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Showing posts from September, 2014

BARIATRIC SURGERY MAY WORSEN DEPRESSION FOR SOME

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Most obese people feel better after weight-loss surgery but unfortunately, this is not true for some, says a study. Symptoms of depression worsened for many patients when the levels of depression in patients were measured six to 12 months after they have had bariatric surgery, the findings showed. For the study, the researchers set out to investigate if depressive symptoms increase markedly or not at all, after post-surgery. The study involved 107 patients with extreme obesity. Consistent with previous research, the researchers observed that most people who had undergone this procedure were in much better spirits. However, in some cases negative mood changes started to creep in between six and 12 months after the operation, with 3.7 percent of patients reporting that they felt discernibly more depressed 12 months post-surgery.
Between six and 12 months after the operation, however, even more patients (13.1 percent) reported increases in depressive symptoms. These changes went hand-in-hand wi…

PNEUMONIA BACTERIUM LEAVES TINY LESIONS IN THE HEART

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The long-observed association between pneumonia and heart failure now has more physical evidence, thanks to research in the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The researchers found proof that Streptococcus pneumoniae, the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia, actually physically damages the heart. The bacterium leaves tiny lesions that researchers detected in mouse, rhesus macaque and human autopsy tissue samples. "If you have had severe pneumonia, this finding suggests your heart might be permanently scarred," said study senior author Carlos Orihuela, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. It's not yet known whether the small lesions contribute to increased risk of death in humans or if the scarring that occurs afterward is permanent, ultimately diminishing cardiac function in individuals who have recovered from a severe infectious disease episode. The …

SIGNATURE OF AGING IN BRAIN , SCIENTISTS SUGGEST THAT THE BRAINS IMMUNOLOGICAL AGE IS WHAT COUNTS

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How the brain ages is still largely an open question -- in part because this organ is mostly insulated from direct contact with other systems in the body, including the blood and immune systems. In research that was recently published inScience, Weizmann Institute researchers Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Neurobiology Department and Dr. Ido Amit of Immunology Department found evidence of a unique "signature" that may be the "missing link" between cognitive decline and aging. The scientists believe that this discovery may lead, in the future, to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in older people
Until a decade ago, scientific dogma held that the blood-brain barrier prevents the blood-borne immune cells from attacking and destroying brain tissue. Yet in a long series of studies, Schwartz's group had shown that the immune system actually plays an important role both in healing the brain after injury and in maintaining the brain's normal functi…

EXPLORING CONNECTION BETWEEN EMPATHY, NEUROHORMONES AND AGGRESSION

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Empathy is typically seen as eliciting warmth and compassion -- a generally positive state that makes people do good things to others. However, empathy may also motivate aggression on behalf of the vulnerable other. Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, examined whether assessed or elicited empathy would lead to situation-specific aggression on behalf of another person, and to explore the potential role of two neurohormones in explaining a connection between empathy and aggression. The study is published inPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Design of the Study Empathic impulses are aimed at reducing the suffering of the target of empathy. Sometimes aggression may be the response that is perceived to best address the need of the other, or best suited to end their suffering. This effect may, in part, be due in part to physiological changes that occur in the body as a result of empathy. The research focused on two neurohormones, oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxyt…

SINGLE NEURON HUB ORCHESTRATES ACTIVITY OF AN ENTIRE BRAIN CIRCUIT

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The idea of mapping the brain is not new. Researchers have known for years that the key to treating, curing, and even preventing brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury, is to understand how the brain records, processes, stores, and retrieves information
New Tel Aviv University research published inPLOS Computational Biologymakes a major contribution to efforts to navigate the brain. The study, by Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob and Dr. Paolo Bonifazi of TAU's School of Physics and Astronomy and Sagol School of Neuroscience, and Prof. Alessandro Torcini and Dr. Stefano Luccioli of the Instituto dei Sistemi Complessi, under the auspices of TAU's Joint Italian-Israeli Laboratory on Integrative Network Neuroscience, offers a precise model of the organization of developing neuronal circuits. In an earlier study of the hippocampi of newborn mice, Dr. Bonifazi discovered that a few "hub neurons" orchestrated the behavior of entire circui…

SLEEP TWITCHES LIGHT UP THE BRAIN

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University of Iowa study has found twitches made during sleep activate the brains of mammals differently than movements made while awake.
Researchers say the findings show twitches during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep comprise a different class of movement and provide further evidence that sleep twitches activate circuits throughout the developing brain. In this way, twitches teach newborns about their limbs and what they can do with them. "Every time we move while awake, there is a mechanism in our brain that allows us to understand that it is we who made the movement," says Alexandre Tiriac, a fifth-year graduate student in psychology at the UI and first author of the study, which appeared this month in the journalCurrent Biology. "But twitches seem to be different in that the brain is unaware that they are self-generated. And this difference between sleep and wake movements may be critical for how twitches, which are most frequent in early infancy, contribute to bra…

SWEAT EATING BACTERIA MAY IMPROVE SKIN HEALTH

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Bacteria that metabolize ammonia, a major component of sweat, may improve skin health and some day could be used for the treatment of skin disorders, such as acne or chronic wounds. In a study conducted by AOBiome LLC, human volunteers using the bacteria reported better skin condition and appearance compared with a placebo control group. The researchers presented the study results at the 5th ASM Conference on Beneficial Microbes in Washington, DC
Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) are ubiquitous in soil and water and are essential components of the nitrogen cycle and environmental nitrification processes. The researchers hypothesized that AOB are uniquely suited for the environment of the human skin because ammonia oxidation products, nitrite and nitric oxide, play important roles in physiological functions of the skin, including inflammation, blood vessel relaxation and wound healing. AOB may also improve the skin microenvironment by driving a lower pH through ammonia consumption. For …

CHILDHOOD ASTHMA LINKED TO LACK OF VENTILATION FOR GAS STOVES

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Parents with children at home should use ventilation when cooking with a gas stove, researchers from Oregon State University are recommending, after a new study showed an association between gas kitchen stove ventilation and asthma, asthma symptoms and chronic bronchitis
"In homes where a gas stove was used without venting, the prevalence of asthma and wheezing is higher than in homes where a gas stove was used with ventilation," said Ellen Smit, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the study's authors. "Parents of all children should use ventilation while using a gas stove." Researchers can't say that gas stove use without ventilation causes respiratory issues, but the new study clearly shows an association between having asthma and use of ventilation, Smit said. More study is needed to understand that relationship, including whether emissions from gas stoves could cause or exacerbate asthma in childre…

AN APPLE A DAY COULD KEEP OBESITY AWAY

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Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples -- specifically, Granny Smith apples -- may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought to be the first to assess these compounds in apple cultivars grown in the Pacific Northwest, appears in October's print edition of the journalFood Chemistry
We know that, in general, apples are a good source of these nondigestible compounds but there are differences in varieties," said food scientist Giuliana Noratto, the study's lead researcher. "Results from this study will help consumers to discriminate between apple varieties that can aid in the fight against obesity." The tart green Granny Smith apples benefit the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon due to their high content of non-digestible compounds, including dietary fiber and polyphenols, and low content of available carbohydrates. Despite being subjected to chewing, stomach acid and digestive en…

CHEMOTHERAPY , RADIOTHERAPY HAS NO NEGATIVE EFFECT ON FETUS

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Scientists have revealed that children who are exposed to chemotherapy  or radiotherapy while in the womb suffer no negative impacts on mental or cardiac development from chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In the first study, 38 children prenatally exposed to chemotherapy were recruited from the International Network for Cancer, Infertility and Pregnancy (INCIP) registry and assessed for mental development and cardiac health and their outcomes were compared to 38 control children who were not exposed to chemotherapy. At a median age of almost two years of age, mental development as measured by the 'Mental Development Index' was in the normal range for both groups of children, and were not significantly different. Cardiac dimensions and functions were within normal ranges for both groups. In the second study, which explored the impact of radiotherapy on the children of women with cancer, it was revealed that neuropsychological, behavioral and general health outcomes for those exposed …

BIO ARTIFICIAL LIVER COME CLOSER TO REALITY

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A new research has revealed that bio-artificial liver support system for patients with acute liver failure is under investigation to assess the safety and effectiveness. Lead investigator Steven D. Colquhoun at Cedars-Sinai said that the quest for a device that can fill in for the function of the liver, at least temporarily, has been underway for decades and a bio-artificial liver (BAL), could potentially sustain patients with acute liver failure until their own livers self-repair. The majority of the 49 sites currently involved in the investigation are in the United States, but studies are also underway in Europe and Australia and the research involves patients with liver disease caused by acute alcoholic hepatitis, a group with few therapeutic options. In the bioartificial liver, which is designed by Vital Therapies Inc., blood is drawn from the patient via a central venous line, and then is filtered through a component system featuring four tubes, each about 1 foot long, which are emb…

WORLD FIRST, LUNGS AWAITING TRANSPLANT PRESERVED 11 HOURS OUTSIDE BODY

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The multidisciplinary transplant team at University Hospitals Leuven successfully preserved a set of donor lungs for over eleven hours with the help of a machine, the longest period ever reported. The lengthy preservation time was necessary because the patient needed a liver transplant immediately prior to the lung transplant. The patient has since left the hospital and is in good health
The patient, who suffered from chronic lung failure, developed sudden acute liver problems and went into a coma. The only surgical option for a patient with a terminal lung disease and a terminal liver disease is a combined lung and liver transplant. But such double transplants pose a serious timing problem, says Dr. Dirk Van Raemdonck, who helped perform the surgery: "Normally, the lung transplant is carried out before the liver transplant. A donor lung typically can only be preserved outside the body for a maximum of ten hours. And a lung transplant can only be successful if the liver is still …

SKIN GRAFTS FROM GENETICALLY MODIFIED PIGS MAY OFFER ALTERNATIVE FOR BURN TREATMENT

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A specially-bred strain of miniature swine lacking the molecule responsible for the rapid rejection of pig-to-primate organ transplants may provide a new source of skin grafts to treat seriously burned patients. A team of investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that skin grafts from pigs lacking the Gal sugar molecule were as effective in covering burn-like injuries on the backs of baboons as skin taken from other baboons, a finding that could double the length of time burns can be protected while healing. The report in the journalTransplantation has been published online.
This exciting work suggests that these GalT-knockout porcine skin grafts would be a useful addition to the burn-management armamentarium," says Curtis Cetrulo, MD, of the MGH Transplantation Biology Research Center (TBRC) and the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, corresponding author of theTransplantationpaper. "We are actively exploring options for establishing clinical…

HOW GENE EXPRESSION AFFECTS FACIAL EXPRESSIONS

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A person's face is the first thing that others see, and much remains unknown about how it forms -- or malforms -- during early development. Recently, Chong Pyo Choe, a senior postdoctoral fellow working in the lab of USC stem cell researcher Gage Crump, has begun to unwind these mysteries.
In a study published in the journal Development, Choe and Crump describe how a mutation in a gene called TBX1 causes the facial and other deformities associated with DiGeorge syndrome. During prenatal development, a series of segments form that eventually organize many features of the face. These segments, or "pouches," are composed of a type of specialized tissue called epithelium, which also forms the skin, glands and linings of organs such as the lungs, heart and intestines. In mice and zebrafish with TBX1 mutations, these pouches never properly develop and the face is deformed, mimicking the severe facial defects typical of DiGeorge syndrome. By using sophisticated time-lapse imaging, …

SKIN CELLS CAN BE ENGINEERED IN TO PULMONARY VALVES FOR PEDIATRIC PATIENTS

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Researchers have found a way to take a pediatric patient's skin cells, reprogram the skin cells to function as heart valvular cells, and then use the cells as part of a tissue-engineered pulmonary valve. A proof of concept study published in the September 2014 issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery provides more detail on this scientific development
"Current valve replacements cannot grow with patients as they age, but the use of a patient-specific pulmonary valve would introduce a 'living' valvular construct that should grow with the patient. Our study is particularly important for pediatric patients who often require repeated operations for pulmonary valve replacements," said lead author David L. Simpson, PhD, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Simpson, senior co-author Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, and colleagues designed a process to transform skin cells from a simple biopsy into cells that become an important ingredient in a tis…

LUNG CANCER , SURGERY MAY YIELD BETTER RESULTS

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Patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who are otherwise healthy fare better over time if they undergo conventional surgery versus less-invasive radiosurgery to remove their cancer, according to a Yale study. The findings are scheduled to be presented at the 56th annual conference of the American Society for Radiation Oncology in San Francisco
The study used Medicare billing records of 1,078 lung cancer patients age 67 and older from across the United States to assess shorter- and longer-term complications and outcomes related to surgery versus radiosurgery (also known as stereotactic body radiotherapy, or SBRT). The patients were treated in academic and private practice settings of all sizes. While the findings generally support current practices of treating healthier NSCLC patients with surgery rather than radiosurgery, researchers were surprised by how much better surgical patients fared long-term, said the study's first author, James B. Yu, M.D., assistan…

EARLY SIGN OF PANCREATIC CANCER IDENTIFIED

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Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other institutions have discovered a sign of the early development of pancreatic cancer – an upsurge in certain amino acids that occurs before the disease is diagnosed and symptoms appear. The research is being published online today by the journalNature Medicine.
Although the increase isn’t large enough to be the basis of a new test for early detection of the disease, the findings will help researchers better understand how pancreatic cancer affects the rest of the body, particularly how it can trigger the sometimes deadly muscle-wasting disease known as cachexia. “Most people with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) [by far the most common form of cancreatic cancer] are diagnosed after the disease has reached an advanced stage, and many die within a year of diagnosis,” said Brian Wolpin, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber, co-senior author of the new study with Matthew Vander Heiden, MD, PhD, of MIT an…

SKIN PIGMENT RENDERS SUN'S UV RADIATION HARMLESS USING PROJECT ILES

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Researchers at Lund University in Sweden and other institutions have worked out how the pigment of the skin manages to protect the body from the sun's dangerous UV rays. The skin pigment converts the UV radiation into heat through a rapid chemical reaction that shoots protons from the molecules of the pigment.
In a new study, the team from Lund University, working with colleagues in France and Italy, have studied pigment in the skin and its building blocks. Pigment in both skin and hair comprises two different types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin makes us develop a suntan and gives colour to brown and black hair, whereas those with red hair and pale skin instead have high levels of pheomelanin. "We found that eumelanin converts harmful UV radiation into heat with almost 100 per cent efficiency. The chemical reaction is incredibly quick, taking less that a thousandth of a billionth of a second," said Villy Sundström, Professor of Chemistry at Lund Univer…

HUMAN GENOME WAS SHAPED BY AN EVOLUTIONARY ARM RACE WITH ITSELF

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New findings by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggest that an evolutionary arms race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies The arms race is between mobile DNA sequences known as "retrotransposons" (a.k.a. "jumping genes") and the genes that have evolved to control them. The UC Santa Cruz researchers have, for the first time, identified genes in humans that make repressor proteins to shut down specific jumping genes. The researchers also traced the rapid evolution of the repressor genes in the primate lineage. Their findings, published September 28 in Nature, show that over evolutionary time, primate genomes have undergone repeated episodes in which mutations in jumping genes allowed them to escape repression, which drove the evolution of new repressor genes, and so on. Furthermore, their findings suggest that …