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March 15, 2006, 6:46 AM CT

Halting Alzheimer's By Blocking An Enzyme

Halting Alzheimer's By Blocking An Enzyme
Oregon Health & Science University is participating in a national study of a drug that may prevent Alzheimer's disease by blocking an enzyme that produces plaques believed to trigger the disorder.

OHSU is one of six sites around the country taking part in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the agent known as LY450139, a gamma secretase inhibitor manufactured by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. Other study sites are in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Seattle, and La Jolla, Calif. Lilly is funding the study.

Gamma secretase is an enzyme that produces beta-amyloid by snipping a fragment of the protein from a larger protein that extends across the plasma membrane of the cell. The beta-amyloid fragments clump together to form dense, insoluble plaques inside the hippocampus, a curved, elongated ridge deep in the brain that controls learning and memory, and the cerebral cortex, the surface layer of gray matter of the cerebrum where sensory and motor information is coordinated.

The gamma secretase enzyme is made up of a complex of four proteins, and LY450139 is thought to de-activate it by binding within the complex, eventhough the exact location is still being studied.

"There is a theory that beta-amyloid produces Alzheimer's disease, so if you stop the amyloid, you stop the disease," said Joseph Quinn, M.D., associate professor of neurology, and cell and developmental biology, OHSU School of Medicine and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He also is an investigator at OHSU's Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


March 15, 2006, 6:39 AM CT

Sodas Can Supply A Surprising Caffeine Jolt

Sodas Can Supply A Surprising Caffeine Jolt
Some carbonated sodas and energy drinks are loaded with caffeine and can give an unhealthy pick-me-up to unsuspecting consumers, University of Florida researchers warn.

Because caffeine can pose health risks for people with certain medical conditions, beverages containing the additive should clearly list the amount they contain, a UF toxicologist recommends in a report assessing caffeine levels of cold beverages published this month in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

Bruce Goldberger, director of UF's William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, said the surprisingly high caffeine content in some beverages could present problems for pregnant women and children, and for adults with hypertension, heart disease or mental health ailments such as anxiety.

"We weren't surprised that there was caffeine in the sodas and some of the other beverages," said Goldberger, who is also director of toxicology and a professor of pathology and psychiatry at UF's College of Medicine. The surprise, he said, was the high concentration of caffeine in some of the energy drinks, which exceeded the government's recommendations for cold beverages.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends a maximum caffeine concentration of 65 milligrams per 12-ounce serving of cola beverages, though it does not regulate caffeine content of these drinks. And although the agency requires the presence of caffeine be disclosed, it does not mandate that caffeine quantity be specified on labeling for energy drinks and cold coffee beverages.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 15, 2006, 6:28 AM CT

Reducing Fine Particulate Air Pollution May Save Lives

Reducing Fine Particulate Air Pollution May Save Lives
Investigators who extended the Harvard Six Cities fine particulate air pollution study by eight years found that reduced levels of tiny particle pollution during this period lowered mortality risk for participants.

The results appear in the second issue for March 2006 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

The findings of the original Harvard Six Cities study (1979 to 1990) revealed an association between levels of fine particulate matter pollution and mortality risk. The new study, which was conducted from 1990 to 1998, reports on this later period of reduced air pollution concentration.

Francine Laden, Sc.D., of Channing Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts, and three associates found that the largest drops in adjusted mortality rates were in cities with the greatest reduction in fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5). The investigators' findings remained valid even after setting controls for the general increase in adult life expectancy that occurred in the U.S. during both study periods (1979 to 1989 and 1990 to 1998).

"This reduction was observed specifically for deaths due to cardiovascular and respiratory disease and not from lung cancer, a disease with a longer latency period and less reversibility," said Dr. Laden.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


March 15, 2006, 6:25 AM CT

Jalapenos To Fight Prostate Cancer

Jalapenos To Fight Prostate Cancer
Capsaicin, the stuff that turns up the heat in jalapeños, not only causes the tongue to burn, it also drives prostate cancer cells to kill themselves, as per studies reported in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.

As per a team of scientists from the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in collaboration with colleagues from UCLA, the pepper component caused human prostate cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death or apoptosis.

Capsaicin induced approximately 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing in mice to follow the molecular pathways leading to apoptosis. Prostate cancer tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in non-treated mice.

"Capsaicin had a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells in culture," said Soren Lehmann, M.D., Ph.D., visiting scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the UCLA School of Medicine. "It also dramatically slowed the development of prostate tumors formed by those human cell lines grown in mouse models."

Lehmann estimated that the dose of pepper extract fed orally to the mice was equivalent to giving 400 milligrams of capsaicin three times a week to a 200 pound man, roughly equivalent to between three and eight fresh habañera peppers - depending on the pepper's capsaicin content. Habañeras are the highest rated pepper for capsaicin content as per the Scoville heat index. Habañero peppers, which are native to the Yucatan, typically contain up to 300,000 Scoville units. The more popular Jalapeño variety from Oaxaca, Mexico, and the southwest United States, contains 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


March 14, 2006, 7:25 AM CT

Radon And Lung Cancer

Radon And Lung Cancer
Scientists and researchers point out that recently there is an increase in the number of lung cancer diagnosis among nonsmokers. This is particularly true for women. Recent sad and untimely demise of Dana Reeve has heightened public awareness about lung cancer, particularly among people who have never smoked.

While cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of lung cancer, other factors such as passive smoking and exposure to radon gas from the house environment are increasingly coming in to highlight. Lung cancer from smoking and passing exposure to smoke claims an estimated 163,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year. It is estimated that radon is the cause of another 21,000 cases of lung cancer deaths annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

Experts claim that a number of of these deaths due to exposure to radon gas could be prevented if enough precautions are taken. Nationally, about 1 in 15 homes has high radon levels, and that number is higher in some states.

It is not possible to detect the presence of radon gas in your house environment because it is a colorless, odorless tasteless gas. Radon gas is produced as part of the natural decay process of uranium. Areas, which have high content of mineral such as some mountainous areas, may have a higher risk of increased levels of radon gas.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink


March 13, 2006, 10:50 PM CT

Intensive statin therapy may partially reverse plaque build-up

Intensive statin therapy may partially reverse plaque build-up
A study presented today at the American College of Cardiology's 55th Annual Scientific Session demonstrates, for the first time, that very intensive cholesterol lowering with a statin drug can regress (partially reverse) the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. This finding has never before been observed in a study using statin drugs, the most usually used cholesterol lowering therapy. Prior research had indicated that intensive statin treatment could prevent the progression of coronary atherosclerosis, or arterial plaque build-up, but not actually reduce disease burden. ACC.06 is the premier cardiovascular medical meeting, bringing together more than 30,000 cardiologists to further breakthroughs in cardiovascular medicine.

The intense statin treatment used in this study resulted in significant regression of atherosclerosis as measured by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), a technique in which a tiny ultrasound probe is inserted into the coronary arteries to measure plaque. The study showed that regression occurred for all three pre-specified IVUS measures of disease burden. The mean baseline LDL cholesterol of 130.4 mg/dL dropped to 60.8 mg/dL in the study patients, an reduction of 53.2 percent. This is the largest reduction in cholesterol ever observed in a major statin outcome trial. Mean HDL cholesterol (43.1 mg/dL at baseline) increased to 49.0 mg/dL, a 14.7 percent increase, which was also unprecedented. The arterial plaque overall was reduced by 6.8 to 9.1% for the various measures of disease burden.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


March 13, 2006, 10:39 PM CT

Obesity Surgery May Confer Cardiac Benefit

As rates of obesity in America continue to soar, surgery has become an increasingly popular solution when diet and exercise regimens fail. Bariatric surgery is now an approved therapeutic intervention for class II-III obesity, and may correlate to improved risk for heart disease. In a study presented today at the American College of Cardiology's 55th Annual Scientific Session, a team of scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota evaluated the effect of bariatric surgery on longterm cardiovascular risk and estimated prevented outcomes. ACC.06 is the premier cardiovascular medical meeting, bringing together over 30,000 cardiologists to further breakthroughs in cardiovascular medicine.

The team completed a historical study between 1990 and 2003 of 197 patients with class II-III obesity who undertook Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (sometimes referred to as "stomach stapling"), compared to 163 control patients enrolled in a weight reduction program. With an average follow-up time of 3.3 years, the team recorded changes in cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI) and diabetes criteria.

Though the team originally estimated a higher 10-year risk for cardiac events in the surgical group at the start of the study due to their associated conditions, scientists found at follow-up that the patients had a much lower risk than the control group for having a heart complication (18.3 vs. 30 percent). Using the study parameters and risk models based on previously published data, the team estimated that for every 100 patients, the surgery would prevent 16.2 cardiovascular events and 4.1 overall deaths, as compared to the control group. However, should the number of deaths during surgery approach 4 percent, the protective effect is limited, as may be in the case in centers with very low volumes of weight loss surgeries.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


March 13, 2006, 10:28 PM CT

Coffee Reduces Risk Of Pancreatitis

Coffee Reduces Risk Of Pancreatitis
Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found how coffee can reduce the risk of alcohol-induced pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing severe abdominal pain. It is often triggered by alcohol consumption which causes digestive enzymes to digest part of the pancreas.

Researchers have known for some time that coffee can reduce the risk of alcoholic pancreatitis, but have been unable to determine how. Scientists at the University have now discovered that caffeine can partially close special channels within cells, reducing to some extent the damaging effects of alcohol products on the pancreas.

Professor Ole Petersen and Professor Robert Sutton, from the University's Physiological Laboratory and Division of Surgery, have found that cells in the pancreas can be damaged by products of alcohol and fat formed in the pancreas when oxygen levels in the organ are low. Under these conditions, excessive amounts of calcium are released from stores within the cells of the pancreas. Special organelles, called mitochondria, also become damaged and cannot produce the energiser that normally allows calcium to be pumped out of the cells. The excess calcium then activates protein breakdown, destroying the cells in the pancreas.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 13, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

Diabetic patients overestimate body weight

Diabetic patients overestimate body weight
Heavier patients with diabetes are more likely to overestimate their "healthiest" body weight compared to those of normal weight, as per a research studyreported in the current issue of Diabetes Care.

"We wanted to understand how well patients with diabetes could identify healthy body weight because self-management is an essential part of diabetes therapy," said Kathleen McTigue, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and first author of the study. "Understanding weight-related health risk could be an important step toward setting healthy lifestyle goals and effective weight management."

In a survey of 2,461 diabetes patients, responses revealed that a number of had a less-than-accurate view of healthy body weight.

"Among respondents, 41 percent reported a 'healthiest' weight for their height that actually measured in the overweight body mass index (BMI) range, and 6 percent reported a 'healthiest' weight that was obese," said Dr. McTigue, who also is an internal medicine specialist associated with the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute (UPDI). "One participant selected a BMI in the underweight range as 'healthiest.' ".

Among respondents whose BMI measurements classified them as obese, 66 percent identified overweight or obese dimensions as ideal for health. Among the overweight, some 41 percent chose a higher-than-optimal body weight as healthy. In contrast, only 4 percent of normal-weight patients overestimated healthy body weight.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


March 13, 2006, 10:06 PM CT

A Woman With Amazing Memory

A Woman With Amazing  Memory
Scientists at UC Irvine have identified the first known case of a new memory syndrome - a woman with the ability to perfectly and instantly recall details of her past. Her case is the first of its kind to be recorded and chronicled in scientific literature and could open new avenues of research in the study of learning and memory.

Scientists Elizabeth Parker, Larry Cahill and James L. McGaugh spent more than five years studying the case of "AJ," a 40-year-old woman with incredibly strong memories of her personal past. Given a date, AJ can recall with astonishing accuracy what she was doing on that date and what day of the week it fell on. Because her case is the first one of its kind, the scientists have proposed a name for her syndrome - hyperthymestic syndrome, based on the Greek word thymesis for "remembering" and hyper, meaning "more than normal".

Their findings appear in the current issue of the journal Neurocase.

AJ first wrote McGaugh with the details of her extraordinary ability in 2000. She wrote that she "can take a date, between 1974 and today, and tell you what day it falls on, what I was doing that day and if anything of importance occurred on that day." She had been called "the human calendar" for years by her friends and acquaintances.........

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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