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September 25, 2006, 9:46 PM CT

Laser probe may offer insight into Parkinson's disease

Laser probe may offer insight into Parkinson's disease
In a finding that may offer clues about Parkinson's disease, a team led by Duke University researchers used a sophisticated laser system to gain evidence that a dark brown pigment that accumulates in people's brains consists of layers of two other pigments commonly found in hair.

Other scientists previously had determined via chemical analysis that the dark pigment, called neuromelanin, is composed of the two pigments: eumelanin, found in black-haired people, and pheomelanin, found in redheads. But how those pigments are arranged structurally remained unknown -- and this structuring may prove to be of critical importance, according to the researchers.

In addition, in 2005 a Duke team that included some of the same scientists involved in the current study reported using the laser system to establish that pheomelanin is chemically disposed to activate oxygen while eumelanin is not. Oxygen activation is suspected to play a role in the neurogenic cascade of events behind Parkinson's disease.

In the new report, scientists from Duke, North Carolina State University and the Institute of Biomedical Technologies in Segrate, Italy, outlined evidence that neuromelanins isolated from human brains have cores of oxygen-activating pheomelanin covered by a protective surface of eumelanin.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 25, 2006, 9:32 PM CT

Fampridine-sr Study For Multiple Sclerosis

Fampridine-sr Study For Multiple Sclerosis
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. today announced positive results from its Phase 3 clinical trial of Fampridine-SR on walking in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Statistical significance was achieved on all three efficacy criteria defined in the Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A significantly greater proportion of people taking Fampridine-SR had a consistent improvement in walking speed, the study's primary outcome, in comparison to people taking placebo (34.8 percent vs. 8.3 percent) as measured by the Timed 25-Foot Walk (p<0.001). In addition, the effect was maintained in this study throughout the 14-week therapy period (p<0.001) and there was a statistically significant improvement in the 12-Item MS Walking Scale (MSWS-12) for walking responders vs. non-responders (p<0.001).

The average increase in walking speed over the therapy period in comparison to baseline was 25.2 percent for the drug group vs. 4.7 percent for the placebo group. Increased response rate on the Timed 25-Foot Walk was seen across all four major types of MS. In addition, statistically significant increases in leg strength were seen in both the Fampridine-SR Timed Walk responders (p<0.001) and the Fampridine-SR Timed Walk non-responders (p=0.046) in comparison to placebo. The Company intends to present comprehensive data at an upcoming medical meeting.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 25, 2006, 7:18 PM CT

Latex-Free Balloons

Latex-Free Balloons
Via Allergy blog

Yesterday, my son celebrated his birthday in the kindergarten. We brought a cake, which I made sure was nut-free, becasue aside from my son, there was one other child with nut allergies. We also brought some ballons, which was a hit among the kiddies, but in hindsight, could have caused a problem.

What if there was a child with latex allergies? or among the teachers? I didn't even bother to ask, bad me! Good thing that it turned out nobody had allergies to latex.

If you're hosting a party, or will be using balloons for other purposes where guests or other people are involved, you might want to consider using Mylar, vinyl, or plastic balloons. MisterBalloons also carry a wide range of latex-free balloons you can choose from. Check them out!........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


September 25, 2006, 6:01 PM CT

Breakthrough In Heart Research

Breakthrough In Heart Research Live and dead heart cells. (Credit: Elinor Griffiths)
For the first time ever, scientists at the University of Bristol have been able to directly measure energy levels inside living heart cells, in real time, using the chemical that causes fireflies to light up. This is hailed as a major breakthrough in research and could lead to improved recovery of the heart when it is re-started after a heart attack or cardiac surgery.

Dr Elinor Griffiths said: "Being able to see exactly what's going on in heart cells will be of great benefit to understanding heart disease.".

The research is published today (22nd September, 2006) in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The 'power stations' within heart cells that make energy are called mitochondria. They convert energy from food into chemical energy called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

Under normal conditions, mitochondria are able to make ATP extremely rapidly when the heart is stressed, such as during exercise or in 'fight-or-flight' mode.

However, if the cells are made to beat suddenly from rest, a situation that happens when the heart is re-started after cardiac surgery or a heart attack, the team found there is a lag phase where the supply of ATP drops before mitochondrial production starts again, potentially preventing the heart from beating properly.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 25, 2006, 5:47 PM CT

A Spy In The Intestinal Canal

A Spy In The Intestinal Canal
The colonsope, whic is a medical device currently used for intestinal research, causes patients great discomfort. At TU Delft, an alternative method has been developed, inspired by the way in which snails move. Researcher Dimitra Dodou received her PhD degree from TU Delft based on this research subject.

The intestines are an extremely difficult area to navigate through with a medical device. Yet, a number of people need to have intestinal examinations done to determine if, for example, they have intestinal cancer. The medical device currently used for this is the colonscope, a long, thin and flexible tube that causes patients great discomfort and pain. For this reason, scientists have been trying to develop alternative medical devices, such as, for example, a small robot that moves independently through the intestinal tract. There is a layer of slime, called mucus, on the inside of the large intestine (colon). The robots, as they move forward under their own power, ignore this layer of mucus and try, if possible, to suck or grab on to the intestinal wall, which results in the walls being stretched and the patient feeling pain and discomfort.

A better method, as per TU Delft researcher Dimitra Dodou, is in fact to use this layer of mucus and allow the robot to imitate the forward movement of a snail. A snail leaves a trail of slime behind it on the ground. This slimy material works simultaneously as a lubricant for gliding on and as a glue which the slug can grip hold of.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


September 25, 2006, 4:43 PM CT

Combination of Xeloda And Taxol Metastatic Breast Cancer

Combination of Xeloda And Taxol Metastatic Breast Cancer
Combination of Xeloda and Taxol is an effective therapy for women with metastatic breast cancer. New research from US Oncology Network and the University of North Carolina has recently reported that the combination of Xeloda (capecitabine) and Taxol is an effective and tolerable regimen for initial therapy of women with metastatic breast cancer. Women who were HER-2 negative were not included in the study. This is a phase II study and it is reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In this study the scientists reviewed 55 patients who were newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer. These patients received oral Xeloda and weekly Taxol. Patients who had HER-2 positive tumors were not included in the study.

No patient had a complete response, however percent; of patients achieved a partial response. When stable disease is also taken into account 65 percent of patients derived benefit for the therapy. On average the response lasted for 10 months and median survival was 17 months.

From these findings the scientists have concluded that Xeloda plus Taxol is an effective, well-tolerated, and fairly convenient therapy combination as initial treatment for women with metastatic breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


September 25, 2006, 4:33 PM CT

Breast Density Contributes to Breast Cancer Risk

Breast Density Contributes to Breast Cancer Risk
Recently there has been some discussion regarding inclusion of breast density in breast cancer prediction models. In a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this issue is highlighted. The discussion revolves around the question: should breast density be added to the Gail model in predicting breast cancer occurrence?

The Gail model is a breast cancer prediction tool that is widely used. Gail model estimates a woman's risk of developing breast cancer taking into account several factors like age, family history of breast cancer, reproductive history and history of previous biopsies. This model is widely used to identify the group of women who have high risk of developing breast cancer. This model was originally introduced for evaluation of Caucasian women and is yet to be validated in other ethnic groups.

Researchers have recently identified other risk factors like breast density and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. In continuing effort to improve the accuracy of the Gail model experts are suggesting that these new risk factors should be included in calculation of the risk.

The term breast density refers to the extent of glandular and connective tissue in the breast. Breasts with more glandular and connective tissue are denser by definition. A mammogram gives an estimate of breast density. Increased breast density is linked to increased risk of breast cancer. Breast density is estimated on a scale of one to four, with one being "almost entirely fat" and four being "extremely dense." ........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


September 25, 2006, 5:11 AM CT

What's The Best Strategy For Follow Up Of An Abnormality?

What's The Best Strategy For Follow Up Of An Abnormality?
You might be getting your regular mammogram follow ups, and some of you might get an abnormal result on the mammogram. You might be worried, quite understandable, but mammogram abnormality does not mean breast cancer. More important, now what should you do if the mammogram detects an abnormality?

Experts in the field indicate that if an abnormality is detected in the mammogram performing a breast biopsy is the best strategy, for follow up of the abnormality even though there are several other options available.

Breast biopsy is considered to be the standard approach to mammogram abnormality, and recently a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) compared the effectiveness of biopsy, with four other available options. These options includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound imaging, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning; and scintimammography.

The report convincingly concludes that biopsy is the gold standard; when it comes to the long-term follow up an abnormality that is detected in the mammogram.

Of course biopsy is more invasive, but is a more accurate test and requires sampling of the breast tissue. The removed tissue is analyzed under the microscope using special stain to determine the presence of malignancy.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


September 24, 2006, 10:27 PM CT

Hearing Loss From Chemotherapy

Hearing Loss From Chemotherapy
Children with cancer who suffer hearing loss due to the toxic effects of chemotherapy might one day be able to get their hearing back through pharmacological and gene treatment, thanks to work done with mouse models at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Mice with a variety of genetic mutations that disrupt different parts of the ear will also help researchers understand age-related hearing loss in adults, as well as hearing loss caused by long-term exposure to loud noise, as per the researchers.

The researchers took the first step toward these ambitious goals by identifying 17 families of mice whose offspring carry one or more of a variety of mutations that cause them to lose the ability to hear high-frequency sounds, as per Jian Zuo, Ph.D., associate member of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology. Zuo is senior author of a report on this work that appears in the recent issue of Hearing Research.

These models will help researchers understand what happens in the ears of children who suffer ototoxicity (toxic damage to the inner ear due to chemotherapy) and eventually, which genes are responsible for that damage. "Our ongoing study of these mouse models will advance understanding of age-related and noise-induced hearing loss in humans--such as long-term exposure to loud music--which are similar to the damage that occurs in children receiving chemotherapy," Zuo said.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


September 24, 2006, 10:13 PM CT

Alcoholics Anonymous Reduces Homicides

Alcoholics Anonymous Reduces Homicides
Studies consistently show a strong link between alcohol use and violence, such as homicide. New research that looks at the relationship among drinking, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) membership, and homicide mortality has observed that AA can have a beneficial effect on alcohol-related homicide mortality rates, especially among males who consume beer and spirits.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"It is important to try to understand the factors that could reduce alcohol's adverse effects," said Robert E. Mann, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Toronto. "We know that economic and legal measures such as taxation policies, increased drinking ages, and lowered legal limits for driving can exert powerful effects on alcohol problem rates. We also know that individual participation in AA and alcohol therapy can have very beneficial effects. We wanted to see if these beneficial effects are observable at population levels, that is, if numerous people are positively influenced." Mann is also the study's corresponding author.

As per the World Health Organization, said Mark Asbridge, assistant professor and chair of graduate studies in the department of community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University, "alcohol is a leading [contributor to the] global burden of disease, and homicide is just one of many negative consequences of its consumption. Given this link, any policies or intervention that reduce or remove alcohol consumption are bound to offer some beneficial reduction in aggregate violent incidents in this case, mortality."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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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