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January 10, 2006, 6:14 PM CT

Adolescents Females and Alcohol

Adolescents' Females' and Alcohol
Studies with rats have revealed that adolescents and female adults show less sensitivity to the sedative effects of alcohol than do adult males, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. They said the animals are similar enough to humans that their findings offer significant insight into how the human brain may react to alcohol. For example, they said, their findings may help to explain why adolescents under the influence of alcohol may be more likely to engage in risky behavior -- they are less sedated. Also, said the researchers, their findings may help explain why women are less likely to become addicted to alcohol.

Especially interesting, the scientists said, is that the sex differences appear to extend to the cellular level - a finding not previously reported. The team's findings appear in the January 2006 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

According to the team, research in humans shows that while women typically consume less alcohol than men, they are more susceptible to negative health consequences such as cognitive impairment, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver due to its effects. A greater understanding of such a sex difference could improve efforts to educate people about the dangers of alcohol and perhaps eventually to a better understanding of the mechanisms of addiction, said the researchers.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


January 10, 2006, 6:05 PM CT

Can you become pregnant after breast cancer treatment?

Can you become pregnant after breast cancer treatment?
Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have shown that ovarian hormone levels may predict which women are likely to become infertile after chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.

Their findings may ultimately enable physicians to identify at-risk breast cancer patients who could benefit from fertility-preserving therapys, said Carey Anders, M.D., lead author of the study.

Infertility is a common side effect of cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation, because such therapies can damage rapidly dividing cells such as granulosa cells in the ovaries. No method exists to identify which women are at greatest risk of premature ovarian failure, defined as the loss of menses for more than six months. Often times, the condition is permanent.

In the current study, the scientists showed that women who developed premature ovarian failure had lower levels of the ovarian hormone inhibin A before chemotherapy and six months after chemotherapy had ended. Their levels of inhibin B were also lower six months after chemotherapy.

Conversely, women who resumed menses after therapy had higher levels of inhibin A before receiving chemotherapy and six months afterward. The same effects were seen with another ovarian hormone, estradiol.

Results of the study will be presented Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 11:49 PM CT

Gene Mutation Means Poor Outcomes In Thyroid Cancer

Gene Mutation Means With Poor Outcomes In Thyroid Cancer Thyroid gland is located on both sides of the neck
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that a mutation in the gene that triggers production of a tumor growth protein is linked to poorer outcomes for patients with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). A report on the study is published in the recent issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Mingzhao Xing, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, led the multi-center study. "This discovery should help physicians rate risk levels for patients with PTC," he says.

The gene, called BRAF, is part of a signaling pathway that, when activated, is known to cause tumor growth, and mutations in BRAF have been linked to a variety of human cancers, the scientists say.

For the study, Xing and his colleagues looked at information from 219 PTC patients from 1990 to 2004. The relationship among BRAF mutations, initial tumor characteristics, cancer recurrence and clinical outcomes was analyzed.

Results showed a "significant association" between BRAF mutation and spread of the cancer from the thyroid, lymph node metastasis, and advanced tumor stage at the time of surgery to remove the malignant thyroid gland. The thyroid, a gland located beneath the voice box (larynx) that produces thyroid hormone, helps regulate body cell growth and metabolism. Results also showed that, given an average follow-up of three to four years, 25 percent of patients with BRAF mutations experienced tumor recurrence compared to 9 percent without evidence of BRAF mutations.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 11:39 PM CT

Abdominal Chemo Boosts Survival In Ovarian Cancer Patients

Abdominal Chemo Boosts Survival In Ovarian Cancer Patients Ovarian cancer experts Deborah Armstrong, M.D., and Robert Bristow, M.D.
50-year-old method for delivering chemotherapy directly into the abdomen is making a comeback as researchers have found that it increases survival - by more than a year - in some women with advanced ovary cancer. Results from a seven-year study of more than 400 patients nationwide are published in the January 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Investigators randomly grouped women with newly diagnosed stage III ovary cancer into two categories: those who would get all chemotherapy intravenously or those who would get chemotherapy both intravenously and through a spaghetti-like tube called a catheter that was inserted directly into the abdomen.

"The catheter allows us to bathe the entire abdominal area with a high concentration of chemotherapy for a long period of time, which appears to be better at destroying lingering cancer cells," says Deborah Armstrong, M.D., associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and principal investigator for the study, which was conducted by the Gynecologic Oncology Group. While the abdominal area is the main site for ovary cancer spread, Armstrong says that the intravenous round of chemotherapy is needed to catch cancer cells that may have spread outside the abdomen.

Overall survival for 205 patients receiving abdominal (or intraperitoneal) chemotherapy in the study was an average of 65.6 months, a 25 percent improvement over the intravenous-only group (49.7 months) of 210 patients. Similarly, relapse-free survival for those receiving intraperitoneal chemo was 23.8 months compared with 18.3 months for the intravenous-alone group, a 20 percent improvement.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 11:29 PM CT

Molecule From The Sea Kills Cancer Cells

Molecule From The Sea Kills Cancer Cells 
Sea sponge porifera one type of sea sponge
A natural chemical made by a New Zealand sea sponge exerts its deadly effects on cancer cells by preventing the cells' protein-building machinery from turning on, Johns Hopkins researchers report in the Dec. 9 issue of Molecular Cell.

The chemical's anti-cancer effects have been known since 1991, but this is the first comprehensive report to show how the molecule, known as pateamine A (PatA), stalls the growth of so-called eukaryotic cells -- cells that have membranes and a nucleus.

"Agents that interfere with protein production in bacteria are already useful antibiotics, but this is the first small molecule found to interfere specifically with the earliest steps of protein production in human cells," says the study's leader, Jun Liu, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences in the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

Eventhough any clinical applications of PatA or related molecules are likely a number of years away, Liu notes, PatA's abilities offers researchers the chance to probe the earliest steps in protein production and the biology of so-called "suicide" in human cells.

"The whole idea of chemical biology is that we can use active molecules like PatA as bait to fish out their biological targets, which sheds light on normal biology and can clarify why the molecules' interaction is important," says Liu, whose research has focused on using chemical biology to study the regulation of the immune system. "This is incredibly powerful as researchers begin creating networks, not just linear pathways, of biological understanding".........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 11:00 PM CT

Telomerase And More

Telomerase And More
With seed money from Johns Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering, a Johns Hopkins geneticist and her team have discovered a critical link between the health of stem cells and the length of the chromosome ends within them.

Chromosome ends, or telomeres, are repetitive stretches of DNA that protect chromosomes in much the same way as plastic tips on shoelaces prevent the fabric from fraying. Each time a cell divides, its chromosome ends get a little shorter, and eventually the cell can no longer divide because its critical genetic information is exposed. In stem cells, however, a protein called telomerase normally maintains the telomeres' length, allowing the cells to divide indefinitely.

Now, the Hopkins scientists report that mice engineered to have just half the normal amount of telomerase can't maintain their stem cells' chromosome ends, showing that a little telomerase isn't enough. In these "half-telomerase" mice, their telomeres shortened over time, bringing an early demise to stem cells that replenish the blood supply, immune system and intestine, the scientists report. Moreover, offspring of these mice bred to have normal levels of telomerase still exhibited early loss of stem cells, the scientists report in the Dec. 16 issue of Cell.

"These offspring have what we have called 'occult' genetic disease -- their genetic make-up is perfectly normal, but they still have the physical problems of their parents," says Carol Greider, Ph.D., director and professor of molecular biology and genetics in the Johns Hopkins Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences. "This phenomenon could complicate the hunt for disease genes."........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 10:55 PM CT

Integrating New Neurons In To Adult Brain

Integrating New Neurons In To  Adult Brain
In experiments with mice, researchers from Johns Hopkins' Institute for Cell Engineering have discovered the steps mandatory to integrate new neurons into the brain's existing operations.

For more than a century, researchers thought the adult brain could only lose nerve cells, not gain them, but in fact, new neurons do form during adulthood in all mammals, including humans, and become a working part of the adult brain in mice at the very least.

In the first study to show how these "baby" neurons are integrated into the brain's existing networks, the Johns Hopkins scientists show that a brain chemical called GABA readies baby neurons to make connections to old ones. The discovery is described in the Dec. 11 advance online section of Nature.

"GABA is important during fetal development, but most researchers thought it would have the same role it has with adult neurons, which is to inhibit the cells' signals," says Hongjun Song, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Neuroregeneration and Repair Program within ICE. "We've shown that GABA instead excites new neurons and that this is the first step toward their integration into the adult brain".

Song added that their discovery might help efforts to increase neuron regeneration in the brain or to make transplanted stem cells form connections more efficiently.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 10:41 PM CT

More children in the United States will be protected

More children in the United States will be protected
The 2006 Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule was released recently, with the updated schedule including new recommendations that will help protect adolescents from meningitis and pertussis (also known as "whooping cough") and all children from hepatitis A. The annual childhood and adolescent immunization schedule is a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The 2006 immunization schedule can be located at CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule --- United States, 2006.

" This new schedule reflects the great strides we are making to protect children against serious diseases," said Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of the National Immunization Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Thanks to new vaccines, we can now protect children and adolescents from more diseases than at any time in our history. In almost every case, vaccines are the best and most effective way to prevent the harm that is caused by these infectious diseases".

The recently licensed meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) is being recommended to protect against meningococcal disease, while the new Tetanus, Diphtheria and acellular Pertussis recommendation stems from the availability of new "booster" vaccines known as Tdap that will help reduce the number of cases of whooping cough among adolescents. Under the updated schedule, these vaccines would be routinely administered to children when they are 11 to 12 years old.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 10:32 PM CT

Estimating Frequency of Birth Defects

Estimating Frequency of Birth Defects
Among the 18 major birth defects studied, orofacial clefts (cleft lip and cleft palate) were the most common birth defect in the United States, affecting an estimated 6,800 infants annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates released in its journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Major birth defects are conditions that are present at birth and have a serious, adverse impact on health, development or functional ability.

The condition with the second highest prevalence was Down syndrome, which affects about 5,500 infants a year. Among the 18 major birth defects selected for this study, each of 10 different types of birth defects affected more than 1,000 babies per year.

"Birth defects are a leading cause of death in the first year of life," said Jose Cordero, director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "With more accurate estimates of how often and where birth defects are occurring, we hope to learn more about how we can prevent them. With improved information, we can better plan for and address the health and education needs of children with birth defects".

Eventhough federal, state and local surveillance data suggest that approximately 3 percent of babies born in the United States are affected by a major birth defect of some type, this is the first effort to develop population-based national prevalence estimates for these 18 specific birth defects.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


January 9, 2006, 10:25 PM CT

Age And Success Of Assisted Reproductive Technology

Age And Success Of Assisted Reproductive Technology
More than 48,000 babies were born in the United States as a result of assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures carried out in 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. This is up from the 45,751 babies born as a result of ART in 2002. ART includes infertility therapy procedures in which both egg and sperm are handled in the laboratory. The most common ART procedure is in vitro fertilization.

CDC's ninth annual ART report summarizes national trends and provides information on success rates for 399 fertility clinics around the country. Overall, 28 percent of ART procedures resulted in the birth of a baby for women who used their own fresh eggs.

The 2003 report offers more evidence that a woman's age is one of the most important factors in determining whether she will have a live birth by using her own eggs. "Women in their 20s and early 30s had relatively high rates of success for pregnancies, live births, and single live births," said Victoria Wright, a public health analyst in CDC's Division of Reproductive Health. "But success rates declined steadily once a woman reached her mid-30s."

Overall, 37 percent of the fresh non-donor procedures started in 2003 among women younger than 35 resulted in live births. This percentage of live births decreased to 30 percent among women aged 35-37, 20 percent among women aged 38-40, 11 percent among women aged 41-42 and 4 percent among women older than 42.........

Posted by: Emily      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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