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January 23, 2006, 7:21 PM CT

Developing The World's First Cancer Vaccine

Developing The World’s First Cancer Vaccine
Professor Frazer
The Australian newspaper's Australian of the Year recipient is not just leading the world with his research, he is changing it and hopes others will be inspired to do the same.

University of Queensland scientist Professor Ian Frazer today received the prestigious award for developing a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer - the world's first ever cancer vaccine. He was a joint recipient of the award with Professor Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren who received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005 for their research on stomach ulcers.

Professor Frazer, who founded and leads UQ's Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research, is also the 2006 Queensland Australian of the Year and is consequently in the running for the Australian of the Year Award, which will be announced at Parliament House on January 25.

He said The Australian's award and the nomination for Australian of the Year were both a tremendous honour and responsibility.

"It gives me a great opportunity to promote science and specifically biomedical research and it also gives me an opportunity to talk with people about how they can contribute through their own work to the community," he said.

"You can get a great deal of personal satisfaction out of doing good for others.

"I think society has become very focused on self and on consumerism and what I'd like to see in addition to this concept of financial benefit is the concept of social credit - doing things that are of benefit to others.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


January 23, 2006, 6:21 PM CT

Usage Of Online Support Groups For Breast Cancer

Usage Of Online Support Groups For Breast Cancer
Stereotypes about who will use online support groups are wrong, as per research at UW-Madison. The scientists found that age, income and education did not predict participation, eventhough minorities were not as active as other users.

The percentage of women with breast cancer participating in online support groups is significant and has been growing steadily over the past decade. This new research provides insights about the characteristics of women who are more likely to participate in these groups when barriers to computers and Internet access are removed.

In the study conducted at the UW-Madison Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, 144 women who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer were provided free computer hardware, Internet access and training in how to use an online health education and support system, which they were able to use for six months. The scientists then examined who was most likely to use the online support groups.

While socioeconomic status did not generally predict participation in these groups, there were trends toward more active participants expressing more positive physical, psychological and social status than less active participants. Specifically, there were trends toward more active participants reporting higher energy levels, a more positive doctor-patient relationship, fewer concerns about breast cancer and higher perceptions of support from one's family.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 22, 2006, 10:08 PM CT

Two New Stem Cell Lines In Animal Cell-free Culture

Two New Stem Cell Lines In Animal Cell-free Culture Photo: Jeff Miller, University of Wisconsin
Lab manager Jessica Antosiewicz removes a tray of stem cell cultures from an incubator in researcher James Thomson's lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thomson, a developmental biologist and professor of anatomy, directed the research group that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a nonhuman primate in 1995, work that led his group to the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998.

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.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink


January 22, 2006, 8:02 PM CT

New Generation Of PET-CT Scanners

New Generation Of PET-CT Scanners PET/CT scanner
Image courtesy of Medical College of Georgia
UW Medical Center is the first hospital in the country to install a new-generation PET/CT imaging system designed to help physicians detect, diagnose and monitor therapy of cancer and other diseases, including heart disease and neurological disease, more accurately and earlier in the disease process.

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans are both standard imaging tools that physicians use to pinpoint disease states in the body. A PET scan demonstrates the biological function of the body before anatomical changes take place, while the Computerized axial tomography scan provides information about the body's anatomy such as size, shape and location.

The new generation PET/CT is a fusion of the high-speed, high-resolution capabilities of a Computerized axial tomography scanner with the metabolic and physiologic capabilities of a PET scanner, said Dr. Paul Kinahan, associate professor of radiology and director of PET/CT physics for UW Medical Center.

"By combining these two scanning technologies, a PET/Computerized axial tomography scan enables physicians to more accurately diagnose and identify cancer, heart disease and brain disorders," said Dr. Satoshi Minoshima, professor and vice-chair for research at the UW Department of Radiology.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink


January 20, 2006, 0:50 AM CT

Continuous Antiretroviral Therapy Superior

Continuous Antiretroviral Therapy Superior
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced that enrollment into a large international HIV/AIDS trial comparing continuous antiretroviral treatment with episodic drug therapy guided by levels of CD4+ cells has been stopped. Enrollment was stopped because those patients receiving episodic treatment had twice the risk of disease progression (the development of clinical AIDS or death), the major outcome of the study.

NIAID made the decision to halt enrollment in collaboration with the study's Executive Committee and following a recommendation received from an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). The DSMB, charged with regularly evaluating data and safety issues during the multi-year trial, conducted a review of the interim study data in early January.

The trial, known as Strategies for Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapy, or SMART, was designed to determine which of two different HIV therapy strategies would result in greater overall clinical benefit. HIV-positive volunteers were assigned at random to either a viral suppression strategy, in which antiretroviral treatment (ART) was taken on an ongoing basis to suppress HIV viral load; or a drug conservation strategy, in which ART was started only when the levels of key immune cells, called CD4+ cells, dropped below 250 cells per cubic millimeter (mm3). Volunteers in the drug conservation group were taken off ART-with the aims of reducing drug side effects and preserving therapy options-whenever their CD4+ cells were above 350 cells/mm3. (For more details see http://www.smart-trial.org ).........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink


January 20, 2006, 0:44 AM CT

Women's Silent Health Problem

Women's Silent Health Problem
It's a topic that is discussed so infrequently - for reasons that are easy to understand - that it may seem it isn't much of a problem. But new research shows that fecal incontinence is prevalent among U.S. women, particularly those in older age groups, those who have had numerous babies, women whose deliveries were assisted by forceps or vacuum devices, and those who have had a hysterectomy.

A number of women in the study who had fecal incontinence also had another medical condition, such as major depression or diabetes, and often experienced urinary incontinence in addition to FI. The findings are reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Increased attention should be paid to this debilitating condition, particularly considering the aging of our population and the available therapys for FI," says senior author Dee E. Fenner, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and director of gynecology, at the University of Michigan Medical School. "It is very important to the health of women that clinicians are aware of the prevalence of FI and can treat their patients accordingly".

The study, led by the University of Washington, was a postal survey of 6,000 women ages 30-90 who were enrolled in a large HMO in Washington state (the condition also affects men, but only women were involved in the study). Of the 64 percent who responded, the prevalence of FI was found to be 7.2 percent, with the occurrence increasing notably with age. FI was defined as loss of liquid or solid stool at least monthly.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink


January 20, 2006, 0:39 AM CT

Bariatric Surgery On The Rise

Bariatric Surgery On The Rise
As the rate of national obesity has steadily increased across all age groups, so has Americans' willingness to turn to an effective surgical intervention to address severe obesity: bariatric surgery.

From 1996 to 2002 the use of bariatric surgery has increased seven-fold nationally, and its use has more than tripled among youth. More than 80 percent of individuals in all age groups who underwent the procedure were female.

These findings, from scientists at the University of Michigan Health System, also reveal that in 2002 alone, hospitals charged more than $2 billion for bariatric surgery, with private insurers picking up more than 80 percent of the charges.

Results from this study, which also examine the most common medical conditions among youth who undergo bariatric surgery, are published in the recent issue of Archives of Surgery.

Bariatric surgery, which includes procedures such as gastric bypass, gastric banding and biliopancreatic diversion, aims to change the gastrointestinal tract so it restricts the amount of food a person is able to consume.

As the nation's waistline has continued to grow, so has the popularity of this weight loss procedure as more Americans work to combat their obesity after failed attempts at diet and exercise. The procedure is recommended only for individuals with severe obesity, or for those who are obese and suffering from other medical complications of obesity such as diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


January 18, 2006, 8:26 PM CT

Genetic Link Between Asthma And Obesity

Genetic Link Between Asthma And Obesity
A study about the relationship between asthma and obesity, which uses a community-based twin registry from the University of Washington in Seattle, has found a strong genetic link between the two disorders, as per findings reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

While this study replicates prior findings that have shown asthma to be more common in obese individuals, it goes on to show that the largest portion of the association between the two disorders could be explained by a common set of genetic factors.

Dr. Teal Hallstrand, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, led the study, which compared the frequency of asthma and obesity in both identical and fraternal, or non-identical, twins. The scientists analyzed 1001 identical and 383 fraternal same-sex twin pairs within the University of Washington Twin Registry. They found that the largest portion of the association between asthma and obesity could be attributed to a common set of genetic factors, referred to as genetic pleiotropy, which implies that the same genetic factors may have a causal influence on both asthma and obesity.

Asthma and obesity are increasingly common disorders, particularly in Westernized societies. A fundamental question about the relationship between obesity and asthma is whether the association between these two disorders is predominantly genetic or environmental.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


January 18, 2006, 8:08 PM CT

Parent Deployment And Teen's Emotions

Parent Deployment And Teen's Emotions
Understanding how a parent's deployment affects the emotional and behavioral development of their teenage children is the focal point of research conducted by Angela Huebner, associate professor of human development at Virginia Tech, National Capital Region, and Jay A. Mancini, professor of human development, Blacksburg campus.

Through a grant funded by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, and supported by the Department of Defense, the research team, based in Virginia Tech's College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, conducted focus groups comprised of 107 youth attending summer camps in Hawaii, Washington, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia, all sponsored by the National Military Family Association.

The war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism have changed the course of military service for Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve members. Today, the context of military service includes a higher operation tempo, increased deployments, relocations and family separations. In short, military families are facing more stressors than ever before. About 39 percent (over 469,999) of the children of deployed parents are age one and under), 33 percent (over 400,000) are between the ages of six and 11 and about 25 percent (over 300,000) are youth between the ages of 12 and 18.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


January 18, 2006, 7:57 PM CT

Engineer, Dentist, And Veterinarian Building Bone

Engineer, Dentist, And Veterinarian Building Bone
Oral and pharyngeal cancers rank among the most prevalent worldwide, eventhough they account for only about three percent of all cancers in the United States. Unfortunately, most oral cancers are detected at advanced stages when combinations of surgery and radiation are required, and the most recent studies show the five-year survival rate of 53 percent has not changed in the past 30 years.

If two Virginia Tech researchers, collaborating with the American Dental Association (ADA), are able to successfully construct a tissue engineered composite material for oral reconstructions, these dismal statistics might yield a better outcome.

The repair of the diseased tissue in these cancers often requires reconstruction of the bone, and Brian Love, professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and principal investigator on a National Institutes for Health (NIH) grant, believes "substantially better clinical outcomes for all oral constructions could result if a more viable scaffold material were used that was capable of faster and higher quality bone formation."

Love and the team are looking at amorphous calcium phosphates (ACPs) as inorganic host materials in the rebuilding of tissue. ACPs, in the presence of cells that make bone (called osteoblasts), are believed to "more readily" provide the host material for new bone formation in tissue engineering than other choices, Love explains.........

Posted by: Mark      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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