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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

High hepatitis C cure rate seen in trial of 6-week oral drug regimens

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 04:13 PM PST

Thirty-eight of 40 volunteers with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections who received a combination of three direct-acting oral drugs for six weeks were cured in a recent clinical trial. A six-week course of therapy is half the length of time previously shown to achieve a similar cure rate using two direct-acting oral HCV drugs only.

Mechanistic insights into spinal muscular atrophy suggest new paths for treatment

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

New light has been shed on the underlying pathology of spinal muscular atrophy, a rare but devastating disease that causes muscle weakness and paralysis and is the leading genetic cause of infant deaths. With no approved drugs currently available, the newly obtained insights may prove valuable as scientists currently work to define optimal treatment strategies for patients.

Genetic discovery about childhood blindness paves way for new treatments

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

Finding genes for retinal degenerations has immediate benefits for people living with blindness and vision loss, their families, and their physicians. Establishing a genetic cause confirms the clinical diagnosis at the molecular level, helps predict the future visual prognosis, suggests therapies, and allows some patients to join clinical trials. While more than 200 genes for retinal degenerations have been identified, approximately 40-50 percent of cases remain a mystery.

Personalized therapy for cardiovascular disease

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

Researchers have announced results showing that patients with cardiovascular disease and the appropriate genetic background benefit greatly from the new medication dalcetrapib, with a reduction of 39 percent in combined clinical outcomes including heart attacks, strokes, unstable angina, coronary revascularizations and cardiovascular deaths. These patients also benefit from a reduction in the amount of atherosclerosis in their vessels. This discovery may also pave the way for a new era in cardiovascular medicine, with personalized or precision drugs.

Family income, child behavior factors in legal disputes about kids with autism

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

A national survey of parents of kids with autism indicates these families with higher incomes are more likely to use their procedural safeguards -- including mediation and due process hearings -- to solve disputes with schools over their children's education.

Up in smoke or bottoms up: How policy could affect substance abuse

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

Half of young drivers who died in car crashes in American states such as California, Hawaii and West Virginia were under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana, or both. This is the story told by the statistics recording fatal road accidents involving 16- to 25-year-olds in nine US states.

Ancient fossils reveal rise in parasitic infections due to climate change

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 03:13 PM PST

A paleobiologist has found indications of a greater risk of parasitic infection due to climate change in ancient mollusk fossils. His study of clams from the Holocene Epoch indicates that current sea level rise may mimic the same conditions that led to an upsurge in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms, he found from that time. He cautions that an outbreak in human infections could occur.

BPA and BPS (substitute for BPA) affect embryonic brain development in zebrafish: Low levels of chemicals linked to hyperactivity

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 12:46 PM PST

Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is produced in massive quantities around the world for use in consumer products, including household plastics. In response to public concerns, many manufacturers have replaced BPA with a chemical called bisphenol S (BPS), which is often labeled as "BPA-free" and presumed to be safer by consumers. Scientists have provided evidence that both BPA and BPS cause alterations in brain development leading to hyperactivity in zebrafish.

Computers using digital footprints are better judges of personality than friends and family

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 12:44 PM PST

Researchers have found that, based on enough Facebook Likes, computers can judge your personality traits better than your friends, family and even your partner. Using a new algorithm, researchers have calculated the average number of Likes artificial intelligence (AI) needs to draw personality inferences about you as accurately as your partner or parents.

Hybrid 'super mosquito' resistant to insecticide-treated bed nets

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 11:13 AM PST

A hybrid mosquito, resulting from interbreeding of two malaria mosquitoes, now has the ability to survive the insecticides used to treat bed nets -- which have been key to preventing the spread of malaria in humans, scientists report.

Curbing growth of physician self-referrals requires Congress

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 11:13 AM PST

Recent American federal reports show that physicians are increasingly referring services such as diagnostic imaging to businesses in which they have a financial stake. The controversial practice depends on loopholes in existing law that the new Congress could consider closing, write two doctors.

As many as two-fifths of never-smoking teens are exposed to secondhand smoke worldwide

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 11:13 AM PST

Many teens who have never smoked are being exposed to the health dangers of tobacco. A new study estimated the prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure worldwide among teens who had never smoked, and found that one third of those teens are exposed to secondhand smoke inside the home and more than two-fifths of those teens are exposed to secondhand smoke outside the home.

Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:56 AM PST

New research has identified one of the key cancer-fighting mechanisms for sulforaphane, and suggests that this much-studied phytochemical found in broccoli and other foods may be able to move beyond cancer prevention and toward therapeutic use for advanced prostate cancer.

Pediatricians miss autism symptoms in brief checkups

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:56 AM PST

Researchers studied pediatric exams where care providers performed autism observations for 15-33-month-old children. Even the researchers missed referrals for 39 percent of the children with autism, based on the brief observation alone. Parents are the experts for their children, and researchers explain that tools are available for parents to be educated, and in doing so, they can work with care providers and have an impact on their children's care.

One-size-fits-all approach can lead to over-treatment in older diabetes patients

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:55 AM PST

Diabetes treatments have saved many lives, but in older patients with multiple medical conditions, aggressively controlling blood sugar with insulin and sulfonylurea drugs, could lead to over-treatment and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), according to new research.

Attitudes, practices surrounding end of life care in ICUs vary among Asian physicians

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:54 AM PST

A majority of physicians surveyed throughout Asia reported almost always or often withholding life-sustaining treatment in end-of-life care for patients in hospital intensive care units when there is little chance of meaningful recovery, although attitudes and practice of end-of-life care varied widely across countries and regions on the continent, according to a report.

New research on what the nose 'knows' reveals an unexpected simplicity

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:54 AM PST

Two types of neuronal processors found in the rat olfactory bulb solve the difficult problem of identifying constantly fluctuating environmental odors through linear summation. A team working for 5 years across two continents have made thist surprising discovery, explaining that it's an operation no less straightforward than the one a child uses to add or multiply numbers.

How thoughts, behavior affect mood

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:51 AM PST

The mood swings of people with bipolar disorder are influenced by their thoughts, according to researchers. The study found that both thoughts and ascent behaviors predicted bipolar risk, characterized by a hypomanic personality style, while negative thoughts and descent behaviors were associated with depression.

More clues to how drug reverses obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:39 AM PST

Researchers have identified how a promising drug in clinical trials for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders improves the metabolism of sugar by generating a new signal between fat cells and the liver.

Possible new target for treating brain inflammation found

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:39 AM PST

An enzyme that produces a class of inflammatory lipid molecules in the brain has been identified by researchers. Abnormally high levels of these molecules appear to cause a rare inherited neurodegenerative disorder, they report.

Web-based TAVR marketing found to overstate benefits, understate risks of procedure

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:39 AM PST

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, has been called one of the biggest advances in cardiac surgery in recent years. The procedure delivers a new, collapsible aortic valve through a catheter to the valve site within the heart - a repair that otherwise requires open heart surgery. While a boon for many patients who would not have been a candidate for conventional surgery, researchers have discovered that marketing for TAVR does not accurately portray the risks associated with undergoing the procedure.

New strains of parasites identified: Research on whipworms has implications for human health and animal conservation

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:39 AM PST

Researchers have discovered that there are three genetically distinct groups of whipworms – and only one of the three appears to be transmissible between humans and non-human primates. It is important information for public health officers around the world.

Epigenetic switchboard now better understood

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:08 AM PST

Epigenetic signals help determine which genes are activated at which time in a given cell. A novel analytical method enables systematic characterization of the relevant epigenetic tags, and reveals that the system adapts to the loss of single epigenetic writer and eraser enzymes.

Patients rarely learn of at-home provider quality data

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:07 AM PST

Patients discharged from the hospital could access state or federal quality reports about home health agencies. A new study, however, finds that patients, their families, and their care managers rarely, if ever, see these reports when deciding which agency to retain.

Virtual reality brain training game can detect mild cognitive impairment, a condition that often predates Alzheimer’s disease

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:04 AM PST

Researchers have demonstrated the potential of a virtual supermarket cognitive training game as a screening tool for patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among a sample of older adults. MCI is a condition that often predates Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is characterized by memory loss and inability to execute complex activities such as financial planning.

Curcumin's ability to fight Alzheimer's studied

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:04 AM PST

One of the most promising new treatments for Alzheimer's disease may already be in your kitchen. Curcumin, a natural product found in the spice turmeric, has been used by many Asian cultures for centuries, and a new study indicates a close chemical analog of curcumin has properties that may make it useful as a treatment for the brain disease.

Mechanism leading to drug resistance, metastasis in melanoma patients discovered

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:04 AM PST

A mechanism that leads to resistance to targeted therapy in melanoma patients has been discovered by researchers who are investigating strategies to counteract it. Targeted biological therapy can reduce toxicity and improve outcomes for many cancer patients, when compared to the adverse effects of standard chemotherapeutic drugs. However, patients often develop resistance to these targeted therapies, resulting in more aggressive cells that can spread to other sites or cause regrowth of primary tumors.

Disruptive children benefit from tailored classroom intervention

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 08:03 AM PST

Kindergartners and first graders with high maintenance temperaments showed less disruptive behavior and more active engagement and on-task behavior in the classroom, thanks to a program that helps teachers, parents, and students recognize and adapt to individual differences.

Overweight, obese kids achieved healthier weights after participating in Head Start

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:32 AM PST

Preschoolers who entered Head Start overweight or obese had achieved a healthier weight status than children in a comparison groups by the time they entered kindergarten, according to new research. The comparison groups included children in a primary care health system, which included those receiving and not receiving Medicaid.

Little or no benefit from nutrient additions to vitamin waters and energy drinks

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:32 AM PST

The nutritional benefits of novel beverages (vitamin waters, energy drinks, and novel juices) sold in Canadian supermarkets have been assessed by scientists how reviewed their micronutrient compositions. Findings suggest little to no nutrient additions by drinking these beverages.

Researchers dispute warning that drugs for high cholesterol could impair memory, cognitive functioning

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:31 AM PST

Review of clinical trials show no link between statin use and changes in cognition, say researchers who question whether there is substance to the US Food and Drug Agency's recent warning that statins could affect the memory, attention span and other cognitive abilities of people who take this drug to control high cholesterol. This follows a systematic review of 25 clinical trials incorporating nearly 47,000 people.

Do viruses make us smarter?

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:31 AM PST

Inherited viruses that are millions of years old play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterize the human brain, researchers say. They have found that retroviruses seem to play a central role in the basic functions of the brain, more specifically in the regulation of which genes are to be expressed, and when.

Involuntary hospitalization of patients with anorexia nervosa in extreme situations can save their lives

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:30 AM PST

Involuntary hospitalization of patients with anorexia nervosa in extreme situations can save their lives, experts report. Anorexia nervosa affects 0.5%-1% of women during their lifetimes, and about one tenth that number of men, putting the lives of patients with anorexia at risk in severe cases of the illness.

Using wearable technology, man leaves hospital without a human heart

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:30 AM PST

Wearable technology allows 24-year-old with a total artificial heart to wait at home for a heart transplant. It's the latest milestone in efforts to replace the failing heart.

Beyond the bandages: Pediatric trauma nurses know about trauma-informed care

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 06:30 AM PST

Pediatric nurses play a key role in preventing post-traumatic stress in injured children and their families by practicing "trauma-informed care". A new study surveyed pediatric trauma nurses, revealing that they are knowledgeable about practicing trauma-informed care, but need for additional training to help families cope after a child's injury.

Children eligible for expanded Medicaid contribute more in taxes as adults

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

Children who received expanded Medicaid benefits in the 1980s and 1990s contributed more to the US tax system as adults, a new study has found. They also were more likely to attend college and less likely to die prematurely in adulthood.

Brain protein aids influenza recovery, scientists find

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

A brain protein that boosts the healing power of sleep and speeds an animal's recovery from the flu has been discovered by researchers who say that the discovery could lead to alternative treatments for influenza and other infectious diseases, possibly by using intranasal sprays to stimulate the production of the brain protein, called AcPb.

Towards a new wheat allergy treatment for children

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

Most of the children that received a new oral immunotherapy treatment were able to eat 100 grams of wheat bread without side effects, a new study shows. This result has overcome the risk of accidental ingestion by patients with this allergy. This research could be the basis for large clinical trials with more patients with the aim of assessing the therapeutic benefit of this new approach. Wheat is one of the most frequent childhood food allergies (about the 35% at the age of 12). A common treatment of this disease is avoiding eating wheat products, although this can mean a nutritional imbalance for children.

The brain thinks, the spinal cord implements: Research team identifies important control mechanisms for walking

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

Even after complete spinal paralysis, the human spinal cord is able to trigger activity in the leg muscles using electrical pulses from an implanted stimulator. Now researchers have succeeded in identifying the mechanisms the spinal cord uses to control this muscle activity. These mechanisms still work even if the neural pathways from the brain are physically interrupted as the result of a spinal cord injury. This is the first time throughout the world that the spinal-cord activation patterns for walking have been decoded.

Fish peptide could help in battle against cardiovascular disease

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

A major international review of a peptide originally found in fish that could be used in the battle against cardiovascular disease has been released by scientists. "We have been working on this exciting peptide for a number of years; it exhibits a very interesting pharmacological profile. Design and evaluation of small molecule drugs has potential for use in the treatment of several cardiovascular diseases," said one investigator.

New therapeutic target for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia discovered

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

New interactions between two molecules involved in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have been found by scientists that may offer a new therapeutic target for cancer treatment. The scientists discovered that STAT3, a molecule which has the potential to cause cancer, associates with and regulates the levels of PRL-3, a gene which has been implicated in various types of cancers.

Many cancer survivors have unmet physical, mental needs related to their disease, treatment

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:29 AM PST

Even decades after being cured, many cancer survivors face physical and mental challenges resulting from their disease and its treatment. These findings could help clinicians and other experts develop interventions that are tailored to the specific types of problems and concerns that cancer survivors may experience.

United States: Mental health care lacking in state, federal prisons

Posted: 12 Jan 2015 05:19 AM PST

A significant portion of state and federal prisoners are not receiving treatment for mental health conditions, according to research. Mental health disorders among prisoners have consistently exceeded rates of disorders in the general population. Twenty six percent of prisoners reported a mental health diagnosis in the study, compared to 18 percent in the general population in 2012, according to the National Institutes of Health.

New protein discovery in the fight against diabetes

Posted: 09 Jan 2015 07:10 AM PST

Scientists have identified a protein in the body that may have the potential to prevent the development of obesity-driven diabetes. Diabetes is one of the world's fastest growing epidemics. Obesity is a key driver of Type 2 Diabetes, given that excess abdominal fat causes fat cells to release a 'pro-inflammatory' chemical which can make the body less sensitive to the insulin it produces and disrupt the ability of insulin-responsive cells to fulfill their function.

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