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October 20, 2008, 5:46 AM CT

Bird flu vaccine protects people and pets

Bird flu vaccine protects people and pets
A single vaccine could be used to protect chickens, cats and humans against deadly flu pandemics, as per an article reported in the recent issue of the Journal of General Virology The vaccine protects birds and mammals against different flu strains and can even be given to birds while they are still in their eggs, allowing the mass vaccination of wild birds.

The emergence of bird flu has posed a major challenge to researchers designing vaccines as it can infect many different animals, including birds, pets and people. Now, scientists in the USA have discovered that a vaccine based on a bird flu virus could be used to protect several species against different influenza viruses.

"The world is experiencing a pandemic of influenza in birds caused by an H5N1 virus. Eventhough it has been restricted to Eurasia and some countries in Africa, there is a risk that this virus may spread worldwide," said Professor Daniel Perez from the University of Maryland, USA. "The H5N1 virus also has an unusual expanded host range: not only birds and humans have been infected but also cats, which are commonly resistant to influenza. To prepare for a pandemic, it would be ideal to have a vaccine that could be used in multiple animal species".

The scientists observed that the central genes or 'backbone' of the H9N2 virus that infects guinea fowl can protect birds and mice against highly pathogenic strains of influenza. They modified the virus to make it less pathogenic and then used it to vaccinate mice. Three weeks after being vaccinated, the mice were infected with the potentially lethal H1N1 virus the same virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. All the vaccinated mice survived with no signs of disease. Vaccinated mice also survived infection with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, again showing no signs of disease.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 20, 2008, 5:45 AM CT

How neuronal activity leads to Alzheimer's protein cleavage

How neuronal activity leads to Alzheimer's protein cleavage
Amyloid precursor protein (APP), whose cleavage product, amyloid-b (Ab), builds up into fibrous plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, jumps from one specialized membrane microdomain to another to be cleaved, report Sakurai et al.

Eventhough there is no definitive evidence that Ab plaques are the direct cause of Alzheimer's disease, there is much circumstantial evidence to support this. And working on this hypothesis, researchers are investigating just how the plaques form and what might be done to stop or reverse their formation.

APP, a protein of unknown function, is membrane associated and concentrates at the neuronal synapse. Certain factors such as high cellular cholesterol and increased neuronal or synaptic activity are known to drive APP cleavage, and Sakurai and his colleagues' paper pulls these two modes of Ab regulation together.

APP associates with membrane microdomains high in cholesterols (lipid rafts). These lipid rafts can also contain the enzyme necessary for APP cleavage, BACE. Synaptic activity is known to involve a very different type of membrane microdomain high in an excytosis-promoting factor called syntaxin. Sakurai et al. now show that eventhough APP preferentially associates with syntaxin microdomains, upon neuronal stimulation APP instead associates with microdomains that contain BACE.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 20, 2008, 5:43 AM CT

Educational materials can alter young women's attitudes about tanning

Educational materials can alter young women's attitudes about tanning
A new study indicates that educational literature can influence young women's use of indoor tanning, not by raising their fear of skin cancer but by changing their attitudes about indoor tanning and promoting healthier alternatives for changing appearance. The study is reported in the December 1, 2008 issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society.

Each year there are more than 1.3 million skin cancer diagnoses in the U.S., resulting in more than 10,000 deaths. A variety of efforts have attempted to get young people to alter their sun exposure behaviors, with limited success. For the new study, scientists led by Dr. Joel Hillhouse of the School of Public Health at East Tennessee State University designed a large, randomized, controlled study on an educational-based intervention meant to reduce indoor tanning, which is correlation to an increased risk of melanoma in young women.

The scientists included approximately 430 female university students aged 17 to 21 years, 200 of whom received a booklet on the effects of indoor tanning. The booklet, which focused on the appearance damaging effects of tanning, provided information on the history of tanning and tanning norms in society. It also presented the effects of ultraviolet radiation, specifically correlation to indoor tanning on the skin's appearance. The booklet also offered guidelines emphasizing tanning abstinence and recommended healthier alternatives to improve appearance including exercise, choosing fashion that does not require a complimentary tan and sunless tanning products.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 16, 2008, 11:02 PM CT

High-altitude climbing causes subtle loss of brain cells and motor function

High-altitude climbing causes subtle loss of brain cells and motor function
Mount Everest
A study of professional mountain climbers has shown that high-altitude exposure can cause subtle white and grey matter changes to the area of the brain involved in motor activity, as per the recent issue of the European Journal of Neurology

Italian scientists took MRI scans of nine world-class mountain climbers, who had been climbing for at least 10 years, before and after expeditions to Mount Everest (8,848 metres) and K2 (8,611 metres) without an oxygen supply. They compared their MRI brain scans with 19 age and sex matched healthy control subjects.

Both the climbers and controls were carefully checked to exclude the presence of any major systemic, psychiatric or neurological illnesses. None of the control group subjects had any history of high-altitude exposure over 3,000 metres.

The results demonstrated that the climbers showed a reduction in both the density and volume of white matter in the left pyramidal tract, near the primary and supplementary motor cortex, when their baseline measurements were compared with the control group.

And when the scientists compared the before and after scans for the climbers, they also found a reduction in the density and volume of grey matter in the left angular gyrus.

"The aim of our study was to measure the quantitative loss of white and grey matter, using voxel-based morphometry, which takes spatial, unbiased MRI measurements independent of the operator" explains lead author Dr Margherita Di Paola from the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 16, 2008, 11:01 PM CT

When a light goes on during thought processes

When a light goes on during thought processes
Individual and double action potentials can be recorded optically using a genetic calcium indicator that colours the cells in the brain of a living mouse.

Image: Max Planck Institute for Medical Research
A nerve cell is a major hub for the exchange of valuable information. The nose, eyes, ears, and other sense organs perceive our environment through various antennae known as receptors. The numerous stimuli are then passed on to the neurons. All of this information is collected, processed, and finally transferred to specific brain centers at these hubs - the human brain consists of almost 100 billion nerve cells. The nerve cell uses a special means of transport for this purpose: the action potential which codes the information, thus enabling communication between the nerve cells.

Calcium as the starting gun.

An action potential of this kind is an electrical excitation and arises when our nerve cells receive the information via a stimulus: the voltage across the cell membrane of the neuron changes and various ion channels open and close in a very specialized manner. Shortly before the nerve cell forwards the information via the stimulus, calcium ions pour into the nerve cell, acting as the starting gun for the flow of data from one neuron to the next.

In the past, action potential was measured and rendered visible using microelectrodes. However, this method only enabled the monitoring of a limited number of cells engaged in the process of communication. Moreover, researchers were unable to record neuronal communication in a clearly identifiable way over a longer period or in freely moving animals using this method.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 16, 2008, 10:59 PM CT

Prostate cancer gene test provides new early detection

Prostate cancer gene test provides new early detection
Arnhem, 16 October 2008 Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common male cancers in the Western world. Currently, early detection of PCa depends on an abnormal digital rectal examination and an elevated prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) level requiring a prostate biopsy, often linked to anxiety, discomfort, complications, and heavy expenses. The prostate-cancer-gene-3 (PCA3) test is a new PCa gene-based marker carried out with a urine sample. PCA3 is highly specific to PCa and has shown promising early detection results at repeat biopsy. It may allow patients to avoid unnecessary biopsies. The PCA3 gene is dominant in over 95% of cancerous prostate tissue in comparison to non-malignant and normal prostate tissue.

Several studies have been done to evaluate the PCA3 assay. In 2007, Marks et al showed that urine PCA3 levels were more accurate than serum PSA measurements for predicting the results of repeat biopsy (Marks LS, Fradet Y, Deras IL, et al. PCA3 molecular urine assay for prostate cancer in men undergoing repeat biopsy. Urology 2007; 69:532��).

In the October 2008 issue of European Urology (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eururo), Haese et al took the study by Marks et al even further in their evaluation of the PCA3 assay in a larger population of European men with one or two negative biopsies scheduled for repeat biopsy in order to determine its effectiveness in detecting PCa at repeat biopsy.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 16, 2008, 10:57 PM CT

Genetic based human diseases are an ancient evolutionary legacy

Genetic based human diseases are an ancient evolutionary legacy
Artistic illustration of a phylostratigraphy.
Image: Irena Andreic, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb
The Human Genome Project that deciphered the human genetic code, uncovered thousands of genes that, if mutated, are involved in human genetic diseases. The genomes of a number of other organisms were deciphered in parallel. This now allows the evolution of these disease associated genes to be systematically studied.

Tomislav Domazet-Lošo and Diethard Tautz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plon (Gera number of) have used for this analysis a novel statistical method, "phylostratigraphy" that was developed by Tomislav Domazet-Lošo at the Ruder Boškovic Institute in Zagreb (Croatia). The method allows the point of origin for any existing gene to be determined by tracing the last common ancestor in which this gene existed. Based on this information, it is then possible to determine the minimum age for any given gene.

Applying this method to disease genes, the researchers from Plon came to surprising findings. The vast majority of these genes trace back to the origin of the first cell. Other large groups emerged more than one billion years ago around the first appearance of multi-cellular organisms, as well as at the time of origin of bony fishes about 400 million years ago. Surprisingly, they found almost no disease associated genes among those that emerged after the origin of mammals.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 16, 2008, 10:49 PM CT

Aspirin does not prevent heart attacks in patients with diabetes

Aspirin does not prevent heart attacks in patients with diabetes
Taking regular aspirin and antioxidant supplements does not prevent heart attacks even in high risk groups with diabetes and asymptomatic arterial disease, and aspirin should only be given to patients with established heart disease, stroke or limb arterial disease, as per a research studypublished recently on bmj.com.

In light of these findings, and the evidence from six other well controlled trials, the prescribing practice of doctors and international guidelines should be evaluated so that aspirin is only prescribed to patients with established heart and stroke disease, argues the author of an accompanying editorial.

Patients with diabetes are two to five times more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general population and heart disease is a major cause of death in patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes. Eventhough there is considerable evidence showing no protective benefit of aspirin in high risk patients without heart disease, guidelines are inconsistent and aspirin is usually prescribed for the primary prevention of heart disease in patients with diabetes and with peripheral arterial disease.

But aspirin is one of the top 10 causes of adverse drug events reported to the Commission on Human Medicines. It causes gastrointestinal bleeding and the risk of bleeding increases with age and prolonged use.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 16, 2008, 10:39 PM CT

Early exposure to drugs, alcohol creates lifetime of health risk

Early exposure to drugs, alcohol creates lifetime of health risk
People who began drinking and using marijuana regularly previous to their 15th birthday face a higher risk of early pregnancy, as well as a pattern of school failure, substance dependence, sexually-transmitted disease and criminal convictions that lasts into their 30s.

A study published online by the journal Psychological Science has been able to sort out for the first time the difficult question of whether it's bad kids who do drugs, or doing drugs that makes kids bad.

The answer is both, said Duke University psychology expert Avshalom Caspi, who co-authored the report with his wife and colleague Terrie Moffitt. They are part of a team of scientists from the U.S., Britain and New Zealand that analyzed data tracking the health of nearly 1,000 New Zealand residents from birth through age 32.

Half of the study subjects who were using alcohol and marijuana regularly before age 15 were indeed the so-called "bad kids" who came from an abusive, criminal or substance-abusing household and had behavior problems as children.

But the other half were the "good kids" from more stable backgrounds, and they also ended up in poorer health in their 30s.

Caspi said it is clear from these data that adolescent exposure to drugs and alcohol can make a good kid veer off on a bad trajectory. "The good kids who do drugs end up looking like the bad kids who didn't do drugs," Caspi said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 15, 2008, 5:54 PM CT

Governments urged to fight global child killer

Governments urged to fight global child killer
Eleven-month-old Cesia Solis Caray from Managua is watched over by her 21-year-old father Lesther Solis. Cesia's lungs have been damaged by pneumonia and tuberculosis. Celia has spent 57 days at the hospital and been on oxygen 24 hours a day for two months.

Credit: Copyright Adrian Brooks 2008
Pneumococcal disease, one of the world's leading causes of death and serious illness (1), must be recognised as an urgent global health issue together with HIV, malaria and TB, say the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World in a report launching at the House of Lords today. Between 700,000 and one million children under the age of five die each year from pneumococcal disease, equivalent to malaria and more than AIDS and tuberculosis (2,3).

These child deaths are a largely preventable tragedy. A vaccine against pneumococcal disease exists and is being used in the UK. The impact of this vaccine has been seen in England and Wales where there has been a 59% reduction of cases of invasive pneumococcal disease among children under the age of two since it was introduced in September 2006 (4). But developing countries, who account for more than 90% of pneumococcal deaths, do not have access to these vaccines. The UK Parliamentarians urge donor and developing countries to continue their commitment to fighting this killer disease through vaccination, strengthening healthcare systems, sustained political will, funding for research and international coordination of efforts.

"We have a responsibility to help reduce the global health problem of pneumococcal disease, which is under-recognised and until recently, has had few dedicated efforts made to tackle it," said Chair of the Group Dr. Des Turner, MP. "The APPG developed this report in response to the urgent need to improve child survival and tackle the devastating impact of pneumococcal disease in the developing world. As we've highlighted, governments and international organisations have a crucial role to play in preventing pneumococcal disease in the developing world, and need to maintain and grow commitments to mobilise the resources needed to fight the disease".........

Posted by: Mark      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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