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October 22, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

Is a good night's sleep crucial for your health?

Is a good night's sleep crucial for your health?
In spring 2005 a large European research and training network was established to investigate the causes and implications of poor sleep from a medical as well as from a social point of view. This EU-financed sleep research project, The biomedical and sociological effects of sleep restriction, is coordinated by Dr. Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen (Stenberg) MD, PhD, at the University of Helsinki, Institute of Biomedicine.

The other partners are from UK (University of Surrey), Belgium (Universit Libre de Bruxelles), Gera number of (Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry & Center of Mental Health, Klinikum Ingolstadt) and Switzerland (University of Zurich).

The topic of the project is important and timely: our environment is changing to a 24/7 society, which inevitably means that time spent in sleep decreases. What are the consequences of this reduction for human health and well-being" This is the central question of the present consortium.

The training network consists of 16 young Marie Curie Fellows from 12 countries, who are trained in the six consortium laboratories by experienced mentors. They are researching the role of sleep in the quality of life; in mood disorders, and how it can affect performance, accident rates, and cardiovascular diseases. Animal models complement the project aiming to understand the basic mechanisms underlying sleep regulation and thereby provide recommendations for the development of new hypnotics.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 22, 2007, 8:42 PM CT

Faced with Death, Our Minds Turn to Happier Thoughts

Faced with Death, Our Minds Turn to Happier Thoughts
Philosophers and researchers have long been interested in how the mind processes the inevitability of death, both cognitively and emotionally. One would expect, for example, that reminders of our mortality--say the sudden death of a loved one--would throw us into a state of disabling fear of the unknown. But that doesn't happen. If the prospect of death is so incomprehensible, why are we not trembling in a constant state of terror over this fact?

Psychology experts have some ideas about how we cope with existential dread. One emerging idea--"terror management theory" --holds that the brain is hard-wired to keep us from being paralyzed by fear. As per this theory the brain allows us to think about dying, even to change the way we live our lives, but not cower in the corner, paralyzed by fear. The automatic, unconscious part of our brain in effect protects the conscious mind.

But how does this work? Psychology experts Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky and Roy Baumeister of Florida State University ran three experiments to study existential dread in the laboratory. They prompted volunteers to think about what happens physically as they die and to imagine what it is like to be dead. It's the experimental equivalent of losing a loved one and ruminating about dying as a result.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 22, 2007, 8:33 PM CT

Exercise improves thinking

Exercise improves thinking
Just three months of daily, vigorous physical activity in overweight children improves their thinking and reduces their diabetes risk, scientists say.

Studies of about 200 overweight, inactive children ages 7-11 also showed that a regular exercise program reduces body fat and improves bone density.

"Is exercise a magic wand that turns them into lean, healthy kids? No. They are still overweight but less so, with less fat, a healthier metabolism and an improved ability to handle life," says Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychology expert at the Medical College of Georgia and lead investigator.

All study participants learned about healthy nutrition and the benefits of physical activity; one-third also exercised 20 minutes after school and another third exercised for 40 minutes. Children played hard, with running games, hula hoops and jump ropes, raising their heart rates to 79 percent of maximum, which is considered vigorous.

"Aerobic exercise training showed dose-response benefits on executive function (decision-making) and possibly math achievement, in overweight children," scientists write in an abstract being presented during The Obesity Society's Annual Scientific Meeting Oct. 20-24 in New Orleans. "Regular exercise may be a simple, important method of enhancing children's cognitive and academic development. These results may persuade educators to implement vigorous physical activity curricula during a childhood obesity epidemic".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 22, 2007, 5:03 AM CT

Clinical trial evaluating brain cancer vaccine

Clinical trial evaluating brain cancer vaccine
A clinical trial evaluating a brain cancer vaccine in patients with newly diagnosed brain cancer has begun at NYU Medical Center. The study will evaluate the addition of the vaccine following standard treatment with surgery and chemotherapy in patients with glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly form of brain cancer.

The vaccine, called DCVax-Brain, incorporates proteins found in patients tumors and is designed to attack cancer cells containing these proteins. The study underway at NYU Medical Center is an expansion of an earlier phase I trial of the vaccine. The vaccine is made by the Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc., based in Bothell, Washington.

We are really excited about the promise of this vaccine, said Patrick J. Kelly, M.D., the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and the Joseph Ransohoff Professor of Neurosurgery at NYU School of Medicine. Everything now depends on something in addition to surgery so that these tumors do not recur. A cancer vaccine like this may make a difference in extending life and maintaining a good quality of life.

This is a form of individualized treatment, adds NYU neuro-oncologist Michael Gruber, M.D. There is a lot of promise with this approach, he says. He and Dr. Kelly will be the lead researchers conducting the trial at NYU.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 21, 2007, 10:22 PM CT

Consumer Demand Flavors Food Import Safety Issues

Consumer Demand Flavors Food Import Safety Issues
An ever-changing U.S. consumer who enjoys the convenience of ready-to-eat produce and seasonable fruits during the dead of winter has brought new challenges to food import safety, experts said Oct. 18.

With U.S. food imports set to top more than $2 trillion this year and expected to triple by 2015, a panel on food safety commissioned by President Bush met at Texas A&M University to discuss ways to strengthen the national and global import infrastructure.

Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said the nation's consumer is one who "expects to eat strawberries in February."

That has led to more change and complexity among how food is processed and delivered into the U.S.

"This nation and the people we serve, and their health that's so critically important, is threatened - not that we haven't been doing a good job," he said.

"In fact, we've been doing an incredibly good job. But the world is rapidly changing around us. Eventhough we have been the gold standard (in food safety), we must respond and be prepared for new challenges that are emerging from radical changes".

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples told the group "consumers' tastes and preferences are changing.

"They are demanding specialty products from around the world, seasonal products such as fruits and vegetables," Staples said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 21, 2007, 10:20 PM CT

Key To Moonlight Romance

Key To Moonlight Romance
An international team of Australian and Israeli scientists has discovered what could be the aphrodisiac for the biggest moonlight sex event on Earth.

An ancient light-sensitive gene has been isolated by scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) that appears to act as a trigger for the annual mass spawning of corals across a third of a million square kilometres of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, shortly after a full moon.

The genes, known as a cryptochromes, occur in corals, insects, fish and mammals - including humans - and are primitive light-sensing pigment mechanisms which predate the evolution of eyes.

In a new paper reported in the international journal Science today, the team, headed by Marie Curie Scholar Dr Oren Levy of CoECRS and the University of Queensland, reports its discovery that the Cry2 gene, stimulated by the faint blue light of the full moon, appears to play a central role in triggering the mass coral spawning event, one of nature's wonders.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who leads the University of Queensland laboratory in which the genes were discovered, said "This is the key to one of the central mysteries of coral reefs. We have always wondered how corals without eyes can detect moonlight and get the precise hour of the right couple of days each year to spawn".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 21, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Major genetic breakthrough for ankylosing spondylitis

Major genetic breakthrough for ankylosing spondylitis
Spine
Research funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Arthritis Research Campaign has identified two genes implicated in the disease ankylosing spondylitis, a common disease primarily causing back pain and progressive stiffness. The research, published online today in Nature Genetics, suggests that a therapy currently being trialled for Crohn's disease may also be applied to this disease.

Ankylosing spondylitis affects as a number of as 1 in 200 men and 1 in 500 women in the UK, typically striking people in their late teens and twenties. Whilst it mainly affects the spine, it can also affect other joints, tendons and ligaments. More rarely, it can affect other areas, such as the eyes, lungs, bowel and heart. High-profile sufferers of the condition include former England cricket captain Mike Atherton.

Now, using a technique known as genome-wide association scanning, scientists led by Professors Lon Cardon, Matthew Brown and Paul Wordsworth, from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford have analysed DNA samples from 1,000 patients with ankylosing spondylitis and a further 1,500 people unaffected by the disease in search of genetic mutations which, if present, increase a person's risk of developing the disease. The findings from this study were then confirmed by a team at University of Texas (Houston) led by Professor John Reveille.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 19, 2007, 5:12 AM CT

Better devices to move injured or artificial limbs

Better devices to move injured or artificial limbs
Neural activity in the premotor cortex carries information about reaching and grasping. Information can be obtained from local field potentials (top left, blue signal), spikes or individual neuronal action potentials (green), and multi-unit activity (red), measuring the activity of populations of neurons. The most accurate information is obtained by combining multi-unit activity from multiple electrodes, depicted by the red-colored shadow hand of the monkey.

Credit: Sandrine Alon
Neuroresearchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a novel approach for measuring and deciphering brain activity that holds out promise of providing improved movements of natural or artificial limbs by those who have been injured or paralyzed.

Neuroresearchers have long been working towards achieving a better understanding of the relationship between brain activity and behavior, and particularly between neural activity in the motor regions of the cortex and hand movements.

In addition to addressing basic scientific questions, this line of research carries important practical implications, since the identification of precise relationships would enable neuroresearchers to assist in the construction of devices through which brain signals will activate muscles in a paralyzed limb or a prosthetic (robotic) arm.

In an article recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Hebrew University neurophysiologists Eran Stark and Prof. Moshe Abeles report on their new approach for measuring and deciphering brain activity, which avoids a number of of the drawbacks of current methods and which provides an accurate decoding of brain activity.

Currently, two methods are being used to measure brain activity in the context of neuro-prosthetic devices. The first method is based on the EEG (electroencephalogram) and is measured either over the scalp, directly from the cortical surface, or from the cortex itself. The second method is based on the activity of individual nerve cells within the cortex, and uses intra-cortical electrodes which essentially are fine wires.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 19, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

Sidestepping cancer's chaperone

Sidestepping cancer's chaperone
Malignant tumors are wildly unfavorable environments. Struggling for oxygen and nutrients while being bombarded by the bodys defense systems, tumor cells in fact require sophisticated adaptations to survive and grow. For decades, researchers have sought ways to circumvent these adaptations to destroy cancer. Now, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), have defined a method to target and kill cancers chaperonea protein that promotes tumor cell stability and survivalwithout damaging healthy cells nearby.

In Regulation of Tumor Cell Mitochondrial Homeostasis by an Organelle-Specific Hsp90 Chaperone Network, reported in the October 19 issue of Cell, Dario C. Altieri, MD, the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research and professor and chair of cancer biology, and his colleagues at UMMS, identify a new pathway by which cancer cells grow and surviveand provide a clear blueprint for the design and production of a novel class of anticancer agents aimed squarely at that pathway.

While prior research has demonstrated that a class of proteins known as molecular chaperones promote tumor cell survival, the specific way in which the proteins achieve this has not been well understood. And eventhough inhibitors of a specific chaperone known as heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) have been studied for the therapy of cancer, progress has been questionable. In this current research, Dr. Altieri and his colleagues sought to both define the mechanism by which Hsp90 leads to tumor cell stability and survival, and understand why general suppression of Hsp90 has not been as successful in clinical trials.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 19, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

The specific cell that causes eye cancer

The specific cell that causes eye cancer
Retinoblastoma
Investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have identified the cell that gives rise to the eye cancer retinoblastoma, disproving a long-standing principle of nerve growth and development. The finding suggests for the first time that it may one day be possible for researchers to induce fully developed neurons to multiply and coax the injured brain to repair itself.

A report of this work appears in the Oct. 19 issue of the journal Cell. Michael Dyer, Ph.D., an associate member in the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology, is the reports senior author.

Retinoblastoma arises in the retinathe multi-layered, membrane lining the back of the eye that responds to light by generating nerve impulses that are carried into the brain by the optic nerve.

The immediate importance of the St. Jude finding is that it unexpectedly showed that retinoblastoma can arise from fully matured nerves in the retina called horizontal interneurons. This disproves the scientific principle that fully formed, mature nerves cannot multiply like young, immature cells, Dyer said. Human neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimers disease can occur when differentiated nerves in the brain try to multiply, and in the process, trigger a self-destruct program called apoptosis. Differentiation is the process by which cells lose their primitive, stem-cell-like properties that include the ability to grow and multiply, and instead develop specialized shapes and functions.........

Posted by: Mike      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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