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Headlines added December 2, 2008

Caltech scientists show function of helical band in heart
Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have created images of the heart's muscular layer that show, for the first time, the connection between the configuration of those muscles and the way the human heart contracts. More precisely, they showed that the muscular band--which wraps around the inner chambers of the heart in a helix--is actually a sort of twisting highway along which each contraction of the heart travels. 12/2/08
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Headlines added earlier

The smoking gun: Elastin fragments drive emphysema
Journal of Clinical Investigation | EurekAlert!
Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts have prevented emphysema in mice exposed to cigarette smoke by treating them with an antibody against lung elastin fragments. The fragments result from the lung-damaging activity of special enzymes called elastases, and stimulate migration of inflammatory cells into the lung. The study, which appears in the March issue of the JCI, suggests that blocking these chemotactic products of elastase activity can reduce inflammation and emphysema in smokers. 2/8/2006
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No pacemakers in the brain may explain cot death
University of Bristol | EurekAlert!
A failure to 'gasp' has long been proposed as the basis for sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death. A team at the University of Bristol has discovered a subset of cells in the brain that have the ability to self-generate nervous impulses, which appear essential for gasping. These cells have been termed 'pacemakers.' 2/11/2006
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Forgetfulness may really be drug side effect
Boston Globe
AGING Cognitive impairment in older people often diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease may actually be caused by overuse of drugs commonly prescribed for hypertension, arrhythmia, incontinence, and Parkinson's disease. In high doses, these and similar classes of drugs can have so-called anticholinergic effects, inhibiting the central and peripheral nervous systems, causing such problems as short-term memory loss, incoherent speech, and an ... 2/6/2006
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Dogs succeed in diagnosing cancer
LInda Goldston | Boston Globe
SAN ANSELMO, Calif. -- Researchers in California have trained dogs to detect lung and breast cancer in breath samples from people with 88 to 99 percent accuracy, according to a new study.  2/6/2006
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Journal article validates the coming of age of hair replacement surgery
Hair Sciences Center | EurekAlert!
More than half of all men and one third of all women in the United States are going bald. But in the past, hair transplantation procedures were not designed for everyone. Now, new technology has arrived to give all patients a shot at "good hair," according to a new study published in the January 2006 issue of Dermatologic Surgery by James Harris, M.D., of the Hair Sciences Center of Colorado. 2/5/2006
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One in 14 men having a heart attack drive themselves to hospital
Blackwell Publishing Ltd. | EurekAlert!
7 percent of men having a heart attack drive themselves to hospital, while women take an average of 14 hours - five times as long as men - to go to hospital emergency departments after symptoms first appear. The worrying findings are revealed in a study of 890 patients published in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing..2/5/2006
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Genetic link to Parkinson's found
Rick Weiss | Boston Globe
Researchers have identified a single genetic mutation that accounts for more than 20 percent of all cases of Parkinson's disease among Arabs, North Africans, and Jews -- a big surprise for a major disease in which genetics was thought to play a relatively minor role. 
by Rick Weiss, Washington Post on 1/30/2006
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Memory problems at menopause: Nothing to forget about
University of Rochester Medical Center | EurekAlert!
Women who feel that they become more forgetful as menopause approaches shouldn't just "fuhgetabout it": There may be something to their own widespread reports that they're more likely to forget things as menopause approaches, say scientists who found a link between complaints of forgetfulness and the way middle-aged, stressed women learn or "encode" new information. 
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Partner proteins may help estrogen foster breast cancer
Ohio State University | EurekAlert!
A new study suggests that the hormone estrogen works in partnership with other proteins to activate or suppress gene activity in breast cancer cells. Surprisingly, one of the partner proteins is known as c-MYC, a gene activator that has long been associated with cancer development but was not known to interact with estrogen during tumor progression. 
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Molecular force field helps cancer cells defend against attack
University of Florida | EurekAlert!
Cancer cells churn out an enzyme that bonds with a protein, creating a protective barrier that deflects damage from radiation or chemotherapy and promotes tumor cell survival. But in laboratory experiments, University of Florida scientists were able to block the union, and the malignant cells died. 
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Scientists discover genetic profile of an often-misdiagnosed chronic allergic disease of children
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases | EurekAlert!
Though many parents may never have heard of it, a severe and chronic condition called eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is recognized by doctors as an emerging health problem for children. A disease that was often misdiagnosed in the past, EE has been increasingly recognized in the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan in the last few years. Cases of the disease can be devastating since children who suffer from it may have a host of lifelong problems. 
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Two-drug treatment may block source of asthma and chronic bronchitis
Washington University School of Medicine | EurekAlert!
Current treatments for asthma and chronic bronchitis aren't able to address the ultimate source of the problem -- they can only alleviate symptoms. But researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have gone to the root of these disorders and found a two-drug treatment that could potentially restore patients' troubled airways to healthy function. 
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Gene discovery linked to increasingly diagnosed gastrointestinal disease
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center | EurekAlert!
Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have discovered the first gene associated with eosinophilic esophagitis, one of a number of eosinophil-related diseases in which the body produces abnormally large amounts of white blood cells that can lead to allergy related illnesses. In eosinophilic esophagitis, the esophagus is overwhelmed with white blood cells and as a result patients of all ages develop symptoms that mimic illnesses such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. 
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Genetic cause of sudden infant death in African Americans
Journal of Clinical Investigation | EurekAlert!
Researchers from Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, report a 24-fold increased risk of SIDS in African American infants with a mutant heart protein known as S1103Y SCN5A. Under acidic conditions (like those caused by low oxygen levels resulting from a "face-down" sleeping position), this protein malfunctions in a way known to trigger irregular heartbeats. The study, appearing in the February issue of the JCI, suggests a causal relationship between genes and the environment in SIDS. 
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Asthmatic children in multi-family housing hit by indoor nitrogen dioxide
American Thoracic Society | EurekAlert!
Children with asthma living in multi-family housing who are exposed to certain levels of indoor nitrogen dioxide, a poisonous pollutant byproduct of gas cooking stoves and unvented heaters, are more likely to experience wheeze, persistent cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness. 
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Protein holds back growth of head and neck tumors
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center | EurekAlert!
A protein associated with the growth of head and neck tumors may serve as a tumor suppressor that could prevent the spread of cancer when it is expressed above normal levels, according to a study published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The University of Pittsburgh study is the first to discover that the protein, STAT1, may play a vital role in preventing head and neck tumor growth. 
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Life-threatening lupus responds to stem cell transplant therapy
Northwestern Memorial Hospital | EurekAlert!
Transplanting patients with blood stem cells that originate from their own bone marrow can induce the remission of life-threatening, treatment-resistant lupus, according to a study that took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Researchers found that 50 percent of the 50 patients in the study had disease-free survival at five years with an overall five-year survival rate of 84 percent. The study is published in the February 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. 
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Pollution puts fat rats at heart attack risk
University of Alberta | EurekAlert!
Obese individuals at risk of diabetes are in danger of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, when exposed to pollution from diesel exhaust or power plant emissions, says a University of Alberta researcher who is sounding the alarm in a study offering the first direct proof of that relationship. 
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Yale findings hold promise for stopping progression of bipolar disorder
Yale University | EurekAlert!
Changes in the brain that are important indicators of bipolar disorder are not prominent until young adulthood and are reduced in persons taking mood-stabilizing medications. 
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Hope for arthritis stems from within
University of Leeds | EurekAlert!
Leeds bioengineers have developed an innovative technique for cartilage repair combining the self-healing powers of the body with stem cell science to help young people avoid debilitating knee problems and give hope to arthritis sufferers. 
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Using statins to potentially treat rheumatoid arthritis
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. | EurekAlert!
A study examined whether statins are able to induce apoptosis in synovial cells of patients with RA and found that they have potential as a novel way of treating the disease. 
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No raised cancer risk from mobile phones: study
Patricia Reaney | Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - Using a mobile phone does not increase the risk of developing the most common type of brain tumor, according to a study on Friday.
After a four-year survey, scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and three British universities found no link between regular, long-term use of cell phones and glioma.
"Overall, we found no raised risk of glioma associated with regular mobile phone use and no association with time since first use, lifetime years of use, cumulative hours of use, or number of calls," said Professor Patricia McKinney, of the University of Leeds, in a report in the British Medical Journal.     1/25/2006
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3D structure of HIV is 'revealed'
BBC News
The three-dimensional structure of the HIV virus has been revealed for the first time, scientists say. 

The variable size and shape of HIV has made it hard to map, the team said in the journal Structure.
So the UK-German team took hundreds of images of viruses, that are 60 times smaller than red blood cells, and used a computer program to combine them.
Oxford University's Professor Stephen Fuller said the 3D map would assist in understanding how the virus grows.    
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NFL players show more rapid recovery from concussions than high school players
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center | EurekAlert!
NFL players showed quicker recovery from concussions than high school players in a research study by the NFL's Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, the results of which will be published in the February issue of the scientific journal Neurosurgery.The study is the first to provide direct comparison of neurocognitive recovery in professional and younger athletes, within days of concussion occurrence, by using ImPACT a computerized neurocognitive testing tool. 
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Antibiotic eardrops better than pills at treating middle ear infections
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. | EurekAlert!
Topical quinolone antibiotics can clear aural discharge better than systemic antibiotics. 

Chronically discharging ears associated with underlying persistent eardrum perforations (chronic suppurative otits media (CSOM)) are a common cause of preventable hearing impairment, particularly in low and middle income countries.
The disease usually occurs in the first five years of life, but may persist to adulthood. Untreated CSOM may cause permanent hearing loss as the small sound-transmitting bones in the middle ear become damaged. When it occurs in children, the reduction in hearing can also impair language development and the acquisition of speech.    
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Cause of ongoing pain discovered
University of Bristol | EurekAlert!
New research from the University of Bristol, UK, shows that it is undamaged nerve fibres that cause ongoing spontaneous pain, not those that are injured. This new understanding may help pharmaceutical companies formulate novel pain killers.
Previous research into ongoing chronic pain has tended to focus on the damaged nerve fibres after injury or disease and overlooked the intact fibres. This new understanding may help pharmaceutical companies formulate novel pain killers.
Professor Lawson said: "The cause of this ongoing pain and why it arises spontaneously was not understood before. Now that we know the type of nerve fibres involved, and especially that it is the undamaged fibres that cause this pain, we can examine them to find out what causes them to continually send impulses to the brain. This should help in the search for new analgesics that are effective for controlling ongoing pain."     
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HIV prevention hope: Yogurt bugs that make antiviral drugs
Brown University | EurekAlert!
Researchers have come up with a novel delivery system for anti-AIDS drugs: milk-curdling bacteria used to make yogurt and cheese.
"We've found that you can engineer these bugs to secrete drugs – in this case, a viricide that disables HIV," said Bharat Ramratnam, assistant professor of medicine at Brown Medical School and attending physician at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. "The hope is to use the bacteria as the basis for a microbicide which can prevent sexual transmission of HIV."
Ramratnam oversaw the bug-to-drug experiments conducted by an international team of scientists who recently published their results in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
Ramratnam hatched the idea a few years ago after reading about an intriguing discovery: A protein called cynovirin binds to HIV and prevents it from entering cells in the mucous membranes – a feat confirmed in both laboratory and animal studies. Ramratnam was already familiar with lactic acid bacteria, or LAB. They help make fermented foods such as yogurt and cheese by turning carbohydrates into lactic acid. LAB are also known for their "promiscuity," or the ability to accept foreign DNA, then produce proteins called for in these new genetic recipes.   
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Diabetes complications rooted in faulty cell repair
University of Florida | EurekAlert!
University of Florida researchers say primitive cells that act like molecular maintenance men - traveling throughout the body to repair damaged blood vessels - become too rigid to move in patients with diabetes, fueling the disease's vascular complications. But they have found a way to restore the cells' flexibility, at least in the laboratory, according to findings published in the January issue of the journal Diabetes.
Having diabetes markedly raises the risk of developing a host of other ailments, from heart disease to stroke, blindness and kidney failure. Many arise after blood vessels suffer damage, spurring the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries or the wild, blinding growth of capillaries in the eye.

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Treatment of Down syndrome in mice restores nerve growth in cerebellum
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes | EurekAlert!
Researchers at Johns Hopkins restored the normal growth of specific nerve cells in the cerebellum of mouse models of Down syndrome that were stunted by this genetic condition. The cerebellum is the rear, lower part of the brain that controls signals from the muscles to coordinate balance and motor learning. 
The finding is important, investigators say, because the cells rescued by this treatment represent potential targets for future therapy in human babies with DS. And it suggests that similar success for other DS-related disruptions of brain growth, such as occurs in the hippocampus, could lead to additional treatments - perhaps prenatally - that restore memory and the ability to orient oneself in space.
DS is caused by an extra chromosome 21, a condition called trisomy - a third copy of a chromosome in addition to the normal two copies. Children with DS have a variety of abnormalities, such as slowed growth, abnormal facial features and mental retardation. The brain is always small and has a greatly reduced number of neurons.  
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Use your brain, halve your risk of dementia
University of New South Wales | EurekAlert!
Research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) provides the most convincing evidence to date that complex mental activity across people's lives significantly reduces the risk of dementia. The researchers found that such activity almost halves the incidence of dementia. 
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Researchers find effective, cheap treatment for cystic fibrosis lung disease
University of North Carolina School of Medicine | EurekAlert!
Working half a world away from each other, two teams of medical scientists have identified what they believe is a simple, effective and inexpensive treatment to reduce lung problems associated with cystic fibrosis, the leading fatal genetic illness among whites. 

The new therapy, identified through studies supported chiefly by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, also appears to be safe and easy to take.
By inhaling a saltwater aerosol solution almost twice as salty as the Atlantic Ocean for between 10 and 15 minutes at least twice a day, young patients should be able to avoid a significant part of the damage the disease causes to their lungs, the researchers said. That's because the aerosolized saltwater restores the thin lubricant layer of water that normally coats airway surfaces. This water layer promotes the clearance of the naturally occurring mucus the body uses to trap harmful bacteria, viruses and other foreign particles.   
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Researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute resolve 40-year eye movement, visibility controversy
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center | EurekAlert!
For more than 40 years, a scientific controversy has raged over whether microsaccades, rapid eye movements that occur when a person's gaze is fixated, are responsible for visibility. Research conducted at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix has recently resolved the debate, establishing that microsaccades are indeed responsible for driving 80 percent of our visual experience.
Even when eyes are fixated carefully on an object, they continue to make tiny movements called fixational eye movements. These movements cause nearly constant stimulation of the retina. "If our eye was perfectly still during fixation, the world would quickly fade from view due to the fact that the neurons in our eyes and brain quickly adapt to non-changing stimulation," said lead researcher Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde.     
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Aspirin reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, though effects differ between men and women
JAMA and Archives Journals | EurekAlert!
An analysis of previous studies indicates that use of aspirin significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular events in women and in men, due to reducing the risk of stroke in women and reducing the risk of heart attack in men, according to a study in the January 18 issue of JAMA.
Although the benefits of aspirin therapy for reducing the risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction – MI), stroke, and vascular death among men and women with preexisting cardiovascular disease are well established, the role of aspirin in primary prevention is less clear, according to background information in the article. And it has not been clear if there is a differential beneficial effect between men and women.       1/16/2006
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Study links Alzheimer's disease to abnormal cell division
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke | EurekAlert!
A new study in mice suggests that Alzheimer's disease (AD) may be triggered when adult neurons try to divide. The finding helps researchers understand what goes wrong in the disease and may lead to new ways of treating it.
For unknown reasons, nerve cells (neurons) affected by AD and many other neurodegenerative diseases often start to divide before they die. The new study shows that, in animal models of AD, this abnormal cell division starts long before amyloid plaques or other markers of the disease appear. Cell division occurs through a process called the cell cycle. "If you could stop cell cycling, you might be able to stop neurons from dying prematurely. This could be a fresh approach to therapy for Alzheimer's and other diseases, including stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [also known as Lou Gehrig's disease], and HIV dementia," says Karl Herrup, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, who led the study.       1/16/2006
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Darkness unveils vital metabolic fuel switch between sugar and fat
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston | EurekAlert!
University of Texas Medical School at Houston research team finds that constant darkness can regulate metabolism. The key molecule in this process, which switches most of the body's energy consumption from glucose to fat, is an interesting new target for diabetes and obesity research. 

Constant darkness throws a molecular switch in mammals that shifts the body's fuel consumption from glucose to fat and induces a state of torpor in mice, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston reports in the Jan. 19 edition of Nature. 
While their findings could provide new insight into mammalian hibernation, researchers note that the pivotal metabolic signal that emerged from the dark also presents a new target for obesity and type 2 diabetes research. A series of experiments pinpointed 5-prime adenosine monophosphate (5'-AMP) as the key molecular mediator of the constant darkness effect, switching mice from a glucose-burning, fat-storing state to a fat-burning, glucose-conserving lethargy.    
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Absence of critical protein linked to infertility
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | EurekAlert!
The absence of a key protein may lead to infertility. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report that the transcription factor protein C/EBPb must be present in the uterus for pregnancy to occur.
Without it, they say, an embryo cannot survive in uterine tissue or attach to a mother's blood supply. Other genes also play roles, but C/EBPb is critical for implantation of an embryo, said Milan K. Bagchi, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology.     
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Regular exercise reduces risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease by 30 to 40 percent, new study finds
American College of Physicians
A new study finds that older adults who exercised three or more times a week had a 30 percent to 40 percent lower risk for developing dementia compared with those who exercised fewer than three times per week. The study also found that people who already suffer from some signs of dementia benefit from exercise. The study is published in the Jan. 17, 2006, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. 
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Comedy films boost blood flow to the heart
BMJ Specialty Journals | EurekAlert!
Watching comedy films boosts blood flow to the heart, finds a small study in the journal Heart.
Researchers asked 20 healthy young adults to watch 15 to 30 minute segments of sad and humorous films, a minimum of 48 hours apart.
Examples of sad films included the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan and examples of comedy films included There's Something About Mary.  
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Nurses' research proves mother knows best when taking temp
University of Virginia Health System | EurekAlert!
According to recent research by nurses at the University of Virginia Health System, your mother was always right when she told you not to eat or drink anything before taking your temperature. On average, study participants consuming cold beverages required 15 minutes for their temperature to return to baseline, while those consuming hot beverages returned to baseline after 23 minutes. 

"Taking an accurate temperature is one of the most basic, yet at times complicated, pieces of data that we can collect to monitor our health and the health of our loved ones," said research project coordinator Beth Quatrara, RN, MSN, APRN.
With cold and flu season upon us, this change in practice could not only apply to patients in a hospital setting, but to parents tending to sick children. To get the most accurate temperature reading as possible, Quatrara suggests not participating in any activities that may change body or mouth temperature, such as exercise, smoking or chewing gum.   
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Patients now surviving once-fatal immune disease
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital | EurekAlert!
Individuals who have a rare genetic immune system disorder that prevents them from making antibodies nevertheless appear to be moderately healthy and lead productive lives, according to results of a study by investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. A report on this study appears in the current online edition of Clinical Immunology. 

The study of 41 adults with X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) showed that they can function as relatively healthy, productive individuals, even though they remain vulnerable to chronic, low-grade infections. These individuals had a mean age of 4 years (range 1 month to 53 years) when their diseases were diagnosed; and 27 of the patients had family histories of XLA. The study was based on results of a questionnaire filled out by each participant concerning current and past medical problems and quality of life.
"Until we did this study, there was almost nothing in the medical literature about adults with XLA," said Mary Ellen Conley, M.D., a member of the Department of Immunology at St. Jude and senior author of the report. "In fact, old reports we read stated that the vast majority of these patients have chronic lung disease by age 15. We and other physicians were quite surprised at how well these patients are doing with the proper care."  
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UCSD team unmasks family of immune system invaders
University of California - San Diego | EurekAlert
Like a family of petty criminals gone wrong, researchers at (UCSD) were surprised to find that bacterial pathogens found in a number of troublesome diseases are actually related. Not only that, their wrong-doing is carried out by disguising themselves, then hijacking their hosts. 
Jack E. Dixon, Ph.D., Dean for Scientific Affairs and Professor of Pharmacology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine; Neal M. Alto, Ph.D., UCSD postdoctoral fellow and lead author, and their colleagues have identified a 24-member family of bacterial proteins. Called effector proteins, they are found in bacteria, including Salmonella, Shigella and pathogenic E. coli, that cause gastrointestinal diseases.

These proteins help bacteria do their job of infecting the host by warding off the body's immune system. The UCSD researchers discovered how the effector proteins are able to "hijack" the body's communication network, findings that could lead novel ways to fight bacterial disease.   1/11/2006
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St. Jude projects 90 percent cure rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital | EurekAlert!
The cure rate for the once almost universally fatal childhood cancer acute lymphoblastic leukemia could reach 90 percent in the near future, thanks to improvements in diagnosis and treatment over the past four decades, according to investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 
Almost 4,000 cases of ALL are diagnosed in the United States each year, about two-thirds of which are in children and adolescents, making this disease the most common cancer in this age group.

The progressive improvement in the cure rate since 1962, when only 4 percent of children with ALL survived, reflects in large part the more effective use of existing drugs and the incorporation of sophisticated genetic technologies to personalize treatments, the authors said. Research findings at St. Jude have enabled clinicians to identify patients for whom standard treatment is most likely to fail, and who should therefore be treated more aggressively; these findings have also allowed clinicians to choose the optimal drugs and drug dosages for individual patients.    1/10/2006
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Health seriously declines, disparities increase as youths become adults
University of North Carolina School of Medicine | EurekAlert!
Can becoming an adult be hazardous to your health? A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Carolina Population Center indicates that may be the case, with leading health indicators showing serious declines as adolescents become adults.
A survey involving an ethnically diverse and nationally representative sample of 14,000 young people found diet, inactivity, obesity, health-care access, substance use and reproductive health to worsen with age. Only self-perceptions of personal health, including mental health, and exposure to violence improved with age.
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Polymer aids in blood clotting, pointing way to new treatment
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | EurekAlert!
A serendipitous comparison prompted by an old scientific image and involving an ancient but understudied molecule may lead to a new treatment strategy for injuries or illnesses in which blood clotting is paramount to survival.
In a paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Georgia report that a linear polymer known as polyphosphate speeds blood clotting and helps clots last longer. The paper appears online this week (Jan. 9-14) on the PNAS Web site.
Polyphosphate was shown to have three important roles, said James H. Morrissey, a biochemist in the U. of I. College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign. The inorganic compound accelerates two parts of the coagulation cascade -- the contact-activation pathway and factor V, a protein that forms thrombin -- leading to fibrin and clots. Finally, he said, polyphosphate delays the breakdown of clots, which causes renewed bleeding.
"The net effect is accelerating the rate at which blood clots form and then prolonging how long they last," Morrissey said.     1/8/2006
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Plant-derived vaccines safeguard against deadly plague
Arizona State University | EurekAlert!
Through an innovative feat of plant biotechnology and vaccine design, researchers in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have successfully turned tobacco plants into vaccine production factories to combat the deadliest form of plague. The vaccine elicits a protective immune response in guinea pigs. The results are considered to be a milestone in the future development of a new vaccine for human use.
Plague, caused by a rod-shaped bacterium called Yersinia pestis, no longer invokes the "black death" feared throughout history, having been widely tamed since the advent of antibiotics. But a new concern has emerged in recent years with respect to bioterrorism.
"There have been discovered some resistant strains to antibiotics and that poses a concern, especially if plague would be used as a bioweapon," said Luca Santi, a research assistant professor at the institute and lead author of the study published in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "A new vaccine approach would be the best way to prevent infection."     1/8/2006
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Trusted head injury prevention technique debunked
Temple University | EurekAlert!
Contrary to popular thinking in athletics, traditional neck muscle resistance training may not protect athletes from head injuries.
For eight weeks, kinesiologists at Temple University worked with male and female Division I intercollegiate soccer players to see if a resistance training program would reduce the player's head acceleration during impact. According to Ryan Tierney PhD, director of Temple's Graduate Athletic Training Program, head impacts experienced during soccer cause head acceleration, similar to what a person experiences during a car crash. These impacts may cause mental impairment or accumulate and lead to permanent disability.
"We did see a change in the player's neck muscle strength but these changes made absolutely no difference in their ability to stabilize their heads when force was applied," said Tierney. 1/8/2006
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Tumor cells that border normal tissue are told to leave
Washington University School of Medicine | EurekAlert!
The thin, single-cell boundary where a tumor meets normal tissue is the most dangerous part of a cancer according to a new study by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The researchers found that tumor cells bordering normal tissue receive signals that tell them to wander away from the tumor, allowing the cancer cells to establish deadly metastatic tumors elsewhere in the body.
The researchers say their discovery demonstrates the importance of the tumor's environment and shows more precisely how the metastatic process occurs and might be stopped. Their study appears in the January 10 issue of Developmental Cell.
"What actually kills in cancer is not the primary tumor--it's metastasis," says senior author Ross L. Cagan, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology and pharmacology and a researcher with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "You can't study that in a laboratory dish. You have to look at the tumor cells in their natural environment--surrounded by normal tissues."     1/8/2006
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Bad Blood: Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis
N.R. Kleinfield | New York Times
More than one in every eight New Yorkers now have diabetes, and city health officials describe the problem as an epidemic.
Begin on the sixth floor, third room from the end, swathed in fluorescence: a 60-year-old woman was having two toes sawed off. One floor up, corner room: a middle-aged man sprawled, recuperating from a kidney transplant. Next door: nerve damage. Eighth floor, first room to the left: stroke. Two doors down: more toes being removed. Next room: a flawed heart.
As always, the beds at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx were filled with a universe of afflictions. In truth, these assorted burdens were all the work of a single illness: diabetes. Room after room, floor after floor, diabetes. On any given day, hospital officials say, nearly half the patients are there for some trouble precipitated by the disease.
An estimated 800,000 adult New Yorkers - more than one in every eight - now have diabetes, and city health officials describe the problem as a bona fide epidemic.    1/8/2006
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SUVs may be no safer for children
Boston Globe
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Children are no safer riding in sport utility vehicles than in passenger cars, largely because the doubled risk of rollovers in SUVs cancels out the safety advantages of their greater size and weight, according to a new study.
Researchers said the findings dispel the bigger-equals-safer myth that has helped fuel the growing popularity of SUVs among families. SUV registrations climbed 250 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2002.
''We're not saying they're worse or that they're terrible vehicles. We're challenging the conventional wisdom that everyone assumed they were better," said Dr. Dennis Durbin, a pediatric emergency physician who took part in the study, published last week in the journal Pediatrics.    1/9/2006
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Newer football helmet design may reduce incidence of concussions in high school players
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center | EurekAlert!
Newer football helmet technology and design may reduce the incidence of concussions in high school football players, according to results from the first phase of a three-year study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program. 
The current study compared concussion rates and recovery times of high school athletes wearing newer helmet technology to those wearing helmets with traditional designs. There was no significant difference in recovery time between the two helmet groups.
Published in the February issue of the scientific journal Neurosurgery, the UPMC study of more than 2,000 high school football players is the first on-the-field investigation to compare concussion rates and recovery times for high school football players wearing the Riddell® Revolution helmet, with its newer technology and design, to concussion rates and recovery times for players wearing standard helmets with traditional design.   1/9/2006
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