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August 31, 2010, 7:04 AM CT

The neural basis of the depression

The neural basis of the depression
Depression is actually defined by specific clinical symptoms such as sadness, difficulty to experience pleasure, sleep problems etc., present for at least two weeks, with impairment of psychosocial functioning. These symptoms guide the doctor to make a diagnosis and to select antidepressant therapy such as drugs or psychotherapy.

At least 40% of depressed patients actually benefit from antidepressant therapy, whereas 20-30% of patients may suffer from chronic depression that negatively impacts their quality of life. In order to improve the efficiency of therapy and reduce the burden of depressive disorders, depression clearly needs to be defined at the neurobiological level.

Role of neurobiological markers in depression

Current research efforts are devoted to the study of the neural bases of depression and therapy induced changes using modern brain imaging techniques such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Since a number of years it has become clear that depression is linked to dysfunction of specific brain regions involved in cognitive control and emotional response.

A recent fMRI-study showed that depressed patients had an abnormal activation of the medial prefrontal cortex (Figure 1; Lemogne et al. 2009). During this study, subjects had to judge whether personality traits described them or not (i.e. 'Am I selfish?'), or whether it described a generally desirable trait or not (i.e. 'Is it good or bad to be greedy?'). The dysfunction of the medial prefrontal region may explain specific complaints of depressed patients such as self-blame, rumination and feeling of guilt.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 31, 2010, 7:02 AM CT

Mandatory flu vaccine for all health-care workers

Mandatory flu vaccine for all health-care workers
Influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel is a professional and ethical responsibility and non-compliance with healthcare facility policies regarding vaccination should not be tolerated, as per a position paper released recently by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). The paper, published in this month's Infection Control and Healthcare Epidemiology journal and endorsed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), stresses influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel as a core patient safety practice that should be a condition of both initial and continued employment in healthcare facilities.

As per SHEA, their recommendations apply to all healthcare professionals in all healthcare settings, regardless of whether the professional has direct patient contact or whether he or she is directly employed by the facility. The policy also applies to students, volunteers, and contract workers. The only exemptions, say the epidemiologists and infectious disease physicians, should be in cases of medical contraindications.

"The transmission of influenza in healthcare settings is a substantial safety concern for both patients and healthcare personnel and deserves our attention and action," said Neil Fishman, MD, president of SHEA. "Healthcare providers are ethically obligated to take measures proven to keep patients from acquiring influenza in healthcare settings. Required vaccination is the cornerstone to a comprehensive program designed to prevent the spread of influenza which also includes identification and isolation of infected patients, adherence to hand hygiene and cough etiquette, the appropriate use of protective equipment, and restriction of ill healthcare personnel and visitors in the facility." .........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 31, 2010, 6:54 AM CT

Apixaban for prevention of stroke

Apixaban for prevention of stroke
The data monitoring committee of the AVERROES study, seeing overwhelming evidence of the success of apixaban in the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation who are unsuitable for the conventional therapy of warfarin, has recommended early termination of this study. The decision came after repeated review and careful consideration of all efficacy and safety data.

The study leaders, principal investigator Dr. Stuart J. Connolly, chairman of the steering committee Dr. Salim Yusuf, and project officer Dr. John Eikelboom, have accepted this recommendation, as have the study sponsors, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.

Results of the study were presented by Connolly at the annual European Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 31.

The AVERROES study enrolled 5,600 patients with atrial fibrillation at risk for stroke who were unsuitable for treatment with a Vitamin K antagonist such as warfarin. These patients were randomized, double-blind, to receive either apixaban or the standard treatment which is Aspirin. The primary efficacy outcome of the AVERROES study was a composite of stroke or systemic embolism and the major safety outcome was major bleeding.

The data monitoring committee observed a relative risk reduction for stroke and systemic embolism of more than 50 per cent, which was highly statistically significant and which met the highly conservative monitoring boundaries of the AVERROES study. There was only a modest increase in major hemorrhage that was not statistically significant.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 31, 2010, 6:53 AM CT

Heart attacks jump in young Italian women

Heart attacks jump in young Italian women
The occurence rate of acute myocardial infarction in Italy sharply increased, especially among young women, between the years 2001 and 2005, as per a comprehensive study funded by the Human Health Foundation (HHF), a nonprofit Italian charity for biomedical research and health education in Spoleto, Italy. The results were published in Aging Clinical Experimental Research

"The study suggests that more information on measures to reduce risk factors for heart failure should be directed towards young women," says Antonio Giordano, MD, PhD, President and Founder of the Sbarro Health Research Organization for Biotechnology (SHRO), located in the College of Science and Technology at Temple University in Philadelphia and the Founder and Director of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the HHF.

The study shows that the total number of acute myocardial infarctions were over 118,000 (of which 75,000 were men and 43,000 women) in the year 2005 against 96,000 in 2001.

"The increase was 17.2% in men and 29.2% in women," says main author Prisco Piscitelli, MD, an epidemiologist at the ISBEM (Euro Mediterranean Biomedical and Scientific Institute) in Brindisi, Italy, SHRO and HHF. "The greatest number of hospitalizations for heart failure was recorded in men aged 45 to 64 years (29,900 cases in 2005) and in women over 75 years of age (26,500 cases). In the later age group women overtook men, who had 24,000 admissions in 2005".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 27, 2010, 7:25 AM CT

Breastfeed to prevent diabetes

Breastfeed to prevent diabetes
Mothers who did not breastfeed their children have significantly higher rates of type 2 diabetes during the later part of life than moms who breastfed, report University of Pittsburgh scientists as per a research findings reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

"We have seen dramatic increases in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes over the last century," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "Diet and exercise are widely known to impact the risk of type 2 diabetes, but few people realize that breastfeeding also reduces mothers' risk of developing the disease during the later part of life by decreasing maternal belly fat".

The study included 2,233 women between the ages of 40 and 78. Overall, 56 percent of mothers reported they had breastfed an infant for at least one month. Twenty-seven percent of mothers who did not breastfeed developed type 2 diabetes and were almost twice as likely to develop the disease as women who had breastfed or never given birth. In contrast, mothers who breastfed all of their children were no more likely to develop diabetes than women who never gave birth. These long-term differences were notable even after considering age, race, physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


August 27, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

Vaccine has cut bacterial pneumonia

Vaccine has cut bacterial pneumonia
The number of children admitted to English hospitals with bacterial pneumonia decreased by a fifth in the two years following the introduction of a vaccine to combat the disease, according to a new study published recently in the journal Thorax

Bacterial pneumonia is a serious illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that mostly affects babies, young children and elderly people. In Europe, around one in ten deaths in the under-fives is caused by the disease.

Bacterial pneumonia usually develops as a complication following a respiratory tract infection such as influenza. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, fever and loss of appetite.

In September 2006, a vaccine known as PCV7 was introduced into the childhood primary immunisation programme across the UK, to protect against seven different strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

Today's study, led by researchers from Imperial College London, shows that in the first two years following the introduction of this vaccine, hospital admissions for bacterial pneumonia decreased by 19 per cent amongst children aged under 15 years. Admissions for empyema, a rare and serious complication of bacterial pneumonia, decreased by 22 per cent.

The pneumococcal vaccine is administered at two, three and 13 months of age. When it was first introduced there was a catch-up campaign for children up to two years. Take-up of the vaccine over the study period was high. It was administered to an average of 84 per cent of eligible children in England in the first year following its introduction and 91 per cent the following year.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 26, 2010, 11:12 PM CT

Walking boosts brain connectivity

Walking boosts brain connectivity
Psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Art Kramer, doctoral student Michelle Voss and their colleagues found that a year of moderate walking improved the connectivity of specific brain networks in older adults.
A group of "professional couch potatoes," as one researcher described them, has proven that even moderate exercise - in this case walking at one's own pace for 40 minutes three times a week - can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function linked to aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

The study, in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, followed 65 adults, aged 59 to 80, who joined a walking group or stretching and toning group for a year. All of the participants were sedentary before the study, reporting less than two episodes of physical activity lasting 30 minutes or more in the prior six months. The scientists also measured brain activity in 32 younger (18- to 35-year-old) adults.

Rather than focusing on specific brain structures, the study looked at activity in brain regions that function together as networks.

"Almost nothing in the brain gets done by one area - it's more of a circuit," said University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute Director Art Kramer, who led the study with kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley and doctoral student Michelle Voss. "These networks can become more or less connected. In general, as we get older, they become less connected, so we were interested in the effects of fitness on connectivity of brain networks that show the most dysfunction with age."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 26, 2010, 10:55 PM CT

Vitamin A and HIV virus in breast milk

Vitamin A and HIV virus in breast milk
Vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements are unsafe for HIV-positive women who breastfeed because they may boost the excretion of HIV in breast milk---thereby increasing the chances of transmitting the infection to the child, a pair of new studies suggest.

Epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor of the University of Michigan School of Public Health says transmission of HIV through breastfeeding happens because breast milk carries viral particles that the baby ingests. Supplementing HIV-positive women with vitamin A and beta-carotene appears to increase the amount of the virus in milk.

This appears to be partly because the same nutrients raise the risk of developing subclinical mastitis, an inflammatory condition which causes blood plasma to leak into the mammary gland and viral particles to then leak into the milk, he says.

Villamor's findings are published in two separate articles in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition. The results are significant because they provide biological explanations for a prior report that supplementation with these nutrients increased chances of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

"So there are now strong arguments to consider the implications of supplementation to pregnant or lactating women who are HIV-positive," said Villamor, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences. "It does not look like it's a safe intervention for them."........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 26, 2010, 10:53 PM CT

Our Best and Worst Moments

Our Best and Worst Moments
In the first study of its kind, scientists have found compelling evidence that our best and worst experiences in life are likely to involve not individual accomplishments, but interaction with other people and the fulfillment of an urge for social connection.

The findings, which run contrary to implications of prior research, are reported in "What Makes Us Feel the Best Also Makes Us Feel the Worst: The Emotional Impact of Independent and Interdependent Experiences." The study reports on research conducted at the University at Buffalo and will appear in the forthcoming print issue of Self and Identity.

Co-author Shira Gabriel, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UB, says, "Most of us spend much of our time and effort focused on individual achievements such as work, hobbies and schooling.

"However this research suggests that the events that end up being most important in our lives, the events that bring us the most happiness and also carry the potential for the most pain, are social events -- moments of connecting to others and feeling their connections to us".

Gabriel says that much research in social psychology has explicitly or implicitly implied that events experienced independent of other individuals are central to explaining our most intense emotional experiences.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 26, 2010, 7:28 AM CT

New mechanism of memory formation

New mechanism of memory formation
Researchers from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a mechanism that plays a critical role in the formation of long-term memory. The findings shed substantial new light on aspects of how memory is formed, and could lead to novel therapys for memory disorders.

The study was published as the cover story of the journal Neuron on August 26, 2010.

In the study, the researchers observed that one of the major driver of memory formation is myosin II, a motor protein critical to cell movement and growth.

"By showing for the first time that myosin II acts as the principal organizer of memory formation, we are that much closer to identifying the signaling pathways that activate this motor protein in the brain," said Gavin Rumbaugh, an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Scripps Florida who led the study. "Once we're able to do that, we can begin to develop potential therapys that could restore memory in people who suffer from cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease".

In the study, Rumbaugh and colleagues showed that myosin II mediates a mechanical process that is part of the complex process of memory formation.

Specifically, myosin II links together the initiation of long-term potentiation, a process that enhances signal transmission between two neurons in the creation of memory; the stabilization of synaptic plasticity (the ability of synapses to maintain this enhanced transmission); and the reorganization of neurons' F-actin, a cellular polymer that enables growth of synapses.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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