February 22, 2011, 7:32 AM CT
Vaccine made with synthetic gene
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have developed an experimental vaccine that appears to protect against an increasingly common and especially deadly form of pneumococcal pneumonia. Details of the new vaccine, which was tested in an animal model, are reported in a paper published recently in the Journal of Infectious Diseases
Pneumococcal pneumonia can occur when the lungs are infected with the bacterial species Streptococcus pneumoniae (also known as pneumococcus). "Like a number of microbes that cause pneumonia, pneumococcus is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing," said principal investigator Liise-anne Pirofski, M.D., professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology and the Selma and Dr. Jacques Mitrani Chair in Biomedical Research. Symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases estimates that 175,000 people are hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia in the United States each year. In addition to pneumonia, pneumococcus causes 34,500 bloodstream infections and 2,200 cases of meningitis annually. It is responsible for more deaths in the United States � 4,800 a year � than any other vaccine-preventable disease. It poses a particular problem in the developing world, where it is estimated to cause more than one million deaths in children each year, as per the World Health Organization.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
February 21, 2011, 7:45 AM CT
Take care of your brain
As the average life span becomes longer, dementia becomes more common. Swedish scientist Laura Fratiglioni has shown that everyone can minimize his or her risk of being affected. Factors from blood pressure and weight to the degree of physical and mental activity can influence cognitive functioning as one gets older.
The lengthening of the average life span in the population has caused an increase in the prevalence of aging related disorders, one of which is cognitive impairment and dementia. An expert panel estimates that worldwide more than 24 million people are affected by dementia, most suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In the more developed countries, 70 percent of the persons with dementia are 75 years or older.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing dementia. But there is growing evidence that the strong association with increasing age can be, at least partially, explained by a life course cumulative exposure to different risk factors.
Laura Fratiglioni's research group at Karolinska Institutet is a leader in identifying the risk factors that lie behind developing dementia and using this knowledge to develop possible preventative strategies. The group's research has shown that the risk is partly determined by an individual genetic susceptibility, and that active involvement in mental, physical and social activities can delay the onset of dementia by preserving cognitive functions. Further education early in life has a protective effect, and the group's research has shown that it is never too late to get started.........
Posted by: Daniel Read more Source
February 21, 2011, 7:43 AM CT
Nathalie Fontaine is a researcher at Indiana University.
Credit: Indiana University
Research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science highlights the importance of callous-unemotional traits (CU) in identifying children at risk of antisocial behavior and other adjustment problems.
The research, presented by Indiana University Bloomington faculty member Nathalie M.G. Fontaine, finds that the emergence of CU traits in childhood is in most cases influenced by genetic factors, particularly in boys. However, environmental factors appear to be more significant for the small number of girls who exhibit high levels of CU traits.
In this first longitudinal study employing a group-based analysis to examine the correlation between childhood trajectories of CU traits and conduct problems, scientists observed that high levels of both CU traits and conduct problems were linked to negative child and family factors at age 4 and with behavioral problems at age 12.
CU traits, such as a lack of emotion and a lack of empathy or guilt, are exhibited by a small number of children and are linked to persistent conduct problems, which are experienced by 5 percent to 10 percent of children.
"The children with high levels of both CU traits and conduct problems between ages 7 to 12 were likely to present negative predictors and outcomes, including hyperactivity problems and living in a chaotic home environment," said Fontaine, assistant professor of criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. "If we could identify those children early enough, we could help them as well as their families."........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
February 21, 2011, 7:40 AM CT
Relatives of melanoma patients
It is well known that sunbathing increases the risk of skin cancer and that this risk is increased in people with a family history of melanoma. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Public Health
shows that young people in this 'at risk' group are still ignoring sun safety advice.
Professor Sharon Manne at the Centre Cancer Prevention and Control Program, New Jersey, asked over 500 people with a family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, whether they regularly sunbathed and whether they used sunscreen. Eventhough most of these people were aware that sunscreen would protect them against cancer and premature aging, a number of of them still did not feel it necessary to use any form of sun protection.
Disturbingly she observed that, despite their increased risk of melanoma, the younger women in this survey still viewed a tan as being healthy and were the most unlikely to use sunscreen. Professor Manne said, "To reduce the occurence rate of melanoma we need to reduce the perceived benefits of sunbathing and to increase to use of sun protection".........
Posted by: George Read more Source
February 21, 2011, 7:38 AM CT
Blood pressure measurement method to revolutionize
CASPro blood pressure measurement device.
Credit: University of Leicester
In a major scientific breakthrough, a new blood pressure measurement device is set to revolutionise the way patients' blood pressure is measured.
The new approach, invented by researchers at the University of Leicester and in Singapore, has the potential to enable doctors to treat their patients more effectively because it gives a more accurate reading than the current method used. It does this by measuring the pressure close to the heart � the central aortic systolic pressure or CASP.
Blood pressure is currently measured in the arm because it is convenient however this may not always accurately reflect what the pressure is in the larger arteries close to the heart.
The new technology uses a sensor on the wrist to record the pulse wave and then, using computerised mathematical modelling of the pulse wave, researchers are able to accurately read the pressure close to the heart. Patients who have tested the new device found it easier and more comfortable, as it can be worn like a watch.
Being able to measure blood pressure in the aorta which is closer to the heart and brain is important because this is where hypertension can cause damage. In addition, the pressure in the aorta can be quite different from that traditionally measured in the arm. The new technology will hopefully lead to better identification of those who will most likely benefit from therapy by identifying those who have a high central aortic systolic pressure value. This will be particularly important for younger people in whom the pressure measured in the arm can sometimes be quite exaggerated in comparison to the pressure in the aorta.........
Posted by: Scott Read more Source
February 21, 2011, 7:29 AM CT
Higher triglyceride level increases stroke risk
A study by scientists in Denmark revealed that increasing levels of non-fasting triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of ischemic stroke in men and women. Higher cholesterol levels were linked to greater stroke risk in men only. Details of this novel, 33-year study are now available online in Annals of Neurology
, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Neurological Association.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally�responsible for an estimated 17.1 million deaths worldwide ( 2004), with 5.7 million due to stroke. The American Stroke Association states that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and 87% of all cases are attributed to ischemic stroke, occurring when the supply of blood to the brain is obstructed. The obstruction or blockage is typically caused by the build-up of fatty deposits inside blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
Medical evidence suggests that elevated non-fasting triglycerides are markers of elevated levels of lipoprotein remnants, particles similar to low density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, both of which are thought to contribute to plaque build-up. "Interestingly, current guidelines on stroke prevention have recommendations on desirable cholesterol levels, but not on non-fasting triglycerides," said lead study author, Dr. Marianne Benn from Copenhagen University Hospital. "Our study was the first to examine how the risk of stroke for very high levels of non-fasting triglycerides compared with very high cholesterol levels in the general population."........
Posted by: Daniel Read more Source
February 21, 2011, 7:25 AM CT
Careful cleaning of children's skin wounds key to healing
When it comes to curing skin infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
), timely and proper wound cleaning and draining appears to be more important than the choice of antibiotic, as per a new Johns Hopkins Children's Center study. The work is reported in the recent issue of Pediatrics
Scientists originally set out to compare the efficacy of two antibiotics usually used to treat staph skin infections, randomly giving 191 children either cephalexin, a classic anti-staph antibiotic known to work against the most common strains of the bacterium but not MRSA, or clindamycin, known to work better against the resistant strains. Much to the researchers' surprise, they said, drug choice didn't matter: 95 percent of the children in the study recovered completely within a week, regardless of which antibiotic they got.
The finding led the research team to conclude that proper wound care, not antibiotics, may have been the key to healing.
"The good news is that no matter which antibiotic we gave, nearly all skin infections cleared up fully within a week," says study lead investigator Aaron Chen, M.D., an emergency doctor at Hopkins Children's. "The better news might be that good low-tech wound care, cleaning, draining and keeping the infected area clean, is what truly makes the difference between rapid healing and persistent infection".........
Posted by: George Read more Source
February 17, 2011, 7:16 AM CT
New pneumococcal vaccine approach
Pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae
) accounts for as much as 11 percent of mortality in young children worldwide. While successful vaccines like Prevnar� exist, they are expensive and only work against specific pneumococcal strains, with the risk of becoming less effective as new strains emerge. Through a novel discovery approach, scientists at Children's Hospital Boston and Genocea Biosciences, Inc., in collaboration with the international nonprofit organization PATH, developed a new vaccine candidate that is potentially cheaper and able to protect against any pneumococcal strain.
Tested in mice, the protein-based vaccine successfully inhibited S. pneumoniae
from establishing a foothold in the body, the scientists report in the February 17 issue of Cell Host & Microbe
The current multivalent conjugate pneumococcal vaccines work by inducing people to make antibodies against the sugars on the bacterium's outer capsule. The antibodies then help fight off development of disease after the bacteria have colonized the body. But these vaccines are complex to manufacture, requiring separate individual components for sugars produced by multiple pneumococcal strains. Since pneumococci can make more than 90 different types of sugars, the vaccines appears to become less effective over time.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
February 17, 2011, 7:11 AM CT
The CRF1/CRF2 receptor antagonist, astressin-B, injected intraperitoneally (ip) in CRF-OE mice with fully developed alopecia induces hair growth and pigmentation. Photographs: Row A: Male CRF-OE mice (4 months old) injected ip once daily for 5 consecutive days with saline at 3 days after the last injection and Row B: astressin-B (5 mg/mouse) at 3 days after the last ip injection, and Row C: the same mice as in the middle panel Row B at 4 weeks after the last ip injection.
It has been long known that stress plays a part not just in the graying of hair but in hair loss as well. Over the years, numerous hair-restoration remedies have emerged, ranging from hucksters' "miracle solvents" to legitimate medications such as minoxidil. But even the best of these have shown limited effectiveness.
Now, a team led by scientists from UCLA and the Veterans Administration that was investigating how stress affects gastrointestinal function may have found a chemical compound that induces hair growth by blocking a stress-related hormone linked to hair loss � entirely by accident.
The serendipitous discovery is described in an article reported in the online journal PLoS One
"Our findings show that a short-duration therapy with this compound causes an astounding long-term hair regrowth in chronically stressed mutant mice," said Million Mulugeta, an adjunct professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a corresponding author of the research. "This could open new venues to treat hair loss in humans through the modulation of the stress hormone receptors, especially hair loss correlation to chronic stress and aging." .
The research team, which was originally studying brain�gut interactions, included Mulugeta, Lixin Wang, Noah Craft and Yvette Tach� from UCLA; Jean Rivier and Catherine Rivier from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.; and Mary Stenzel-Poore from the Oregon Health and Sciences University.........
Posted by: George Read more Source
February 17, 2011, 7:08 AM CT
Key culprit in breast cancer metastasis
When doctors discover high concentrations of regulatory T cells in the tumors of patients with breast cancer, the prognosis is often grim, though why exactly has long been unclear.
Now new research at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests these regulatory T cells, whose job is to help mediate the body's immune response, produce a protein that appears to hasten and intensify the spread of breast cancer to distant organs and, in doing so, dramatically increase the risk of death.
The findings are published in the Feb. 16 advance online edition of the journal Nature
The scientists observed that mice with breast cancer were more likely to develop metastatic lung cancer due to elevated levels of RANKL, an inflammatory protein normally involved in bone remodeling. Regulatory T cells were found to be the primary source of RANKL in these tumors. However, the same increase in metastasis was seen when synthetic RANKL was injected directly into tumors, suggesting that RANKL was the key to the ability of regulatory T cells to promote the spread of breast cancer. The researchers also determined that interfering with the ability of RANKL to interact with cancer cells seemed to block tumor progression, and may represent a potential target for drug treatment.........
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