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Thursday, December 11, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

Thyroid hormones reduce animal cardiac arrhythmias

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 11:08 AM PST

Rats that received thyroid hormones had a reduced risk for dangerous heart arrhythmias following a heart attack, according to a new study. The research team found that thyroid hormone replacement therapy significantly reduced the incidence of atrial fibrillation -- a specific kind of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia -- in the rats, compared to a control group that did not receive the hormones.

New way to turn genes on discovered

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 11:08 AM PST

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells. The findings are expected to help researchers refine and further engineer the tool to accelerate genomic research and bring the technology closer to use in the treatment of human genetic disease.

Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 11:08 AM PST

Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home -- di-n-butyl phthalate and di-isobutyl phthalate -- had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers. The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. While avoiding all phthalates in the United States is for now impossible, the researchers recommend that pregnant women take steps to limit exposure by not microwaving food in plastics, avoiding scented products as much as possible, including air fresheners, and dryer sheets, and not using recyclable plastics labeled as 3, 6, or 7.

New drug combination for advanced breast cancer delays disease progression

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:13 AM PST

A new combination of cancer drugs delayed disease progression for patients with hormone-receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer, according to a multi-center phase II trial. The drug combination doubled the number of patients whose cancer had not progressed after one year from 14% to 28%, according to the study.

Organic electronics could lead to cheap, wearable medical sensors

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:13 AM PST

A pulse oximeter, commonly used to measure heart rate and blood oxygen levels, has been created using all organic materials instead of silicon. The advance could lead to cheap, flexible sensors that could be used like a Band-Aid.

Ads communicate message in as little as tenth of a second, helped by color

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:13 AM PST

Ads can communicate their main message in as little as a tenth of a second, helped by color, according to a new study.

Testosterone may contribute to colon cancer tumor growth

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:13 AM PST

Evidence suggesting that the male hormone testosterone may actually be a contributing factor in the formation of colon cancer tumors has been discovered. "Previously, scientists believed that female hormones may have lent some sort of protection against tumor susceptibility," the lead researcher said. "However, by showing that removing testosterone from rats leads to a drastic decrease in colon cancer susceptibility, it appears that male hormones may actually contribute to colon tumor growth rather than female hormones being protective."

Teen Smoking: Deeper Analysis of Statistics Needed, Study Finds

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:12 AM PST

When it comes to measuring teen smoking, many public health agencies rely too heavily on reports of monthly cigarette use, a broad statistic that makes it difficult to draw conclusions about current habits and historical trends, a new study finds.

Next-Generation Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections May Focus on Fitness Genes

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:10 AM PST

Ask any woman: urinary tract infections are painful and unpredictable. Now researchers have identified genes to help fight the infections that are becoming resistant to antibiotics. The findings reveal the specific genes expressed by Escherichia coli, the bacteria that most often causes UTIs in otherwise healthy people.

Immune function marker does not predict benefit of trastuzumab in HER-2+ breast cancer patients

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:10 AM PST

A marker of immune function that predicts for better outcomes in patients treated with chemotherapy for triple negative breast cancer is also linked to improved prognosis in patients treated with chemotherapy for HER2-positive breast cancer.

Pathway that degrades holiday turkey fuels metastasis of triple negative breast cancer

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:10 AM PST

Triple negative breast cancer cells process tryptophan to promote survival while traveling through the body in order to seed new tumor sites, researchers say. "I'm not saying that people with metastatic breast cancer shouldn't eat turkey during the holidays, but triple-negative breast cancer appears to have found a way to process tryptophan more quickly, equipping cancer cells to survive while in circulation, which allows them to metastasize," says the first author of a new paper.

Breakthrough solves centuries-old animal evolution mystery

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 10:10 AM PST

Researchers have developed a method for spying on the activity of every gene within a cell at once. The breakthrough allows them to determine the order in which the three layers of cells in animal embryos evolved. Other applications include cancer research.

Patients given less blood during transfusions do well

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

It's a simple premise -- now backed up by more evidence than ever: 'Why give more blood to anyone if you can't show it benefits them?' Research has found that for many patients, smaller blood transfusions after surgery are at least as beneficial as larger ones, both in the short term and the long term.

How long can Ebola live? No one really knows

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

The Ebola virus travels from person to person through direct contact with infected body fluids. But how long can the virus survive on glass surfaces or countertops? How long can it live in wastewater when liquid wastes from a patient end up in the sewage system? A new article reviews the latest research to find answers to these questions.

Better biomonitor for children with asthma

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

A diagnostic technique tested on Ground Zero firefighters to assess the effects of pollution is now being used on urban asthmatic children. The study has revealed that environmental sampling stations located in urban areas are not sufficient to protect the health of these children.

Students design workstations that accommodate groups and individual

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

New school and office workspace designs created by engineering students are intended to allow users to share space and materials while maintaining their own work areas -- a dual purpose the researchers say has been neglected.

New insight into cancer defense mechanism

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

A new mechanism that gives a better understanding of cancer development has been identified by scientists. The molecular mechanism ensures that when cells divide, the genomic material passes correctly to the resulting daughter cells: "The process, known as chromosome segregation, is vitally important because incorrect passage of the genomic material makes cells prone to develop into cancer cells," says one investigator. The new discovery depends on a protein called BubR1 which if mutated can cause cancer.

How-to exercise pamphlet for people with MS developed

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

Fatigue and pain, along with other symptoms, prevent many people with multiple sclerosis from exercising. But a new how-to guide for a home-based exercise program offers a way for people with MS to stay more physically active.

New 'electronic skin' for prosthetics, robotics detects pressure from different directions

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

Touch can be a subtle sense, but it communicates quickly whether something in our hands is slipping, for example, so we can tighten our grip. For the first time, scientists report the development of a stretchable 'electronic skin' closely modeled after our own that can detect not just pressure, but also what direction it's coming from. The study on the advance could have applications for prosthetics and robotics.

U.S. taxpayers bear financial burden of smoking-related disease

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 09:14 AM PST

Cigarette smoking generates as much as $170 billion in annual health care spending in the United States, according to a new study. The study found that taxpayers bear 60 percent of the cost of smoking-attributable diseases through publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Despite declines in the rates of smoking in recent years, the costs on society due to smoking have increased.

Honeybee hive sealant promotes hair growth in mice

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:43 AM PST

Hair loss can be devastating for the millions of men and women who experience it. Now scientists are reporting that a substance from honeybee hives might contain clues for developing a potential new therapy. They found that the material, called propolis, encouraged hair growth in mice.

Internet searches can predict volume of ER visits

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:43 AM PST

The correlation between Internet searches on a regional medical website and next-day visits to regional emergency departments was 'significant,' authors of a recent study say, suggesting that Internet data may be used in the future to predict the level of demand at emergency departments. This is the first study to use Internet data to predict emergency department visits in either a region or a single hospital.

Key to vitamin A metabolism found

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:43 AM PST

Researchers have discovered the mechanism that enables the enzyme Lecithin: retinol acyltransferase to store vitamin A, which is essential for sight. The researchers hope the new information will be used to design small molecule therapies for degenerative eye diseases. The same enzymatic activity of LRAT that allows specific cells to absorb vitamin A can be used to transport small molecule drugs to the eye.

Analogues of a natural product are drug candidates against malaria

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:43 AM PST

Two analogues of borrelidin were found to cure 100 percent of infected mice and produce immunological memory in these animals, a property not previously observed in an antimalarial drug. Growing resistance to current treatment for malaria increases the need for new drug candidates.

New breast cancer classification based on epigenetics

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:43 AM PST

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. One in nine will suffer breast cancer over their lifetime. Progress in prevention and early detection, and the use of chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy), have achieved significantly increase survival in this disease in the last ten years, but much remains to be done. The identification of patients with high-risk breast cancer is key to knowing whether a patient will require only the removal of the tumor by surgery or whether if she will need additional chemotherapy to make sure the removal of breast cancer cells.

Biomarker discovery sheds new light on heart attack risk of arthritis drugs

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

A class of drug for treating arthritis - all but shelved over fears about side effects - may be given a new lease of life, following the discovery of a possible way to identify which patients should avoid using it. A new study sheds light on the 10-year-old question of how COX-2 inhibitors -- a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) -- can increase the risk of heart attack in some people.

First implant of patient-specific rod for spinal deformities in U.S.

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:41 AM PST

In early November, a New York hospital became the first in the U.S. to implant a patient with a new customized osteosynthesis rod precisely designed and manufactured preoperatively to properly realign the individual's spine, which had been severely deformed from scoliosis since childhood.

Female smokeless tobacco use is largely unknown by physicians

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:41 AM PST

Medical professionals should be more aware and inquire more specifically about smokeless tobacco use by their rural female patients, according to new research among a population of rural women in North Alabama.

Pros and cons of using big data to monitor drug safety

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:41 AM PST

Although healthcare databases have allowed for greater access to real world medical data, using databases to evaluate the safety of medical products is complex and requires careful research consideration, a new report warns.

Majority of women with early-stage breast cancer in U.S. eceive unnecessarily long courses of radiation

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 08:41 AM PST

Two-thirds of women treated for early-stage breast cancer in the U.S. receive longer radiation therapy than necessary, according to a new study. "Hypofractionated radiation is infrequently used for women with early-stage breast cancer, even though it's high-quality, patient-centric cancer care at lower cost," said the study's lead author. "It is clinically equivalent to longer duration radiation in curing breast cancer, has similar side effects, is more convenient for patients, and allows patients to return to work or home sooner."

Better substances for treating dengue virus proposed

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 07:00 AM PST

Potential new active substances for treating the dengue virus are being proposed by European scientists. In the quest for medication to treat the dengue virus, the scientific community is focusing on a particular enzyme of the pathogen, the protease known as NS2B/NS3. The reason for this is that inhibitors of similar proteases have been revealed to be very effective with other viruses. Protease inhibitors are already being used successfully in the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis patients.

Guidelines for treatment of Ebola patients are urgently needed

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 07:00 AM PST

As the Ebola Virus Diseases epidemic continues to rage in West Africa, infectious diseases experts call attention to the striking lack of treatment guidelines. With over 16,000 total cases and more than 500 new infections reported per week, and probable underreporting of both cases and fatalities, the medical community still does not have specific approved treatment in place for Ebola, according to experts.

Revolutionary new procedure for epilepsy diagnosis unlocked by research

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 07:00 AM PST

Pioneering new research could revolutionize global diagnostic procedures for one of the most common forms of epilepsy, scientists say. The ground-breaking research has revealed differences in the way that distant regions of the brain connect with each other and how these differences may lead to the generation of seizures in people with idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGE).

Daclatasvir for hepatitis C: Added benefit not proven

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 07:00 AM PST

The data is unsuitable for virus genotype 4 patients and for untreated genotype 1 patients without cirrhosis; there is no data for genotype 3 patients and three other genotype 1 groups, researchers report after examination.

Why young people with diabetes develop heart damage

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 06:59 AM PST

Magnetic resonance imaging has been used by researchers to reveal why young people with Type-2 diabetes develop heart damage. The study will randomly allocate patients to different treatment arms. The first group will receive optimal blood sugar lowering treatment and lifestyle advice. The second, a very low calorie diet and the third, moderate intensity exercise training. The research team hope that conducting MRI scans throughout this period will indicate whether early heart damage can be completely reversed.

Early trial of new drug shows promise for patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 06:58 AM PST

In patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, infusion of pembrolizumab produced durable responses in almost one out of five patients. One of the 27 patients had a complete response and four had a partial response. Seven more patients had stable disease.

Lifestyle the key to gap in cardiac patient outcomes

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 06:58 AM PST

Patients suffering from the world's most common heart rhythm disorder can have their long-term outcomes significantly improved with an aggressive management of their underlying cardiac risk factors, according to researchers.

Researchers observe how unfolded proteins move in the cell

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 05:20 AM PST

When a large protein unfolds in transit through a cell, it slows down and can get stuck in traffic. Using a specialized microscope -- a sort of cellular traffic camera -- chemists now can watch the way the unfolded protein diffuses. Studying the relationship between protein folding and transport could provide great insight into protein-misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's

Yeast are first cells known to cure themselves of prions

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 05:20 AM PST

Yeast cells can sometimes reverse the protein misfolding and clumping associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's, according to new research. The finding contradicts the idea that once prion proteins have changed into the shape that aggregates, the change is irreversible. In humans, such aggregates, called amyloids, are associated with diseases including Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's.

Multiple, short learning sessions strengthen memory formation in fragile X syndrome

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 05:11 AM PST

A learning technique that maximizes the brain's ability to make and store memories may help overcome cognitive issues seen in fragile X syndrome, a leading form of intellectual disability, according to neurobiologists.

Anyone who is good at German learns English better

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 05:06 AM PST

Your literacy skills in your first language heavily influence the learning of a foreign language. Thus, anyone who reads and writes German well is likely to transfer this advantage to English – regardless of the age of onset of foreign language learning. Foreign language lessons at an early age, however, pay off less than was previously assumed. In fact, they can even have a negative impact on the first language in the short run, as a linguist reveals in her long-term study involving 200 Zurich high-school children.

Early results indicate potential for focused ultrasound to treat OCD

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:50 AM PST

The potential of focused ultrasound to treat certain patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been supported by new research. "There is a need for non-invasive treatment options for patients with OCD that cannot be managed through medication," says the lead investigator. "Using focused ultrasound, we were able to reduce the symptoms for these patients and help them get some of their life back without the risks or complications of the more invasive surgical approaches that are currently available."

Women with dense breasts will have to look beyond ultrasound for useful supplemental breast cancer screening

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:50 AM PST

Supplemental ultrasound screening for all U.S. women with dense breasts would substantially increase healthcare costs with little improvement in overall health, according to researchers. The study will help inform the national legislative discussion about potential regulations requiring health providers to tell women if their mammogram shows that they have dense breasts.

Keeping families safe from the flu

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:50 AM PST

The flu, or seasonal influenza virus, is extremely unpredictable. Its severity can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including the strains of flu spreading, availability of vaccines, how many people get vaccinated and how well the flu vaccine is matched to the flu viruses circulating each season. For these reasons, especially with recent news out of the CDC last week, many may be wondering, "should I be concerned about this flu season?"

Laughing gas shows promise for severe depression, pilot study suggests

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:41 AM PST

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has shown early promise as a potential treatment for severe depression in patients whose symptoms don't respond to standard therapies. The pilot study is believed to be the first research in which patients with depression were given laughing gas.

Simeprevir-based therapy offers patients in developing countries a cost-effective alternative in treatment of hepatitis C

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:41 AM PST

A protease inhibitor, simeprevir, a once a day pill, along with interferon and ribavirin has proven as effective in treating chronic Hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) as telaprevir with interferon and ribavirin, the standard of care in developing countries. Further, simeprevir proved to be simpler for patients and had fewer adverse events, scientists report.

Immunizing schoolkids fights flu in others, too

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:41 AM PST

Mathematical models predicted it, and now a study confirms it: Immunizing school-aged children from flu can protect other segments of the population, as well, researchers report.

Genotyping errors plague CYP2D6 testing for tamoxifen therapy

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:39 AM PST

Clinical recommendations discouraging the use of CYP2D6 gene testing to guide tamoxifen therapy in breast cancer patients are based on studies with flawed methodology and should be reconsidered, according to the results of a new study.

No Increase in Patient Deaths or Hospital Readmissions Following Restrictions to Medical Residents' Hours

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:39 AM PST

In the first year after the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) reduced the number of continuous hours that residents can work, there was no change in the rate of death or readmission among hospitalized Medicare patients, according to a new study.

Emergency department resource use by supervised residents vs. attending physicians alone

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:39 AM PST

In a sample of U.S. emergency departments, compared to attending physicians alone, supervised visits (involving both resident and attending physicians) were associated with a greater likelihood of hospital admission and use of advanced imaging and with longer emergency department stays, according to a study.

Number of medical schools with student-run free clinics has more than doubled

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:39 AM PST

There has been a doubling during the last decade in the number of U.S. medical schools that have student-run free clinics, with more than half of medical students involved with these clinics, according to a study.

Languages of medical residency applicants compared to patients with limited english

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:39 AM PST

An analysis of the non-English-language skills of U.S. medical residency applicants finds that although they are linguistically diverse, most of their languages do not match the languages spoken by the U.S. population with limited English proficiency, according to a study.

Robotic surgery technique to treat previously inoperable head and neck cancer tumors

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:38 AM PST

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers have for the first time advanced a surgical technique performed with the help of a robot to successfully access a previously-unreachable area of the head and neck.

Brain inflammation a hallmark of autism, large-scale analysis shows

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 04:38 AM PST

While many different combinations of genetic traits can cause autism, brains affected by autism share a pattern of ramped-up immune responses, an analysis of data from autopsied human brains reveals. The study included data from 72 autism and control brains.

Call to change concept of harm reduction in alcohol policy

Posted: 09 Dec 2014 11:06 AM PST

A new policy paper from an academic calls for limits on the influence of the drinks industry in shaping alcohol policy because it has a 'fundamental conflict of interest'. The articles notes that the concept of harm reduction has been important in advancing science, policy and practice for illicit drug use, particularly as a vehicle for more enlightened responses to injecting drug use and HIV.

Top-selling eye vitamins found not to match scientific evidence

Posted: 09 Dec 2014 10:37 AM PST

With Americans spending billions annually on nutritional supplements, researchers analyzed popular eye vitamins to determine whether their formulations and claims are consistent with scientific findings. They determined that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials. They also found claims made on the products' promotional materials lack evidence.

Mobile device use leads to few interactions between mother and child during mealtime

Posted: 09 Dec 2014 10:37 AM PST

Moms who use mobile devices while eating with their young children are less likely to have verbal, nonverbal and encouraging interactions with them. The findings may have important implications about how parents balance attention between their devices with their children during daily life. Parent-child interactions during meal time in particular show a protective effect on child health outcomes such as obesity, asthma and adolescent risk behaviors.

Long-term results confirm success of laser treatment for vocal-cord cancer

Posted: 09 Dec 2014 10:36 AM PST

The first long-term study of a pioneering endoscopic laser treatment for early vocal-cord cancer, previously shown to provide optimal voice outcomes, finds that it is as successful as traditional approaches in curing patients' tumors while avoiding the damage to vocal quality caused by radiotherapy or by conventional laser or cold-instrument surgery.

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