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April 3, 2006, 11:37 PM CT

Avian Flu Modeled On Supercomputer

Avian Flu Modeled On Supercomputer
Using supercomputers to respond to a potential national health emergency, researchers have developed a simulation model that makes stark predictions about the possible future course of an avian influenza pandemic, given today's environment of world-wide connectivity. The research, by a team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, is presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science online the week of April 3-7, and in the print issue of April 11.

The large-scale, stochastic simulation model examines the nationwide spread of a pandemic influenza virus strain, such as an evolved avian H5N1 virus, should it become transmissible human-to-human. The simulation rolls out a city- and census-tract-level picture of the spread of infection through a synthetic population of 281 million people over the course of 180 days, and examines the impact of interventions, from antiviral treatment to school closures and travel restrictions, as the vaccine industry struggles to catch up with the evolving virus.

"Based on the present work. we think that a large stockpile of avian influenza-based vaccine containing potential pandemic influenza antigens, coupled with the capacity to rapidly make a better-matched vaccine based on human strains, would be the best strategy to mitigate pandemic influenza," say the authors, Timothy Germann, Kai Kadau, Ira Longini and Catherine Macken.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


April 2, 2006, 10:59 PM CT

Lung Cancer May Run In Families

Lung Cancer May Run In Families First-degree relatives of cases had a 25 percent increased risk of developing any type of cancer, compared to controls. Cancers diagnosed in the relatives include melanoma, colorectal, head and neck cancer, lung, prostate and breast cancers. Case relatives were about 10 years younger when they were diagnosed with cancer, compared to control relatives. A 44 percent excess risk of young onset cancers - those diagnosed before age 50 - among case relatives. More than a six-fold risk of developing young onset lung cancer in the case families compared to control families. Relatives of case patients had a 68 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer. Mothers of case patients had more than a two-fold risk of developing breast cancer.
Studying thousands of people, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have documented a 25 percent increased risk of developing one of a number of cancers in first-degree relatives of lung cancer patients who have never smoked compared to families of people who neither smoke nor have lung cancer.

Researchers say their study, one of the largest ever done and the only one to include both men and women, strongly suggests that these lung cancer patients and their affected relatives share an inherited genetic susceptibility to cancer development.

"This study demonstrates the importance of familial factors in the general development of cancer," says the study's first author, Olga Gorlova, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology. "These susceptibility factors can be environmental, but are more likely to be influenced by genetic factors, because genes control pathways common to a number of cancers."

Such marked cancer susceptibility also likely explains why patients in this study, who never smoked but might have been exposed to secondhand smoke, developed lung cancer in the first place, she says. Gorlova will present the study at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). She will discuss the findings in a press briefing on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 11 a.m. ........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


April 2, 2006, 8:39 PM CT

Juice improves health, No increase Obesity Risk

Juice improves health, No increase Obesity Risk
As per a recent analysis of government data, children who drank 100 percent juice had healthier overall diets than non-juice consumers and consumed more total fruits, fiber and key nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folate. The juice consumers also had significantly lower intakes of total fat, saturated fat and sodium.

As per the researchers, the group of 100 percent juice consumers also had equal or lower bodyweights and body mass indexes (BMI) than the non-juice consumers, adding to the scientific evidence which shows that 100 percent juices play a role in a healthful diet and are not associated with overweight. The research is being presented this week at the Experimental Biology 2006 meeting.

Using well-established data from the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researcher Victor Fulgoni, Ph.D., examined the impact of 100 percent juice in children's diets on bodyweight and BMI among more than 7,500 children ages 2-18. This analysis of the most recent NHANES database (1999-2002), combined with growth chart data from the Centers for Disease Control and Promotion (CDC), found that juice consumers had significantly lower z-scores for body mass index for their age than non-juice consumers (body mass index is a relative measure taking into consideration body weight and body size and z-scores represent the distance from the mean or average of the total population studied). While there were no differences specifically in BMI between the juice consumers and non-juice consumers for children aged 2-11, there were differences in children aged 12-18 years -- the juice consumers had significantly lower BMIs than those who drank no juice at all.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


April 1, 2006, 9:22 AM CT

Cancer Cells May Move Via Wave Stimulation

Cancer Cells May Move Via Wave Stimulation
Mayo Clinic scientists have uncovered a new cellular secret that may explain how certain cancers move and spread -- a feature of cancers that makes therapy particularly difficult. If the mechanism that drives cancer movement -- also called metastasis -- can be understood well enough to manipulate it, new and better therapys can be developed for patients with metastatic cancers.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Research

The Mayo scientists focused on odd protrusions observable by microscope on the surface of certain cancer cells: circular waves. Until now, no one has fully understood the function of these waves. The Mayo findings in the current edition of Cancer Research http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/current.shtml are the first to show one role the waves play. They selectively round up activated growth-promoting proteins from the cell surface and take them to the interior of the cell. Under normal conditions, this process would help terminate signals from these growth-promoting proteins. However, in cancer cells it appears that either these waves may not function properly, or that the internalized proteins may remain active longer, which allows them to "instruct" a cell to acquire malignant traits such as excessive growth and invasive movement that constitute metastasis. These waves are important for helping to keep these cancer-growth commands at bay.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 1, 2006, 8:27 AM CT

Vegetarian Diet Help To Lose Weight

Vegetarian Diet Help To Lose Weight
Adhering to a strict vegetarian diet is an effective way of reducing your diet, according to findings from a scientific review published in April's Nutrition Reviews. This review shows that a vegetarian diet is highly effective for weight loss. Vegetarian populations tend to be slimmer than meat-eaters, and they experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening conditions linked to overweight and obesity. The new review, which is a meta-analysis, compiling data from 87 prior studies, shows the weight-loss effect does not depend on exercise or calorie-counting, and it occurs at a rate of approximately 1 pound per week.

Rates of obesity in the general population are skyrocketing, while in vegetarians, obesity prevalence ranges from 0 percent to 6 percent, note study authors Susan E. Berkow, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Neal D. Barnard, M.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

The authors found that the body weight of both male and female vegetarians is, on average, 3 percent to 20 percent lower than that of meat-eaters. Vegetarian and vegan diets have also been put to the test in clinical studies, as the review notes. The best of these clinical studies isolated the effects of diet by keeping exercise constant. The scientists found that a low-fat vegan diet leads to weight loss of about 1 pound per week, even without additional exercise or limits on portion sizes, calories, or carbohydrates.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


March 30, 2006, 5:04 PM CT

Quantum Dot Method To Identify Bacteria

Quantum Dot Method To Identify Bacteria Caption: This fluorescence micrograph shows phage-quantum dot complexes (bright spots) bound to E. coli cells (cylindrical shapes). The NCI/NIST method of tagging cells with quantum dots can be used to identify bacteria much faster than conventional methods. The fluorescence signal is strong and stable for hours, enabling scientists to count the number of phage viruses bound to a cell.

Credit: NCI/NIST
A rapid method for detecting and identifying very small numbers of diverse bacteria, from anthrax to E. coli, has been developed by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Described in the March 28 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,* the work could lead to the development of handheld devices for accelerated identification of biological weapons and antibiotic-resistant or virulent strains of bacteria--situations where speed is essential.

Traditional ways of identifying infectious bacteria and their possible therapys can be time consuming and laborious, requiring the isolation and growth of the bacteria over a number of hours or even days. The new method speeds up the process by using fast-replicating viruses (called bacteriophages or phages) that infect specific bacteria of interest and are genetically engineered to bind to "quantum dots." Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles that give off stronger and more intense signals than conventional fluorescent tags and also are more stable when exposed to light. The method detects and identifies 10, or fewer, target bacterial cells per milliliter of sample in only about an hour.

The phages were genetically engineered to produce a specific protein on their surface. When these phages infect bacteria and reproduce, the bacteria burst and release a number of phage progeny attached to biotin (vitamin H), which is present in all living cells. The biotin-capped phages selectively attract specially treated quantum dots, which absorb light efficiently over a wide frequency range and re-emit it in a single color that depends on particle size. The resulting phage-quantum dot complexes can be detected and counted using microscopy, spectroscopy or flow cytometry, and the results used to identify the bacteria. The new method could be extended to identify multiple bacterial strains simultaneously by pairing different phages with quantum dots that have different emission colors.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


March 30, 2006, 4:50 PM CT

Magnetic Catheter Controls Atrial Fibrillation

Magnetic Catheter Controls Atrial Fibrillation Image courtesy of Mayo clinic
A remotely-controlled catheter device guided by magnetic fields provides a safe and practical method for delivering radio frequency ablation therapy in the hearts of patients with atrial fibrillation, as per a new study in the April 4, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Based on our experience with remote navigation and ablation technology, a new era in interventional electrophysiology is beginning as magnetic, very soft catheters can be navigated in the heart more precisely and safely than manual catheters without risk of major complications, even in less experienced centers," said Carlo Pappone, M.D., Ph.D. from the Department of Electrophysiology, San Raffaele University Hospital in Milan, Italy.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the upper chambers of the heart flutter, and do not pump blood normally. If the condition cannot be managed with medications, some patients are treated with radio frequency ablation. The technique uses a high energy pulse to destroy a small area of heart muscle cells, in order to prevent them from conducting nerve signals that trigger fibrillation.

Typically the radio frequency pulse is emitted by from the tip of a catheter threaded through blood vessels into the heart until it is positioned next to the target area. Conventional catheters are somewhat stiff, so they can be pushed and pulled through blood vessels, and their tips can be curled and pointed by an operator standing by the patient. The device tested in this trial uses a very soft, limp tip that has a magnet on the end. Rather than manually pointing the catheter tip, the operator of this device uses a computer to control a magnetic field that robotically moves the catheter tip. The principle is the same as a compass needle pointing to magnetic north; allowing this device to steer the magnetic catheter in three dimensions to a target visualized on 3-D scans of the patient's heart.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


March 30, 2006, 4:37 PM CT

Sleep Apnea Treatment And The Heart

Sleep Apnea Treatment And The Heart
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have enlarged and thickened hearts that pump less effectively, but the heart abnormalities improve with use of a device that helps patients breathe better during sleep, as per a new study in the April 4, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Not only are the shape and size of the heart affected, the right side of the heart was dilated and the heart muscle on the left side was thicker in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, but the pump function was also reduced. The changes were directly correlation to the severity of the problem. Treating the problem brought significant improvements in the affected parameters, as well as in symptoms, in a relatively short period of time of six months," said Bharati Shivalkar, M.D., Ph.D. from the University Hospital Antwerp in Antwerp, Belgium.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Typically the osa syndrome is characterized by repeated partial or complete closure of the pharynx, gasping episodes, sleep fragmentation, and daytime sleepiness. Prior studies have shown that sleep apnea is associated with hypertension and other cardiovascular risks, including stroke, ischemia, arrhythmias, or sudden death.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


March 30, 2006, 7:29 AM CT

Metabolites Responsible For Breast And Prostate Cancer

Metabolites Responsible For Breast And Prostate Cancer
Cancer scientists have discovered that metabolites of natural estrogens can react with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to cause specific damage that initiates the series of events leading to breast, prostate and other human cancers. This understanding of a common mechanism of cancer initiation could result in cancer prevention and in better assessment of cancer risk.

The scientists will present their findings at the 81st annual meeting of the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (SWARM-AAAS) on Friday, April 7, at the University of Tulsa, in Tulsa, Okla.

The symposium - "Catechol Estrogen Quinones as Initiators of Breast and other Human Cancers" - will be led by Drs. Ryszard Jankowiak of the Department of Chemistry, Kansas State University, and Ercole Cavalieri of the Eppley Cancer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center.

"We have a novel approach to cancer. We know the initiating step," said Dr. Cavalieri. "We think prevention of cancer is a problem we can solve by eliminating this initiating step. Estrogens can induce cancer when natural mechanisms of protection do not work properly in our body, and the estrogen quinones are able to react with DNA. In fact, if these protections are insufficient, due to genetic, lifestyle or environmental influences, then cancer can result.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 30, 2006, 7:23 AM CT

Vaccine For Alzheimer's Disease?

Vaccine For Alzheimer's Disease?
Doses of DNA-gene-coated gold particles protect mice against a protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

By pressure-injecting the gene responsible for producing the specific protein - called amyloid-beta 42 - the scientists caused the mice to make antibodies and greatly reduce the protein's build-up in the brain. Accumulation of amyloid-beta 42 in humans is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

"The whole point of the study is to determine whether the antibody is therapeutically effective as a means to inhibit the formation of amyloid-beta storage in the brain, and it is," said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, the study's senior author and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UT Southwestern.

The gene injection avoids a serious side-effect that caused the cancellation of a prior multi-center human trial with amyloid-beta 42, scientists said. UT Southwestern did not participate in that trial. In that earlier study, people received injections of the protein itself and some developed dangerous brain inflammation.

The new study is available online and appears in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

The scientists used mutant mice with two defective human genes associated with Alzheimer's, genes that produce amyloid-beta 42. "By seven months, the mice are storing abundant amounts of amyloid-beta 42," said Dr. Rosenberg, who holds the Abe (Brunky), Morris and William Zale Distinguished Chair in Neurology.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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