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September 29, 2009, 10:20 PM CT

A step forward: Brain implants using polymer nanotubes

A step forward: Brain implants using polymer nanotubes
This illustration depicts neurons firing (green structures in the foreground) and communicating with nanotubes in the background. Illustration courtesy of Mohammad Reza Abidian
Brain implants that can more clearly record signals from surrounding neurons in rats have been created at the University of Michigan. The findings could eventually lead to more effective therapy of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and paralysis.

Neural electrodes must work for time periods ranging from hours to years. When the electrodes are implanted, the brain first reacts to the acute injury with an inflammatory response. Then the brain settles into a wound-healing, or chronic, response.

It's during this secondary response that brain tissue starts to encapsulate the electrode, cutting it off from communication with surrounding neurons.

The new brain implants developed at U-M are coated with nanotubes made of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a biocompatible and electrically conductive polymer that has been shown to record neural signals better than conventional metal electrodes.

U-M scientists observed that PEDOT nanotubes enhanced high-quality unit activity (signal-to-noise ratio >4) about 30 percent more than the uncoated sites. They also observed that based on in vivo impedance data, PEDOT nanotubes might be used as a novel method for biosensing to indicate the transition between acute and chronic responses in brain tissue.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 29, 2009, 8:25 AM CT

New perspectives on cancer surgery

New perspectives on cancer surgery
Instead of the classic scalpel, surgeons can also operate with an electroscalpel. A significant advantage to this technique is that while a cut is being made, blood vessels are closed off and hemorrhaging eliminated. Now another advantage appears to be added as well: a German-Hungarian research team has developed a mass-spectrometry-based technique by which tissues can be analyzed during a surgical procedure. As the team led by Zoltn Takts reports in the journal Angewandte Chemie, it appears to be possible to distinguish between cancerous tumor cells and the surrounding healthy tissue in real time during cancer surgery. Until now, precise histological examination of the removed tissue has followed after tumor surgery, and has mandatory several days. If it reveals that the tumor has not been completely removed, a second operation is needed. The new method may spare patients this second surgery in the future.

In electrosurgery, tissue is locally exposed to high-frequency electrical current in order to guide a cut, remove tissue, or halt bleeding. The tissue being treated becomes very hot and is partially vaporized. The electrical current also generates electrically charged molecules during the vaporization. The team of researchers from the University of Giessen, the Budapest firm Massprom, Semmelweis University, and the National Research Institute for Radiobiology and Radiohygiene, also in Budapest, made use of this process for their new method called rapid evaporation ionization mass spectrometry, or REIMS. They equipped an electrosurgical instrument with a special pump that sucks the vaporized cell components up through a tube and introduces the charged molecules into a mass spectrometer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 29, 2009, 8:10 AM CT

Tools for prostate cancer screening

Tools for prostate cancer screening
Michael Pignone, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Eventhough screening for prostate cancer with the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test in men ages 50-70 can detect the cancer before it becomes symptomatic, knowing whether screening is beneficial for these men is uncertain.

Recent trials have shown small or no reductions in prostate cancer mortality among those screened. The small potential for benefit must be balanced against the more common and immediate downsides of increasing the chance of prostate cancer diagnosis and therapy-related complications.

Developing more effective decision support tools may help men and their physicians discuss whether or not to undertake PSA screening.

Michael Pignone, M.D., M.P.H., authored an editorial in the Sept. 28 Archives of Internal Medicine about this issue. He evaluated two studies: one from the National Survey of Medical Decisions and a second study from Australia that modeled the potential effects of screening for use in discussions about screening.

Pignone is associate professor of medicine and chief of the division of general internal medicine in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

He explained, "To make a good decision about whether or not to be screened, patients need to know their chances of being helped by screening and their chances of being harmed".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 29, 2009, 8:03 AM CT

More effective mode of delivery for measles vaccine

More effective mode of delivery for measles vaccine
Worldwide, there are estimated to be 10 million cases of measles and 197,000 deaths from the disease each year. While vaccines exist to protect children against measles, the vaccines are often difficult to store, costly to transport and appears to be prone to contamination when shipped to developing countries. Research to be presented at the 2009 American Association of Pharmaceutical Researchers (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition will reveal new methods for delivering measles vaccines that could potentially reduce costs and improve safety.

"Vaccination has become controversial in some international communities which believe vaccines might be hazardous," said Robert Sievers, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado and one of the study's principal investigators. "However, in a number of parts of the world, the disease itself is a serious hazard, killing hundreds of thousands of children each year." .

While a liquid vaccine using a hypodermic needle is presently the only way to prevent the disease, Dr. Sievers' study shows promise for a new method that allows the patient to inhale a finely-powdered. In order to produce the inhalant, the weakened measles virus must be mixed with high-pressure carbon dioxide to produce microscopic bubbles and droplets, which are then gently dried to produce an inhalable powder. The powder is then puffed into a small inhaler-like device and administered. The aerosol vaccine was shown effective in test animals, and human trials are expected to begin next year in India, where more than half of the world's measles cases occur.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 29, 2009, 7:53 AM CT

Keep a pet, live healthier

Keep a pet, live healthier
Lowers blood pressure, encourages exercise, improves psychological health- these may sound like the effects of a miracle drug, but they are actually among the benefits of owning a four-legged, furry pet. This fall, the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) will explore the a number of ways animals benefit people of all ages during the International Society for Anthrozoology and Human-Animal Interaction Conference in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 20-25.

"Research in this field is providing new evidence on the positive impact pets have in our lives," said Rebecca Johnson, associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, the College of Veterinary Medicine and director of ReCHAI. "This conference will provide a unique opportunity to connect international experts working in human-animal interaction research with those already working in the health and veterinary medicine fields. A wonderful array of presentations will show how beneficial animals can be in the lives of children, families and elderly adults".

Earlier this year, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), co-hosted two workshops with The WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, a division of Mars Incorporated, bringing together leading experts to discuss the benefits of human-animal interaction in childhood. With support from a grant from NICHD and sponsorship from WALTHAM®, the conference will continue this discussion.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 29, 2009, 7:41 AM CT

Those high heeled shoes may cause you heel and ankle pain

Those high heeled shoes may cause you heel and ankle pain
Women should think twice before buying their next pair of high-heels or pumps, as per scientists at the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife in a newly released study of elderly adults and foot problems.

The scientists observed that the types of shoes women wear, specifically high-heels, pumps and sandals, may cause future hind-foot (heel and ankle) pain. Nearly 64 percent of women who reported hind-foot pain regularly wore these types of shoes at some point in their life.

"We found an increased risk of hind-foot pain among women who wore shoes, such as high-heels or pumps, that lack support and sound structure," says main author Alyssa B. Dufour, a graduate student in the Institute's Musculoskeletal Research Program.

Reported in the recent issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the study is one of the first to examine the association between shoe wearbeyond just high-heel useand foot pain. The researchers, who analyzed foot-examination data from more than 3,300 men and women in The Framingham Study, say past shoe wear among women is a key factor for hind-foot pain. They found no significant link between foot pain and the types of shoes men wear.

While foot pain is a common complaint in the U.S. adult populationfoot and toe symptoms are among the top 20 reasons for doctor visits among those 65 to 74 years of agerelatively little is known about the causes of foot pain in elderly adults. Women are more likely than men to have foot pain; however, it is not known if this is due to a higher prevalence of foot deformities, underlying disease, shoe wear, or other lifestyle choices.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 7:23 AM CT

Diabetic women at higher risk of irregular heart beat

Diabetic women at higher risk of irregular heart beat
Diabetes increases by 26 percent the likelihood that women will develop atrial fibrillation (AF), a potentially dangerous irregular heart rhythm that can lead to stroke, heart failure, and chronic fatigue. These are the findings of a new Kaiser Permanente study, reported in the recent issue of Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

While other studies have observed that patients with diabetes are more likely to have AF, this is the first large studyinvolving nearly 35,000 Kaiser Permanente patients over the course of seven yearsto isolate the effect of diabetes and determine that it is an independent risk factor for women.

The most important finding from our study is that women with diabetes have an increased risk of developing this abnormal heart rhythm, said the studys main author, Greg Nichols, PhD, investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. Men with diabetes are also at higher risk, but the association between the two conditions is not as strong. For men, obesity and hypertension are bigger risk factors from diabetes.

AF is the most common arrhythmia in the world, and diabetes is one of the most common and costly health conditions. Our study points out that there is a correlation between these two growing epidemicsone we should pay closer attention to, particularly among women, says Sumeet Chugh, MD, co-author and associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. The gender differences need to be looked at more closely because they could have significant implications for how we treat diabetes in men and women.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:57 AM CT

More breast cancer patients electing to remove other breast

More breast cancer patients electing to remove other breast
A newly released study of New York State data finds that the number of women opting for surgery to remove the healthy breast after a cancer diagnosis in one breast is rising, despite a lack of evidence that the surgery can improve survival. The study also finds that despite extensive press coverage of women who choose to have both breasts removed because of a strong family history of cancer, the rate of this surgery is relatively low and has changed little in the last decade. The study appears in Cancer, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society.

Prophylactic mastectomy, the removal of a nonmalignant breast, is one method for reducing a woman's risk of developing breast cancer; however, there is little information available on the prevalence of prophylactic mastectomies for preventing breast cancer among high-risk women or on the prevalence of the surgery to prevent tumors in the healthy breast among women whose cancer is limited to one breast.

Scientists led by Stephen B. Edge, M.D., FACS, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, examined the frequency of prophylactic mastectomies in New York State between 1995 and 2005 using mandated statewide hospital discharge data combined with data from the state cancer registry. They identified 6,275 female New York residents who underwent prophylactic mastectomies. Eighty-one percent of the women had been diagnosed with cancer in one breast, while 19 percent had no personal history of breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:55 AM CT

How income affects prostate cancer survival

How income affects prostate cancer survival
Prostate cancer patients who is living on low income is likely to die earlier compared to prostate cancer patients who are economically in a more advantageous position. That is the finding of a new study from Swiss researchers to be published in the December 1, 2009 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The study's findings indicate that poor prostate cancer patients receive worse care than their wealthier counterparts.

A number of of the prior studies on socioeconomic status (SES) and prostate cancer mortality are from North America, especially from the United States. Scientists wanted to know how disparities affected prostate cancer mortality in Switzerland, a country with an extremely well developed health care system and where healthcare costs, medical coverage, and life expectancy are among the highest in the world, Elisabetta Rapiti, M.D., MPH, of the University of Geneva and her colleagues conducted a population-based study that included all residents of the region who were diagnosed with invasive prostate cancer between 1995 and 2005.

The analysis included 2,738 patients identified through the Geneva Cancer Registry. A patient with prostate cancer was classified as having high, medium, or low socioeconomic status on the basis of his occupation at the time of diagnosis. The researchers compared patient and tumor characteristics, as well as therapys among the different socioeconomic groups.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:50 AM CT

How to deliver the bad news?

How to deliver the bad news?
New prenatal tests for Down syndrome are soon to be offered to all pregnant women across the United States, yet telling an expectant couple that their child will be born with Down syndrome is a task very few physicians are trained for, claims research reported in the American Journal of Medical Genetics The study, which evaluated decades of surveys and interviews, offers several recommendations for how physicians can best deliver the news.

A 29-member research team, led by Dr. Brian Skotko from Children's Hospital Boston, supported by the National Down Syndrome Society and informed by experts from across the field, evaluated surveys and research ranging from 1960 to present day to consider how prepared physicians felt they are to deliver a diagnosis. They also studied the opinions of couples who had received the diagnosis to determine the best way of delivering the news.

"Down syndrome (DS) remains the most common chromosomal condition. It occurs in one out of every 733 live births," said Skotko. "Nearly every obstetrician can expect to have a conversation with expectant parents about the realities of life with DS, but very little research has been dedicated to understanding how physicians should communicate the news".

The team observed that in a 2004 survey approximately 45% of obstetric fellows rated their training as "barely adequate or nonexistent"; a similar survey four years later found little change as 40% thought their training was "less than adequate." In 2005 a survey of 2,500 medical students showed that 81% believed they were "not getting any clinical training regarding individuals with intellectual disabilities."........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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