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March 14, 2007, 10:09 PM CT

This Drug Delivers Itself

This Drug Delivers Itself
The problem of efficiently delivering drugs, particularly those that are hydrophobic or water-repellant, to tumors or other disease sites has long challenged researchers to develop innovative delivery systems that keep these drugs intact until reaching their targets.

Now researchers in the University at Buffalo's Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics and Roswell Park Cancer Institute have developed an innovative solution in which the delivery system is the drug itself.

They describe for the first time in Molecular Pharmaceutics a drug delivery system that consists of nanocrystals of a hydrophobic drug.

The system involves the use of nanocrystals measuring about 100 nanometers of pure HPPH, (2-devinyl-2-(1'-hexyloxyethyl) pyropheophorbide), a photosensitizer currently in Phase I/II human clinical trials at RPCI for treating various types of cancer.

The UB scientists observed that the nanocrystals of HPPH were taken up by tumors in vivo, with efficacy comparable to conventional, surfactant-based delivery systems.

A patent has been filed on this work.

"In this case, the drug itself acts as its own carrier," said Haridas Pudavar, Ph.D., UB research assistant professor of chemistry and a co-author.

The nanocrystals present a major advantage over methods of delivery involving other carriers, as per Paras Prasad, Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry in UB's College of Arts and Sciences, executive director of the institute and a co-author.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 10:20 PM CT

why we smell better when we sniff?

why we smell better when we sniff? Cross section of olfactory sensory neurons in a mouse nose visualized by fluorescent staining.
Credit: Huikai Tian, PhD, Minghong Ma, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Unlike most of our sensory systems that detect only one type of stimuli, our sense of smell works double duty, detecting both chemical and mechanical stimuli to improve how we smell, as per University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine scientists in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience.

This finding, plus the fact that both types of stimuli produce reaction in olfactory nerve cells, which control how our brain perceives what we smell, explains why we sniff to smell something, and why our sense of smell is synchronized with inhaling.

"The driving force for such synchronization remained a mystery for more than 50 years," says senior author Minghong Ma, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience. "These results help us understand how the mammalian olfactory system encodes and decodes odor information in the environment".

Scientists tested two different types of stimulation on olfactory neurons in mice: chemical stimuli, such as those used in making perfumes that have almond-like and banana-like scents, and mechanical stimuli, that is pressure carried by air flow to the nostrils while breathing.

The group did this first by puffing a chemical stimulus into the nose. As expected, this produced a reaction in the olfactory neurons, the primary sensory neurons in the nose that perceive odors. Scientists then puffed a solution without the chemical stimuli into the mouse's nose. This also produced a similar, but smaller reaction in the olfactory neurons. By decreasing pressure of the non-odor solution, they also observed that the reaction in the olfactory neurons was less, confirming that it was sensitive to mechanical stimulation.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 10:15 PM CT

Belly fat may drive inflammatory processes

Belly fat may drive inflammatory processes
As researchers learn more about the key role of inflammation in diabetes, heart disease and other disorders, new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that fat in the belly may be an important promoter of that inflammation.

Excess fat is known to be linked to disease, but now the scientists have confirmed that fat cells inside the abdomen are secreting molecules that increase inflammation. It's the first evidence of a potential mechanistic link between abdominal fat and systemic inflammation.

For years, researchers have been aware of a relationship between disease risk and excess belly fat. "Apple-shaped" people, who carry fat in the abdomen, have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other problems than "pear-shaped" people, who tend to store fat in the hips and thighs. Too much abdominal fat is linked to a defect in the body's response to insulin. During medical exams, some physicians measure waist circumference to identify patients at increased risk for these problems.

Not just any belly fat will cause inflammation, however. Back in 2004, Washington University researchers observed that removing abdominal fat with liposuction did not provide the metabolic benefits normally linked to similar amounts of fat loss induced by dieting or exercising.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 9:43 PM CT

Sleep Disorders Can Impair Children's IQs

Sleep Disorders Can Impair Children's IQs
Three decades ago, medical researchers began sounding the alarm about how lead exposure causes IQ deficits in children. Today, scientists at the University of Virginia Health System say children with sleep disorders can face similar risks of intellectual impairment.

UVa scientists have been studying sleep disturbances in children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids for the past seven years. In a recent study, they discovered that youngsters who snore nightly scored significantly lower on vocabulary tests than those who snore less often.

"Vocabulary scores are known to be the best single predictor of a child's IQ and the strongest predictor of academic success," explains Dr. Paul M. Suratt, a pulmonologist who directs the UVa Sleep Laboratory.

As per Dr. Suratt, the vocabulary differences linked to nightly snoring are equivalent to the IQ dissimilarities attributed to lead exposure. "Studies show that, even at nontoxic levels, lead exposure can reduce a child's IQ by more than seven points," he notes.

Sleep disorders can be intellectually and behaviorally detrimental to children because they interrupt the deep sleep patterns needed for healthy development. At night, children with sleep disorders can be observed snoring, snorting, gasping, tossing and turning. During the day, these children can be irritable, hyperactive and unable to concentrate.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

Jet Engines Solve the Mysteries of the Voice

Jet Engines Solve the Mysteries of the Voice
Eventhough researchers know about basic voice production-the two "vocal folds" in the larynx vibrate and pulsate airflow from the lungs-the larynx is one of the body's least understood organs.

Sound produced by vocal-fold vibration has been extensively researched, but the specifics of how airflow actually affects sound have not been shown using an animal model-until now.

Vortices, or areas of rotational motion that look like smoke rings, produce sound in jet engines. New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) uses methods developed from the study of jet noise to identify similar vortices in an animal model.

Sid Khosla, MD, lead author of the study, says vortices may help explain why individual voices are different and can have a different richness and quality to their sound.

"If vortices didn't affect sound production, the voice would sound mechanical," says Khosla, assistant professor of otolaryngology. "The vortices can produce sound by many mechanisms. This complexity produces a sound that makes my voice different from yours."

Khosla and his team report their findings in the March edition of the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology.

"Understanding how airflow patterns affect sound in a jet engine (aeroacoustics) helps us determine how we can reduce jet noise," says coauthor Ephraim Gutmark, PhD, a UC professor of aerospace engineering. "We can apply the same physical understanding of aeroacoustics to study normal and abnormal voice".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 13, 2007, 9:22 PM CT

Vanishing Neurons Of Adolescence

Vanishing Neurons Of Adolescence Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Psychology professor Janice Juraska, right, and graduate student Julie Markham
Scientists at the University of Illinois have observed that adolescence is a time of remodeling in the prefrontal cortex, a brain structure dedicated to higher functions such as planning and social behaviors.

The study of rats observed that both males and females lose neurons in the ventral prefrontal cortex between adolescence and adulthood, with females losing about 13 percent more neurons in this brain region than males.

This is the first study to demonstrate that the number of neurons in the prefrontal cortex decreases during adolescence. It is also the first to document sex differences in the number of neurons in the PFC. The study appears in the Feb. 9 issue of the journal Neuroscience.

Earlier studies in humans have found gradual reductions in the volume of the prefrontal cortex from adolescence to adulthood, said psychology professor and principal investigator Janice M. Juraska. "But the finding that neurons are actually dying is completely new. This indicates that the brain reorganizes in a very fundamental way in adolescence".

Juraska, graduate student Julie Markham and undergraduate student John Morris observed that the number of neurons decreased in the ventral, but not dorsal, prefrontal cortex during adolescence. The number of glial cells, which surround and support the neurons, remained stable in the ventral PFC and increased in the dorsal PFC.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 12, 2007, 9:25 PM CT

Music Training 'Tunes' Human Auditory System

Music Training 'Tunes' Human Auditory System
A newly published study by Northwestern University scientists suggests that Mom was right when she insisted that you continue music lessons -- even after it was clear that a professional music career was not in your future.

The study, which will appear in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience, is the first to provide concrete evidence that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brainstems sensitivity to speech sounds. This finding has broad implications because it applies to sound encoding skills involved not only in music but also in language.

The findings indicate that experience with music at a young age in effect can "fine-tune" the brain's auditory system. "Increasing music experience appears to benefit all children -- whether musically exceptional or not -- in a wide range of learning activities," says Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and senior author of the study.

"Our findings underscore the pervasive impact of musical training on neurological development. Yet music classes are often among the first to be cut when school budgets get tight. That's a mistake," says Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology and Physiology and professor of communication sciences and disorders.

"Our study is the first to ask whether enhancing the sound environment -- in this case with musical training -- will positively affect the way an individual encodes sound even at a level as basic as the brainstem," says Patrick Wong, primary author of "Musical Experience Shapes Human Brainstem Encoding of Linguistic Pitch Patterns." An old structure from an evolutionary standpoint, the brainstem once was thought to only play a passive role in auditory processing.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 12, 2007, 9:01 PM CT

Compound With An Improbable Trigger

Compound With An Improbable Trigger
Even miniscule amounts of chromium 6 can cause cancer. Blame that do-gooder nutrient, vitamin C.

Brown University scientists have discovered that naturally occurring vitamin C reacts inside human lung cells with chromium 6, or hexavalent chromium, and causes massive DNA damage. Low doses of chromium 6, combined with vitamin C, produce up to 15 times as a number of chromosomal breaks and up to 10 times more mutations - forms of genetic damage that lead to cancer - compared with cells that lacked vitamin C altogether.

This finding is startling, said Anatoly Zhitkovich, an associate professor of medical science at Brown who oversaw the experiments. Outside cells, Zhitkovich said, vitamin C actually protects against the cellular damage caused by hexavalent chromium, the toxic chemical that starred as the villain in the true-to-life Hollywood drama, Erin Brockovich. In fact, vitamin C has been used as an antidote in industrial accidents and other instances when large amounts of chromium are ingested.

Vitamin C works protective wonders because it is a powerful antioxidant, blocking cellular damage from free radicals. Specifically, the vitamin rapidly "reduces," or adds electrons, to free radicals, converting them into harmless molecules. This electron transfer from vitamin C to chromium 6 produces chromium 3, a form of the compound that is unable to enter cells.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 12, 2007, 8:53 PM CT

Adult Stem Cells For Heart Damage Repair

Adult Stem Cells For Heart Damage Repair
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is among the first medical centers in the country taking part in a novel clinical trial investigating if a subject's own stem cells can treat a form of severe coronary artery disease.

The trial, just underway at UW Hospital and Clinics, is enrolling subjects in the Autologous Cellular Therapy CD34-Chronic Myocardial Ischemia (ACT34-CMI) Trial. The first patient underwent the procedure March 7. Because the study is randomized and "double-blinded," however, neither the patient nor the research doctor knows if he received his own stem cells or a placebo substance.

This trial is the first human Phase II adult stem cell therapy study in the U.S. Its goal is to investigate the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of blood-derived selected stem cells to improve symptoms and clinical outcomes in patients with chronic myocardial ischemia (CMI), a severe form of coronary artery disease.

Myocardial ischemia, which affects hundreds of thousands of people, is a serious heart condition that involves narrowing of coronary arteries and results in limited blood flow to the heart. A person who suffers from chronic myocardial ischemia continues to experience insufficient flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart despite optimum medical intervention.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 11, 2007, 8:40 PM CT

Health Benefits Of Cocoa Vitamin

Health Benefits Of Cocoa Vitamin Coca plant
The health benefits of epicatechin, a compound found in cocoa, are so striking that it may rival penicillin and anaesthesia in terms of importance to public health, reports Marina Murphy in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. Norman Hollenberg, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told C&I that epicatechin is so important that it should be considered a vitamin.

Hollenberg has spent years studying the benefits of cocoa drinking on the Kuna people in Panama. He observed that the risk of 4 of the 5 most common killer diseases: stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, is reduced to less then 10% in the Kuna. They can drink up to 40 cups of cocoa a week. Natural cocoa has high levels of epicatechin.

'If these observations predict the future, then we can say without blushing that they are among the most important observations in the history of medicine,' Hollenberg says. We all agree that penicillin and anaesthesia are enormously important. But epicatechin could potentially get rid of 4 of the 5 most common diseases in the western world, how important does that make epicatechin? I would say very important.

Nutrition expert Daniel Fabricant says that Hollenbergs results, eventhough observational, are so impressive that they may even warrant a rethink of how vitamins are defined. Epicatechin does not currently meet the criteria. Vitamins are defined as essential to the normal functioning, metabolism, regulation and growth of cells and deficiency is commonly associated with disease. At the moment, the science does not support epicatechin having an essential role. But, Fabricant, who is vice president scientific affairs at the Natural Products Association, says: 'the link between high epicatechin consumption and a decreased risk of killer disease is so striking, it should be investigated further. It may be that these diseases are the result of epicatechin deficiency,' he says.........

Posted by: Janet      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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