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March 8, 2006, 9:08 PM CT

The Economics Of Chemotherapy

The Economics Of Chemotherapy
How much money is reimbursed may affect the choice of chemotherapy drugs of oncologist according to a new study. However payment methods did not have any affect whether doctors favor chemotherapy over other therapys.

The study, done by scientists from the University of Michigan and Harvard University, covered only physicians in the United States. This study can be seen in current issue of the academic journal Health Affairs.

The study has observed that once the decision to use chemotherapy is made, the current payment system appears to prompt some physicians to use more expensive drugs, the study found. The research found that providers who were more generously reimbursed prescribed more costly chemotherapy regimens to metastatic breast, colorectal and lung cancer patients.

Oncology practice is unique in the sense that the doctor can dispense his or her own drugs in the clinic. A number of times profit derived from the chemotherapy drugs may be a factor in the choice of specific chemotherapy drugs. These oncologists are paid for the cost of the chemotherapy drugs given intravenously in their offices, even though they frequently purchase the drugs at lower prices than the amounts they are paid in insurance reimbursements.

Critics of the drug reimbursement policy say that a potential conflict of interest among oncologists advising patients on therapy, while cancer doctors argue that profit is needed to pay the high cost of running their practices. Unlike other office practices an oncology requires more office space, chemotherapy chairs and skilled chemotherapy nurses. They also argue that revenue allows patients to be treated in their offices, rather than in the hospital, which is more expensive and less convenient to patients.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink     


March 7, 2006, 8:33 PM CT

What Are The Qualities Of A Good Physician?

What Are The Qualities Of A Good Physician?
A study of Mayo Clinic patients has found seven behaviors define the 'ideal' doctor and supports an Institute of Medicine recommendation that quality medical care should include a patient-centered approach.

The Mayo Clinic-led study was designed to develop a comprehensive set of ideal doctor behaviors. Telephone interviews were conducted in 2001 and 2002 with 192 patients who were seen in 14 medical specialties of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Rochester.

Reported in the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the article was based on transcripts of patients detailing their best and worst experiences with a Mayo Clinic physician. From the transcripts, study authors identified seven behaviors that describe the ideal doctor -- confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough.

Conversely, patients who described a "worst physician" experience focused on traits reflecting opposites of desired doctor behaviors, particularly perceived insensitive or disrespectful behavior.

The study suggests that training new and practicing physicians about interpersonal skills could have far-reaching effects for patients. The quality of a patient's relationship with a doctor can affect not only a patient's emotional responses, but also behavioral and medical outcomes such as compliance and recovery.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 7, 2006, 8:19 PM CT

Liquid crystals and embryonic stem cells

Liquid crystals and embryonic stem cells
Liquid crystals, the same phase-shifting materials used to display information on cell phones, monitors and other electronic equipment, can also be used to report in real time on the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Differentiation is the process by which embryonic stem cells gradually turn into function-specific types of adult cells or so-called "cell lineages," including skin, heart or brain cells.

The main challenge facing stem cell research is that of guiding differentiation along these well-defined, controlled lineages. Stem cells grown in the laboratory tend to differentiate in an uncontrolled manner, resulting in a mixture of cells of little medical use.

Now, UW-Madison scientists at the NSF-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) have shown that by straining mechanically the cells as they grow, it is possible to reduce significantly and almost eliminate the uncontrolled differentiation of stem cells.

In an article in the recent issue of Advanced Functional Materials, the team reports on a liquid crystal-based cell culture system that promises new ways of achieving real-time control over interactions between synthetic materials and human embryonic stem cells, including the possibility of straining embryonic stem cells as they grow.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


March 7, 2006, 8:12 PM CT

A Database For The Microbes

A Database For The Microbes
Scientists at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have launched a publicly-available microbial database to host a range of microbial genome sequences.

The VBI Microbial Database (VMD), which is described in a recent article published in Nucleic Acids Research (Vol.34, D379-D381), contains genome sequence and annotation data for the plant pathogens Phytophthora sojae and Phytophthora ramorum. The purpose of the database is to make the recently completed genome sequences of these pathogens as well as powerful analytical tools widely available to scientists in one integrated resource. The work described in the paper was completed by Brett Tyler, VBI research professor and professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science at Virginia Tech, and VBI scientists Sucheta Tripathy, Varun Pandey, Bing Fang, and Fidel Salas.

VMD is an integrated resource that includes community annotation features, toolkits, and resources to perform complex queries of biological information. The project's scientists created a browser, which makes it easy for users to view the genome sequence data and connect to detailed annotation pages for each sequence. The community annotation interface is available for registered members to add or edit annotations.

The database will be expanded in 2006 to include genome sequences for the fungal pathogen Alternaria brassicicola and the oomycete pathogen Hyaloperonospora parasitica, both of which can infect the model plant Arabidopsis. In addition, support for proteomic and microarray data will be added, which will be linked to the functional genomic data and the genome sequences.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


March 7, 2006, 6:54 PM CT

A tribute to Dana Reeves

A tribute to Dana Reeves
When Dana Reeves announced the news of her lung cancer in August nobody expected that she would go away so quickly. The singer-actress Dana Reeves married the super star of the "Superman" movies and soon found herself to be devoted his care and his cause after he was paralyzed. Less than a year after her husband's death she was diagnosed with lung cancer and she died, a year-and-a-half after her husband because of this disease. She was 44 years old.

On 12th of January she belted out Carole King's "Now and Forever" at a packed Madison Square Garden during a ceremony honoring hockey star Mark Messier, a friend. She looked quite healthy at that time and this sad demise was sudden and unexpected.

It is not surprising for a number of of us who have seen the realities of patients who are suffering from this awful disease.

Dana Reeve, who lived in Pound Ridge, died Monday night at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center in Manhattan, said the Christopher Reeve Foundation president Kathy Lewis.

Officials would not discuss Reeve's therapy or say when she entered the hospital. But Lewis said she visited her there on Friday, when Reeve was "tired but with her typical sense of humor and smile, always trying to make other people feel good, her characteristic personality".........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink     


March 7, 2006, 0:21 AM CT

Separate Brain Mechanisms For Ambiguous And Risky Choices

Separate Brain Mechanisms For Ambiguous And Risky Choices
Distinct regions of the human brain are activated when people are faced with ambiguous choices versus choices involving only risk, Duke University Medical Center scientists have discovered.

The researchers found that they could predict activation of different brain areas, based on how averse study participants were toward either risk or ambiguity. The finding confirms what economists have long debated -- that different attitudes toward perceived risk and ambiguity in decision-making situations may reflect a basic distinction in brain function, the scientists said. Such fundamental knowledge of neural functioning will contribute to an understanding of why people make risky choices, and how such risk-taking can become pathological, as in addiction or compulsive gambling, they added.

Their study appears in the March 2, 2006 issue of Neuron. The research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and Duke.

"We were able to see individual differences in brain activation depending on the person's preferences or aversions to risk and ambiguity," said Scott Huettel, Ph.D., lead author and a neuroscientist with the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke University. "People who preferred ambiguity had increased activation in the prefrontal cortex, and people who preferred risk had increased activation in the parietal cortex. This opens up the possibility that there are specific neural mechanisms for different forms of economic decision making, which is a very exciting idea."........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


March 7, 2006, 0:18 AM CT

Making Cancer Drugs To Hit Harder

Making Cancer Drugs To Hit Harder
Researchers have devised a blueprint for boosting anti-cancer drugs' effectiveness and lowering their toxicity by attaching the equivalent of a lead sinker onto the drugs. This extra weight makes the drugs penetrate and accumulate inside tumors more effectively.

Chemotherapy drugs often fall short of achieving their full impact because the drugs diffuse in and out of the tumor too rapidly, said the researchers from Duke University Medical Center and Duke's Pratt School of Engineering.

The researchers increased the size of the drug by adding a "macromolecular weight" that increases its concentration and staying power inside the tumor. The heavier molecules are more selectively absorbed by tumors because tumor blood vessels are more permeable or "leakier" than normal blood vessels. Thus, larger molecules can pass through the tumor vessels more easily.

Drugs with a greater molecular weight also reduce chemotherapy's toxicity to healthy tissue because the large molecules cannot easily permeate normal blood vessels. As a result, normal tissue receives less of the drug than does the tumor.

Results of the study, funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, are reported in the March 1, 2006, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 7, 2006, 0:13 AM CT

Finding and Treating Fetal Heart Defects

Finding and Treating Fetal Heart Defects
Doctors with Duke University Medical Center's Fetal Cardiology Program can accurately diagnose heart defects before birth with fetal echocardiograpy, a test similar to the ultrasound performed in an obstetrician's office.

"We believe the best care of a child with suspected or known congenital heart disease begins before the child is born," said Piers Barker, M.D. assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at Duke.

About 40,000 babies in the U.S. are born with heart defects each year, as per the March of Dimes. Heart defects are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths, the organization says.

A fetal echocardiogram is similar to an obstetrical ultrasound; both use sound waves to create an image of the fetus. However, fetal echocardiography ultrasound is designed to clearly capture pictures of a tiny, fast beating fetal heart. It is painless and non-invasive.

Early diagnosis of congenital heart defects is important because it allows parents and physicians time to prepare for care after the baby is born, Barker said. In most cases, expectant mothers can continue to see their regular obstetrician, he said. "However, if a fetus has complex congenital heart disease, we often recommend the mother deliver at a tertiary care hospital with immediate access to a level III NICU and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons," Barker said. A NICU is a neonatal intensive care unit.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


March 4, 2006, 10:10 PM CT

Delicious Apple Bars

Delicious Apple Bars
Moist, chewy apple bars pack the flavor and nutritional boost of two orchard-fresh apples into a handy, all-natural snack. These sweet treats-about the size of an ordinary energy bar, but slimmer-result from patented technology developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in California.

The scientists' food-processing procedures enable the bars to stay moist and intensely flavorful without artificial preservatives. Also, the rich flavor means there's no need to add salt or sugar.

The bars make a tasty addition to a child's school lunch or a grown-up's afternoon coffee break, according to Tara H. McHugh in the agency's Western Regional Research Center at Albany, Calif.

The soft, single-serving bars are made from apple puree that's mixed with apple concentrate and shaped-in a standard piece of food-processing equipment-into neat rectangles.

Apple bars are the newest addition to the line of all-natural fruit snacks from McHugh's team, the Processed Foods Research Unit.

Gorge Delights of Hood River, Ore., uses crisp, delicious apples from the region's picturesque orchards to make the bars. Great Foods of America, the Cresskill, N.J., marketers for the well-known Earth Balance and Smart Balance brands, markets the bars under the Earth Balance name.........

By Kottapurath Kunjumoideen MD      Permalink     


March 4, 2006, 9:54 PM CT

How to Identify Added Dietary Sugars?

How to Identify Added Dietary Sugars? Added sugars can be found in bakery products such as cakes, cookies and pies.
Dietary professionals and others interested in checking the amount of "added" sugars in foods can now tap a new data resource. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) nutritionists today launched an online table that lets users look up the added sugars, total sugars and carbohydrates in 2,041 common foods listed.

The "special interest table" was produced by scientists in the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL), one of six units that make up the ARS Beltsville (Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC). The NDL is headed by nutritionist Joanne Holden. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

U.S. consumers eat about 74 pounds of added sugars per year, as per 1999-2002 survey data analyzed by scientists at the BHNRC's Community Nutrition Research Group. That's about 23 teaspoons of added sugars every day--or 460 calories that supply no additional nutrients.

In the new table, added sugars are defined as those sugars added to foods and beverages during processing or home preparation. The data reported are estimated values based on the added sweeteners listed under "ingredients" on the package labels of processed foods and beverages. Some added sugars listed under ingredients include honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and malt syrup.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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