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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

Activating hair growth by modifying immune cells

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 01:11 PM PST

How to restore hair loss is a task not undertaken exclusively by beauty practitioners. The discover reveals a novel angle to spur hair follicle growth. This also adds new knowledge to a broader problem: how to regenerate tissues in an adult organism, especially the skin.

A standard for neuroscience data

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 11:16 AM PST

In many science fields—like neuroscience—sharing data isn't that simple because no standard data format exists. Researchers are now working to change that, allowing for better exchange of information to advance the field.

Whole-genome sequencing can successfully identify cancer-related mutations

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 11:16 AM PST

Whole-genome sequencing can be used to identify patients' risk for hereditary cancer, researchers have demonstrated. This is the first study that has used whole-genome sequencing to evaluate a series of 258 cancer patients' genomes to improve the ability to diagnose cancer-predisposing mutations, researchers say.

How 'microbial dark matter' might cause disease

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 11:16 AM PST

For decades, the bacteria group Candidate Phylum TM7, thought to cause inflammatory mucosal diseases, has posed a particular challenge for researchers. A landmark discovery has revealed insights into TM7's resistance to scientific study and to its role in the progression of periodontitis and other diseases. These findings shed new light on the biological, ecological and medical importance of TM7, and could lead to better understanding of other elusive bacteria.

Could playing Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker' and other music improve kids' brains?

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 10:25 AM PST

In a study called 'the largest investigation of the association between playing a musical instrument and brain development,' a child psychiatry team has found that musical training might also help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety.

'July effect' does not impact stroke outcomes, according to new study

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 10:25 AM PST

Patients with strokes caused by blood clots -known as acute ischemic strokes- who were admitted in July had similar outcomes compared to patients admitted any other month, according to a new study. The findings challenge concerns about the possibility of lower quality of care and the potential risk of poorer outcomes in teaching hospitals when new medical residents start each July - sometimes called the 'July effect.'

Echolocation acts as substitute sense for blind people

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 10:25 AM PST

Human echolocation operates as a viable 'sense,' working in tandem with other senses to deliver information to people with visual impairment, according to new research. Ironically, the proof for the vision-like qualities of echolocation came from blind echolocators wrongly judging how heavy objects of different sizes felt.

Genetic study sheds light on how mosquitoes transmit malaria

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 10:25 AM PST

The genetic sequencing of 16 mosquitoes (Anopheles genus) -- the sole carriers of human malaria -- has been determined by an international team of researchers, providing new insight into how they adapt to humans as primary hosts of the disease.

Overweight teens lose weight for the right reasons, study shows

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 09:22 AM PST

A new study looked at formerly obese or overweight teens who had lost weight and kept it off. Their motives were more intrinisic, such as being healthy and feeling good. Parents can help by being supportive during major life transitions, the researchers say.

Way to control internal clocks discovered

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 09:22 AM PST

Researchers hypothesize that targeting components of the mammalian clock with small molecules like REV-ERB drugs may lead to new treatments for sleep disorders and anxiety disorders. It also is possible that REV-ERB drugs may be leveraged to help in the treatment of addiction.

Molecular mechanism behind health benefits of dietary restriction identified

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 09:22 AM PST

A key molecular mechanism behind the health benefits of dietary restriction has been identified by researchers. Also known as calorie restriction, dietary restriction is best known for its ability to slow aging in laboratory animals. The findings here show that restricting two amino acids, methionine and cysteine, results in increased hydrogen sulfide (H2S) production and protection against ischemia reperfusion injury, damage to tissue that occurs following the interruption of blood flow as during organ transplantation and stroke.

That smartphone is giving your thumbs superpowers

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 09:22 AM PST

When people spend time interacting with their smartphones via touchscreen, it actually changes the way their thumbs and brains work together, according to a new report. More touchscreen use in the recent past translates directly into greater brain activity when the thumbs and other fingertips are touched, the study shows.

Mechanics of cells' long-range communication modeled by researchers

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

Interdisciplinary research is showing how cells interact over long distances within fibrous tissue, like that associated with many diseases of the liver, lungs and other organs. By developing mathematical models of how the collagen matrix that connects cells in tissue stiffens, the researchers are providing insights into the pathology of fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver and certain cancers.

Store remodelling benefits bottom line

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

Retail sales increase by nearly 50 per cent when shops are upgraded, according to new research. "The in-store experience continues to have high relevance; retailers must keep their appearance modern, fresh and in line with that of competitors," said one researcher. "The look, feel, and mood of a firm's retail or service environment are unique and crafted purposefully to contribute to the brand and ultimately, its profitability."

Strong neighborhood ties can help reduce gun violence

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

The bonds that tie a neighborhood together can help shield community members from gun violence, according to new findings. "Violence results in chronic community-level trauma and stress, and undermines health, capacity, and productivity in these neighborhoods," said the study's lead author. "Police and government response to the problem has focused on the victim or the criminal. Our study focuses on empowering communities to combat the effects of living with chronic and persistent gun violence."

Greater risk of premature deaths in neighborhoods with high concentrations of check-cashing places

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:42 AM PST

A new research paper suggests a relation between the density of both check-cashing places and alcohol outlets in a given neighborhood and the risk of premature death in people ages 20-59 years. The findings suggest that the strategic placement of check-cashing places and alcohol outlets in certain areas may provide local residents with ready access to quick cash and-or the purchase of alcohol.

Bacteria could be rich source for making terpenes

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:40 AM PST

Bacteria could be a rich source of terpenes, the natural compounds common in plants and fungi that are used to make drugs, food additives, perfumes, and other products, a new study suggests. The work also suggests that there may be many new terpene products as yet undiscovered hiding in the genomes of bacteria.

Armed virus shows promise as treatment for pancreatic cancer

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:40 AM PST

A new combination of two different approaches -- virotherapy and immunotherapy -- is showing 'great promise' as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, according to new research. The study investigated whether the effectiveness of the Vaccinia oncolytic virus -- a virus modified to selectively infect and kill cancer cells -- as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, would be improved by arming it with a gene which modulates the body's immune system.

Buffer zone guidelines may be inadequate to protect produce from feedlot contamination

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 08:40 AM PST

The pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 can spread, likely airborne, more than one tenth mile downwind from a cattle feedlot onto nearby produce, according to a new paper. "The high percentages of leafy greens contaminated with E. coli suggest great risk for planting fresh produce 180 m [590 feet] or less from a feedlot," the investigators write.

Stress May Increase Desire for Reward but Not Pleasure, Research Finds

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 07:28 AM PST

Feeling stressed may prompt you to go to great lengths to satisfy an urge for a drink or sweets, but you're not likely to enjoy the indulgence any more than someone who is not stressed and has the same treat just for pleasure, according to new research.

Using targeted brain stimulation to change attention patterns for anxious individuals

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:41 AM PST

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a painless treatment strategy that uses weak electrical currents to deliver targeted stimulation to the brain via electrodes placed on the scalp. tDCS has shown promise in treating mood, anxiety, cognition, and some symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

In search of the origin of our brain

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:41 AM PST

While searching for the origin of our brain, biologists have gained new insights into the evolution of the central nervous system and its highly developed biological structures. Nerve cell centralization does begin in multicellular animals, researchers have confirmed.

Test predicts response to treatment for complication of leukemia stem cell treatment

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:40 AM PST

A new test may reveal which patients will respond to treatment for graft versus host disease (GVHD), an often life-threatening complication of stem cell transplants (SCT) used to treat leukemia and other blood disorders, according to a study.

Trial confirms Ebola vaccine candidate safe, equally immunogenic in Africa

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:40 AM PST

Two experimental DNA vaccines to prevent Ebola virus and the closely related Marburg virus are safe, and generated a similar immune response in healthy Ugandan adults as reported in healthy US adults earlier this year. The findings are from the first trial of filovirus vaccines in Africa.

Weight training appears key to controlling belly fat

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:39 AM PST

Healthy men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities, according to a new study. Combining weight training and aerobic activity led to the most optimal results. Aerobic exercise by itself was associated with less weight gain compared with weight training.

Genes show the way to better treatment of hepatitis A

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:39 AM PST

One of the most common causes of hepatitis A (formerly known as infectious hepatitis) is a hepatitis C virus infection in the liver. The disease can be treated medically, but not all patients are cured by the treatment currently available. New research shows that the response to medical treatment depends on genetic factors.

Using laparoscopy for ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement

Posted: 23 Dec 2014 05:39 AM PST

Researchers conducted a prospective randomized controlled clinical trial to compare a laparoscopic procedure with a mini-laparotomy for insertion of a peritoneal catheter during ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery. The deciding factor was the rate of shunt malfunction. Although overall shunt failure rates did not differ substantially between patients in the two surgery groups, the authors identified a significant reduction in the rate of distal shunt failure in patients in whom laparoscopy was used.

War veterans: Researchers point to impact of combined brain injury, PTSD

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 02:04 PM PST

Researchers have exposed new information about the combined cognitive effects of mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder in war veterans. Results of a study suggest that veterans suffering from both conditions have poorer cognitive and psychological outcomes than veterans diagnosed with only one of the conditions. The research also raises the possibility that mTBI results in persistent but mild cognitive challenges for some veterans.

Survival rates higher in obese heart failure patients

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:50 PM PST

Patients who were obese before developing heart failure lived longer than normal weight patients with the same condition according to a new study that examined the 'obesity paradox' by following obese and non-obese heart failure patients for more than a decade.

New concussion laws result in big jump in concussion treatment

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:50 PM PST

New laws regulating concussion treatment, bolstered by heightened public awareness, have resulted in a large increase in the treatment of concussion-related injuries for school-age athletes. Since 2009, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted concussion laws regulating concussion treatment--the first laws written to address a specific injury.

Extra income boosts health of elderly in poor countries

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:50 PM PST

Boosting the incomes of poor, elderly residents in developing countries can significantly improve their health and well-being, particularly in lung function and memory, a new study shows. The study compared 2,474 residents 70 years and older of two Mexican cities in the state of Yucatan. Those in the city of Motul received no extra income, while those in Valladolid received an additional $67 per month, a 44 percent increase in average household income.

New knowledge about host-virus coevolution unmasked from the genomic record

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 01:50 PM PST

Retroviruses are important pathogens, which have attacked vertebrate hosts for millions of years. Researchers now provide new knowledge about the long-term interactions of retroviruses and their hosts by analyzing endogenous retroviruses , retroviruses whose genes have become part of the host organism's genome.

Throwing money at data breach may make it worse

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:45 AM PST

Information systems researchers studied the effect of two compensation strategies used by Target after a large-scale data breach and found that customers reacted favorably to a 10-percent discount on purchases.

More knowledge needed to ensure safe use of botanicals in food

Posted: 22 Dec 2014 05:43 AM PST

The challenges related to assessing the safety of botanicals in foods and food supplements and regulating their use has been the focus of recent study. Researchers have noted the need for more data to be generated on the risks botanicals pose to human health. Researchers also called for harmonization of approaches and systems between countries so that scientific information can be easily shared supporting the safe use of botanicals and paving the way for greater cross-agency cooperation.

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