Kamis, 24 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Health Headlines

for Thursday, February 24, 2011

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Virus-mimicking nanoparticles can stimulate long-lasting immunity (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists have designed tiny nanoparticles that resemble viruses in size and immunological composition and that induce lifelong immunity in mice. They designed the particles to mimic the immune-stimulating effects of one of the most successful vaccines ever developed -- the yellow fever vaccine. The particles, made of biodegradable polymers, have components that activate two different parts of the innate immune system and can be used interchangeably with material from many different bacteria or viruses. ... > full story

New vaccine technology protects mice from hepatitis C virus (February 24, 2011) -- HCV mutates so strongly that traditional vaccines are useless. However, researchers have now developed a vaccine, which provides future hope for medical protection from the hepatitis C virus. ... > full story

High vitamin-D bread could help solve widespread insufficiency problem (February 24, 2011) -- With most people unable to get enough vitamin D from sunlight or foods, scientists are suggesting that a new vitamin D-fortified food -- bread made with high-vitamin D yeast -- could fill that gap. The new study confirms that the approach works in laboratory tests. ... > full story

Higher levels of compound in blood associated with lower risk of respiratory disease (February 24, 2011) -- An analysis of data including more than 500,000 adults indicates that levels in the blood of bilirubin (a compound produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells) in the normal range but relatively higher were associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and all-cause death, according to a new study. ... > full story

Secret society connecting through the Internet feeds eating disorders, researchers say (February 24, 2011) -- Researchers reveal a new social support group that's emerging on the Web -- a secretive society to encourage negative behaviors associated with eating disorders. ... > full story

Microbes help children breathe easily? Bacteria and fungi may offer protection against asthma, study suggests (February 24, 2011) -- Children who grow up on farms are less likely to suffer from asthma than other rural children. A large-scale study indicates that this may be due to differences in the spectrum of microbes the two groups are likely to encounter. This findings suggest that certain microorganisms may protect against the disease. ... > full story

New biological pathway identified for post-traumatic stress disorder (February 24, 2011) -- High blood levels of a hormone produced in response to stress are linked to post-traumatic stress disorder in women but not men, a study has found. The hormone, called PACAP is known to act throughout the body and the brain, modulating central nervous system activity, metabolism, blood pressure, pain sensitivity and immune function. The identification of PACAP as an indicator of PTSD may lead to new diagnostic tools and eventually, to new treatments for anxiety disorders. ... > full story

Learn to the rhythm: Nerve cells acting as metronomes are necessary for certain memory processes (February 24, 2011) -- Usually, we associate rhythms with dance and music. But they also play an important role in the brain. When billions of neurons communicate with each other, certain rhythmic activity patterns arise. The proper metre in this interplay is provided by nerve cells that do not excite other cells, but inhibit their activity instead. One type of these inhibiting cells acts in a particularly fast and efficient way and is therefore thought to be crucial for memory formation and information processing in neuronal networks. Scientists can now specifically switch off this cell type and to observe the consequences for memory formation. ... > full story

Vitamin E may increase or decrease the risk of pneumonia, depending on smoking and exercise (February 24, 2011) -- Depending on the level of smoking and leisure time exercise, vitamin E supplementation may decrease or increase, or may have no effect, on the risk of pneumonia, according to a study by researchers in Finland. ... > full story

Higher levels of social activity decrease the risk of developing disability in old age (February 24, 2011) -- Afraid of becoming disabled in old age, not being able to dress yourself or walk up and down the stairs? Staying physically active before symptoms set in could help. But so could going out to eat, playing bingo and taking overnight trips. ... > full story

Spinal fluid proteins distinguish Lyme disease from chronic fatigue syndrome (February 23, 2011) -- Patients who suffer from neurologic post treatment Lyme disease and those with the chronic fatigue syndrome report similar symptoms. However, unique proteins discovered in spinal fluid can distinguish those two groups from one another and also from people in normal health, according to new research. ... > full story

Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives' evolutionary fitness, scientists say (February 23, 2011) -- Polygamy practiced by some 19th century Mormon men had the curious effect of suppressing the overall offspring numbers of Mormon women in plural marriages, say scientists in a new article. Simply put, the more sister-wives a Mormon woman had, the fewer children she was likely to produce. ... > full story

New marker for heart disease identified in study of firefighters (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers are shedding new light on an underlying cause of heart disease. A new study finds that endothelial dysfunction (blood vessel lining) can predict who is at risk for developing coronary heart disease. By identifying this new marker in patients, doctors may be able to intervene early to prevent the progression of heart disease. ... > full story

3-D structure required for function of some vital cell transporters resolved (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have completed the 3-D structural sequence adopted by several essential proteins in the exchange of substances between the extra and intracellular milieu. This finding provides a global perspective of the structural changes that occur in these relevant proteins during basic cell processes, such as protein synthesis, the regulation of metabolism and cell volume, and nerve transmission, and will contribute to understanding some of the functional disruptions caused by human diseases. ... > full story

For a better workday, smile like you mean it (February 23, 2011) -- A new study suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. ... > full story

Scientists create illusion of having three arms (February 23, 2011) -- How we experience our own bodies is a classical question in psychology and neuroscience. It has long been believed that our body image is limited by our innate body plan -- in other words that we cannot experience having more than one head, two arms and two legs. However, brain scientists have now shown that it is possible to make healthy volunteers experience having three arms at the same time. ... > full story

Lasers ID deadly skin cancer better than doctors (February 23, 2011) -- High-resolution images from a new laser-based tool could help doctors better diagnose melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, while potentially saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs each year. ... > full story

Protein fuels inflammation in pancreatic and breast tumors (February 23, 2011) -- Two separate studies identify a protein that drives tumor-promoting inflammation in pancreatic and breast tumors. ... > full story

People with low self-esteem show more signs of prejudice (February 23, 2011) -- When people are feeling badly about themselves, they're more likely to show bias against people who are different. A new study examines how that works. ... > full story

Schizophrenia gene mutation found; Target for new drugs (February 23, 2011) -- In a major advance for schizophrenia research, an international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation strongly linked to the brain disorder -- and a signaling pathway that may be treatable with existing compounds. ... > full story

Pump that bacteria use to resist drugs described (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists have identified the structure of pumps that allow bacteria to resist toxins. ... > full story

Pathway transforms normal cells into aggressive tumors (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered a biological pathway that transforms normal cells into aggressive tumors. The research helps define the cellular events that lead to metastasis. While the study used breast cells, the pathway offers characteristics that are applicable to cancers in general. ... > full story

Are we more -- or less -- moral than we think? (February 23, 2011) -- If asked whether we'd steal, most of us would say no. Would we try to save a drowning person? That depends -- perhaps on our fear of big waves. Much research has explored the ways we make moral decisions. But in the clinch, when the opportunity arises to do good or bad, how well do our predictions match up with the actions we actually take? ... > full story

Vaccine made with synthetic gene protects against deadly pneumonia (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine with a synthetic gene that appears to protect against an increasingly common and particularly deadly form of pneumococcal pneumonia. ... > full story

Patients with COPD have higher risk of shingles, study finds (February 23, 2011) -- Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at greater risk of shingles compared with the general population, according to a new study. The risk is greatest for patients taking oral steroids to treat COPD. ... > full story

Babies and toddlers can suffer mental illness, seldom get treatment (February 23, 2011) -- Infants and toddlers can suffer serious mental health disorders, yet they are unlikely to receive treatment that could prevent lasting developmental problems, according to new research. ... > full story

Cell phone use may have effect on brain activity, but health consequences unknown (February 23, 2011) -- In a preliminary study, researchers found that 50-minute cell phone use was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism (a marker of brain activity) in the region closest to the phone antenna, but the finding is of unknown clinical significance. ... > full story

Blood test may find markers of bladder cancer risk (February 23, 2011) -- Exposures to harmful substances in the environment alters the methylation of DNA, potentially elevating the risk of developing cancer. A new blood test can detect the abnormal pattern of methylation associated with bladder cancer, suggesting that it may be possible to assess a person's susceptibility to the disease. ... > full story

Protective strategy shields primate ovaries from radiation-therapy-induced damage (February 23, 2011) -- A novel strategy to shield mammalian ovaries from the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy has passed an important milestone. A new study finds that brief preexposure of the ovaries to an FDA-approved agent called FTY720 preserved the fertility of female rhesus monkeys exposed to potentially lethal doses of radiation. ... > full story

Speaking foreign languages may help protect your memory (February 23, 2011) -- People who speak more than two languages may lower their risk of developing memory problems, according to a new study. ... > full story

MIT engineers design new nanoparticle that could lead to vaccines for HIV, malaria, other diseases (February 23, 2011) -- Engineers have designed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for diseases such as HIV and malaria. ... > full story

Use of nitrates may increase bone strength (February 23, 2011) -- Preliminary research indicates that use of nitroglycerin ointment among postmenopausal women for 2 years was associated with a modest increase in bone mineral density and decrease in bone resorption (loss), according to a new study. ... > full story

Drinking alcohol in moderation protects against heart disease, meta-analysis finds (February 23, 2011) -- Individuals who drink alcohol in moderation (about one drink a day or less) are 14-25 percent less likely to develop heart disease compared to those who drink no alcohol at all, a new meta-analysis by researchers in Canada has found. ... > full story

Using EEGs to diagnose autism spectrum disorders in infants: Machine-learning system finds differences in brain connectivity (February 23, 2011) -- A computational physicist and a cognitive neuroscientist have come up with the beginnings of a noninvasive test to evaluate an infant's autism risk. ... > full story

Huntington's disease advance: Overactive protein triggers a chain reaction that causes brain nerve cells to die (February 23, 2011) -- A major leap forward in understanding Huntington's disease may give patients hope for a cure. Laboratory tests on skin cells and post-mortem brain tissue of Huntington's disease patients determined that an overactive protein triggers a chain reaction that causes brain nerve cells to die. Toning down the activity of that protein, known as DRP1, prevented the chain reaction and kept those cells alive. ... > full story

Cancer-causing virus exploits key cell-survival proteins (February 23, 2011) -- The human T-lymphotropic virus type 1, a cancer-causing retrovirus, exploits key proteins in host cells to extend the life of those cells, thereby prolonging its own survival and ability to spread, according to a new study. The virus, which causes adult T-cell leukemia and lymphoma, produces a protein called p30 that targets two important cell proteins, one involved in DNA damage repair, the other involved in the destruction of proteins within the cell. ... > full story

Immune system: What do natural (born) killers really do? (February 23, 2011) -- Our immune systems contain three fundamentally different types of cell: B-cells, T-cells and the mysteriously named Natural Killer cells (NK cells), which are known to be involved in killing tumor cells and other infected cells. Experiments to investigate the function of NK cells have proven difficult to interpret because the interactions between the various components of the immune system make it almost impossible to isolate effects of individual cell types. This has changed with the development of a mouse in which individual genes can be knocked out (eliminated) only in NK cells, thereby providing scientists with a tool to study the importance of NK cells and indeed of individual pathways in these cells. ... > full story

Old folk remedy revived: How tansy may be a treatment for herpes (February 23, 2011) -- For centuries, tansy has been used as a folk remedy, but now scientists from Britain and Spain believe the plant may have medical benefits after all, as a treatment for herpes. The team's findings are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines. ... > full story

Proteins find their way with address label and guide (February 23, 2011) -- Most newly produced proteins in a cell need to be transported to the proper place before they can be put to work. For proteins to find their way, they have a built-in signal linked to them, a kind of address label. Moreover, they are helped by a particle that guides them to the cell membrane. In a new study, researchers in Sweden show how this interaction works. ... > full story

National anti-drug campaign in US succeeds in lowering marijuana use, study suggests (February 23, 2011) -- The federal anti-drug campaign "Above the Influence" appears to have effectively reduced marijuana use by teenagers, new research shows. A study of more than 3,000 students in 20 communities nationwide found that by the end of 8th grade, 12 percent of those who had not reported having seen the campaign took up marijuana use compared to only 8 percent among students who had reported familiarity with the campaign. ... > full story

Review highlights need for more education and guidance on complementary and alternative medicine use in midwifery (February 23, 2011) -- Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly popular in maternity care, but healthcare professionals need formal evidence-based education and guidance about its use, according to a new review. ... > full story

Screening mammograms catch second breast cancers early, study finds (February 22, 2011) -- More women are surviving longer after having early-stage breast cancer, but they are at risk of developing breast cancer again. Annual screening mammography has long been standard for these women, but only scant evidence on screening outcomes supported this practice. In the Feb. 23, 2011 JAMA, the most comprehensive relevant study to date shows yearly mammograms do detect second breast cancers early. The Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium study examined 12 years of information. ... > full story

Long-term use of osteoporosis medication associated with increased risk of atypical fractures (February 22, 2011) -- Older women who used bisphosphonates (medications that prevent loss of bone mass) for five years or more were more likely to experience "atypical" fractures involving the femoral shaft or subtrochanteric, compared to women with less usage. However, the absolute risk of these "atypical" fractures was low and bisphosphonate use was associated with a reduced risk of typical osteoporotic fractures, according to a new study. ... > full story

Stresses of unemployed spouse can hurt job performance of other spouse, says study (February 22, 2011) -- Ignoring the stresses of an unemployed spouse's job search does not bode well for the employed spouse's job productivity or home life, a new study finds. ... > full story

Brains of blind people reading in Braille show activity in same area that lights up when sighted readers read (February 22, 2011) -- The portion of the brain responsible for visual reading doesn't require vision at all. Brain imaging studies of blind people as they read words in Braille show activity in precisely the same part of the brain that lights up when sighted readers read. The findings challenge the textbook notion that the brain is divided up into regions that are specialized for processing information coming in via one sense or another, the researchers say. ... > full story

Compound used to block cholesterol could also kill breast cancer cells, study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers believe there could be a new drug compound that could kill breast cancer cells. The compound might also help with controlling cholesterol. ... > full story

Erg gene key to blood stem cell 'self-renewal' (February 22, 2011) -- Scientists have begun to unravel how blood stem cells regenerate themselves, identifying a key gene required for the process. The discovery that the Erg gene is vitally important to blood stem cells' unique ability to self-renew could give scientists new opportunities to use blood stem cells for tissue repair, transplantation and other therapeutic applications. ... > full story

Drinking water: Nanomembranes could filter bacteria (February 22, 2011) -- Nanomaterials research could lead to new solutions for an age-old public health problem: how to separate bacteria from drinking water. ... > full story

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