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May 21, 2007, 12:28 AM CT

Caspase-14 protects skin against UVB and dehydration

Caspase-14 protects skin against UVB and dehydration
Ultraviolet rays can be harmful to our skin and pave the way to the onset of skin cancers. VIB researchers connected to Ghent University have demonstrated that the caspase-14 protein - whose function has been unknown up to now - not only plays a role in maintaining the balance of moisture in the skin but also offers protection against UVB rays. Future strategies that increase the production of caspase-14 will open new possibilities for fortifying the skin as a barrier against all kinds of stress.

Sunbathing and the pernicious consequences for our skin

Sunlight is needed for the development of our bodies and minds. Still, we should not expose ourselves to it too often. The UV index provides an indication of the true intensity of the suns rays and the risks that go along with them.

UV rays cause functional alterations in the most important components of our skin: the keratinocytes. In addition to causing normal sunburn and suppressing our immune responses, UVB damages the DNA in our cells, which can lead to cancer. In the last 15 years, the number of new cases of melanoma (the most dangerous skin cancer in Belgium) has practically doubled to 1500 cases per year.

Caspase-14

Caspases are proteins that are involved in inflammation reactions and in programmed cell death or apoptosis. Apoptosis is important in all stages of life. During embryonal development, for example, apoptosis ensures that undesirable or outmoded tissues disappear. In the mid-1990s, Peter Vandenabeele and his colleagues were able to isolate 9 caspase family members in mice. The properties and substrates of a number of caspases are already known. However, caspase-14 is a maverick in that it is found very specifically in the skin and is activated during the last stage of skin cell maturation. Due to the action of caspase-14, the outer epidermis of our skin contains dead cells that are released as flakes of skin.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


May 7, 2007, 11:01 PM CT

Nation's Most And Least Sun-smart Cities

Nation's Most And Least Sun-smart Cities
Most Americans are familiar with the popular city rankings of the fattest cities, the fittest cities, the most livable cities and the most expensive cities. Now, in the first-of-its-kind survey, the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) has identified the cities that take sun protection seriously and those that fail to make the grade despite repeated health warnings.

The "RAYS: Your Grade" survey polled adults in 32 U.S. metropolitan regions spanning 29 states on their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward tanning and sun protection. Cities were then ranked based on the percentage of people who scored As and Bs.

"Based on our initial review of what people are currently doing, know and believe about sun protection, 35 percent of the national public score above average, with grades of A or B," said dermatologist Diane R. Baker, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy. "From here, our goal is to move the needle so that we have 45 percent or even 50 percent starting to score in the A or B range".

Of the 32 cities and states ranked on their percentage of A and B grades, Washington, DC, was ranked No. 1, with 47 percent of its residents receiving As and Bs, followed closely by New York City which earned the No. 2 ranking. Dr. Baker also found that Miami, Tampa and Los Angeles each noted for year-round sunny weather rounded out the top five rankings.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


May 7, 2007, 11:00 PM CT

immune dysfunction in melanoma patients

immune dysfunction in melanoma patients
Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have begun to shed light on why the human immune system isn't able to stop such cancers as melanoma, suggesting answers that could pave the way for better therapy of this often-fatal illness.

In a small study, the researchers observed that the immune cells in a majority of people with this deadly skin cancer fail to respond properly to a molecule called interferon, which normally activates the immune system. Without the ability to respond to interferon, the cells are less able to fend off the cancer, as per the study that would be reported in the recent issue of Public Library of Science-Medicine.

These results help explain a decade of research showing that people with cancer often have dysfunctional immune systems. Until now, scientists could tell that the immune system wasn't working properly but didn't know which genes or pathways were involved in that failure. Finding the disruption in the cancer cells' interferon response could help in the development of vaccines to treat cancers.

"We think this is a dominant way that immune dysfunction occurs in people with cancer," said senior author Peter Lee, MD, associate professor of medicine.

Lee was interested in melanoma rather than other forms of cancer in part because of the deadly nature of the disease, which will kill about one in six of the 47,700 people it is expected to strike this year. Unless melanoma is caught early and removed, there is no effective therapy, eventhough research groups have been testing vaccine therapies for the disease. However, Lee worried that unless scientists better understood immune dysfunctions in those people, the vaccines would have a low probability of success. "If you don't address the underlying immune defects, then vaccines won't do any good," Lee said.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


April 1, 2007, 9:10 PM CT

Gender linked to skin cancer

Gender linked to skin cancer
Inherent gender differences instead of more sun exposure may be one reason why men are three times more likely than women to develop certain kinds of skin cancer, say scientists at Ohio State University Medical Center.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, accounting for nearly 200,000 new cases in the United States each year. While occurring more often than melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma is not nearly as worrisome. Still, it can be lethal in some patients, particularly those with suppressed immune systems, including transplant recipients or people who are HIV-positive.

A number of studies have shown that the risk of squamous cell carcinoma increases with greater exposure to the sun. For years, researchers assumed that lifestyle had a lot to do with the disparity in the occurence rate of SCC believing that men spend more time outside and are less likely to use sun protection than women.

While that may be true, researchers at Ohio State have shown that there may be another, even more critical factor involved gender-linked differences in the amount of naturally occurring antioxidants in the skin.

The study appears in the April 1 issue of Cancer Research.

Dr. Tatiana Oberyszyn, an assistant professor of pathology and of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University Medical Center, has been studying non-melanoma skin cancers for years. She had a hunch there might be gender-related variables that accounted for the difference between male and female rates of developing these malignancies, and designed an experiment to find out what they might be.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


March 15, 2007, 8:56 PM CT

Cellular 'SOS' signal in response to UV skin damage

Cellular 'SOS' signal in response to UV skin damage
New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine has identified two proteins that may help protect against skin cancer.

The study, which appears in the advance online edition of the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology, indicates that two proteins, named Timeless and Tipin, form a complex that regulates the rate at which DNA is replicated after exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight damages the DNA in skin cells. If left unrepaired by the cell, this damage can turn into mutations that lead to cancer. Before cells divide, they must replicate, or copy, their DNA to form new daughter cells. If damage in the DNA is discovered even after the cell has given a "go-ahead" to replicate its DNA, the Timeless/Tipin complex sends a signal throughout the nucleus of the cell to slow the rate of replication. This slowdown may give the cell additional time to repair its DNA and potentially save itself from becoming malignant or from dying in response to ultraviolet radiation.

"What we discovered here was that the cell can send out an additional SOS and slow DNA replication even after it has begun," said Dr. William Kaufmann, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


January 16, 2007, 4:51 AM CT

One-time Melanoma Screening Of Older Adults Is Cost-effective

One-time Melanoma Screening Of Older Adults Is Cost-effective
One-time melanoma screening of adults age 50 or older appears to be as cost-effective as other nationally recommended cancer screening programs, as per an article in the recent issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Melanoma is the only cancer for which incidence and death rates continue to increase in the United States, while screening continues to be underused, as per background information in the article. Treating melanoma costs more than $740 million each year in the United States. Older patients and those who have immediate relatives with melanoma are at higher risk. Knowledge regarding risk factors and the availability of therapy has spurred greater interest in screening; however, the lack of a large randomized trial proving screening efficacy has been cited as an obstacle preventing its widespread implementation.

Elena Losina, Ph.D., Boston University School of Public Health, and his colleagues constructed a mathematical model to simulate the melanoma events that occur in a population, including disease occurrence, progression, detection with and without a screening program, therapy and death. The authors projected the additional costs of screening and the additional survival attributable to earlier detection. They then assessed the cost in dollars for every extra year of life gained (the cost-effectiveness) from melanoma screening by a dermatologist.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


December 7, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

New Approach To Melanoma Treatment

New Approach To Melanoma Treatment
While investigating a fungus known to cause an infection in people with AIDS, two grantees of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), unexpectedly discovered a potential strategy for treating metastatic melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. The therapy approach, which involves combining an antibody with radiation, has since been further developed and is expected to enter early-stage human clinical studies in 2007.

"This is an excellent example of how scientific research in one discipline may have payoffs in a completely unpredictable way," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "This important AIDS-related research has led to the development of a promising therapeutic strategy for a terrible cancer that affects thousands of people each year."

Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, in New York City, and his research team began studying the biology of the skin pigment melanin to better understand why its synthesis plays a role in the process whereby certain yeast-like fungi, specifically Cryptococcus neoformans, cause disease in some people. C. neoformans can cause cryptococcosis, a potentially fatal fungal infection that can lead to inflammation of the brain and death in people with AIDS and other immunocompromised individuals.........

Posted by: George      Permalink         Source


December 1, 2006, 4:54 AM CT

Glucocorticoid, Skin Abnormalities And Stress

Glucocorticoid, Skin Abnormalities And Stress
Inhibiting glucocorticoid, a type of steroid, can prevent skin abnormalities induced by psychological stress, as per a new study from the recent issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. The new study also shows how psychological stress induces skin abnormalities that could initiate or worsen skin disorders such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

The study, "Glucocorticoid blockade reverses psychological stress-induced abnormalities in epidermal structure and function," was carried out by Eung-Ho Choi, Marianne Demerjian, Debra Crumrine, Barbara E. Brown, Theodora Mauro, Peter M. Elias and Kenneth R. Feingold of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco and the University of California at San Francisco. Choi is also linked to Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea. The American Physiological Society published the study.

Prior research has shown that psychological stress increases glucocorticoid production. In addition, it is well recognized that psychological stress adversely affects a number of skin disorders, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

"In this study, we showed that the increase in glucocorticoids induced by psychological stress induces abnormalities in skin structure and function, which could exacerbate skin diseases," Feingold explained. This provides a link for understanding how psychological stress can adversely affect skin disorders. Blocking the production or action of glucocorticoids prevented the skin abnormalities induced by psychological stress.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 17, 2006, 4:53 AM CT

Listening To The Sound Of Skin Cancer

Listening To The Sound Of Skin Cancer
Scientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia can now detect the spread of skin cancer cells through the blood by literally listening to their sound. The unprecedented, minimally invasive technique causes melanoma cells to emit noise, and could let oncologists spot early signs of metastases -- as few as 10 cancer cells in a blood sample -- before they even settle in other organs. The results of the successful experimental tests appear in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Optics Letters, published by the Optical Society of America.

The team's method, called photoacoustic detection, combines laser techniques from optics and ultrasound techniques from acoustics, using a laser to make cells vibrate and then picking up the characteristic sound of melanoma cells. In a clinical test, doctors would take a patient's blood sample and separate the red blood cells and the plasma. In a healthy person, the remaining cells would be white blood cells, but in a melanoma patient the sample may contain cancer cells. To find out, doctors would put the sample in saline solution and expose it to rapid-fire sequences of brief but intense blue-laser pulses, each lasting just five billionths of a second.

In lab tests, the Missouri-Columbia team was able to detect melanoma cells obtained from actual patients, showing that the method can spot as few as 10 cells in saline solution. The dark, microscopic granules of melanin contained in the cancer cells absorb the energy bursts from the blue-laser light, going through rapid cycles of expanding as they heat up and shrinking as they cool down. These sudden changes generate loud cracks -- relative to the granules' size -- which propagate in the solution like tiny tsunamis.........

Posted by: George      Permalink         Source


October 8, 2006, 6:26 PM CT

Maggot Therapy Without The Maggots

Maggot Therapy Without The Maggots
Researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a new wound dressing that could bring the benefits of maggot treatment to patients without putting live Greenbottle fly (blowfly) larvae into non-healing wounds. The joint research project of Stephen Britland from Bradford University and David Pritchard of Nottingham University included colleagues from the Bradford-based biotechnology company AGT Sciences Ltd. It describes development and preliminary testing in laboratory cell cultures of the new hydrogel dressing in a report scheduled for publication in the Oct. 6 issue of the ACS bimonthly journal Biotechnology Progress.

The scientists note resurgence in medical use of larval biotherapy -- intentionally introducing blowfly maggots into non-healing wounds to clean away dead tissue. Medical use of the technique led to observations suggesting that maggots' excretions and secretions (ESs) also may encourage regeneration of tissue and wound healing. Realizing that the ESs would have to be delivered in a controlled fashion, Britland's group developed the hydrogel dressing, which slowly releases maggot ESs.

"The present prototype hydrogel wound dressing could potentially be deployed as a device to deliver insect-derived active products to skin wounds in vivo to encourage tissue regeneration."........

Posted by: George      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have found that the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is only partially associated with exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, the rays in sunlight that increase in summer and cause sunburn.

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