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April 17, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

Gene Crucial For Nerve Cell Insulation

Gene Crucial For Nerve Cell Insulation
Scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered how a defect in a single master gene disrupts the process by which several genes interact to create myelin, a fatty coating that covers nerve cells and increases the speed and reliability of their electrical signals.

The discovery has implications for understanding disorders of myelin production. These disorders can affect the peripheral nervous systemthe nerves outside the brain and spine. These disorders are known collectively according toipheral neuropathies. Peripheral neuropathies can result in numbness, weakness, pain, and impaired movement. They include one of the most common genetically genetic disorders, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes progressive muscle weakening.

The myelin sheath that surrounds a nerve cell is analogous to the insulating material that coats an electrical cord or wire, keeping nerve impulses from dissipating, allowing them to travel farther and faster along the length of the nerve cell.

The scientists discovered how a defect in just one copy of the gene, known as early growth response gene 2 (EGR2) affects the normal copy of the gene as well as the functioning of other genes, resulting in peripheral neuropathy.

"The scientists have deciphered a key sequence essential to the assembly of myelin," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD, the NIH institute that funded the study. "Their discovery will provide important insight into the origins of disorders affecting myelin production".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 17, 2007, 4:49 AM CT

Change in neuroticism tied to mortality rates

Change in neuroticism tied to mortality rates
While mellowing with age has often been thought to have positive effects, a Purdue University researcher has shown that doing so could also help you live longer.

Dan Mroczek (pronounced Mro-ZAK), an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University, compared neurotic and non-neurotic men over time and tied change in the trait with mortality.

"We observed that neurotic men whose levels dropped over time had a better chance at living longer," Mroczek said. "They seemed to recover from any damage high levels of the trait may have caused. On the flip side, neurotic men whose neuroticism increased over time died much sooner than their peers."

A neurotic personality was defined as a person with the tendency to worry, feel excessive amounts of anxiety or depression and to react to stressful life events more negatively than people with low levels of the trait. Neuroticism levels were measured using a standardized personality test.

Results of the study would be reported in the print edition of the journal Psychological Science in late May. The study is available online at http://www.psychologicalscience.org.

In the study, scientists tracked the change in neuroticism levels of 1,663 aging men over a 12-year period. Using the data gathered in the first analysis, scientists calculated the men's mortality risk over an 18-year period using the average levels and rates of change.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 16, 2007, 10:08 PM CT

A Pancreas Cancer Risk Model

A Pancreas Cancer Risk Model
People with a family history of pancreatic cancer now have a way to accurately predict their chance of carrying a gene for hereditary pancreatic cancer and their lifetime risk of developing the disease. Developed by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers, the novel computer software tool is designed to help genetic counselors and physicians decide who would most benefit from early screening.

An estimated 10 percent of aggressive and highly fatal cases of the disease are caused by inherited genes. Even if there is a 100 percent chance that an individual carries a pancreatic cancer gene, their risk for developing the disease is only 20 to 25 percent over their lifetime, says Alison Klein, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry at Johns Hopkins. So, while its a rare disease, the need for screening in these persons is important.

The risk calculator, based on similar tools for breast and colon cancer, calculates a percentage score of probability that a person carries a pancreatic cancer gene. Called PancPRO, it also computes an individuals lifetime risk of developing the disease.

Eventhough scientists have still not identified specific genes that cause the disease, they can estimate high risk based on clusters of family members with a history of pancreatic cancer. We know how genes behave, and coupled with information about a family - who has the disease, their age, family size, and causes of death - our model can provide a good estimate of an individuals risk, says Klein.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


April 16, 2007, 9:16 PM CT

Strong Marriage And Temperamental Baby

Strong Marriage And Temperamental Baby
Couples with infants who are especially fussy or difficult typically do just fine as parents - as long as they have a strong marital relationship.

A new study observed that a couple's relationship with each other was key in determining how they reacted as parents when faced with a temperamental baby.

"When couples with a supportive marital relationship have a difficult baby, they tend to rise to the challenge," said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

"Couples who don't have a strong relationship with each other are more likely to undermine each other and get into conflicts when they have to deal with a especially challenging baby".

Schoppe-Sullivan conducted the study with Sarah Mangelsdorf and Geoffrey Brown of the University of Illinois, and Margaret Szewczyk Sokolowski of Minneapolis. Their results were published in a recent issue of the journal Infant Behavior & Development.

Schoppe-Sullivan said there has been surprisingly little study about how the characteristics of an infant can affect how couples interact as parents - what scientists call the "coparenting relationship".

While there have been studies examining how mothers themselves deal with difficult babies, this study focused on how mothers and fathers work together as parents.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 15, 2007, 9:23 PM CT

Breathing for better lung health

Breathing for better lung health
While working to find novel ways to treat the life-threatening disease of cystic fibrosis, scientists at the University of North Carolina have discovered that the rhythmic motion of the lungs during normal breathing is a critical regulator of the clearance of bacteria and other noxious materials. Their research, funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the National Institute of Health, is reported in the latest issue of The Journal of Physiology.

Their findings have important implications in the understanding and therapy of cystic fibrosis (CF), the most common fatal genetic disease in the United States (30,000 sufferers) and the UK (7,500 sufferers). As a result of CF, the body produces abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, leading to difficulty in breathing and chronic, life-threatening lung infections.

Dr. Brian Button and his colleagues at the University of North Carolinas Cystic Fibrosis Research and Treatment Center observed that the rhythmic motion of the lung during normal breathing is important in establishing the rate of mucus clearance and can help the lung in responding to changes in lung environment, such as during a lung infection.

More importantly, in CF, they observed that rhythmic motion of the lung can result in re-hydration of the airways and acceleration of mucus clearance, thus promoting lung health in CF patients. The scientists speculate that this may explain the preservation of mucus clearance in young CF patients previous to the onset of chronic infections.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 15, 2007, 9:14 PM CT

alcohol and sleep-related breathing disorder

alcohol and sleep-related breathing disorder
Increased usual alcohol consumption among men is linked to an increased risk of a mild or worse sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD), as per a research studyreported in the April 15th issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM).

The study, authored by Paul E. Peppard, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focused on 775 men and 645 women, who were reviewed for alcohol consumption and a sleep-related breathing disorder. It was discovered that, relative to men who consumed less alcohol, for each increment of one drink per day, men who consumed more alcohol had 25 percent greater odds of a mild or worse SRBD.

Among women, minimal to moderate alcohol consumption was not significantly linked to an increased risk of an SRBD. As per Peppard, possible explanations for this include the limited range of alcohol consumption reported by women in the study sample, reducing the ability to detect clinically important moderate associations. Alternatively, added Peppard, women may be more resistant than men to threats to nocturnal respiratory stability. Such protection may be due to hormonally-mediated increased ventilatory drive, anatomical differences or other characteristics that may provide general protection for women from events of an SRBD, noted Peppard, adding that women, for example, appear to require relatively greater increases in body mass to demonstrate weight-related increments in an SRBD in comparison to men.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 15, 2007, 9:05 PM CT

Genetics, society and race

Genetics, society and race
Minority individuals are much more likely to develop and die from cancer than the general U.S. population. Prior research points to lack of health insurance, poverty, language and cultural barriers, and inadequate access to early detection services and good medical care as causes. Research reported today at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) suggests that genetics, in addition to socioeconomic status, are important factors accounting for the disparity of cancer incidence and mortality between African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians.

Exploring New Measures of Socio-Demographic Factors Linked to Later Stage of Cancer Diagnosis: Abstract 795

A survey of stomach and kidney cancer patients in Los Angeles revealed that those who were diagnosed in a late stage of disease when cancer is harder to treat successfully were likely to be older, living in an unsafe neighborhood and traveling at least 45 minutes to get to the doctor.

Scientists at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine cite two general types of personal risk factors linked to late cancer diagnosis: socio-economic, or cultural, factors correlation to knowledge about the health care system and difficulties accessing it; and individuals' failure to give priority to medical care, despite having access to it.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 15, 2007, 9:02 PM CT

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge
We all know that eating fruits, vegetables and soy products provides essential nutrition for a healthy lifestyle, while obesity leads to the opposite. Yet proving the effect of nutrition, or obesity, on cancer is an experimental challenge and a focus for scientists. As per emerging evidence being presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, eating well might still be one of the more pleasurable ways to prevent cancer and promote good health.

A novel mechanism for the chemoprotection by 3,3-diindolylmethane (DIM) and genistein for breast and ovary cancer: Abstract 4217

Eating such foods as broccoli and soy are believed to offer some protection against cancer, but how this occurs is not well-understood. Now, in laboratory experiments, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered a biological mechanism whereby two compounds in these foods might lower the invasive and metastatic potential of breast and ovary cancer cells.

They observed that diindolylmethane (DIM), a compound resulting from digestion of cruciferous vegetables, and genistein, a major isoflavone in soy, reduce production of two proteins whose chemotactic attraction to each other is necessary for the spread of breast and ovary cancers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 15, 2007, 8:56 PM CT

New non-invasive diagnostic technologies

New non-invasive diagnostic technologies
Molecular messages and signals circulating in blood or contained in cells lining the airway can identify early stage cancer, as per research reported today at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Researchers looking to apply basic science knowledge to medical practice are in the process of developing tests that diagnose, predict or monitor cancer risks, without invasive tissue sampling. Such tests could benefit all, especially underserved populations, such as the poor, who often wait until symptoms appear before seeing a doctor.

Lung carcinogenesis tracked by DNA methylation mapping from exhaled breath of ambulatory subjects: Abstract 827

A series of quietly exhaled breaths might indicate whether or not a patient is at risk for lung cancer, as per scientists from the New York State Department of Health. Using DNA recovered from exhaled breath, scientists can examine the state of cells that line the lungs, and potentially detect cancer at an early stage, when therapy may be most successful.

"Early detection of lung cancer is vital, yet there is no current non-invasive means of identifying cancer in a clinical setting," said Simon Spivack, M.D., M.P.H, research doctor in the Human Toxicology & Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory at the New York State Department of Healths Wadsworth Center. "We have observed that exhaled breath contains DNA, we believe from the cells lining the lungs, which may then tell us whether that person is at risk for cancer".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 15, 2007, 8:51 PM CT

Targeted Therapy For A Specific Form Of Leukemia

Targeted Therapy For A Specific Form Of Leukemia
Leukemia, or cancer of the bone marrow, strikes some 700 Belgians each year. Researchers are still searching for the cause of a number of forms of leukemia, including T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or T-ALL. Now, VIB scientists connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven have identified a new player in the development of some 10% of the T-ALL cases: MYB. The researchers have discovered that patients in this group have a duplication of the MYB gene, which increases MYB concentrations. Further research has indicated that MYB might well be an important target for therapies for this group of T-ALL patients.

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)

Our bodies white blood cells combat foreign intruders such as viruses and bacteria. However, in leukemia, the formation of white blood cells is disrupted. The cells in the bone marrow that should develop into white blood cells multiply out of control without fully maturing. These blood cells do not function properly and thus jeopardize the production of normal blood cells. Among other consequences, this makes patients more susceptible to infections. T-ALL is a certain form of leukemia in which immature T-cells (a specific type of blood cells) build up very rapidly. T-ALL is the most prevalent form of cancer in children under 14 years of age, striking children between the ages of 2 and 3 in particular. Today, with optimal therapy using chemotherapy, more than half of the children are cured.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         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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