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January 4, 2006

Mysterious multi-symptom condition among Persian Gulf vets

Mysterious multi-symptom condition among Persian Gulf vets
Comparing veterans deployed in the first Persian Gulf War and veterans deployed elsewhere at the same time has revealed veterans who served in the Persian Gulf have nearly twice the prevalence of chronic multi-symptom illness (CMI), a cluster of symptoms similar to a set of conditions often called Gulf War Syndrome.

To be diagnosed with CMI, veterans must have had symptoms for more than six months in two or three of the following categories: fatigue; mood symptoms or difficulty thinking; and muscle or joint pain.

However, the study also found CMI in veterans who did not serve in the gulf, suggesting that the Persian Gulf conflict isn't the only trigger for CMI.

"We're not yet sure whether CMI is due to a single disease or pathological process," says lead author Melvin Blanchard, M.D., associate chief of medicine at the St. Louis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "But this study has identified an intriguing association between CMI risk and diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorders previous to military service."

Other findings from the study include:



  • Having CMI doubles the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver.


  • Veterans with CMI report much poorer quality of life, and poorer mental and physical functioning than unaffected veterans.


  • Veterans with CMI utilize more healthcare services.
  • ........

    Daniel      Permalink


    January 4, 2006

    Surprising Rapid Emotional Recovery Of Breast Cancer Survivors

    Surprising Rapid Emotional Recovery Of Breast Cancer Survivors Researcher Tiffany Tibbs discusses breast cancer treatment with a patient.
    Contrary to psychologists' expectations, breast cancer survivors don't experience an extended emotional crisis after their treatment regimens end, according to a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The study appears in the January issue of Supportive Care in Cancer.

    "We thought we'd find that women do worse psychologically after treatment," says Washington University psychologist, Teresa L. Deshields, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine. "That's the clinical lore. After all, many of the patients referred to us are the ones struggling at the end of treatment. But our study shows that within two weeks most women adjust very well to survivorship".

    The research team surveyed 94 women drawn from patients of the radiation oncology practice at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The women, averaging 55 years of age, had stage 0, I, II or III breast cancer and at the start of the study were completing the last of a six- to seven-week course of daily radiation treatments.

    The women were surveyed five times: on their last day of radiation treatment, two weeks later, several days before their first follow-up appointment (four to six weeks post-treatment) and at three and six months. The survey measured patients' depressive symptoms and quality of life (the quality of life measurement quantifies a set of attributes that include physical, social/family, emotional and functional well-being, and breast-cancer-specific concerns).

    For the group of breast-cancer survivors, the average score for indications of depression was heightened at the end of treatment compared to a group of healthy men and women. A higher score on the depression index indicates more severe depressive symptoms.........

    Emily      Permalink


    January 4, 2006

    Brain Cell Activity Increases Amyloid Beta

    Brain Cell Activity Increases Amyloid Beta
    Increased communication between brain cells increases levels of amyloid beta, the key ingredient in Alzheimer's brain plaques, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found.

    The findings showed that turning up brain cell firing rates drove up levels of amyloid beta in the spaces between brain cells. Corresponding drops in amyloid beta levels occurred when brain cells' ability to send messages was dampened or blocked completely.

    The results, produced in mouse models of Alzheimer's, will appear in the journal Neuron on Dec. 22. They complement a Washington University study published earlier this year that used functional brain imaging to show that the brain areas that develop Alzheimer's plaques are also the regions that are the most active in healthy young people who are daydreaming or not carrying out a specific cognitive task (http://news-info.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/5621.html).

    The two papers have scientists considering the possibility of someday slowing or preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease by using pharmaceuticals to selectively reduce some communication between brain cells. However, scientists still have to determine if increased levels of amyloid beta can be partially linked to particular classes of the nerve cell messengers and receptors that cells use to communicate with each other.

    "Ideally, we will be hoping to find a drug or mechanism that could very specifically target the processes that lead to increased amyloid beta levels," says lead author John Cirrito, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in neurology and psychology. "If we can identify these and find ways to modulate them, we'd have new ways of intervening in Alzheimer's disease."

    Senior author David Holtzman, M.D., the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and head of the Department of Neurology, says that the results do not contradict earlier studies that suggested crossword puzzles, exercise and other mental stimulation can reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease.........

    Daniel      Permalink


    January 4, 2006

    Adolescent Trauma Survivors' Emotional Distress

    Adolescent Trauma Survivors' Emotional Distress
    Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

    "Primary Care Utilization and Detection of Emotional Distress After Adolescent Traumatic Injury: Identifying an Unmet Need" is published in the January 2006 issue of Pediatrics. The research involved injured adolescents, aged 12 to 18, who were hospitalized at a level I regional trauma center. They were screened for post-traumatic stress symptoms, depressive symptoms and alcohol use on the surgical ward, and again 4 to 6 months after hospitalization.

    The scientists also conducted interviews with the adolescents' primary care providers 4 to 6 months after the injury. Of the 99 adolescents who agreed to participate in the study, 39.4 percent reported that they had no usual source of primary medical care. The follow-up interviews indicated that 30 percent demonstrated a high level of post-traumatic stress symptoms, 11 percent reported depressive symptoms, and 16.6 percent reported problem alcohol use.

    Of the adolescents who did receive follow-up care from their primary care providers, 45.2 percent had at least one symptom of psychological distress, yet these symptoms were not detected during the follow-up appointments. Prior studies have shown that screening for emotional distress is not a routine part of adolescent primary care.........

    JoAnn      Permalink


    January 4, 2006

    Advances in brain cancer treatment

    Advances in brain cancer treatment
    With an equal rate of incidence and mortality-the number of those who get the disease and those who die from it-Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is a brain cancer death sentence.

    Of the approximately 12,000 people who are diagnosed with GBM annually in the U.S., half will die within a year, and the rest within 3 years. Currently, the only therapys that stretch survival limits are exceptionally invasive surgeries to remove the tumor and radiation therapy with the maximum tolerated dose - all of which leads to a painfully low quality of life. Because of this, scientists are racing to find better therapies to stop or slow GBM.

    In the Jan. 1, 2006 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, Gelsomina "Pupa" De Stasio, professor of physics at UW-Madison, and his colleagues report on research into using a new radiotherapy technique for fighting GBM with the element gadolinium. The approach might lead to less invasive therapys that offer greater promise of alleviating the disease.

    "It's the most lethal cancer there is. The only good thing about it is that, if left untreated, death is relatively quick and pain-free, since this tumor does not form painful metastases in other parts of the body," says De Stasio.

    The treatment, called Gadolinium Synchrotron Stereotactic Radiotherapy (GdSSR), requires a gadolinium compound to find tumor cells and penetrate them, down into their nuclei, while sparing the normal brain. Then, the patient's head is irradiated with x-rays. For these x-ray photons the whole brain is transparent, while gadolinium is opaque. Then, where gadolinium is localized-in the nuclei of the cancer cells only-what's known as "the photoelectric effect" takes place.

    "Exactly 100 years after Einstein first explained this effect, we have found a way to make it useful in medicine," De Stasio says. "In this effect, atoms absorb photons and emit electrons. The emitted electrons are very destructive for DNA, but have a very short range of action. Therefore, to induce DNA damage that the cancer cells cannot repair, and consequently cell death, gadolinium atoms must be localized in the nuclei of cancer cells".........

    Daniel      Permalink


    January 4, 2006

    Two New Stem Cell Lines In Animal Cell-free Culture

    Two New Stem Cell Lines In Animal Cell-free Culture Lab manager Jessica Antosiewicz removes a tray of stem cell cultures from an incubator
    Researchers working at the WiCell Research Institute, a private laboratory affiliated with UW-Madison, have developed a precisely defined stem cell culture system free of animal cells and used it to derived two new human embryonic stem cell lines.

    The new work, which is reported today (Jan. 1, 2006) in the journal Nature Biotechnology, helps move stem cells a small step closer to clinical reality by completely ridding the culture medium in which they are grown of animal products that could harbor viruses or other deleterious agents.

    Successfully growing living cells outside the body generally requires providing the cells in a lab dish with the right mix of nutrients, hormones, growth factors and blood serum. But those methods have often depended on animal cells - such as those obtained from mouse embryos in the case of embryonic stem cells - and other animal products to keep the cells alive and thriving in culture. Some researchers worry that animal viruses and other problematic agents might be taken up in the human cells and infect human patients, should those cells be used for treatment.

    "All of the concerns about contaminating proteins in existing stem cell lines can essentially be removed using this medium," says the Nature Biotechnology paper's lead author, Tenneille Ludwig, a UW-Madison research scientist working at WiCell who led the effort to develop the new culture media. "This work helps us clear some of the major hurdles for using these cells therapeutically".

    "We've been optimizing (culture) media on the existing stem cell lines since 1998, but it has only been recently that there have been dramatic improvements," says James Thomson, the senior author of the new study and a UW-Madison professor of anatomy who seven years ago was the first to successfully grow human embryonic stem cells in the lab. "This is the first time it has been possible for us to derive new cell lines in completely defined conditions in medium that completely lacks animal products".........

    Scott      Permalink


    January 3, 2006

    Night eating syndrome among psychiatric patients

    Night eating syndrome among psychiatric patients
    As per a studythat appears in the January 1 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Minnesota found that night eating syndrome is a common disorder among psychiatric outpatients and is associated with substance use and obesity.

    Typically typically typically night eating syndrome is a condition that is characterized by two main features: excessive eating in the evening (hyperphagia) and nocturnal awakening with ingestion of food. Its prevalence has been estimated to be 1.5% in the general population and 8.9% in an obesity clinic.

    "This is the first study that looks at the connection between psychiatric conditions and night eating syndrome," said Jennifer D. Lundgren, PhD, lead author of the paper and postdoctoral research associate in Penn's Department of Psychiatry, Division of Weight and Eating Disorders. "Night eating syndrome is often associated with life stress and depression, so we were especially interested in looking at the prevalence of the condition in this population," said Lundgren.

    The research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.

    Study Protocol.

    The study consisted of 399 participants from psychiatric outpatient clinics. Participants were screened using a questionnaire to assess hunger and craving patterns, percentage of calories consumed following the evening meal, insomnia and awakenings, nocturnal food cravings and ingestions, and mood. Those who scored above cutoff on the questionnaire were then interviewed by phone and diagnosed with night eating syndrome if one or both of the following criteria were met: 1) evening hyperphagia and/or 2) nocturnal awakenings with ingestions of food occurring three or more times per week.........

    JoAnn      Permalink


    January 3, 2006

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments Mobilize Stem Cells

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments Mobilize Stem Cells
    As per a studywould be published in The American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulation Physiology, a typical course of hyperbaric oxygen therapys increases by eight-fold the number of stem cells circulating in a patient's body. Stem cells, also called progenitor cells are crucial to injury repair. The study currently appears on-line and is scheduled for publication in the April 2006 edition of the American Journal.

    Stem cells exist in the bone marrow of human beings and animals and are capable of changing their nature to become part of a number of different organs and tissues. In response to injury, these cells move from the bone marrow to the injured sites, where they differentiate into cells that assist in the healing process. The movement, or mobilization, of stem cells can be triggered by a variety of stimuli - including pharmaceutical agents and hyperbaric oxygen therapys. Where as drugs are associated with a host of side effects, hyperbaric oxygen therapys carry a significantly lower risk of such effects.

    "This is the safest way clinically to increase stem cell circulation, far safer than any of the pharmaceutical options," said Stephen Thom, MD, PhD, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "This study provides information on the fundamental mechanisms for hyperbaric oxygen and offers a new theoretical therapeutic option for mobilizing stem cells".

    "We reproduced the observations from humans in animals in order to identify the mechanism for the hyperbaric oxygen effect," added Thom. "We found that hyperbaric oxygen mobilizes stem/progenitor cells because it increases synthesis of a molecule called nitric oxide in the bone marrow. This synthesis is thought to trigger enzymes that mediate stem/progenitor cell release".........

    Daniel      Permalink


    January 3, 2006

    Black Baby Girls Better At Surviving Premature Birth

    Black Baby Girls Better At Surviving Premature Birth
    Black baby girls born weighing 2.2 pounds or less are more than twice as likely to survive as white baby boys born at the same weight, when a number of preemies are still too tiny to make it on their own, University of Florida scientists have found.

    Analyzing data from more than 5,000 premature births, UF scientists pinpointed a link between gender and race and the survival rates of babies born at extremely low weights, according to findings released recently (Jan. 3) in the journal Pediatrics. It's the first scientific evidence of a phenomenon doctors have observed for years, said Dr. Steven B. Morse, a UF assistant professor of pediatrics and the article's lead author.

    Baby girls of both races had the strongest advantage when born weighing less than 1,000 grams, about 2 pounds or as much as a quart of milk, Morse said. Girls had nearly twice the odds of surviving as baby boys did, and black infants also had a slight survival advantage over whites, the research shows. Overall, black baby girls were twice as likely to survive compared with white baby boys, 1.8 times more likely to survive than black boys and 1.3 times more likely to live than white baby girls.

    "When you're talking about survival, that's very significant," Morse said. "We have known in general that females tend to have better survival rates than males and blacks better than whites. But quantifying that and finding if there was a statistical significance had yet to be done".

    Morse and other scientists from the UF Maternal Child Health Education and Research and Data Center also analyzed the infants' developmental ages and weights at birth, combining these data with race and gender to specify the odds of survival for babies born in each demographic.

    Nationwide, nearly a half million babies are born prematurely each year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Only about 1 percent of all babies born weigh less than 2 pounds, and one of the first questions parents of these infants ask is if their child will live, said Morse, who as a neonatologist works with families every day. Having accurate data can help families and doctors make better decisions at a time when choices can be hard to make, he said.........

    JoAnn      Permalink


    January 3, 2006

    New Class Of Anti-cancer Drugs Based On Platinum

    New Class Of Anti-cancer Drugs Based On Platinum Platinum like this used in the coin has been used for the production of various chemotherapy drugs.
    Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center have created a new platinum-based, anti-cancer agent able to overcome acquired drug resistance by first modifying the way it is absorbed into cancer cells and then attacking the DNA of those cancer cells.

    The findings may help scientists design a new generation of anti-cancer drugs that selectively target cancer cells, reduce resistance and side effects and expand the range of tumors that can be treated by platinum.

    In the Dec. 26 issue of the journal Inorganic Chemistry scientists reported on the design of a new trinuclear platinum compound and demonstrated that its cellular absorption is significantly greater than that of neutral cisplatin, as well as other multi-nuclear platinum compounds. The enhanced uptake into cancer cells takes advantage of weak molecular interactions on the cells' surface. These results underscore the importance of the new compound's "non-covalent" interactions, previous to the attack on DNA. Non-covalent interactions minimize potential side reactions and produce changes in the structure of proteins and DNA, which is different from currently used drugs. This research was selected as the cover article for the print version of the journal, Issue 26.

    Scientists compared the cytotoxicity and cellular concentrations of three anti-cancer drugs including the phase II clinical drug, BBR 3464, cisplatin and the new trinuclear platinum compound. In a laboratory model, human ovary cancer cells were exposed to each drug.

    "In platinum antitumor chemistry our objective is to design and develop complexes acting by new mechanisms of action," said Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry at VCU, and lead author of the study. "Resistance to current drugs is due to poor cellular absorption and an increased ability of the cell to process or repair the damage caused by the chemotherapeutic agent".........

    Daniel      Permalink



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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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