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October 15, 2006, 7:02 PM CT

Friendly Bacteria To Fight Food Allergies

Friendly Bacteria To Fight Food Allergies
Feeding babies alcoholic milk may help to protect against some food allergies. Kefir, a traditional fermented drink, is consumed in Eastern Europe as a health food, and is often used to wean babies, as it is easily digested. Food allergy prevalence is particularly high in children under the age of three, with around 5-8% of infants at risk. Currently the only therapy is avoidance of the problematic food.

"Friendly" bacteria in kefir may play a role in blocking the pathway involved in allergic responses, Lisa Richards reports in Chemistry & Industry, SCI's fortnightly magazine. Research published recently [Monday 16 October 2006(DOI 10.1002/jsfa2469)] in the SCI's Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture has shown that the milk drink inhibits the allergen specific antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is involved in immune responses to inactivate organisms that might cause disease. However, in the presence of allergens it can also activate cells responsible for the release of histamine, a chemical which stimulates allergic responses, such as inflammation and constriction of airways.

Ji-Ruei Liu's team of researchers at the National Formosa University, Yunlin, Taiwan, fed mice the milky drink, and observed that after 3 weeks, the amount of ovalbumin (OVA) specific IgE was reduced three-fold. Ovalbumin is an allergenic protein found in egg whites, which cause most allergies in young children. Kefir is also reported to prevent food antigens from passing through the intestinal wall.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 15, 2006, 6:54 PM CT

Reward Perception In Cocaine Addiction

Reward Perception In Cocaine Addiction
People addicted to cocaine have an impaired ability to perceive rewards and exercise control due to disruptions in the brain's reward and control circuits, as per a series of brain-mapping studies and neuropsychological tests conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"Our findings provide the first evidence that the brain's threshold for responding to monetary rewards is modified in drug-addicted people, and is directly associated with changes in the responsiveness of the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain essential for monitoring and controlling behavior," said Rita Goldstein, a psychology expert at Brookhaven Lab. "These results also attest to the benefit of using sophisticated brain-imaging tools combined with sensitive behavioral, cognitive, and emotional probes to optimize the study of drug addiction, a psychopathology that these tools have helped to identify as a disorder of the brain".

Goldstein will present details of these studies at a press conference on neuroscience and addiction at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, October 15, 2006, 2 to 3 p.m., and at a SfN symposium on Wednesday, October 18, 8:30 a.m.*.

Goldstein's experiments were designed to test a theoretical model, called the Impaired Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution (I-RISA) model, which postulates that drug-addicted individuals disproportionately attribute salience, or value, to their drug of choice at the expense of other potentially but no-longer-rewarding stimuli -- with a concomitant decrease in the ability to inhibit maladaptive drug use. In the experiments, the researchers subjected cocaine-addicted and non-drug-addicted individuals to a range of tests of behavior, cognition/thought, and emotion, while simultaneously monitoring their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and/or recordings of event-related potentials (ERP).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 13, 2006, 4:53 AM CT

Studying Pediatric AIDS Vaccine

Studying Pediatric AIDS Vaccine
Researchers at Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda, along with researchers from Johns Hopkins and other institutions worldwide, have begun the first clinical safety trial in Africa of a vaccine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. Breast milk is a leading route of infection in the developing world, as per the United Nations World Health Organization, which estimates that each day 1,800 newborns are infected with the AIDS virus, 30 percent to 40 percent by virus carried in their mother's milk.

Enrollment of the first newborn took place at Mulago Hospital in Kampala. The so-called phase I study is designed to test the safety of injecting newborns with the vaccine, formally known as ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521). If the vaccine is found to be safe in this study, and if it is later shown to be effective in reducing the chance of infants' becoming infected during breastfeeding, scientists estimate that it could potentially stop up to 8,000 of Uganda's 22,000 infections a year in children. Initial results are expected by mid-2007.

"A vaccine is the easiest way to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease, as healthy alternatives to breastfeeding, such as infant formula, are not available or affordable to most new mothers in the developing world, a number of of whom do not know they are HIV positive," says study protocol chair and pediatric infectious disease specialist Laura Guay, M.D., who will lead Hopkins' efforts.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 12, 2006, 10:22 PM CT

Stroke rates falling in the West

Stroke rates falling in the West
The occurence rate of stroke in Perth, Western Australia has declined 43% over the last decade, as per new research announced recently by The George Institute for International Health at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Stroke Society of Australasia held in Adelaide.

Stroke affects around 17 million people globally and is widely recognised as one of the biggest killers in Australia. Nationally, over 53,000 strokes occur each year, of which one third will die in the first 12 months. Without prevention, the annual rate of strokes in Australia has been predicted to rise to 74,000 by 2017 due to the ageing of the population.

The pivotal eleven-year Perth Community Stroke Study, conducted from 1989 to 2001, focused on the trends of strokes in both men and women, and the frequency of risk factors that play a key role in the occurence rate of stroke. The project involved collaboration between leading stroke research centres, The George Institute, Royal Perth Hospital, the University of Western Australia and The University of Queensland.

"The study observed that despite the population in inner-metropolitan Perth increasing over the eleven-year study period, the number of strokes declined significantly," said Professor Craig Anderson, Director of Neurological Disease and Mental Health at The George Institute.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 12, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

Down Syndrome: Not Just The Age Factor

Down Syndrome: Not Just The Age Factor
Whether or not a pregnant woman will give birth to a child with Down Syndrome is not simply a matter of how old she is. Eventhough it is a fact that as women get older, they are more likely to have a child with Down Syndrome, other factors also play a role. As per Markus Neuhäuser and Sven Krackow, from the Institute of Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology at University Hospital Essen, in Gera number of, the risk of a child being born with Down Syndrome is also dependent on how a number of existing siblings the child has and how big the gap is between the child and his immediate preceding sibling. The research is published in Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften this week.

Neuhäuser and Krackow evaluated and analysed data from 1953 and 1972 (before abortion was widespread). They observed that other factors, besides the mother's increasing age, were associated with the number of Down Syndrome cases. Down Syndrome rates were significantly higher in older mothers in their first pregnancy than in older mothers who had already had children. Only late first pregnancies were more likely to produce a Down Syndrome baby, not late second or third pregnancies. In addition, the larger the gap between pregnancies, the higher the rates of Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome is the result of the genetic abnormality trisomy 21. Trisomy has been the focus of extensive medical research but the exact mechanism is not yet understood. One feature common to most trisomies is an increase in frequency of trisomic pregnancies with increasing maternal age. There is good evidence for uterine selection against genetically disadvantaged embryos. However, as women approach the menopause and the risk of future infertility increases, this selection, or filtering stringency, is expected to relax.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


October 11, 2006, 8:20 PM CT

Allergy Runs In The Family

Allergy Runs In The Family Nurse practitioner Sherry Stanforth evaluates a child's allergic reactions to a skin prick test.
Infants whose parents have allergies that produce symptoms like wheezing, asthma, hay fever or hives risk developing allergic sensitization much earlier in life than previously reported, as per a research studyby Cincinnati researchers.

The study suggests that the current practice of avoiding skin testing for airborne allergens before age 4 or 5 should be reconsidered, so children in this high-risk group can be detected early and monitored for the possibility of later allergic respiratory disease.

Produced by researchers in UC's departments of environmental health and internal medicine and at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the study is published in the October 2006 edition of The Journal of Pediatrics.

The Cincinnati scientists collected data on 680 children being reviewed for enrollment in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and compared their results with findings in a 2004 Swedish study.

Using the skin-prick allergy test, the Swedish group observed that in their general population-which included children whose parents did not suffer from allergies-7 percent had allergic sensitivity at age 1. The Swedes tested five allergens, two of which were food allergens.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 11, 2006, 4:54 AM CT

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Face Unofficial Postcode Lottery

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Face Unofficial Postcode Lottery
People suffering from the debilitating pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) face a postcode lottery over whether they can have access to a therapy that is known to improve their condition significantly.

New research reported in the medical journal Rheumatology [1] today (11 October 2006) reveals that, despite the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approving anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF) treatment for RA in 2002, a number of primary care trusts are refusing to fund it adequately or are putting a cap on the numbers of patients that can be treated.

The picture is even worse for the use of anti-TNF treatment in other arthritic conditions such as psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) where NICE approval has only just been given or is being awaited.

As a result of these findings, rheumatologists are calling on the Government and primary care trusts to end the unofficial postcode lottery and ensure that every patient who meets the NICE criteria can receive anti-TNF treatment if their consultants consider it appropriate.

Dr Lesley Kay, a member of the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register (BSRBR) management committee and co-author of the research, said: "The BSRBR urges the Government and primary care trusts to put an end to this patently unfair situation, which is in direct contravention of government policy. The postcode lottery continues to operate, even though NICE aims to stop this happening. It's unfair on patients with these devastating, painful and unglamorous conditions to be forced to take a low priority and to be deprived of this very successful therapy".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 10, 2006, 10:28 PM CT

Decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine-free

Decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine-free
Coffee addicts who switch to decaf for health reasons may not be as free from caffeine's clutches as they think. A new study by University of Florida scientists documents that almost all decaffeinated coffee contains some measure of caffeine.

Caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world. And because coffee is a major source in the supply line, people advised to avoid caffeine because of certain medical conditions like high blood pressure should be aware that even decaffeinated brew can come with a kick, UF scientists report in this month's Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

"If someone drinks five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, the dose of caffeine could easily reach the level present in a cup or two of caffeinated coffee," said co-author Bruce Goldberger, Ph.D., a professor and director of UF's William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine. "This could be a concern for people who are advised to cut their caffeine intake, such as those with kidney disease or anxiety disorders".

Despite caffeine's widespread use, most medical texts have no guidelines for intake, Goldberger said, but even low doses might adversely affect some people. So UF scientists set out to conduct a two-phase study designed to gauge just how much caffeine is likely to turn up in decaffeinated coffees.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


October 9, 2006, 10:09 PM CT

Teens And Cigarette Ads

Teens And Cigarette Ads
Today alone, more than 4,400 U.S. teenagers will start smoking, as per statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. A number of of these adolescents will be lured to cigarettes by advertisements and movies that feature sophisticated models and actors, suggesting that smoking is a glamorous, grown-up activity. However, teens who are savvier about the motives and methods of advertisers may be less inclined to take to cigarettes, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study indicates.

Teens with above-average smoking media literacy (SML) are nearly half as likely to smoke as their less media-literate peers, as per the lead study in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The results not only suggest that SML training could be an effective intervention to decrease teen smoking, but they also provide some of the first quantitative evidence linking SML to smoking.

"A number of factors that influence a teen's decision to smoke like peer influence, parental smoking and risk-seeking tendency are difficult to change," said the study's lead author, Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., assistant professor in the School of Medicine's division of general internal medicine. "However, media literacy, which can be taught, may be a valuable tool in efforts to discourage teens from smoking".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 9, 2006, 9:27 PM CT

Celiac Disease And Cognitive Decline

Celiac Disease And Cognitive Decline Image courtesy of celiacdisease.net
Mayo Clinic scientists have uncovered a new link between celiac disease, a digestive condition triggered by consumption of gluten, and dementia or other forms of cognitive decline. The investigators' case series analysis -- an examination of medical histories of a group of patients with a common problem -- of 13 patients would be reported in the recent issue of Archives of Neurology.

"There has been very little known about this correlation between celiac disease and cognitive decline until now," says Keith Josephs, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and study investigator. "This is the largest case series to date of patients demonstrating cognitive decline within two years of the onset of celiac disease symptom onset or worsening."

Says Joseph Murray, M.D., Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and study investigator, "There has been a fair amount written before about celiac disease and neurological issues like peripheral neuropathy (nerve problems causing numbness or pain) or balance problems, but this degree of brain problem -- the cognitive decline we've found here -- has not been recognized before. I was not expecting there would be so a number of celiac disease patients with cognitive decline."

The next step in the research will be to investigate the measure and nature of the correlation between the two conditions.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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