood pressure Education Program, which list 12 options for initial treatment depending on the type of high blood pressure and co-existing medical conditions (very similar to the range of options outlined in the US JNC guidelines).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 4, 2007, 8:26 PM CT

Scientists question folic acid fortification

Scientists question folic acid fortification
Researchers at the Institute of Food Research have highlighted possible consequences of fortifying flour with folic acid due to new evidence of how it is absorbed by the body.

In May, the Food Standards Agency's Board agreed unanimously that 'required fortification' with folic acid should be introduced to make sure the number of babies born with neural tube defects is reduced. This means that it would be compulsory to add folic acid to either bread or flour.

Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin found in a wide variety of foods including liver and green leafy vegetables. Folates are metabolised in the gut, whereas in a paper would be reported in the British Journal of Nutrition in October IFR researchers suggest that folic acid is metabolised in the liver. The liver is an easily saturated system, and fortification could lead to significant unmetabolised folic acid entering the blood stream, with the potential to cause many health problems.

"Fortifying UK flour with folic acid would reduce the occurence rate of neural tube defects", said Dr Siân Astley of the Institute of Food Research. "However, with doses of half the amount being proposed for fortification in the UK, the liver becomes saturated and unmetabolised folic acid floats around the blood stream.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 4, 2007, 2:34 PM CT

Gene Behind Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gene Behind Rheumatoid Arthritis
University of Manchester scientists have identified a genetic variant in a region on chromosome 6 that is linked to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most common inflammatory arthritis affecting 387,000 people in the UK.

Professor Jane Worthington and her team at the Arthritis Research Campaign (arc) Epidemiology Unit at the University investigated 9 genetic regions identified earlier this year as potentially harbouring DNA variants determining susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Association to one of the variants on chromosome 6 was unequivocally confirmed, reports this week's Nature Genetics (4 November 2007). Eventhough this variant is not located in a gene, Professor Worthington suggests that it may influence the behaviour of a nearby gene: tumour necrosis factor associated protein (TNFAIP3) as this is a gene that is known to be involved in inflammatory processes.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects up to 1% of the adult population, is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect nearly all joints in the body, especially the hands and feet. Complications such as lung disease can occur. In addition, patients with RA are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Some people respond well to therapy, but most suffer a lifetime of disability.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 4, 2007, 2:28 PM CT

Gene alterations in lung cancer

Gene alterations in lung cancer
An international team of scientists, supported in part by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced that its systematic effort to map the genomic changes underlying lung cancer has uncovered a critical gene alteration not previously associated with any form of cancer. The research, reported in the advance online issue of the journal Nature, also revealed more than 50 genomic regions that are frequently gained or lost in lung adenocarcinoma, the most common type of lung cancer in the United States.

"This view of the lung cancer genome is unprecedented, both in its breadth and depth," said senior author Matthew Meyerson, M.D., Ph.D., a senior associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and an associate professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It lays an essential foundation, and has already pinpointed an important gene that controls the growth of lung cells. This information offers crucial inroads to the biology of lung cancer and will help shape new strategies for cancer diagnosis and treatment."

Each year more than 1 million people worldwide die of lung cancer, including more than 150,000 in the United States. The new study focused on lung adenocarcinoma, which, as per the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is the most frequently diagnosed form of lung cancer in the United States, accounting for approximately 30 percent of cases.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 1, 2007, 10:08 PM CT

Radio waves fire up nanotubes embedded in tumors

Radio waves fire up nanotubes embedded in tumors
Cancer cells treated with carbon nanotubes can be destroyed by non-invasive radio waves that heat up the nanotubes while sparing untreated tissue, a research team led by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University has shown in preclinical experiments.

In a paper posted online ahead of December publication in the journal Cancer, scientists show that the technique completely destroyed liver cancer tumors in rabbits. There were no side effects noted. However, some healthy liver tissue within 2-5 millimeters of the tumors sustained heat damage due to nanotube leakage from the tumor.

"These are promising, even exciting, preclinical results in this liver cancer model," says senior author Steven Curley, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Surgical Oncology. "Our next step is to look at ways to more precisely target the nanotubes so they attach to, and are taken up by, cancer cells while avoiding normal tissue".

Targeting the nanotubes solely to cancer cells is the major challenge in advancing the treatment, Curley says. Research is under way to bind the nanotubes to antibodies, peptides or other agents that in turn target molecules expressed on cancer cells. To complicate matters, most such molecules also are expressed in normal tissue.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 30, 2007, 9:51 PM CT

Technology For Early Detection Of Viruses

Technology For Early Detection Of Viruses
Edward Yeung, an Iowa State Distinguished Professor and the Robert Allen Wright Chair in Chemistry at Iowa State and senior chemist and deputy program director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
Iowa State University scientists have developed a technology that detects a single molecule of the virus linked to cervical cancer in women.

That's a significant improvement over the current test for the human papillomavirus, said Edward Yeung, an Iowa State Distinguished Professor and the Robert Allen Wright Chair in Chemistry who led the research team that developed the new test. The current test, the Nobel Prize-winning polymerase chain reaction technique, requires 10 to 50 virus molecules for detection.

"We are always interested in detecting smaller and smaller amounts of material at lower and lower concentrations," Yeung said. "Detecting lower levels means earlier diagnosis".

The discovery by Yeung, who's also a senior chemist and deputy program director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory at Iowa State; Jiangwei Li, an Iowa State doctoral student; and Ji-Young Lee, a former Iowa State doctoral student; would be reported in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Their work was funded by a five-year, $950,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health with additional support from The Robert Allen Wright Endowment for Excellence at Iowa State.

The project advanced just as human papillomavirus made national headlines. In June of 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, premalignant lesions and genital warts caused by four types of the virus. The vaccine has been approved for females ages 9 to 26.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 29, 2007, 7:18 PM CT

Epilepsy-induced brain cell damage prevented

Epilepsy-induced brain cell damage prevented
For some epilepsy patients, the side effects of epilepsy can be as troubling as the seizures. One pressing concern is the cognitive impairment seizures often inflict, which potentially includes memory loss, slowed reactions and reduced attention spans.

Now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have directly observed seizure-induced structural changes in brain cells in laboratory animals. They report in The Journal of Neuroscience that the insights they gained allowed them to use a drug to block those changes in the brain.

"Assuming that these structural changes are associated with cognitive impairment -- and there's a lot of data to suggest that's true - then this could provide us with a path to therapies that reduce cognitive problems in epilepsy," says senior author Michael Wong, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology, of anatomy and neurobiology, and of pediatrics.

Approximately 1 to 2 percent of the general population suffers from some form of epilepsy. Severe or prolonged seizures can cause brain cell death, leading to anatomic damage visible on brain scans. But in some cases the cognitive impairments caused by seizures cannot be associated with discernible brain damage.

Previous studies have suggested that seizures may damage dendrites, treelike branches that extend from a nerve cell to receive signals. In studies of human tissue, scientists noted the loss of spines, small bumps on the exterior of the dendrite. Spines are known to be important for the formation of synapses, junctions where two nerve cells communicate across a small gap.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 28, 2007, 3:13 PM CT

DNA buckyballs for drug delivery

DNA buckyballs for drug delivery
DNA isn't just for storing genetic codes any more. Since DNA can polymerize -- linking a number of molecules together into larger structures -- researchers have been using it as a nanoscale building material, constructing geometric shapes and even working mechanical devices.

The term "buckyballs" has been used up to now for tiny spherical assemblies of carbon atoms known as Buckminsterfullerenes or just fullerenes. Under the right conditions, carbon atoms can link up into hexagons and pentagons, which in turn assemble into spherical shapes (technically truncated icosahedrons) resembling the geodesic domes designed by the architect-engineer Buckminster Fuller. Instead of carbon, the Cornell scientists are making buckyballs out of a specially prepared, branched DNA-polystyrene hybrid. The hybrid molecules spontaneously self-assemble into hollow balls about 400 nanometers (nm) in diameter. The DNA/polystyrene "rods" forming the structure are each about 15 nm long. (While still on the nanoscale, the DNA spheres are much larger than carbon buckyballs, which are typically around 7 nm in diameter.)

About 70 percent of the volume of the DNA buckyball is hollow, and the open spaces in the structure allow water to enter. Dan Luo, Cornell assistant professor of biological and environmental engineering in whose lab the DNA structures were made, suggests that drugs could be encapsulated in buckyballs to be carried into cells, where natural enzymes would break down the DNA, releasing the drug. They might also be used as cages to study chemical reactions on the nanoscale, he says.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 25, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

'Knocking Out' Cell Receptor May Help to Prevent Weight Gain

'Knocking Out' Cell Receptor May Help to Prevent Weight Gain
David Hui
University of Cincinnati (UC) pathologists have identified a new molecular target that one day may help researchers develop drugs to reduce fat transport to adipocytes (fat cells) in the body and prevent obesity and related disorders, like diabetes.

Detailed in the Oct. 18 online edition and the November 2007 print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the findings about a specific cell receptor, known as the adipocyte LDL receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1), provide important clues about the underlying biological mechanisms that control fat transport in the body.

Using genetically altered mice, David Hui, PhD, and his team demonstrated that "knocking out" the LRP1 in fat cells has a direct impact on how a number of lipids (fats and fat-like substances) are transferred and deposited to different tissues. Hui says the experimental mice gained less weight, stored less fat, tolerated glucose better and expended more energy (due to increased muscle activity) when compared with a control group.

"This receptor is expressed in numerous tissues throughout the body-including the heart, muscles, liver and vascular wall-but its specific functions in the different tissues are still relatively unknown," says Hui, corresponding author of the study and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC. "Our study has shown that this molecule directly impacts the rate of fat transport in the body, so with further study it could be a new target for drugs aimed at controlling obesity".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 22, 2007, 5:03 AM CT

Clinical trial evaluating brain cancer vaccine

Clinical trial evaluating brain cancer vaccine
A clinical trial evaluating a brain cancer vaccine in patients with newly diagnosed brain cancer has begun at NYU Medical Center. The study will evaluate the addition of the vaccine following standard treatment with surgery and chemotherapy in patients with glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly form of brain cancer.

The vaccine, called DCVax-Brain, incorporates proteins found in patients tumors and is designed to attack cancer cells containing these proteins. The study underway at NYU Medical Center is an expansion of an earlier phase I trial of the vaccine. The vaccine is made by the Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc., based in Bothell, Washington.

We are really excited about the promise of this vaccine, said Patrick J. Kelly, M.D., the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and the Joseph Ransohoff Professor of Neurosurgery at NYU School of Medicine. Everything now depends on something in addition to surgery so that these tumors do not recur. A cancer vaccine like this may make a difference in extending life and maintaining a good quality of life.

This is a form of individualized treatment, adds NYU neuro-oncologist Michael Gruber, M.D. There is a lot of promise with this approach, he says. He and Dr. Kelly will be the lead researchers conducting the trial at NYU.........

Posted by: Janet      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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