Gastro outbreaks hit elderly hardest

Frail elderly people living in residential care facilities are at increased risk of severe illness or death from outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis.This is the finding from a study led by Craig Davis from Department of Health Queensland, published in the April issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.”Importantly, prompt notification of outbreaks to public health units led to a much shorter duration of the outbreak,” Mr Davis said.”Notification of outbreaks to public health units should occur within 24 hours of any outbreak so that diagnostic testing and control measures can begin as soon as possible.”A number of viruses may cause outbreaks, but norovirus is by far the most common.”It typically causes vomiting, watery diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps with symptoms such as fatigue, myalgia, headache, chills and fever. There is no specific treatment and no vaccine for norovirus. Gastro outbreaks cause a considerable burden in residential care facilities, including disruptions relating to staff absenteeism due to illness, closure of common areas to residents, cancellation of events and increased attention required to infection control.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Looking to have fun during March madness? Don’t bet on it!

Planning to enter an office pool during this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament? Be careful. You might not enjoy the games very much if you bet, says a researcher at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.”Predictions become more aversive when the outcome of the event is highly uncertain,” as in the upcoming basketball tournament, says Stephen M. Nowlis, PhD, the August A. Busch, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Marketing.Nowlis is co-author of a 2008 paper in the Journal of Consumer Research titled “The Effect of Making a Prediction About the Outcome of a Consumption Experience on the Enjoyment of That Experience.”The current popularity of office pools, spoiler message boards and online betting sites seems to suggest that the act of prediction increases enjoyment of watching a sporting event.However, in a series of four experiments, Nowlis found that consumers who make predictions about uncertain events experience significantly less enjoyment while observing the events than those who don’t make predictions.”We thought the opposite would be true,” Nowlis says. “We explain our results in terms of anticipated regret. In fact, removing the source of anticipated regret eliminates the negative effect of prediction on enjoyment.”Even if you think you are absolutely sure you know the team that will win this year’s tournament, you may still not have much fun if you lay down some money.”One compelling finding from our studies was that, among those who made predictions, participants who were correct enjoyed the event no more than those who were incorrect,” Nowlis says.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. …

Read more

Plasma plumes help shield Earth from damaging solar storms

Earth’s magnetic field, or magnetosphere, stretches from the planet’s core out into space, where it meets the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emitted by the sun. For the most part, the magnetosphere acts as a shield to protect Earth from this high-energy solar activity.But when this field comes into contact with the sun’s magnetic field — a process called “magnetic reconnection” — powerful electrical currents from the sun can stream into Earth’s atmosphere, whipping up geomagnetic storms and space weather phenomena that can affect high-altitude aircraft, as well as astronauts on the International Space Station.Now scientists at MIT and NASA have identified a process in Earth’s magnetosphere that reinforces its shielding effect, keeping incoming solar energy at bay.By combining observations from the ground and in space, the team observed a plume of low-energy plasma particles that essentially hitches a ride along magnetic field lines — streaming from Earth’s lower atmosphere up to the point, tens of thousands of kilometers above the surface, where the planet’s magnetic field connects with that of the sun. In this region, which the scientists call the “merging point,” the presence of cold, dense plasma slows magnetic reconnection, blunting the sun’s effects on Earth.”The Earth’s magnetic field protects life on the surface from the full impact of these solar outbursts,” says John Foster, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory. “Reconnection strips away some of our magnetic shield and lets energy leak in, giving us large, violent storms. These plasmas get pulled into space and slow down the reconnection process, so the impact of the sun on the Earth is less violent.”Foster and his colleagues publish their results in this week’s issue of Science. The team includes Philip Erickson, principal research scientist at Haystack Observatory, as well as Brian Walsh and David Sibeck at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.Mapping Earth’s magnetic shieldFor more than a decade, scientists at Haystack Observatory have studied plasma plume phenomena using a ground-based technique called GPS-TEC, in which scientists analyze radio signals transmitted from GPS satellites to more than 1,000 receivers on the ground. Large space-weather events, such as geomagnetic storms, can alter the incoming radio waves — a distortion that scientists can use to determine the concentration of plasma particles in the upper atmosphere. Using this data, they can produce two-dimensional global maps of atmospheric phenomena, such as plasma plumes.These ground-based observations have helped shed light on key characteristics of these plumes, such as how often they occur, and what makes some plumes stronger than others. But as Foster notes, this two-dimensional mapping technique gives an estimate only of what space weather might look like in the low-altitude regions of the magnetosphere. To get a more precise, three-dimensional picture of the entire magnetosphere would require observations directly from space.Toward this end, Foster approached Walsh with data showing a plasma plume emanating from Earth’s surface, and extending up into the lower layers of the magnetosphere, during a moderate solar storm in January 2013. …

Read more

Climate change won’t reduce deaths in winter, British study concludes

New research published today has found that climate change is unlikely to reduce the UK’s excess winter death rate as previously thought. The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change and debunks the widely held view that warmer winters will cut the number of deaths normally seen at the coldest time of year.Analyzing data from the past 60 years, researchers at the University of Exeter and University College London (UCL) looked at how the winter death rate has changed over time, and what factors influenced it.They found that from 1951 to 1971, the number of cold winter days was strongly linked to death rates, while from 1971 to 1991, both the number of cold days and flu activity were responsible for increased death rates. However, their analysis showed that from 1991 to 2011, flu activity alone was the main cause in year to year variation in winter mortality.Lead researcher Dr Philip Staddon said “We’ve shown that the number of cold days in a winter no longer explains its number of excess deaths. Instead, the main cause of year to year variation in winter mortality in recent decades has been flu.”The team suggest that this reduced link between the number of cold days and deaths in a winter can be explained by improvements in housing, health care, income and a greater awareness of the risks of the cold.As climate change progresses, the UK is likely to experience increasing weather extremes, including a greater number of less predictable periods of extreme cold. The research highlights that, despite a generally warmer winter, a more volatile climate could actually lead to increased numbers of winter deaths associated with climate change, rather than fewer.Dr Staddon believes the findings have important implications for policy:”Both policy makers and health professionals have, for some time, assumed that a potential benefit from climate change will be a reduction in deaths seen over winter. We’ve shown that this is unlikely to be the case. Efforts to combat winter mortality due to cold spells should not be lessened, and those against flu and flu-like illnesses should also be maintained.”Co-author, Prof Hugh Montgomery of UCL said:”Climate change appears unlikely to lower winter death rates. Indeed, it may substantially increase them by driving extreme weather events and greater variation in winter temperatures. Action must be taken to prevent this happening.”Co-author, Prof Michael Depledge of University of Exeter Medical School said:”Studies of the kind we have conducted provide information that is key for policymakers and politicians making plans to manage the impacts of climate change. We’re hopeful that the importance of this issue will be understood, so that matters of health and environmental security can be dealt with seriously and effectively.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. …

Read more

Extreme weather caused by climate change decides distribution of insects, study shows

As climate change is progressing, the temperature of our planet increases. This is particularly important for the large group of animals that are cold-blooded (ectothermic), including insects. Their body temperature is ultimately determined by the ambient temperature, and the same therefore applies to the speed and efficiency of their vital biological processes.But is it changes in average temperature or frequency of extreme temperature conditions that have the greatest impact on species distribution? This was the questions that a group of Danish and Australian researchers decided to examine in a number of insect species.Johannes Overgaard, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark, Michael R. Kearney and Ary A. Hoffmann, Melbourne University, Australia, recently published the results of these studies in the journal Global Change Biology. The results demonstrate that it is especially the extreme temperature events that define the distribution of both tropical and temperate species. Thus climate change affects ectotermic animals primarily because more periods of extreme weather are expected in the future.Fruit flies were modeledThe researchers examined 10 fruit fly species of the genus Drosophila adapted to tropical and temperate regions of Australia. First they examined the temperatures for which the species can sustain growth and reproduction, and then they found the boundaries of tolerance for hot and cold temperatures.”This is the first time ever where we have been able to compare the effects of extremes and changes in average conditions in a rigorous manner across a group of species,” mentions Ary Hoffmann.Based on this knowledge and knowledge of the present distribution of the 10 species they then examined if distribution was correlated to the temperatures required for growth and reproduction or rather limited by their tolerance to extreme temperature conditions.”The answer was unambiguous: it is the species’ tolerance to very cold or hot days that define their present distribution,” says Johannes Overgaard.It is therefore the extreme weather events, such as heat waves or extremely cold conditions, which costs the insects their life, not an increase in average temperature.Drastic changes in storeWith this information in hand, the researchers could then model how distributions are expected to change if climate change continues for the next 100 years.Most terrestrial animals experience temperature variation on both daily and seasonal time scale, and they are adapted to these conditions. Thus, for a species to maintain its existence under varying temperature conditions there are two simple conditions that must be met. …

Read more

5 Patients Dead in 2 Years: Is Dr. Drew to Blame for the Loss of Celebrities From Celebrity Rehab?

5 Patients Dead in 2 Years: Is Dr. Drew to Blame for the Loss of Celebrities From Celebrity Rehab?October 6th 2013 | By: Staff | Posted In: Drugs and Alcohol, Recent NewsCritics of Dr. Drew Pinsky (known to viewers as just Dr. Drew) say that rehabilitation should be a private matter and not one that is aired on radio or television. With the recent suicide of Mindy McCready, former country singer, Dr. Drew has found himself the subject of a sudden onslaught of outrage. Many say that his televised rehab reality show is tantamount to exploitation and may only exacerbate the problems of his troubled patients.Ms. McCready was on Dr. Drew’s VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab and is the fifth participant of that show to die due to…

Read more

‘Merlin’ is a matchmaker, not a magician

Sep. 11, 2013 — Johns Hopkins researchers have figured out the specific job of a protein long implicated in tumors of the nervous system. Reporting on a new study described in the Sept. 12 issue of the journal Cell, they detail what they call the “matchmaking” activities of a fruit fly protein called Merlin, whose human counterpart, NF2, is a tumor suppressor protein known to cause neurofibromatosis type II when mutated.Merlin (which stands for Moesin-Ezrin-Radixin-Like Protein) was already known to influence the function of another protein, dubbed Hippo, but the particulars of that relationship were unclear. “Now we’ve shown how Merlin and Hippo interact to begin a chain of events that controls the growth of many tissues,” says Duojia Pan, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “This insight is important because not only do malfunctions in that chain of events affect growth and development, they can also lead to cancer and other tumors.”Ten years ago, Pan and his research group discovered Hippo, a gene responsible for keeping body parts proportional to the overall size of the fruit fly. They called it Hippo because the absence of the gene, and the protein it codes for, causes fruit flies to develop unusually large and furrowed organs. Since then, they have been working to understand Hippo and all of the proteins in its network that help control organ size.Previous work by others suggested that Merlin may be part of the Hippo network, but it was not known how Merlin fits into the network. In the new study, Pan and his team used a combination of genetics, cell biology and biochemistry to demonstrate that Merlin acts as a matchmaker, helping Hippo find its target protein, known as Warts, by keeping Warts in the right part of the cell.Without Merlin around, inactive copies of Warts would float around in the watery interior of the cell while Hippo waited near the outer envelope of the cell. Merlin, also located near the outer envelope of the cell, arranges their meetings by connecting to Warts so that Warts, too, ends up near the outer envelope, where Hippo then turns it on. …

Read more

Robots take over economy: Sudden rise of global ecology of interacting robots trade at speeds too fast for humans

Sep. 11, 2013 — Recently, the global financial market experienced a series of computer glitches that abruptly brought operations to a halt. One reason for these “flash freezes” may be the sudden emergence of mobs of ultrafast robots, which trade on the global markets and operate at speeds beyond human capability, thus overwhelming the system. The appearance of this “ultrafast machine ecology” is documented in a new study published on September 11 in Nature Scientific Reports.The findings suggest that for time scales less than one second, the financial world makes a sudden transition into a cyber jungle inhabited by packs of aggressive trading algorithms. “These algorithms can operate so fast that humans are unable to participate in real time, and instead, an ultrafast ecology of robots rises up to take control,” explains Neil Johnson, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM), and corresponding author of the study.”Our findings show that, in this new world of ultrafast robot algorithms, the behavior of the market undergoes a fundamental and abrupt transition to another world where conventional market theories no longer apply,” Johnson says.Society’s push for faster systems that outpace competitors has led to the development of algorithms capable of operating faster than the response time for humans. For instance, the quickest a person can react to potential danger is approximately one second. Even a chess grandmaster takes around 650 milliseconds to realize that he is in trouble — yet microchips for trading can operate in a fraction of a millisecond (1 millisecond is 0.001 second).In the study, the researchers assembled and analyzed a high-throughput millisecond-resolution price stream of multiple stocks and exchanges. From January, 2006, through February, 2011, they found 18,520 extreme events lasting less than 1.5 seconds, including both crashes and spikes.The team realized that as the duration of these ultrafast extreme events fell below human response times, the number of crashes and spikes increased dramatically. They created a model to understand the behavior and concluded that the events were the product of ultrafast computer trading and not attributable to other factors, such as regulations or mistaken trades. Johnson, who is head of the inter-disciplinary research group on complexity at UM, compares the situation to an ecological environment.”As long as you have the normal combination of prey and predators, everything is in balance, but if you introduce predators that are too fast, they create extreme events,” Johnson says. …

Read more

Space around others perceived just as our own

Sep. 5, 2013 — A study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has shown that neurons in our brain ‘mirror’ the space near others, just as if this was the space near ourselves. The study, published in the scientific journal Current Biology, sheds new light on a question that has long preoccupied psychologists and neuroscientists regarding the way in which the brain represents other people and the events that happens to those people.”We usually experience others as clearly separated from us, occupying a very different portion of space,” says Claudio Brozzoli, lead author of the study at the Department of Neuroscience. “However, what this study shows is that we perceive the space around other people in the same way as we perceive the space around our own body.”The new research revealed that visual events occurring near a person’s own hand and those occurring near another’s hand are represented by the same region of the frontal lobe (premotor cortex). In other words, the brain can estimate what happens near another person’s hand because the neurons that are activated are the same as those that are active when something happens close to our own hand. It is possible that this shared representation of space could help individuals to interact more efficiently — when shaking hands, for instance. It might also help us to understand intuitively when other people are at risk of getting hurt, for example when we see a friend about to be hit by a ball.The study consists of a series of experiments in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in which a total of forty-six healthy volunteers participated. In the first experiment, participants observed a small ball attached to a stick moving first near their own hand, and then near another person’s hand. The authors discovered a region in the premotor cortex that contained groups of neurons that responded to the object only if it was close to the individual’s own hand or close to the other person’s hand. In a second experiment, the authors reproduced their finding before going on to show that this result was not dependent on the order of stimulus presentation near the two hands.”We know from earlier studies that our brains represent the actions of other people using the same groups of neurons that represent our own actions; the so called mirror neuron system,” says Henrik Ehrsson, co-author of the study. …

Read more

Global warming has increased risk of record heat

Sep. 5, 2013 — Researchers calculate that intense heat like that in the summer of 2012 is up to four times more likely to occur now than in pre-industrial America, when there was much less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.Drought shriveled crops in the Midwest, massive wildfires raged in the West and East Coast cities sweltered. The summer of 2012 was a season of epic proportions, especially July, the hottest month in the history of U.S. weather record keeping.And it’s likely that we’ll continue to see such calamitous weather.In the north-central and northeastern United States, extreme weather is more than four times as likely to occur than it was in the pre-industrial era, according to a new study by Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford associate professor of environmental Earth system science, and Martin Scherer, a research assistant in the department.Diffenbaugh and Scherer found strong evidence that the high levels of greenhouse gases now in the atmosphere have increased the likelihood of severe heat such as occurred in the United States in 2012.The researchers focused primarily on understanding the physical processes that created the hazardous weather. They looked at how rare those conditions were over the history of available weather records, going back over the last century.Then, using climate models, they quantified how the risk of such damaging weather has changed in the current climate of high greenhouse gas concentrations, as opposed to an era of significantly lower concentrations and no global warming. Their findings don’t pinpoint global warming as the cause of particular extreme weather events, but they do reveal the increasing risk of such events as the world warms.”Going forward, if we want to understand and manage climate risks, it’s more practically relevant to understand the likelihood of the hazard than to ask whether any particular disaster was caused by global warming,” Diffenbaugh said.In 2012 alone, the United States suffered 11 extreme weather events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage. “It’s clear that our greenhouse gas emissions have increased the likelihood of some kinds of extremes, and it’s clear that we’re not optimally adapted to that new climate,” Diffenbaugh said.While Diffenbaugh cautions against trying to determine whether global warming caused any individual extreme event, the observed global warming clearly appears to have affected the likelihood of record heat, according to Diffenbaugh and Scherer.The study, looking at the likelihood of July 2012 U.S. temperatures recurring, is part of a larger report edited by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and published Sept. 5 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The report includes studies of a dozen 2012 extreme weather events by research teams around the world, about half of which found some evidence that human-caused climate change contributed to an extreme weather event.Close study of extreme weather events can help quantify the likelihood that society will face conditions similar to those that occurred in the summer of 2012, thereby informing efforts to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience. …

Read more

Maternal posttraumatic stress disorder associated with increased risk for child maltreatment

Sep. 2, 2013 — Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mothers appears to be associated with an increased risk for child maltreatment beyond that associated with maternal depression, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication.The psychopathology of a caregiver is understood to be an important risk factor for child maltreatment and maternal depression is associated with an increased use of corporal punishment and physical abuse of children. Until recently, research on maternal depression and maltreatment risk has largely ignored the high rate of comorbidity between depression and PTSD. The National Comorbidity Survey suggests that 24.7 percent of depressed women have PTSD and that 48.4 of women with PTSD have depression, according to the study background.Claude M. Chemtob, Ph.D., of the NYU School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the association of probable maternal depression, PTSD and comorbid PTSD and depression with the risk for child maltreatment and parenting stress and with the number of traumatic events that preschool children are exposed to.The study included 97 mothers of children ages 3 to 5 years old. About half of the children were boys.The children of mothers with PTSD (mean number of events the child was exposed to, 5) or with comorbid PTSD and depression (3.5 events) experienced more traumatic events than those of mothers with depression (1.2 events) or neither disorder (1.4 events). When PTSD symptom severity scores were high, psychological aggression and the number of traumatic events children experienced increased. Depressive symptom severity scores also were associated with the risk for psychological aggression and exposure to traumatic events only when PTSD symptom severity scores were low, according to the study results.”Mothers in the comorbid group reported the highest levels of physically and psychologically abusive behaviors and overall parenting stress. Although not statistically significant, mothers with depression alone showed a trend toward endorsing more physically abusive and neglectful parenting behaviors,” the study concludes. “Given the high comorbidity between PTSD and depression, these findings suggest the importance of measuring PTSD symptoms when considering the relationship between depression and increased risk for child maltreatment.”

Read more

Why the body clock is slow to adjust to time changes

Aug. 29, 2013 — New research in mice reveals why the body is so slow to recover from jet-lag and identifies a target for the development of drugs that could help us to adjust faster to changes in time zone.With funding from the Wellcome Trust and F. Hoffmann La Roche, researchers at the University of Oxford, University of Notre Dame and F. Hoffmann La Roche have identified a mechanism that limits the ability of the body clock to adjust to changes in patterns of light and dark. And the team show that if you block the activity of this gene in mice, they recover faster from disturbances in their daily light/dark cycle that were designed to simulate jet-lag.Nearly all life on Earth has an internal circadian body clock that keeps us ticking on a 24-hour cycle, synchronising a variety of bodily functions such as sleeping and eating with the cycle of light and dark in a solar day. When we travel to a different time zone our body clock eventually adjusts to the local time. However this can take up to one day for every hour the clock is shifted, resulting in several days of fatigue and discombobulation.In mammals, the circadian clock is controlled by an area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) which pulls every cell in the body into the same biological rhythm. It receives information from a specialised system in the eyes, separate from the mechanisms we use to ‘see’, which senses the time of day by detecting environmental light, synchronising the clock to local time. Until now, little was known about the molecular mechanisms of how light affects activity in the SCN to ‘tune’ the clock and why it takes so long to adjust when the light cycle changes.To investigate this, the Oxford University team led by Dr Stuart Peirson and Professor Russell Foster, used mice to examine the patterns of gene expression in the SCN following a pulse of light during the hours of darkness. They identified around 100 genes that were switched on in response to light, revealing a sequence of events that act to retune the circadian clock. …

Read more

Fertility therapy not associated with long-term cardiovascular disease

July 31, 2013 — Women who gave birth following fertility treatment had no long-term increased risk of death or major cardiovascular events compared to women who gave birth without fertility therapy, according to new research by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Women’s College Hospital.The findings, published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, are the first to show fertility medications, which can cause short-term pregnancy complications, are not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.”The speculated association between fertility therapy and subsequent cardiovascular disease is not surprising given that more women are waiting until an older age to have children, when they are at greater risk of developing heart disease,” said Dr. Jacob Udell, lead author of the study and cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital.Fertility therapy is used in nearly one percent of all successful pregnancies in North America. But these medications are known to cause short-term complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension. These short-term risks, however, do not translate into lasting cardiovascular damage according to the researchers.In the study, researchers assessed the long-term risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure following fertility therapy among 1.1 million women after delivery over a 17-year follow-up period in Ontario. They found:A five-fold increase in the use of fertility therapy from 1993 to 2010, particularly among older women. The use of fertility therapy was associated with an increase in pregnancy complications including a near 30 per cent increase of diabetes in pregnancy, 16 per cent increase in placental disorders and a 10 per cent increase in pre-eclampsia. Women who delivered following fertility therapy had about half the risk of subsequent death compared to women who did not have fertility therapy. Women who delivered following fertility therapy had nearly half the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack and heart failure. The researchers do not believe that this is a direct effect of treatment; rather that women undergoing fertility therapy maintain a healthy lifestyle over a long period. Researchers reported no increase in the risk of future breast or ovarian cancer in women who gave birth following fertility therapy. …

Read more

Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events

July 18, 2013 — We humans can remember events in our lives that happened years ago, with those memories often surfacing unexpectedly in response to sensory triggers: perhaps a unique flavor or scent. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on July 18 have evidence to suggest that chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities. In laboratory tests, both primate species were clearly able to recollect a tool-finding event that they had experienced just four times three years earlier and a singular event from two weeks before, the researchers show.Share This:It seems we have more in common with our primate cousins than we thought, specifically when it comes to our autobiographical memories, the researchers say.”Our data and other emerging evidence keep challenging the idea of non-human animals being stuck in time,” says Gema Martin-Ordas of Aarhus University in Denmark. “We show not only that chimpanzees and orangutans remember events that happened two weeks or three years ago, but also that they can remember them even when they are not expecting to have to recall those events at a later time.”The chimpanzees and orangutans in the study could also distinguish between similar past events in which the same tasks, locations, and people were involved, she adds. “This is a crucial finding since it implies that our subjects were able to bind the different elements of very similar events — including task, tool, experimenter. This idea of ‘binding’ has been considered to be a crucial component of autobiographical memories.”When presented with a particular setup, chimpanzees and orangutans instantaneously remembered where to search for tools and the location of a tool they had seen only once. The researchers note in particular the complexity and speed of the primates’ recall ability.”I was surprised to find out not only that they remembered the event that took place three years ago, but also that they did it so fast!” Martin-Ordas says. “On average it took them five seconds to go and find the tools. Again this is very telling because it shows that they were not just walking around the rooms and suddenly saw the boxes and searched for the tools inside them. More probably, it was the recalled event that enabled them to find the tools directly.”She says the new findings are just the beginning of a completely new line of research on memories for past events in non-human animals.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Cell Press, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. …

Read more

Mysterious radio flashes may be farewell greetings from massive stars collapsing into black holes

July 5, 2013 — Mysterious bright radio flashes that appear for only a brief moment on the sky and do not repeat could be the final farewell greetings of a massive star collapsing into a black hole, astronomers from Nijmegen and Potsdam argue.Radio telescopes have picked up some bright radio flashes that appear for only a brief moment on the sky and do not repeat. Scientists have since wondered what causes these unusual radio signals. An article in this week’s issue of Science suggests that the source of the flashes lies deep in the early cosmos, and that the short radio burst are extremely bright. However, the question of which cosmic event could produce such a bright radio emission in such a short time remained unanswered. The astrophysicists Heino Falcke from Radboud University Nijmegen and Luciano Rezzolla from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam provide a solution for the riddle. They propose that the radio bursts could be the final farewell greetings of a supramassive rotating neutron star collapsing into a black hole.Spinning star withstands collapseNeutron stars are the ultra-dense remains of a star that has undergone a supernova explosion. They are the size of a small city but have up to two times the mass of our Sun. However, there is an upper limit on how massive neutron stars can become. If they are formed above a critical mass of more than two solar masses, they are expected to collapse immediately into a black hole. Falcke & Rezzolla now suggest that some stars could postpone that final death through fast rotation for millions of years. …

Read more

Simple two-drug combination proves effective in reducing risk of stroke

June 26, 2013 — Results of a Phase III clinical trial showed that a simple drug regimen of two anti-clotting drugs — clopidogrel and aspirin — lowered the risk of stroke by almost one-third, compared to the standard therapy of aspirin alone, when given to patients who had minor or transient stroke symptoms to prevent subsequent attacks.Described this week in the New England Journal of Medicine (July 4, 2013 print issue), the clinical trial was conducted at multiple sites in China and designed in partnership with a physician at UC San Francisco.The trial involved 5,170 people who were hospitalized after suffering minor ischemic strokes or stroke-like events known as transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, in which blood flow to the brain is briefly blocked. All patients were randomized into two groups and treated for three months with either aspirin alone or aspirin plus clopidogrel, which is marketed as Plavix. The three-month period following stroke is considered the most critical for medical intervention.Overall, 8.2 percent of patients taking both drugs suffered subsequent strokes in the three months of follow-up compared to 11.7 percent of patients taking aspirin alone.”The results were striking,” said S. Claiborne Johnston, MD, PhD, a professor of neurology and associate vice chancellor of research at UCSF who was a senior author on the study.The Chinese trial, called CHANCE (Clopidogrel in High-risk Patients with Acute Non-disabling Cerebrovascular Events), is nearly identical to a National Institutes of Health-sponsored trial that is already enrolling patients in the United States, including at UCSF, called POINT (Platelet-Oriented Inhibition in New TIA and Minor Ischemic Stroke).”If POINT confirms CHANCE, then we’re done — the two-drug combination becomes the standard of care,” said Johnston. “Anybody with a transient ischemic attack or minor stroke will get clopidogrel plus aspirin.”The POINT trial is important, said Johnston, because genetics, risk factors, and medical practice differences could all lead to differences in trial results in China compared to other countries. Johnston is the principal investigator of the POINT trial.Stroke in China and the United StatesStroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.More than 795,000 people in the United States have strokes every year, and, in 2008 alone, some 133,000 cases were fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 300,000 people in the United States have TIAs each year.Many strokes are minor — shorter in duration than a full-blown stroke and usually have no lingering health impacts. In China, for instance, about 3 million new strokes occur every year, and about 30 percent of them are minor.The protocol for the CHANCE trial was developed by Johnston and colleagues at Tiantan Hospital in China. The lead author of the study was Yongjun Wang, MD, of Beijing Tiantan Hospital.China has many times more people who have strokes every year than the United States because of the size of the population and higher stroke rates, which allowed investigators to screen 41,561 patients in just three years at the 114 clinical sites, and enroll 5,170 patients in the trial.Increased Risk of Subsequent StrokeThe reason for minor attacks is much the same as a full-blown stroke: a blood clot causes a blockage in the blood vessels that feed oxygen-rich blood to the brain. …

Read more

Preventing eggs’ death from chemotherapy: Scientists discover cause of immature eggs’ death from cancer drug and how to prevent it

June 17, 2013 — Young women who have cancer treatment often lose their fertility because chemotherapy and radiation can damage or kill their immature ovarian eggs, called oocytes. Now, Northwestern Medicine® scientists have found the molecular pathway that can prevent the death of immature ovarian eggs due to chemotherapy, potentially preserving fertility and endocrine function.Scientists achieved this in female mice by adding a currently approved chemotherapy drug, imatinib mesylate, to another chemotherapy drug cisplatin.The results will be presented Monday, June 17, at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.”This research advances the efforts to find a medical treatment to protect the fertility and hormone health of girls and young women during cancer treatment, ” said So-Youn Kim, the lead investigator and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.Adding imatinib mesylate to the drug cisplatin blocks the action of a protein that triggers a cascade of events resulting in death of the immature eggs. Kim discovered the protein that triggers the oocyte’s ultimate death is Tap63.Previous research suggested that imatinib is a fertility-protecting drug against cisplatin, but reports of the drug’s effectiveness have been contradictory, Kim said. Her research confirms its effectiveness in an animal model.She is currently testing imatinib with other chemotherapy agents to see if it also protects fertility in combination with them.To demonstrate that imatinib protects oocytes against cisplatin, Kim and colleagues cultured ovaries (containing the immature eggs) from five-day-old mice with imatinib and cisplatin for 96 hours. The ovaries were then placed in a kidney capsule in the host mice to keep the ovaries alive. Two weeks later, the immature eggs were still alive. The imatinib did not block cisplatin-induced DNA damage, but Kim believes the eggs may recover and repair the damage over time.”Previous reports have shown that chemotherapy and radiation-treated oocytes are able to recover from DNA damage,” Kim said.

Read more

Transplant patient outcomes after trauma better than expected

June 10, 2013 — In the largest study of its kind, physicians from the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) have determined that outcomes for traumatic injury in patients with organ transplants are not worse than for non-transplanted patients, despite common presumptions among physicians. The findings, published in the June 2013 issue of The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, also show that transplanted organs are rarely injured in traumatic events.”Trauma teams should be encouraged that patients with prior organ transplants don’t do worse after injury, and that the transplanted organ (also known as a graft) is infrequently injured after trauma; however, our study did show that there may be an increased risk of graft rejection after trauma,” says the study’s lead author, Joseph R. Scalea, M.D., a surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “We recommend that patients be assessed by a transplant surgeon as soon as possible, and graft function should be closely followed by a transplant team during hospitalization and after discharge from the trauma center.”The study analyzed patients with prior organ transplants who were admitted to Shock Trauma from 2007-2011. Fifty patients with previous solid-organ transplants were admitted for traumatic injury during the period. The outcomes of these patients were compared with more than 13,000 non-transplanted patients admitted during the same period.One patient was admitted with a direct injury to a transplanted organ; three others had questionable graft injuries which did not affect organ function.In the months following trauma, a percentage of the transplant group went on to develop organ rejection. Long-term graft outcomes were followed at different institutions, but data for 41 transplant patients followed at the University of Maryland Medical Center (82 percent of study patients) showed seven patients (17 percent) with acute organ rejection within six months of admission for trauma.Transplant recipients, whose immune systems are already suppressed to prevent organ rejection, are presumed to be at greater risk of infection from traumatic injury; however, this was not observed in the current study.Severe trauma activates nearly all components of the immune system, triggering a series of responses that lead to inflammation, which can limit tissue damage and promotes repair and healing. Typical signs of inflammatory response include pain, swelling, heat, redness and/or loss of function. The University of Maryland research team’s findings offer insight into the pathophysiology of the inflammatory responses following traumatic injury. Too much inflammation can cause entire organ systems to shut down, whereas not enough inflammation may prohibit a patient from developing the appropriate response to an injury or infection. …

Read more

Re-analysis of diabetes drug finds no higher heart attack risk

June 7, 2013 — A re-analysis of the data from a pivotal study of rosiglitazone found no increased risk of cardiovascular events associated with the controversial diabetes drug, according to researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).The DCRI study of the drug, marketed in the United States as Avandia, reassessed the original findings of a clinical trial called RECORD, which drew criticism during an advisory committee meeting of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2010.Findings from the DCRI re-adjudication study appear June 6, 2013, in American Heart Journal, and were presented June 5-6 at an advisory committee hearing of the FDA.Rosiglitazone has not been widely marketed in the United States since 2010, when the FDA restricted its use after studies showed it was associated with a higher risk of heart attacks; it is no longer marketed in Europe. The FDA required the new analysis, which was funded by the drug’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline.”We were pleased to be chosen to perform this re-evaluation and we look forward to presenting our findings and being part of the FDA advisory committee discussion,” said Kenneth W. Mahaffey, M.D., associate director of the DCRI and lead author of the study.Mahaffey and colleagues conducted a broad examination of the RECORD study, using the original data and applying the study’s definition of deaths, suspected heart attacks and strokes.The researchers also expanded the analysis. First, they worked to identify participants who had not been counted in the original study after dropping out or declining to seek follow-up care. The effort was hampered by logistical challenges, but the DCRI analysis included 328 more patients than the original study.Additionally, the DCRI team conducted a fresh examination of the data using typical procedures and a systematic, unbiased and blinded approach to identify all potential deaths, myocardial infarction and stroke events and processed them for judgment by a team of physicians.”I am proud of the dedicated and professional way that the DCRI team approached this effort,” Mahaffey said.In their analysis using the original RECORD definitions of cardiovascular events, the DRCI investigators confirmed no meaningful difference between rosiglitazone and the comparison drug, metformin/sulfonylurea, reflecting results in the original RECORD study.When comparing the results between treatment groups using a contemporary set of cardiovascular endpoint definitions being developed by the FDA, the DCRI analysis also found little difference between the two drugs.These findings, along with the additional sensitivity analyses performed by DCRI, support the original RECORD results, suggesting that when using essentially the same raw data, the observations were not affected by different end points and other factors.”These analyses using the original RECORD or new FDA endpoint definitions show similar treatment effects of rosiglitazone compared with the original RECORD results,” the study authors conclude.In addition to Mahaffey, co-authors include Gail Hafley; Sheila Dickerson; Shana Burns; Sandra Tourt-Uhlig; Jennifer White; L. Kristin Newby; Michel Komajda; John McMurray; Robert Bigelow; Philip D. Home; and Renato D. Lopes.Mahaffey and several other study authors have received research grants and fees from GlaxoSmithKline. Full disclosures are available at www.dcri.org

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close