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April 17, 2008, 7:43 PM CT

MU researchers find clue to cataract formation

MU researchers find clue to cataract formation
It is the No. 1 line-item cost of Medicare reimbursement and affects more than 20 million people in the United States. Cataracts, which can have devastating effects on the eye, affect 42 percent of the population between the ages of 70 and 80, and 68 percent of the population over the age of 80, as per the National Eye Institute. Now, a University of Missouri professor has identified an important step in how cataracts form. This discovery, published in a recent edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, could lead to a better therapy or cure for cataracts in the future.

In his study, K. Krishna Sharma, professor of ophthalmology at MU, observed that a specific type of protein begins to lose function as the eye ages. As the protein loses function, small peptides, made of 10 to 15 amino acids, start forming and accelerate cataract formation in the eye.

It is very helpful to track the formation of these peptides, Sharma said. The next step is to work on preventing their formation. If we are successful, we could delay the aging process in the eye. A ten-year delay in the onset of cataracts could decrease the number of cataract surgeries by 45 percent, thus significantly decreasing vision care cost. Currently, 1.5 million to 2 million cataract surgeries are completed yearly.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 7:41 PM CT

Inherited colon cancer mutation is widespread

Inherited colon cancer mutation is widespread
A gene mutation responsible for the most common form of inherited colon cancer is older and more common than formerly believed, as per a recent study.

The findings provide a better understanding of the spread and prevalence of the American Founder Mutation, a common cause in North America of Lynch syndrome, a hereditary cancer syndrome that greatly increases a persons risk for developing cancers of the colon, uterus and ovaries.

The same researchers discovered the mutation in 2003. That research identified nine families with the mutation and concluded that a German immigrant couple brought the mutation to North America in 1727.

The latest study includes an additional 32 families and indicates that the mutation is actually about 500 years old, suggesting that it arose several generations earlier in Europeans or perhaps in Native Americans.

Of the 41 families overall, most are clustered in Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Creighton University conducted the study, published recently in the journal Cancer Research.

The increased age of the American Founder Mutation means that it is significantly more prevalent in the United States than previously thought, says principal investigator Albert de la Chapelle, a researcher with Ohio States Human Cancer Genetics program.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 7:28 PM CT

Slight Of Hand Is Not So Slight

Slight Of Hand Is Not So Slight
Typing on a keyboard or scribbling on paper may be similar activities, but there is a significant difference in how the body moves, as per new motor development research.

"In language we start with letters that lead to syllables that lead to words, and we use grammar to put everything together," said Howard N. Zelaznik, a Purdue University professor of health and kinesiology. "One of the fundamental questions in motor control is whether there is an alphabet that guides movement.

"We wanted to know if discrete skills, which have a definite beginning and end, such as typing, are controlled identically to continuous skills, such as scribbling, which do not have such a clear beginning and end. Or, are continuous movements composed of a series of discrete movements that are knotted together? On both accounts, the answer is no".

Zelaznik was part of research team led by Viktor Jirsa, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and a professor of movement sciences at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseilles, France, and Raoul Huys, a research associate at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique as well as at the University of the Mediterranean. Purdue graduate students Breanna Studenka and Nicole Rheaume also were part of the team. Their research findings were published Thursday (April 17) in the Public Library of Science's Computational Biology online journal.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 3:56 AM CT

Capecitabine combo produces side effects

Capecitabine combo produces side effects
Adding capecitabine, a drug that inhibits DNA synthesis and slows the growth of tumour tissue, to docetaxel, in patients with early breast cancer, leads to more toxicities and does not improve the efficacy of therapy, a German scientist told the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) today (Thursday 17 April). Previously, such a combination had improved patient survival in metastatic disease, where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Professor Gunter von Minckwitz, Chairman of the German Breast Group, Neu-Isenberg, Gera number of, and his team set out to look at the use of the combination in early breast cancer. We recruited 1510 patients with previously untreated primary tumours, he said. Each received the normal preoperative therapy of four cycles of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide. We then randomised them to either four cycles of docetaxel alone, four cycles of simultaneous docetaxel and capecitabine, or four cycles of docetaxel followed by four cycles of capecitabine. If capecitabine were to improve outcomes, we wanted to see how best to use it simultaneously or in sequence.

The researchers planned to study the pathologic response at surgery the way, if any, in which the tumour had reacted to the administration of the chemotherapy drug.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 3:53 AM CT

Lapatinib shrinks breast cancer tumors in just 6 weeks

Lapatinib shrinks breast cancer tumors in just 6 weeks
A drug that targets the cell surface receptors that play an important role in a number of types of cancer can bring about significant tumour regression in breast cancer after only six weeks of use, a scientist told the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) today (Thursday 17 April). Dr. Angel Rodriguez, from the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA, said that the work shown for the first time that the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib could decrease tumour-causing breast cancer stem cells in the primary breast cancers of women receiving neoadjuvant therapy (treatment given before the primary surgery for the disease).

Dr. Rodriguez and his colleagues studied 45 patients with locally advanced breast cancer in which the gene HER-2 was over-expressed. The patients received lapatinib for six weeks, followed by a combination of weekly trastuzumab and three-weekly docetaxel, given over 12 weeks, before primary surgery. Biopsies were performed at the time of diagnosis and also after six weeks of lapatinib and cells from the tumours were obtained and analyzed.

We saw significant tumour regression after six weeks of single agent lapatinib, said Dr. Rodriguez. Bi-dimensional tumour measurements showed a median decrease of minus 60.8%. We had previously showed that tumour-causing breast cancer stem cells were resistant to conventional preoperative chemotherapy; indeed, residual cancers that were exposed to such chemotherapy showed an increase in tumour-causing cells and enhanced tumour initiation by the formation of mammospheres, small tumours that form when tumour-causing cells are cultured in a test tube, which reflect the capacity of the cells to self-renew. So we were excited to see that the results with lapatinib were different.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 3:31 AM CT

Standard chemo works better against BRCA2 related breast cancer

Standard chemo works better against BRCA2 related breast cancer
The first study to investigate the effects of chemotherapy on metastatic breast cancer in women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation has shown that standard chemotherapy works better in these patients than in women without the BRCA1/2 mutation.

The authors of a study presented today (Thursday) at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) in Berlin observed that women with BRCA2-associated breast cancer had a significantly higher response rate, a longer time without the disease progressing, and a longer overall survival when treated with anthracycline-based regimens than did women with sporadic breast cancers that were not linked to BRCA1/2.

Women with BRCA1-associated breast cancer also did better than women with sporadic breast cancer, but the rates were not statistically significant.

Scientists at the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Centre/Erasmus Medical Centre (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) conducted the study. They matched 112 women with BRCA1-associated metastatic cancer and 29 women with BRCA2-associated metastatic cancer with 141 women with sporadic breast cancers. The women had been treated with anthracycline-based or taxane-based regimens, CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil 5FU) or other chemotherapy regimens.

BRCA2 women had a higher response rate to chemotherapy (89% versus 50%), a longer progression-free survival (nearly a third better) and a longer overall survival (47% better) than did women with sporadic cancers. When the scientists looked more closely at the type of chemotherapy the women had received, they observed that the improved progression-free survival mainly occurred in patients on anthracyclines and disappeared for those treated with CMF.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:45 PM CT

Screening mammography in elderly patients

Screening mammography in elderly patients
Eventhough guidelines keep changing regarding screening mammography in elderly patients, those older than 70 years old continue to benefit from this exam, showing that with frequent mammograms breast cancers can be found sooner, as per a recent study conducted by scientists at Jacobi Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in Bronx, NY.

Our initial interest was sparked by the changing mammographic guidelines in the elderly age group and the differences in the guidelines between organizations including the American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology, said Jason Salsamendi, MD, lead author of the study. We also noticed that we were performing a significant number of screening mammograms in elderly patients at our institution and became curious about the occurence rate of occult breast cancer in this age group, he said.

The study consisted of the review of 24 cases of breast cancer in 22 elderly patients age 70-89.

The scientists reviewed the mammograms for masses and calcifications and correlated the results to surgically proven histology, lymph node involvement and initial surgical management.

As per the study, 19 of the 24 cases of breast malignancy were initially identified on screening mammography. The study showed that mammographic findings in these 19 cases included 12 masses, 4 suspicious calcifications and 3 masses with calcifications. Of these, surgical management was available in 18 cases with 15 being treated by lumpectomy and 3 being treated with mastectomy. The study also showed that the average time interval from most recent previous mammogram to diagnosis was 2.6 years.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:32 PM CT

Macadamia nuts can be included in heart healthy diet

Macadamia nuts can be included in heart healthy diet
Image courtesy of bfeedme.com
Macadamia nuts included in a heart healthy diet reduced low-density cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and should be included among nuts with qualified health claims, as per researchers.

"We looked at macadamia nuts because they are not currently included in the health claim for tree nuts, while other tree nuts are currently recommended as part of a heart healthy diet," says Dr. Amy E. Griel, a recent Penn State Ph.D. recipient in nutrition and now senior nutrition scientist at The Hershey Company. "Macadamia nuts have higher levels of monosaturated fats, like those found in olive oil compared with other tree nuts".

Along with Brazil nuts and cashews, macadamia nuts are not included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of nuts with qualified health claims because the cut-off point is 4 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts. Macadamia nuts have 6 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams, cashew nuts have 4.6 grams and Brazil nuts have 7.6 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts.

"Epidemiological studies showed that people who are frequent nut consumers have decreased risk of heart disease," says Penny Kris-Etherton, co-author and distinguished professor of nutritional sciences.

The scientists used a controlled feeding study to compare a heart-healthy diet with 1.5 ounces a small handful of macadamia nuts to a standard American diet. The participants had slightly elevated cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure and were not taking lipid-lowering drugs. Scientists randomly assigned participants to either the macadamia nut diet or the standard American diet and provided all meals for the participants for five weeks. The participants then switched diets and continued eating only food provided by the scientists for another five weeks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:27 PM CT

Keep Boys and Girls Together

Keep Boys and Girls Together
Prof. Analia Schlosser
Boys and girls may learn differently, but American parents should think twice before moving their children to sex-segregated schools. A new Tel Aviv University study has observed that girls improve boys' grades markedly at school.

"Being with more girls is good for everybody," says Prof. Analia Schlosser, an economist from the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University. "We find that both boys and girls do better when there are more girls in the class." She investigated girls and boys in mixed classrooms in the elementary, middle, and high-school grades of the Israeli school system.

In an unpublished paper, Prof. Schlosser concluded that classes with more than 55 percent of girls resulted in better exam results and less violent outbursts overall. "It appears that this effect is due to the positive influence the girls are adding to the classroom environment," says Prof. Schlosser. She carried out the study while on a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University, and will study the effects of gender in higher education lecture halls next.

This is one of few studies of its kind to use scientific data to address the question of gender effects in school.

The Report Card

Boys with more female peers in their classes show higher enrollment rates in both advanced math and science classes, but overall benefits were found in all grades for both sexes.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:12 PM CT

Radiation beneficial for older breast cancer patients

Radiation beneficial for older breast cancer patients
A patients with breast cancer age alone should not determine whether or not she receives standard breast-conservation therapys, including a lumpectomy and radiation treatment; however, if additional health problems (comorbidities) are present, therapys should be individualized based on age and the type of comorbidities, as per a research studyin the April 1 edition of the International Journal for Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

The occurrence of breast cancer in women increases as women age. As per the National Cancer Institutes SEER Cancer Statistics Review, women between the ages of 75 and 79 have the highest occurence rate of breast cancer diagnoses at 497 cases per 100,000 people. Along with cancer, most women in this age group are dealing with additional health problems. As per a 1999 womens health and aging study in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, the majority of older patients diagnosed with cancer have at least one other medical condition and more than half of patients with cancer over the age of 65 have three or more associated medical conditions.

This study, conducted by the departments of Radiation Oncology, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine in Philadelphia, sought to determine the impact of these additional medical problems on patients with breast cancer who receive the same standard therapys as patients with no additional medical problems and if old age is a reason to deny some standard therapys.........

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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