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April 19, 2006, 10:23 PM CT

Hypertension Drug Reverses Death Of Cells

Hypertension Drug Reverses Death Of Cells Riyi Shi
Purdue University scientists have identified a drug usually used to treat high blood pressure that may also reverse damage from spinal cord injuries, cancer and Parkinson's disease.

A research team led by Riyi Shi (REE-yee SHEE) and Richard Borgens found that hydralazine, a medicine that relaxes veins and arteries, may be an antidote for acrolein, a deadly toxin that is produced after a nerve cell is injured.

New findings based on research at the cellular level are detailed in two studies reported in the Journal of Neuroscience Research today (Monday, April 17). In the first article, scientists examine how acrolein attacks and kills cells. In the second article, they demonstrate that cell death caused by acrolein (a-KRO-le-an), a byproduct of an injury, can be reversed when hydralazine is administered.

"This is probably the most important fundamental discovery we have made at the Center for Paralysis Research because we are saving nerve cells from death," said Borgens, Mari Hulman George Professor of Applied Neurology in the School of Veterinary Medicine and founder of the paralysis research center where the research was conducted.

"Initially we may use this discovery for spinal cord injury and stroke, but we can expect further studies will look at how it works against a whole spectrum of injury and disease," he said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 16, 2006, 8:16 PM CT

Protein Facilitates "Hard-Wiring" of Brain

Protein Facilitates
A mechanism underlying the molecular switch that turns young, adaptable brains into older, less malleable brains has been discovered by an international team of scientists led by a Duke University Medical Center neurobiologist.

The scientists discovered how neurons switch between neurotransmitter receptors during early brain development. This molecular switch signals the end of a critical period of brain "plasticity" in which simple sensory experiences, such as a mother's touch on the skin, are mandatory to "wire" the brain appropriately. The scientists describe a key role for a neurotransmitter receptor called NR3A that is abundant in the brain for only a few weeks following birth.

As per the researchers, their findings could lead to a better understanding of disorders of early brain development. NR3A levels have been reported to be elevated in patients with schizophrenia, which is believed to be caused by subtle alterations of brain circuitry during development, said the scientists.

The team's results appeared this week in the advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience and will be published in an upcoming print issue of the journal. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Raymond and Beverley Sackler Foundation and the Ruth K. Broad Foundation.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 13, 2006, 0:20 AM CT

Night Shift May Lead To Family Nightmares

Night Shift May Lead To Family Nightmares
In the current issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, scientists examine our 24-hour economy and the effect of its need for workers 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. They find that unsociable work times (hours during evenings, weekends, or nights) are associated with poorer mental health in parents and more social and emotional difficulties in children.

Compared with families where both parents work standard daytime hours, families where fathers work nonstandard hours show worse family functioning and more hostile and ineffective parenting. When it is mothers who work these hours, there is also worse family functioning, more hostile and ineffective parenting, and more parent distress. The most problematic family environments occur when both parents work nonstandard hours.

The study compared more than 4,000 dual-earner households with children between 2 and 11 years old. The authors measured child difficulties (e.g. the inability to concentrate or hostility to their peers), family functioning (e.g. emotional involvement and problem solving), parent depressive symptoms, and ineffective parenting. The effects were similar whether the mother or father worked non-standard hours.

But these associations were stronger in households with preschool-aged children compared to those homes with school-aged children. In the past, nonstandard work schedules had been viewed as part of job flexibility that was potentially family friendly. The findings from this research pose a challenge to that assumption. "Work in the evenings, nights, and weekends can make it harder to maintain family rituals, routines, and social activities that are important for closeness," the authors explain.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 11, 2006, 10:52 PM CT

Linking Epstein-barr Virus To Multiple Sclerosis

Linking Epstein-barr Virus To Multiple Sclerosis
Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, and a team of collaborators have found further evidence implicating the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) as a possible contributory cause to multiple sclerosis (MS). The study appears in the advance online edition of the June 2006 issue of Archives of Neurology.

MS is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Women are more likely than men to get the disease and it is the most common neurologically disabling disease in young adults. Eventhough genetic predisposition plays an important role in determining susceptibility, past studies have shown that environmental factors are equally important.

EBV is a herpes virus and one of the most common human viruses worldwide. Infection in early childhood is common and commonly asymptomatic. Late age at infection, however, often causes infectious mononucleosis. In the U.S., upwards of 95% of adults are infected with the virus, but free of symptoms. EBV has been associated with some types of cancer and can cause serious complications when the immune system is suppressed, for example, in transplant recipients. There is no effective therapy for EBV.

The study population was made up of more than 100,000 members of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) health plan, who provided blood specimens as part of medical examinations between 1965 and 1974. The KPNC maintained the medical records of all its members, including those who provided specimens, in electronic databases. Between 1995 and 1999, those databases were searched for evidence that would indicate a possible diagnosis of MS.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 10, 2006, 8:21 PM CT

Infant snoring linked to parental snoring

Infant snoring linked to parental snoring
Young children born to parents who snore have an increased risk of snoring. New research reported in the recent issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that infants, who had at least one parent who snored frequently, were three times more likely to snore frequently than children with no parental history of snoring. In addition, children who tested positive for atopy, an early indicator for the development of asthma and allergies, were twice as likely to be frequent snorers as compared to nonatopic children.

"Our study shows that children with a parent who frequently snores have a three-fold risk of habitual snoring, supporting the role of hereditary factors in the development of snoring ," said the study's lead author Maninder Kalra, MD, MS, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH. "Snoring is the primary symptom of sleep-disordered breathing, which, in children, is associated with learning disabilities and metabolic and cardiovascular disorders. Early detection and therapy can potentially reduce the incidence of morbidity due to sleep-disordered breathing in children."

Dr. Kalra and his colleagues from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati evaluated 681 children (median age 12.6 months) and their atopic parents to determine the prevalence of habitual snoring in infants born to atopic parents and to assess the relationship between habitual snoring, atopic status, and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Parents also completed a questionnaire pertaining both to their snoring and snoring in their child.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 10, 2006, 7:57 PM CT

Macular Degeneration May Lead To Cognitive Impairment

Macular Degeneration May Lead To Cognitive Impairment
Older patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration and reduced vision may be more likely to also have cognitive impairment, or problems with thinking, learning and memory, as per a research studyin the recent issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) develops when the macula, the portion of the eye that allows people to see in detail, deteriorates. AMD is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss in elderly Americans, as per background information in the article. Cognitive impairment also affects a number of elderly adults, reducing their ability to function independently.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) Research Group examined the relationship between vision problems and cognitive impairment in 2,946 patients enrolled in AREDS, an 11-center study of AMD and age-related cataracts. Between July 2000 and March 2004, the patients took a series of six tests to gauge their cognitive function. Participants' visual acuity (sharpness) was measured every year, and the progression of AMD was assessed and categorized at regular intervals throughout the study using photographs of the retina. Category 1 indicates no AMD and Category 4 is the most advanced stage.

At the time they took the test, 23 percent of the participants were classified as AMD Category 1, 29 percent Category 2, 26 percent Category 3 and 22 percent Category 4. In addition, 72 percent had 20/40 vision or better, 18 percent had worse than 20/40 vision in one eye and 10 percent had an overall visual acuity of less than 20/40. Those who had more severe AMD had poorer average scores on the cognitive tests, an association that remained even after scientists considered other factors, including age, sex, race, education, smoking, diabetes, use of cholesterol-lowering medications and high blood pressure. Average scores also decreased as vision decreased.........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source


April 6, 2006, 10:41 PM CT

Is the Brain Wired for Faces?

Is the Brain Wired for Faces?
Although the human brain is skilled at facial recognition and discrimination, new research from Georgetown University Medical Center suggests that the brain may not have developed a specific ability for "understanding faces" but instead uses the same kind of pattern recognition techniques to distinguish between people as it uses to search for differences between other groups of objects, such as plants, animals and cars.

The study, published in the April 6 edition of the journal Neuron, adds new evidence to the debate over how the brain understands and interprets faces, an area of neuroscience that has been somewhat controversial. Because the process of facial perception is complicated and involves different and widespread areas of the brain, there is much that remains unknown about how humans perform this task.

"We found that faces aren't special in the way many scientists once thought," says Maximilian Riesenhuber, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience and senior author of the study. "Rather, they are particular group of objects which the brain has learned to distinguish very well, much as it would for any other similar objects that are critical to human survival and communication".

Riesenhuber hopes that integrative research of this kind will help scientists better understand the neural bases of object recognition deficits in mental disorders, such as autism, dyslexia or schizophrenia. People with autism, for example, experience difficulty with recognizing faces, which might be caused by a defect on the neural level. Breakthroughs in this kind of research could someday lead to targeted therapies for the millions of people who suffer from these disorders.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 4, 2006, 8:50 PM CT

Preventing Injury To Muscles

Preventing Injury To Muscles
If you're a mouse, then stretching before you exercise is a good thing - even as long as two weeks before your next cheese hunt or cat run. But if you're reading this for yourself, it's a bit more complicated.

When most of us think of stretching, we're imagining at a minimum jogging, and probably something more like downhill skiing or sprints. But when University of Michigan scientists Nicole Lockhart and Susan Brooks talk stretching, their real interest is how to condition older folks' muscles so they'll eventually be willing to do even a little exercise to garner all the benefits that will follow.

"The elderly are far more susceptible to contraction-induced injury," notes Lockhart, lead author in two related papers being presented in American Physiological Society sessions at Experimental Biology in San Francisco. "Sometimes just by normal activity or a sudden movement a leg will jut out too far and they'll suffer a minor injury, but they'll be wary of further damage," she said.

Protect those muscles, as minor injuries may be cumulative

Brooks, her adviser, added: "We believe that cumulative muscle injury may contribute to the loss of muscle mass as we grow old. So protecting muscles at all times is a good thing. And understanding how stretching increases resistance to injury will really help to do this".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 4, 2006, 8:39 PM CT

People With Allergies Are Less Likely To Develop Brain Tumors

People With Allergies Are Less Likely To Develop Brain Tumors
In their quest to determine whether immune system surveillance guards against brain tumor development, scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have found that allergies and asthma that stimulate inflammation may be protective, but use of antihistamines to control the inflammation could eliminate that protection.

In this study, reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the scientists also associated chicken pox infection with a significantly reduced risk of developing brain tumors.

The scientists say the findings suggest that a small amount of inflammation in the brain may rev up the immune system enough to protect against brain tumor development. But they stress that no one should give up antihistamines or shun use of a chicken pox vaccine because of this study.

"Brain tumors are exceedingly rare, and a number of, a number of people use antihistamines, so we certainly are not suggesting a direct correlation between the two, or between chicken pox and tumors," says the study's lead author, Melissa Bondy, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Epidemiology. "What this study may do is help us begin to understand if the immune system plays a role in development of different kinds of brain tumors".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 4, 2006, 0:38 AM CT

Even At Rest, Men's And Women's Brains Behave Differently

Even At Rest, Men's And Women's Brains Behave Differently
A key part of the brain involved in processing emotionally influenced memories acts differently in men and women, even in the absence of stimuli, UC Irvine scientists have found.

Larry Cahill, an associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, and Lisa Kilpatrick, a former postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory, have found that the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure found on both sides of the brain, behaves very differently in males and females while the subjects are at rest. In men, the right amygdala is more active and shows more connections with other regions of the brain, even when there is no outside stimulus. On the other hand, in women, the left amygdala is more connected with other regions of the brain. In addition, the regions of the brain with which the amygdala communicates while a subject is at rest are different in men and women.

The finding could be key to determining why gender-related differences exist in certain psychiatric disorders and how to treat a variety of illnesses.

The study appears in this week's issue of NeuroImage.

"These findings are intriguing because they provide the first hint of what could be a fundamental difference in how the brain is wired in men and women," said Cahill, a fellow at UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. "If, even in a resting state, the brain shows such differences between the sexes, it could have far-reaching implications for our study of certain psychiatric and medical disorders".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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