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February 10, 2006, 7:32 AM CT

Use Of Lithium During Pregnancy

Use Of Lithium During Pregnancy
Pregnant women can take lithium safely for control of bipolar disorder as delivery approaches during late pregnancy provided they follow a series of guidelines designed to minimize risk to the developing fetus, as per Emory University School of Medicine scientists writing in a recent issue of the "American Journal of Psychiatry".

Maintaining a therapeutic dose of lithium until right before delivery can help pregnant women avoid symptoms of bipolar disorder without posing undue risks of harm to the fetus, says a team of scientists led by D. Jeffrey Newport, MD, MS, MDiv, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine and associate director of the Emory Women's Mental Health Program. Co-author Zachary N. Stowe, MD, is an associate professor of psychiatry at Emory and serves as the program's director.

The Women's Mental Health Program is dedicated to the research and therapy of mental illness during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The study, which followed women receiving care through the program, is described in the November 2005 issue of the journal.

Bipolar disorder is equally distributed among men and women, and affects about 1 percent of the population. In both men and women, it is most likely to appear in the early twenties -- significantly, a woman's most common child-bearing years.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink    Source


February 9, 2006, 10:26 PM CT

Heat Wrap Therapy Reduces Low Back Pain

Heat Wrap Therapy Reduces Low Back Pain
The use of continuous low-level heat wrap treatment (CLHT) significantly reduces acute low back pain and related disability and improves occupational performance of employees in physically demanding jobs suffering from acute low back pain, as per a Johns Hopkins study reported in the December 2005 issue of The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

"With recent concerns around the safety of oral pain medications, both patients and physicians are considering alternative therapy options for acute low back pain," said Edward J. Bernacki, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study's principal investigator. "The dramatic relief we see in workers using CLHT shows that this treatment has clear benefits for low back pain and that it plays an important role in pain management. Physicians and other health care providers in an occupational environment can tell patients that CLHT is a safe and effective alternative for treating acute low back plain".

In the study, 43 patients (age 20 to 62) who visited an occupational injury clinic for low back pain were randomized into one of two intervention arms: 18 patients received education regarding back treatment and pain management alone, while 25 received education regarding back treatment and pain management combined with three consecutive days of CLHT for eight hours continuously (ThermaCare- HeatWraps). The heat wrap is a wrap worn over the lower back, under the clothing. It uses an exothermic chemical reaction to deliver a low level of topical heat for at least eight continuous hours. All groups were assessed for measures of pain intensity and pain relief levels four times a day during the three therapy days, followed by measures for pain intensity and pain relief levels obtained in three follow-up visits on days 4, 7, and 14 from the beginning of the therapy. In addition, other measures were obtained and assessed by the Roland-Morris Low Back Disability Questionnaire and the Lifeware Musculoskeletal Abbreviated Assessment Form.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink


February 9, 2006, 10:16 PM CT

Initial Antiretroviral Treatment Of HIV Infection

Initial Antiretroviral Treatment Of HIV Infection
An international team of AIDS scientists at Johns Hopkins and other institutions has found that a once-daily combination of three antiretroviral drugs works better as an initial therapy for HIV infection than another three-drug combination long considered the gold standard.

Reporting in the Jan. 19 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, the scientists showed that after one year of therapy, a regimen of antiretroviral pills, called tenofovir DF (Viread) and emtricitabine (Emtriva), plus efavirenz (Sustiva), led to 14 percent more patients able to suppress levels of the virus, with fewer problems of anemia, fatigue and nausea than another widely used combination of antiretrovirals, zidovudine and lamivudine (AZT and 3TC, or Combivir), plus efavirenz.

"The implications are quite clear for patients with HIV who are about to start treatment: The simple combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine, plus efavirenz, is likely to be highly potent with minimal side effects or long-term toxicity," says the study's lead author, Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor and associate director of the AIDS Service at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Gallant notes that this regimen became even simpler in 2004, when tenofovir and emtricitabine were combined into a single pill, called Truvada.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink    Source


February 9, 2006, 10:01 PM CT

New Drug Combination For Neuroendocrine Tumors

New Drug combination For neuroendocrine tumors Matthew Kulke, MD
A combination of an oral chemotherapy agent and a drug to prevent blood vessel growth has shown encouraging results in advanced neuroendocrine tumors, rare cancers of hormone-making cells that commonly resist chemotherapy, scientists say.

In a clinical trial published in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other Harvard-affiliated hospitals found that the drug combination shrank neuroendocrine tumors in 25 percent of the study participants and was biochemically active against tumors in 40 percent of the participants. While the therapy produced side effects in a number of patients, they were generally more tolerable than those associated with conventional chemotherapy, the scientists noted.

The drug duo consisted of temozolomide, a pill similar in activity to an older, intravenous chemotherapy agent, and thalidomide, a medicine associated with birth defects when taken by pregnant women in the 1950s and '60s, but which has since been shown to be a deterrent of blood vessel growth.

"Neuroendocrine tumors are among the most vascular, or blood vessel-filled, tumors that exist, so it made sense to test chemotherapy in combination with an angiogenesis inhibitor like thalidomide, which blocks blood vessel growth," says the study's lead author, Matthew Kulke, MD, of Dana-Farber. "And because temozolomide is taken in pill form, rather than intravenously, it's more convenient for patients."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink    Source


February 9, 2006, 8:40 PM CT

Sunitinib Useful In Gleevec Resistance

Sunitinib Useful In Gleevec Resistance George Demetri, MD
At this week's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2006 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston will report on a Phase III clinical trial in which the targeted drug sunitinib (originally called SU11248 and now known as Sutent-) was given to control gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) in patients whose tumors had become resistant to the frontline drug imatinib (Gleevec-).

In addition to confirming the safety and efficacy of sunitinib, the findings illustrate that therapies targeting several signaling pathways inside cancer cells may be an effective therapy approach that may also be applicable to other difficult-to-treat cancers, including kidney cancer.

"Sunitinib is the first molecularly-targeted treatment proven to work against a cancer after another targeted treatment has failed," said the study's principal investigator, George Demetri, MD, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at Dana-Farber. "These findings are highly significant because they show sunitinib can control tumors and improve survival rates of patients with this condition. Eventhough GIST is relatively uncommon, our understanding of it at the molecular level - down to specific mutations in DNA - has made this disease a proving ground for new therapies that could be useful for treating other cancers."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


February 8, 2006, 10:55 PM CT

Broccoli And Cauliflower For Cancer Protection

Broccoli And Cauliflower For Cancer Protection
Naturally occurring chemicals found in certain vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, can enhance DNA repair in cells, perhaps helping to stop them becoming malignant, as per a report reported in the British Journal of Cancer* today (Tuesday).

The researchers, based at Georgetown University in Washington DC, have shown that a compound called I3C** found in these vegetables, and a chemical called genistein found in soy beans, both increase the levels of vital DNA repair proteins in cancer cells. Eventhough population studies have suggested a link between eating such vegetables and protection against cancer before, this study now puts forward a molecular mechanism on how they might work.

The repair proteins, regulated by genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2, are important for preventing damaged genetic information being passed on to the next generation of cells. If people have a faulty BRCA gene they are at a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Since decreased amounts of the BRCA proteins are seen in cancer cells, higher levels might prevent cancer developing. The ability of I3C and genistein to boost the amount of BRCA proteins could explain their protective effects.

Professor Eliot M. Rosen, senior author of the report, said: "Studies that monitor people┬┐s diets and their health have found links between certain types of food and cancer risk. However, before we can say a food protects against cancer, we have to understand how it does this at a molecular level".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


February 8, 2006, 10:50 PM CT

Uterus cancer survival improves but incidence increases

Uterus cancer survival improves but incidence increases
FIVE-YEAR survival rates for womb cancer* have risen to 77 per cent, an improvement of 16 per cent in the last 30 years.

But its incidence among women aged 60-79 has risen by 30 per cent in less than a decade - as per a report published recently by Cancer Research UK**. The increasing numbers of women being diagnosed shows a need for greater awareness of the disease, its symptoms and the risk factors.

Cancer of the womb affects around 6,000 women in the UK each year - twice as a number of as cervical cancer - and accounts for four per cent of all female cancers. It is the fifth most common cancer in women and is the second most common cancer of the female reproductive system, after ovary cancer.

Eventhough survival is improving and around three-quarters of women diagnosed with womb cancer are successfully treated, the disease still causes around 1,500 deaths a year. Five-year survival rates are as low as 25 per cent for women who present with advanced disease, and therefore early detection is crucial.

Over 90 per cent of womb cancers occur in women over the age of 50 and 75 per cent in women who have been through the menopause. In the 60-79 age group, incidence of womb cancer has climbed from 48 cases per 100,000 in 1993 to 63 in 2001. Awareness of the disease is low and consequently women may not be aware that vaginal bleeding after the menopause is a symptom of womb cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


February 8, 2006, 10:46 PM CT

DNA repair mystery solved

DNA repair mystery solved
Cancer Research UK researchers believe the final piece of the picture of how cells fix a severe type of DNA damage - thereby reducing the chances that the cells become malignant - will fall into place tomorrow (Friday) when they publish their latest findings in the journal Cell*.

Professor Steve Jackson, based at Cambridge University, discovered the first component of one particular DNA repair process over ten years ago. More pieces were found, and eventually researchers thought they had the whole process mapped out. But recent evidence came to light that suggested there was still one bit missing. Now Prof Jackson has finished what he started by discovering a new molecule that completes the picture.

The molecule is called XLF** and while it may have a role in causing cancer, it can possibly also be targeted by new cancer therapys - for example, blocking the action of XLF in cancer cells could 'soften up' the cells and allow radiotherapy to deliver more easily a knockout blow.

Prof Jackson said: "You could say we went fishing. We know molecules in these processes tend to bind together in order to work, so Peter Ahnesorg - a PhD student in my laboratory - used an established component of the repair pathway as bait and cast it into a sea of proteins. Then he pulled out the bait and examined what was stuck to it.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink


February 8, 2006, 10:28 PM CT

Aging Cells In An Aging Body

Aging Cells In An Aging Body
Brown University biologists have uncovered intriguing evidence to support the theory that old cells help make old bodies. In a study of baboons, researchers showed that as these animals age, the number of aging cells in their skin significantly increases.

Over time, cells lose their ability to divide, a state known as replicative senescence. The new research, published in an advanced online edition of Science, is the first to quantify the presence of replicatively senescent cells in any species.

"For 40 years, we've known about replicative senescence," said John Sedivy, a Brown professor of medical science and the senior scientist on the project. "Whether it promotes the aging of our bodies, however, is highly controversial. While it may make intuitive sense, skeptics say 'Show us the evidence.' The first solid evidence is in this study. These initial findings won't settle the debate, but they make a strong case".

Human cells replicate anywhere from 60 to 90 times before senescence sets in, a phenomenon researchers believe is a safeguard against disease. While senescent cells still function, they don't behave the way young cells do - and are associated with skin wrinkles, delayed wound healing, weakened immune system response and age-related diseases such as cancer.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink    Read more..


February 7, 2006, 10:48 PM CT

Yogurt Bugs That Make Antiviral Drugs

Yogurt Bugs That Make Antiviral Drugs
Scientists have come up with a novel delivery system for anti-AIDS drugs: milk-curdling bacteria used to make yogurt and cheese.

"We've found that you can engineer these bugs to secrete drugs - in this case, a viricide that disables HIV," said Bharat Ramratnam, assistant professor of medicine at Brown Medical School and attending doctor at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. "The hope is to use the bacteria as the basis for a microbicide which can prevent sexual transmission of HIV".

Ramratnam oversaw the bug-to-drug experiments conducted by an international team of researchers who recently published their results in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Ramratnam hatched the idea a few years ago after reading about an intriguing discovery: A protein called cynovirin binds to HIV and prevents it from entering cells in the mucous membranes - a feat confirmed in both laboratory and animal studies. Ramratnam was already familiar with lactic acid bacteria, or LAB. They help make fermented foods such as yogurt and cheese by turning carbohydrates into lactic acid. LAB are also known for their "promiscuity," or the ability to accept foreign DNA, then produce proteins called for in these new genetic recipes.

So why not introduce cynovirin DNA into these bacterial protein factories?.........

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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