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March 30, 2006, 7:19 AM CT

Improving Dengue Vaccinations

An innovative new study explains, for the first time, the failure of prior attempts to vaccinate against the four known Dengue viruses, and it suggests a very simple solution - injecting the four vaccines simultaneously at different locations on the body.

A mosquito-born disease, Dengue kills tens of thousands of people per year and sickens 100 million more. Typically known as "bone-break disease," dengue is characterized by excruciating pain and was "the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans" in 2005 as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The study, from bioengineers and physicists at Rice University, appears in the March 24 issue of the journal Vaccine. The study suggests that the multi-site vaccination strategy, termed polytopic vaccination, may be effective against other diseases as well, including HIV and cancer.

Dengue infection occurs from one of four closely related viruses. Prior exposure to one of the four - either by previous infection or by vaccination - makes people significantly more likely to develop a potentially lethal hemorrhagic infection if they are later infected by one of the other three viruses.

"This is a classic case of something called 'original antigenic sin,' which happens when our immune system becomes overly reliant upon memory when recognizing diseases similar to those that it has seen before," said lead researcher Michael Deem, the John W. Cox Professor in Biochemical and Genetic Engineering and professor of physics and astronomy. "With diseases like HIV, influenza and Dengue, our acquired immune system's tendency to go-with-what-it-knows can leave us more vulnerable to infection from a mutant strain or a related virus. The immune system may respond less favorably in these cases than if it had never been exposed to the disease in the first place."........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


March 29, 2006, 11:23 PM CT

New Childhood-onset Epilepsy Disorder And Its Genetic Cause

New Childhood-onset Epilepsy Disorder And Its Genetic Cause
Scientists from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Clinic for Special Children (CSC) in Strasburg, PA, have described a new childhood-onset disorder characterized by severe epilepsy and autistic traits, and identified its genetic basis.

Epilepsies are a biologically complex group of disorders comprising a number of discrete genetic entities, and the majority of recurrent seizure syndromes remain unexplained. Most, if not all, epileptic disorders can be traced to abnormalities of brain structure or chemistry that alter the electrical activity of nerve cell networks. The children in this study have autistic traits, also believed to be caused by disrupted nerve cell networks.

The finding, which is reported in the March 30th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, describes the newly discovered disorder called cortical dysplasia-focal epilepsy syndrome (CDFE) in a group of closely related Old Order Amish children from Pennsylvania.

All affected children had relatively normal development until the onset of frequent intractable seizures in early childhood. Thereafter, they developed language regression and additional features of autism, possibly implicating this gene as a cause of autism in the general population. Physicians at the CSC isolated DNA from four of the affected children and their six parents and, in collaboration with TGen, identified a mutation in the gene that codes for a protein called CASPR2.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


March 29, 2006, 11:10 PM CT

New Gene Responsible For Spread Of Cancer Discovered

New Gene Responsible For Spread Of Cancer Discovered The new mestastagene - S100P
Researchers at the University of Liverpool have identified a new gene that causes the spread of cancer.

Professor Philip Rudland, Dr Guozheng Wang and Dr Roger Barraclough from the University's Cancer and Polio Research Fund Laboratories have discovered an additional member of the S100 family of protein genes - S100P - that causes the spread of malignant cells from an original tumour to other parts of the body.

If present in the primary tumour, metastagenes such as S100P trigger the rapid spread of malignant secondary tumours to other tissues in the body via the bloodstream - a process known as metastasis. Eventhough primary tumours can be removed surgically, secondary tumours are more difficult to control. This research has been funded by the Cancer and Polio Research Fund.

The new discovery builds on several years' work carried out at the University to investigate the genes that cause malignant tumours to travel to other tissues in the body. To date, three other metastasis-inducing genes have been discovered - S100A4, osteopontin, and more recently, AGR2.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often the only options available to treat secondary tumours but these procedures can be problematic to the patient as they can damage other healthy tissue and do not always succeed in eradicating the cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 29, 2006, 11:01 PM CT

Pain Killer Fights Breast Cancer

Pain Killer Fights Breast Cancer Robert Brueggemeier
A pain-killing medicine appears to halt the production of an enzyme that is key to a common form of breast cancer, a new study using tissue cultures suggests.

The drug is called nimesulide. In laboratory experiments on breast cancer cells, researchers found that derivatives of nimesulide stopped the production of aromatase, the enzyme implicated in estrogen-dependent breast cancer. This form of breast cancer is the most common kind of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Aromatase converts hormones called androgens into estrogens, such as the hormone estradiol. Estrogen is a powerful mitogen - an agent that causes cells to divide, and too much estrogen can cause cells to divide too quickly.

While a number of women with estrogen-dependent breast cancer take aromatase inhibitors to control their disease, the problem is that the current inhibitor drugs halt estrogen production throughout the body, said Robert Brueggemeier, a co-author of study and a professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy and dean of the College of Pharmacy at Ohio State University.

"That means that other tissues, like bone and brain, which rely on normal aromatase production, may suffer," he said. "For one, we believe that aromatase helps to maintain bone tissue throughout the postmenopausal period. Current aromatase inhibitors may disturb normal bone production - there is some suggestion that these drugs may increase the risk of fractures".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 29, 2006, 10:55 PM CT

Tiny water purification packet may save lives

Tiny water purification packet may save lives
Chemists have developed a powerful household water purification system that puts the cleansing power of an industrial water therapy plant into a container the size of a ketchup packet. The scientists have shown that the tiny packet, which acts as a chemical filter, can be added to highly contaminated water to dramatically reduce pathogen-induced diarrhea - the top killer of children in much of the developing world.

The packets also show promise for boosting water safety during emergencies and natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes, where water purity is suddenly compromised, the scientists say. The lifesaving packets, whose use is being expanded globally, was described today at the 231st national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Worldwide, approximately 1.5 million children under age five die each year from simple diarrhea acquired from pathogens found in drinking water, as per public health experts. That translates to about 4,000 children dying each day as a result of contaminated water.

"It's like a 9-11 catastrophe happening everyday worldwide, but this is a tragedy that can be prevented," says Greg Allgood, Ph.D., director of Procter & Gamble's Children's Safe Drinking Water program, which manufactures the packets. The company has been developing the packets since 1995 in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 29, 2006, 9:58 PM CT

Drug To Reduce Gastric Ulcers In NSAID Users

Drug To Reduce Gastric Ulcers In NSAID Users
Results from two clinical trials, would be reported in the April 2006 edition of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, indicate that esomeprazole magnesium can reduce the incidence of gastric (stomach) ulcers in patients at risk of developing gastric ulcers and who regularly take either non-selective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or COX-2-selective NSAIDs.

NSAIDs are a class of pain relief medications that include traditional, non-selective drugs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin, and newer COX-2-selective agents. Nonselective NSAIDs are known for increasing the risk of gastric ulcers, especially among older patients who take them regularly or who have a history of gastric ulcers.

Pooled data from the double-blind, randomized, six-month trials showed that significantly fewer patients taking either NEXIUM 20 mg or NEXIUM 40 mg, in addition to their regular non-selective NSAID/selective-COX-2 treatment, developed an ulcer at six months, compared to those taking a placebo (5.2 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, vs. 17 percent, p<0.001). These differences were seen as early as the first month of therapy and maintained throughout the study duration.

"Paradoxically, NSAID use is common among patients at high risk for gastric ulcers or other complications associated with these medications. Eventhough COX-2-selective drugs generally cause fewer gastric ulcers than non-selective NSAIDs, these events aren't completely eliminated, and the residual side-effect rate still may be high," said James M. Scheiman, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan. "Data from the two trials showed that NEXIUM was effective in reducing stomach ulcers in at-risk patients who require chronic NSAID therapy."........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


March 28, 2006, 11:33 PM CT

Lost Sleep In Teens

Lost Sleep In Teens
A new poll of teenagers across the US finds that a number of of them are losing out on quality of life because of a lack of sleep. The results, announced recently by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), cite sleeping in class, lack of energy to exercise, feelings of depression, and driving while drowsy as only some of the consequences for insufficient sleep.

The poll data support prior work by three Rhode Island scientists who are at the forefront of sleep research. Prior studies from Brown Medical School, and Lifespan affiliates Bradley Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital, have found that adolescents are not getting enough sleep, and suggest that this can lead to many physical and emotional impairments.

Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, with Bradley Hospital and Brown Medical School, chaired the National Sleep Foundation poll taskforce and has been a leading authority on teen sleep for more than a decade. Her research on adolescent circadian rhythms indicates that the internal clocks of adolescents undergo maturational changes making them different from those of children or adults. Nevertheless, teens must adhere to increasingly earlier school start times that make it nearly impossible for them to get enough sleep.

"Our results show that the adage 'early to bed, early to rise' presents a real challenge for adolescents," says Carskadon, who directs the Bradley Hospital Sleep and Chronobiology Sleep Laboratory and is a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


March 28, 2006, 11:20 PM CT

Addictive Effects Of Frequent Tanning

Addictive Effects Of Frequent Tanning Image courtesy of midcaperacquet.com
Frequent users of tanning beds may be getting more out of the experience than darker skin, as per scientists from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. New evidence suggests that ultraviolet light has "feel-good" effects that may be similar to those of some addictive drugs.

"We had previously shown that ultraviolet light has an effect on mood that tanners value," said Mandeep Kaur, M.D., lead author. "Now, in this small study, we've shown that some tanners actually experience withdrawal symptoms when the 'feel-good' chemicals are blocked."

The research - published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology - involved eight frequent tanners and eight infrequent tanners. Frequent tanners were those who tan eight to 15 times a month, or more than necessary to maintain a tan. Infrequent tanners were those who use tanning beds no more than 12 times a year.

The research was designed to test the hypothesis that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light may produce endorphins, brain chemicals that are linked to pain relief and euphoric feelings, and could play a role in tanning behavior. UV light occurs naturally in sunlight and is responsible for the tanning and burning effects of the sun. Artificial UV light is used in tanning beds and sunlamps.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 28, 2006, 10:48 PM CT

Genes, Environment And Cancer

Genes, Environment And Cancer
In the granite-rich region of Western North Carolina, taking a daily shower could pose a risk of developing lung cancer. So could working from home every day. That's because granite emits a carcinogenic gas, radon. Houses that sit atop granite terrain are often contaminated with radon that has seeped into wells and indoor air.

"After smoking, radon is considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, said Avner Vengosh, Ph.D., associate professor at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. "Western North Carolina is highly affected, and many homes exceed the EPA's recommended levels of radon".

Radon's risk is not new or unknown, but it illustrates the real danger posed by indigenous substances as well as those artificially created by humans, say Duke scientists. More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced worldwide since World War II, with little or no knowledge as to how they affect humans or animals.

Day by day, environmental scientists identify new culprits in the cancer equation in which genes, environment and lifestyle interact to increase cancer risks in some people but not in others.

Their synergy is by no means a simple interaction, said H. Kim Lyerly, Director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. For example, vitamin A can promote lung cancer growth in some women while it maintains healthy breast cell growth and division in others, said Victoria Seewaldt, M.D., director of the Duke Breast Health Clinic. Chemicals that promote cancer in one fish species do not cause cancer in a closely related species, while populations of another species have adapted to a polluted environment, found Richard Di Giulio, Ph.D., of Duke's Nicholas School. Common nutritional supplements like folic acid, given to pregnant mice, altered their offsprings' coat colors and their adult risk of cancer, found Randy Jirtle, Ph.D. professor of radiation oncology at Duke University Medical Center.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 28, 2006, 10:44 PM CT

How Men And Women Use News Media To Manage Anger

How Men And Women Use News Media To Manage Anger
When men and women are angry, they both choose the news media articles they read with the goal of regulating their moods, a new study suggests.

But, in some circumstances, men choose to read articles that will fuel their anger, while women choose articles that will dissipate it.

Scientists found that when men were angered and anticipate the chance to retaliate, they chose to read negative online news stories, presumably to sustain their anger until their opportunity to get even.

Women faced with the same situation, however, chose to read more positive news to help dissipate their anger before a possible confrontation.

"For women, it is not seen as appropriate for them to retaliate when they're angry, but it is OK for men. And that's reflected in their selection of media content," said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

"This shows that even our news consumption is not motivated just by information concerns. We use news to regulate our moods."

Knobloch-Westerwick conducted the study with Scott Alter of the University of Michigan. Their results were published in a recent issue of the journal Human Communication Research.

The study involved 86 college students. Participants thought they were participating in two unrelated experiments.........

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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