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February 28, 2006, 11:18 PM CT

Technology Helps Disabled Kids Find Their Voice

Technology Helps Disabled Kids Find Their Voice
Laptop computers that combine features from popular toys with innovative technology have rapidly accelerated the learning and communication ability of disabled children, Penn State scientists say. The technology could in the future be adapted to victims of major accidents and the elderly as well.

As per Janice Light, distinguished professor of communication sciences and disorders at Penn State, more than 2 million Americans are unable to use speech to communicate, and children are a major component of this population.

"Kids learn and communicate through speech by trying out new words and forming sentences," says Light. "f they can't do that due to problems such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, then it is going to be difficult to learn how to read and write, make friends, and communicate their needs".

Computer-based technology that provides speech output is increasingly being used to assist such children in communicating but Light feels it has still not fully served its purpose.

"The design of a number of of these systems is really based on how adults think, and the machines are complicated and children take years learning how to use them," adds Light, who presented her findings today (Feb. 20) at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 28, 2006, 11:06 PM CT

A Better Way To Deliver Gene Therapy

A Better Way To Deliver Gene Therapy Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV). Source: University of California in San Francisco Computer Graphics Lab.
While gene treatment continues to be a promising area of medicine, a major drawback of this kind of therapy can spell failure for a number of patients enrolled in gene treatment clinical trials: Most people's immune systems may destroy the viral carrier that is most often used to deliver healthy genes into sick cells.

A new study explains that researchers may have found a way around this problem.

Scientists used a laboratory technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to alter genetic sequences of the outer coating, or capsid, of adeno-associated virus (AAV). AAV is a normally innocuous virus that is often used to deliver healthy genes to diseased tissues.

"We were able to make random changes throughout the entire genetic sequence of the AAV capsid," said Brian Kaspar, a co-author of study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

"And by doing that we generated more than a million different variations of this capsid, including mutations that the human immune system hopefully won't recognize and therefore shouldn't react against".

The scientists describe their technique in the current issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

In gene treatment, physicians insert healthy genes into a person who has an unhealthy form of those genes. The hope is that these new, good genes will correct the problem. Viruses are currently the most common vehicle used to deliver genes into the body.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


February 28, 2006, 11:00 PM CT

Who Gets Better Service At Clothing Stores?

Well-dressed Women Get Better Service At Clothing Stores
If women want the best possible service at a clothing store, they had better be looking fashionable and well-groomed before they hit the mall.

A new study found that well-dressed and groomed women received the friendliest and, in some cases, fastest service from salesclerks.

Researchers secretly observed interactions between customers and salesclerks at three large-sized women's clothing stores, timing how long clerks took to greet customers, and rating the clerks' friendliness.

Customers whose clothes were rated as more fashionable and attractive, and who showed better grooming and make-up skills, received better service than those whose appearance was not rated as highly.

"How well-dressed you are is one indicator of your status, and how much money you have to spend," said Sharron Lennon, co-author of the study and professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State University.

"Salesclerks believe that a well-dressed person is more likely to buy, and that affects the treatment she receives".

Lennon conducted the study with Minjeong Kim, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, who did the work while a graduate student at Ohio State.

Their results were published in a recent issue of Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


February 27, 2006, 10:04 PM CT

Link Between Obesity And The Urban Environment

Link Between Obesity And The Urban Environment
Scientists at the Mailman School of Public Health are studying the link between the urban environment and how it might contribute to the cause or origins of obesity. In a study that will have wide-reaching applications, the Mailman School is one of 14 groups across the United States to receive funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study the association between body size and the built environment.

Up until now, obesity research has focused on ways to change individual behavior but with obesity rates continuing to climb, scientists are now turning their efforts to the built environment and the interventions that might be effective in fighting the epidemic. Working with various city departments, Andrew Rundle, DrPH, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School, and his research team, are gathering data on neighborhood features such as land use, density of bus and subway stops, availability of nutritious food, the location and quality of parks and recreation facilities -- even the number of trees on a street and the number of buildings with elevators -- that affect a person's diet and activity levels. Upon completion of the research, Dr. Rundle expects to have a large base of evidence linking the built environment to body size.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 27, 2006, 9:45 PM CT

Across the Resolution Gap

Across the Resolution Gap The hair cells of the inner ear (below) are what make hearing possible.
One out of a thousand children in the United States is born deaf; ten percent of all people living in industrialized nations suffer from severe hearing loss - 30 million in the U.S. alone. These are pressing clinical reasons to learn just how hearing works and why it fails.

"Hearing in humans is a remarkable faculty," says Manfred Auer of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division. "It works over six orders of magnitude, from a whisper to the roar of a jet engine. If it were just a little more sensitive, we'd be able to hear the atoms colliding with our eardrums - in other words, our hearing is about as sensitive as we can stand without going crazy."

Hearing is also remarkable for its ability to adapt to constant loud noise yet still manage to pick out barely distinguishable sounds, "like being able to follow a single conversation across the room at a cocktail party, or hearing someone shout at you over the noise of a rock band," says Auer.

And humans can pinpoint the source of a sound to within less than a degree: one ear hears the sound slightly before the other, and the brain calculates the direction from the offset. But the difference in arrival times is less than a millionth of a second, a thousand times faster than most biochemical processes; thus hearing must depend on direct mechanical detection of sounds instantly translated into nerve signals.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink     


February 27, 2006, 9:27 PM CT

AIDS Rates Alarming In Attijuana, Mexico

AIDS Rates Alarming Attijuana, Mexico
A study by scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine indicates that the rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Tijuana, Mexico is increasing, and much higher than had been previously estimated. The findings are based on data compiled by a team of scientists working in San Diego and Mexico to create a population-based model in order to estimate HIV infection rates.

The number of men and women aged 15 to 49 years who are infected with HIV may be as high as one in 125 persons, as per Kimberly C. Brouwer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in UCSD's Division of International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. Brouwer's study would be reported in the March 1 issue of The Journal of Urban Health, a bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine.

Located directly south of San Diego California, Tijuana is a city of 1.2 million people located amidst the busiest land border crossing in the world. Data in this study suggest that Tijuana's HIV infection rate may be close to three times higher than Mexico's national average. The United Nations AIDS Program considers an HIV epidemic to advance from a low level to a concentrated epidemic when more than 1% of the population is infected - a figure that Tijuana may soon approach if preventive steps aren't taken, as per researchers.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


February 27, 2006, 9:23 PM CT

Reprogramming Malignant Melanoma Cells

Reprogramming Malignant Melanoma Cells
Researchers at Northwestern University and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have reprogrammed cancerous melanoma cells to become normal melanocytes, or pigment cells, a development that may hold promise in treating of one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

A report describing the group's research was reported in the Feb. 27 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that will appear in the March 7 issue of the journal.

The experiments were conducted as a collaboration involving the laboratories of Mary J. C. Hendrix, president and scientific director of the Children's Memorial Research Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Paul M. Kulesa, director of Imaging at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo.

Hendrix is professor of pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a member of the executive committees of The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

The study demonstrated the ability of cancerous melanoma cells to respond to embryonic environmental cues in a chick model -- in a manner similar to neural crest cells, the cell type from which melanocytes originate -- inducing cancerous cells express genes associated with a normal melanocyte.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


February 27, 2006, 8:30 PM CT

Medical Device Combines Wireless and MEMS Technology

Medical Device Combines Wireless and MEMS Technology Deborah McGee of CardioMEMS examines an EndoSure sensor in the company's clean room facility in the ATDC Biosciences Center located at Georgia Tech's Environmental Science and Technology Building. The sensor is implanted to measure pressure in an aneurism being treated by a stent graft. Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
Winning a thumbs-up from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, CardioMEMS Inc. has launched its EndoSure- sensor, which makes testing safer and more convenient for aneurysm patients.

Based on intellectual property from the Georgia Institute of Technology, EndoSure is the first implantable pressure sensor that combines wireless and microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology to receive FDA clearance.

"This is a significant milestone that validates our product is safe and relevant," says David Stern, CardioMEMS' chief executive, noting that the FDA based its 510(k) clearance on results from an international clinical study involving more than 100 hospital patients in the United States as well as Brazil, Argentina and Canada.

Better results, less hassle.

Officially known as the EndoSure Wireless AAA Pressure Measurement System, CardioMEMs' innovative device measures blood pressure in people who have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ruptures from this weakening of the lower aorta rank as the 13th leading cause of death in the United States. Although doctors can treat the bulging artery with a stent graft, stents can fail, so aneurysm patients require lifetime monitoring.

Yet traditional testing methods, such as CT scans, are expensive and time-consuming. What's more, CT scans are limited in scope because they only reveal the size of an aneurysm. In contrast, the EndoSure monitors pressure inside the aneurysm sac - the most important measurement for doctors to know.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


February 27, 2006, 0:10 AM CT

How Gold Works In Arthritis

How Gold Works In Arthritis Gold coins
Gold compounds have been used for the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases for more than 75 years, but until now, how the metals work has been a mystery. Harvard Medical School scientists report in the Feb. 27 issue of Nature Chemical Biology that special forms of gold, platinum, and other classes of medicinal metals work by stripping bacteria and virus particles from the grasp of a key immune system protein.

"We were searching for a new drug to treat autoimmune diseases," says Brian DeDecker, PhD, HMS post-doctoral student in the Department of Cell Biology and a co-author of study. At the time of this work, DeDecker was in the Harvard Medical School Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology, which uses powerful chemical tools to illuminate complex biological processes and provide new leads for drug development. "But instead we discovered a biochemical mechanism that may help explain how an old drug works".

DeDecker and co-author Stephen De Wall, PhD, undertook a large-scale search for new drugs that would suppress the function of an important component of the immune system, MHC class II proteins, which are associated with autoimmune diseases. MHC class II proteins normally hold pieces of invading bacteria and virus on the surface of specialized antigen presentation cells. Presentation of these pieces alerts other specialized recognition cells of the immune system called lymphocytes, which starts the normal immune response. Commonly this response is limited to harmful bacteria and viruses, but sometimes this process goes awry and the immune system turns towards the body itself causing autoimmune diseases such as Juvenile diabetes, Lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


February 27, 2006, 0:04 AM CT

link between rheumatoid arthritis and cancer

link between rheumatoid arthritis and cancer
An inflammatory disease of the immune system, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased occurrence of lymphoma--or cancers of the lymphatic system, which plays an integral role in the body's ability to fight infection. While various studies have affirmed this link, none have been able to pinpoint the specific effects of disease activity on lymphoma risk, let alone distinguish them from the effects of disease treatment.

Are certain RA patients more vulnerable to developing lymphoma? Do certain RA therapies--from standard NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) to novel immunosuppressive agents like TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers--work to alleviate or aggravate lymphoma risk? On a quest for answers, researchers in Sweden conducted the largest investigation of the link between RA and lymphoma to date. Their findings, featured in the March 2006 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), indicate a substantially increased risk of lymphoma among patients with severe RA. Very high and prolonged inflammatory activity, not its treatment, is the major risk factor.

Drawing their sample from a national register of nearly 75,000 RA patients, the research team analyzed the medical records and case histories of 378 RA patients afflicted with malignant lymphoma between 1964 and 1995 and 378 individually matched, lymphoma-free controls. Using statistical analysis, the relative risks or odds ratios for lymphoma were assessed for three different levels of overall disease activity--low, medium, or high--based on disease duration and swollen and tender joint counts. Odds ratios for lymphoma were also compared to treatment in broad categories: any DMARD, any NSAID, aspirin, oral steroids, injected steroids, and cytotoxic drugs. No patient in the sample had received anti-TNF therapy. In addition, lymphoma specimens were reclassified and tested for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).........

Posted by: Mark      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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