Stroke survivors often return to driving without being evaluated for ability

Date:February 13, 2014Source:American Heart AssociationSummary:Stroke survivors often resume driving without being formally evaluated for ability — though stroke can cause deficits that can impair driving, according to researchers.Stroke survivors often resume driving without being formally evaluated for ability — though stroke can cause deficits that can impair driving, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.Researchers surveyed 162 stroke survivors a year after their strokes and found:More than 51 percent returned to driving — many a month after suffering a stroke. Only 5.6 percent received a formal driving evaluation. Eleven percent of those who returned to driving reported their strokes had greatly impacted their abilities to perform important life activities. Among those who returned to driving and reported no effect on their abilities to perform important life activities, more than 45 percent limited their driving. Researchers suggest stroke survivors may benefit from formal evaluation before resuming driving.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Cite This Page:MLA APA Chicago American Heart Association. “Stroke survivors often return to driving without being evaluated for ability.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2014. .American Heart Association. (2014, February 13). …

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Variability of contact precaution policies in U.S. emergency departments

Date:February 7, 2014Source:Brigham and Women’s HospitalSummary:In a study, researchers surveyed a random sample of U.S. emergency departments and found substantial variation in the adoption of policies relating to contact precautions.In a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology on February 7, 2014, Daniel J. Pallin, MD, MPH and Jeremiah D. Schuur, MD, MS, surveyed a random sample of US emergency departments (EDs) and found substantial variation in the adoption of policies relating to contact precautions.While most EDs have policies relating to contact precautions when specific organisms are suspected, a minority have such policies for the symptoms often caused by those organisms. This indicated that institutional policies do not mirror consensus recommendations by the CDC, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and other national bodies.The authors write, “The variation in policy that we observed leads us to recommend that emergency medicine organizations, such as the American College of Emergency Physicians, should enact policies addressing contact precautions in the ED. “Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Journal Reference:Daniel J. Pallin, Carlos A. Camargo, Deborah S. Yokoe, Janice A. …

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3D images from PET/CT scans help surgeons envision tumors

Oct. 17, 2013 — Researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia have developed a hologram-like display of a patient’s organs that surgeons can use to plan surgery. This approach uses molecular PET/CT images of a patient to rapidly create a 3D image of that patient, so that surgeons can see the detailed anatomical structure, peel away layers of tissue, and move around in space to see all sides of a tumor, before entering the operating room to excise it.Share This:”Our technology presents PET/CT data in an intuitive manner to help physicians make critical decisions during surgical planning,” said first author Matthew Wampole, Ph.D., from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Jefferson. The researchers produced a surgical simulation of human pancreatic cancer reconstructed from a patient’s PET scans and contrast-enhanced CT scans. Six Jefferson surgeons evaluated the 3D model for accuracy, usefulness, and applicability of the model to actual surgical experience.The surgeons reported that the 3D imaging technique would help in planning an operation. Furthermore, the surgeons indicated that the 3D image would be most useful if it were accessible in the operating room during surgery. The 3D image is designed to speed the excision of malignant tissue, avoiding bleeding from unusually placed arteries or veins, according to the report published September 24th in PLOS ONE.Surgery depends on palpating and manipulating tissues in the operating room environment. Currently, surgeons only use flat CT images and their imagination to envision the anatomy surrounding the lesion to be excised, with the help of their individual experience and judgment. The 3D image promises to eliminate complications frequently presented during surgery due to unexpected anatomical complexity.A sense of touch and feel will be added with haptic manipulators to the 3D visual image during the next step of development. That will provide a realistic environment to clearly understand an individual patient’s anatomy and pathology, and to accurately plan and rehearse that patient’s operation.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Thomas Jefferson University. …

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Tracking viral DNA in the cell: New method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes

Oct. 16, 2013 — The medical, humanitarian and economical impact of viral diseases is devastating to humans and livestock. There are no adequate therapies available against most viral diseases, largely because the mechanisms by which viruses infect cells are poorly known. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Zurich headed by cell biologist Prof. Urs Greber now presents a method that can be used to display viral DNA in host cells at single-molecule resolution. The method gives unexpected insights into the distribution of viral DNA in cells, and the reaction of cells to viral DNA.Share This:Click chemistry detects viral DNAFor their studies, Greber and his team with PhD students I-Hsuan Wang, Vardan Andriasyan and senior research scientist Dr. Maarit Suomalainen used cell cultures and human adenoviruses causing respiratory disease and conjunctivitis, herpes viruses and vaccinia virus, the latter in collaboration with Dr. Jason Mercer and his PhD student Samuel Kilcher from the ETH Zurich. To label the DNA of an intact virus, the scientists turned to click chemistry — widely applicable chemical reaction types. Prof. …

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Maximizing broccoli’s cancer-fighting potential

Oct. 16, 2013 — Spraying a plant hormone on broccoli — already one of the planet’s most nutritious foods — boosts its cancer-fighting potential, and researchers say they have new insights on how that works. They published their findings, which could help scientists build an even better, more healthful broccoli, in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.Share This:John Juvik and colleagues explain that diet is one of the most important factors influencing a person’s chances of developing cancer. One of the most helpful food families includes cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale and cabbage. In fact, eating broccoli regularly has been linked to lower rates of prostate, colon, breast, lung and skin cancers. In that super food, glucosinolates (GSs) and the substances that are left when GSs are broken down can boost the levels of a broccoli enzyme that helps rid the body of carcinogens. One way to increase GSs is to spray a plant hormone called methyl jasmonate on broccoli. This natural hormone protects the plants against pests. Juvik’s team wanted to determine which GSs and their products actually boost the enzyme levels when broccoli is treated.They tested five commercial types of broccoli by spraying them in the field with the hormone and found that, of the GS break-down products, sulforaphane is the major contributor toward enhanced cancer-fighting enzyme levels, although other substances also likely contribute, say the researchers. Environmental conditions played a role, too. …

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Taking guns away from mentally ill won’t eliminate mass shootings, psychiatrist argues

Oct. 16, 2013 — A string of public mass shootings during the past decade-plus have rocked America leaving policymakers and mental health experts alike fishing for solutions to prevent these heinous crimes. A Mayo Clinic physician, however, argues that at least one proposal won’t stop the public massacres: restricting gun access to the mentally ill. J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist and author of the editorial published online in Mayo Clinic Proceedings today, argues several points including that mass shootings are carefully planned — often spanning weeks or months. There is plenty of time for a meticulous planner and determined killer to get a gun somewhere in that time, he argues.Share This:Dr. Bostwick’s editorial is a commentary on an essay in the same issue of Proceedings titled “Guns, Schools, and Mental Illness: Potential Concerns for Physicians and Mental Health Professionals.” The authors focus on recent mass shootings and argue that these actions were not and could not have been prevented by more restrictive gun legislation. They further contend that a diagnosis of mental illness does not justify stripping Second Amendment rights from all who carry such a diagnosis, most of whom will never commit violent acts toward others.Before reading the essay Dr. Bostwick — who is generally in favor of gun control — expected to disagree with its contents. Instead, he agreed.”We physicians generally do not know enough about firearms to have an informed conversation with our patients, let alone counsel them about gun safety,” says Dr. …

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To live and learn: Making memories has to be a speedy business

Oct. 15, 2013 — The brain is plastic — adapting to the hundreds of experiences in our daily lives by reorganizing pathways and making new connections between nerve cells. This plasticity requires that memories of new information and experiences are formed fast. So fast that the body has a special mechanism, unique to nerve cells, that enables memories to be made rapidly. In a new study from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, The Neuro, McGill University with colleagues at the Université de Montréal, researchers have discovered that nerve cells have a special ‘pre-assembly’ technique to expedite the manufacture of proteins at nerve cell connections (synapses), enabling the brain to rapidly form memories and be plastic.Share This:Making a memory requires the production of proteins at synapses. These proteins then change the strength of the connection or pathway. In nerve cells the production process for memory proteins is already pre-assembled at the synapse but stalled just before completion, awaiting the proper signals to finish, thereby speeding up the entire process. When it comes time to making the memory, the process is switched on and the protein is made in a flash. The mechanism is analogous to a pre-fab home, or pre-made pancake batter that is assembled in advance and then quickly completed in the correct location at the correct time.”It’s not only important to make proteins in the right place but, it’s also important not to make the protein when it’s the wrong time,” says Dr. Wayne Sossin, neuroscientist at The Neuro and senior investigator on the paper. …

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Expert panel diagnosis for diagnostic test poorly described, experts not blinded to test under study

Oct. 15, 2013 — Evaluation of diagnostic studies is often a challenge in diseases that are not defined by a specific test. Assessment of the accuracy of diagnostic tests is essential because they may be used to define who is considered to have a disease and receive treatment for it. However, measuring the accuracy of a diagnostic test requires an accurate gold standard, which defines which patients truly have and do not have the disease. Studies of diseases not defined by a specific test often rely on expert panels to establish the gold standard. In a systematic review and analysis of the diagnostic literature using expert panels to define the gold standard for a given disease, Loes Bertens and colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht determined how expert panels were used in such studies and how well their process was described and reliability assessed.Share This:The authors evaluated 81 diagnostic studies published up to May 31, 2012, including studies of diagnostic tests for psychiatric disorders (30 of 81 papers, 37%), half of which pertained to dementia, cardiovascular diseases (17 papers, 21%), and respiratory disorders (10 papers, 12%). They found that reporting was often incomplete, with 83% of studies missing at least some important information about the expert panel. In 75% of studies the panel consisted of three or fewer members, and panel members were blinded to the results of the test results being evaluated in only 31% of studies. Blinding is important because knowledge of the index text results could influence the panelists’ decision as to whether the patient had the disease. Reproducibility of the decision process was assessed in only 21% of studies.The authors state, “Complete and accurate reporting is a prerequisite for judging potential bias in a study and for allowing readers to apply the same study methods. …

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Astronomers find clues to decades-long coronal heating mystery

Oct. 15, 2013 — Drs. Michael Hahn and Daniel Wolf Savin, research scientists at Columbia University’s Astrophysics Laboratory in New York, NY, found evidence that magnetic waves in a polar coronal hole contain enough energy to heat the corona and moreover that they also deposit most of their energy at sufficiently low heights for the heat to spread throughout the corona. The observations help to answer a 70-year-old solar physics conundrum about the unexplained extreme temperature of the Sun’s corona — known as the coronal heating problem.Share This:Hahn and Savin analyzed data from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer onboard the Japanese satellite Hinode. They used observations of a polar coronal hole, a region of the Sun where the magnetic fields lines stretch from the solar surface far into interplanetary space. The findings were published on September 30th in the October 20th edition of The Astrophysical Journal.To understand the coronal heating problem, imagine a flame coming out of an ice cube. A similar effect occurs on the surface of the Sun. Nuclear fusion in the center of the Sun heats the solar core to 15 million degrees. Moving away from this furnace, by the time one arrives at the surface of the Sun the gas has cooled to a relatively refreshing 6000 degrees. But the temperature of the gas in the corona, above the solar surface, soars back up to over one million degrees. …

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How tiny organisms make a big impact on clean water

Oct. 15, 2013 — Nearly every body of water, from a puddle or a pond to a vast ocean, contains microscopic organisms that live attached to rocks, plants, and animals. These so-called sessile suspension feeders are critical to aquatic ecosystems and play an important role in cleaning up environmental contaminants by consuming bacteria. A study published by Cell Press on October 15 in the Biophysical Journal reveals that by actively changing the angle of their bodies relative to the surfaces, these feeders overcome the physical constraints presented by underwater surfaces, maximize their access to fresh, nutrient-rich water, and filter the surrounding water.Share This:”Our findings will allow scientists to make better estimates about how much water each of these tiny organisms can filter and clean, which can help us to make better estimates about how quickly bodies of water can recover after contamination caused by oil spills and sewage leaks,” says lead study author Rachel Pepper of the University of California, Berkeley.Microscopic sessile suspension feeders, which are made up of only one or a few cells, use hair-like or whip-like appendages to draw nutrient-rich fluid toward their bodies, filtering up to 25% of the seawater in coastal areas each day. Because they live attached to surfaces, they potentially face several challenges while they feed. For example, currents encounter resistance and slow down when they flow across these surfaces, interfering with the ability of suspension feeders to efficiently extract nutrients. The way that currents interact with surfaces may also cause water to recirculate around suspension feeders after the nutrients have been consumed.To examine how the tiny organisms overcome these challenges, Pepper and her team used a combination of experiments and calculations. They observed that a protozoan called Vorticella convallaria actively changes its body orientation relative to the surface to which it is attached, in contrast to previous models, which assumed that sessile suspension feeders always feed at a perpendicular angle. The new model revealed that feeding at a parallel or other non-perpendicular angle substantially increases the amount of nutrients the organisms can extract from their surroundings by reducing both fluid resistance and the recirculation of nutrient-depleted water.”We know very little about the processes microbes use to remove and recycle contaminants,” Pepper says. “Our study shows that fluid flows at the scale of individual small organisms, when aggregated, can be important contributors to maintaining the quality of natural waters.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. …

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A bacterium reveals the crucible of its metallurgical activity

Oct. 14, 2013 — Magnetotactic bacteria have the ability to synthesize nanocrystals of magnetite (Fe3O4) enabling them to align themselves with the terrestrial magnetic field in order to find the position in the water column that is most favorable to their survival. The alignment of the nanomagnets is similar to that of a compass needle. The magnetite crystal synthesis process is a complex one, and it is little understood at the present time. Magnetite is a compound of oxygen and iron in a mixture of two different oxidation states [Fe(II)Fe(III)2O4]. In this study, the researchers have described the mechanism by which the bacterium produces these two states, one of which, Fe(III), is essentially insoluble.Share This:The determination of the structure of the protein MamP has shown for the first time that a section of this protein possesses an original folding structure known as a magnetochrome. This structure is only found in magnetotactic bacteria. The structure has a crucible-like shape capable of containing iron. Additional experiments have shown that MamP has the ability to oxidize iron from the Fe(II) state to the Fe(III) state, and to stabilize the latter in its crucible. Mutagenesis studies and the phenotyping of magnetotactic bacteria variants have confirmed the physiological importance of this crucible.Finally, a number of in vitro experiments have shown that MamP is capable of producing a magnetite precursor when incubated in the presence of Fe(II) alone, proving that the Fe (III) results from the activity of this protein.This fundamental study reveals part of the process whereby iron is biomineralized and nanomagnets are synthesized in magnetotactic bacteria. …

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Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion

Sep. 24, 2013 — About 10,000 years ago, the Neolithic age ushered in one of the most dramatic periods of human cultural and technological transition, where independently, different world populations developed the domestication of plants and animals. The hunter-gatherers gave rise to herders and farmers. Changes to a more sedentary lifestyle and larger settlements are widely thought to have contributed to a worldwide human population explosion, from an estimated 4-6 million people to 60-70 million by 4,000 B.C.Share This:Now, researchers Aiméa, et al., have challenged this assumption using a large set of populations from diverse geographical regions (20 different genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations), and compared their genetic results with archaeological findings. The dispersal and expansion of Neolithic culture from the Middle East has recently been associated with the distribution of human genetic markers.They conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age. Therefore, hunter-gatherer populations were able to thrive with cultural and social advances that allowed for the expansion. The authors also speculate that this Paleolithic human population expansion may be linked to the emergence of newer, more advanced hunting technologies or a rapid environmental change to dryer climates.Finally, they also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic. Indeed, the authors also demonstrate that the populations who adopted a sedentary farming lifestyle during the Neolithic had previously experienced the strongest Paleolithic expansions. Conversely, contemporary nomadic herder populations in Eurasia experienced moderate Paleolithic expansions, and no expansions were detected for nomadic hunter-gatherers in Africa. “Human populations could have started to increase in Paleolithic times, and strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift toward agriculture during the Neolithic,” said Aiméa.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press), via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. …

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Circadian rhythms in skin stem cells protect us against UV rays

Oct. 10, 2013 — Human skin must cope with UV radiation from the sun and other harmful environmental factors that fluctuate in a circadian manner. A study published by Cell Press on October 10th in the journal Cell Stem Cell has revealed that human skin stem cells deal with these cyclical threats by carrying out different functions depending on the time of day. By activating genes involved in UV protection during the day, these cells protect themselves against radiation-induced DNA damage. The findings could pave the way for new strategies to prevent premature aging and cancer in humans.Share This:”Our study shows that human skin stem cells posses an internal clock that allows them to very accurately know the time of day and helps them know when it is best to perform the correct function,” says study author Salvador Aznar Benitah an ICREA Research Professor who developed this project at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG, Barcelona), and who has recently moved his lab to the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). “This is important because it seems that tissues need an accurate internal clock to remain healthy.”A variety of cells in our body have internal clocks that help them perform certain functions depending on the time of day, and skin cells as well as some stem cells exhibit circadian behaviors. Benitah and his collaborators previously found that animals lacking normal circadian rhythms in skin stem cells age prematurely, suggesting that these cyclical patterns can protect against cellular damage. But until now, it has not been clear how circadian rhythms affect the functions of human skin stem cells.To address this question, Benitah teamed up with his collaborators Luis Serrano and Ben Lehner of the Centre for Genomic Regulation. They found that distinct sets of genes in human skin stem cells show peak activity at different times of day. Genes involved in UV protection become most active during the daytime to guard these cells while they proliferate — that is, when they duplicate their DNA and are more susceptible to radiation-induced damage.”We know that the clock is gradually disrupted in aged mice and humans, and we know that preventing stem cells from accurately knowing the time of the day reduces their regenerative capacity,” Benitah says. …

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How research ecologists can benefit urban design projects

Oct. 11, 2013 — Ecologists conducting field research usually study areas that they hope won’t be disturbed for a while. But in an article published in the November issue of BioScience, “Mapping the Design Process for Urban Ecology Researchers,” Alexander Felson of Yale University and his colleagues describe how ecologists can perform hypothesis-driven research from the start of design through the construction and monitoring phases of major urban projects.Share This:The results from such “designed experiments” can provide site-specific data that improve how the projects are conceptualized, built and subsequently monitored.In light of the billions of dollars spent each year on urban construction, Felson and his coauthors see important potential in improving its environmental benefits and minimizing its harms. Currently, environmental consultants advising on the designs for such projects usually rely on available knowledge and principles that were originally tested in natural settings.The authors note that researchers must understand contracting, then work to establish their credentials with project designers and their clients to be awarded a recognized role in a construction project. Felson and colleagues therefore provide maps of the process for researchers’ benefit. Ecologist researchers should try to involve themselves at the earliest stages, even before designing starts, and be ready to accept priorities that are alien to typical research settings.Felson and his colleagues provide two case studies to show how it can be done.One is the construction of a “green” parking lot and associated water gardens at an environmental center in New Jersey, the other a major tree-planting project in New York City. In both cases, researchers involved themselves during the contract phases of the projects by establishing the likely value of answering research questions. Although they had to make some compromises with commercial and political imperatives, the designed experiments undertaken allowed researchers to influence the design and implementation and improve environmental benefits, while also establishing viable long-term research sites in highly urbanized areas.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Biological Sciences, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. …

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How chromosome ends influence cellular aging

Sep. 11, 2013 — By studying processes that occur at the ends of chromosomes, a team of Heidelberg researchers has unravelled an important mechanism towards a better understanding of cellular aging. The scientists focused on the length of the chromosome ends, the so-called telomeres, which can be experimentally manipulated. Their research, which was conducted at the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH), allows for new approaches in the development of therapies for tissue loss and organ failure associated with senescence (cellular aging). The research results may also be significant for cancer treatment. They were recently published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.Share This:Each cell contains a set of chromosomes in which the vast majority of our genetic information is stored in the form of DNA. This information must be protected to ensure the proper functioning of the cell. To achieve this, the very ends of the chromosomes, the telomeres, play an important role in protecting the chromosomal DNA from being degraded. “We can imagine that telomeres are analogous to the plastic caps at the ends of our shoelaces. Without them, the ends of the laces get frayed and eventually the entire shoelace does not function properly,” explains Dr. …

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New hope for women suffering from recurrent miscarriage

Sep. 11, 2013 — A team of researchers, led by the University of Warwick, have published new data that could prove vital for advances in care for women who suffer from recurrent miscarriage.Share This:The recurrent loss of pregnancy through miscarriage causes significant distress to couples, often exacerbated by there being so few treatments available to clinicians.The search for an effective treatment has been the cause of significant controversy in the field of medical research, centering on the role of natural killer cells (or NK cells) and the ability of steroids to prevent miscarriage.Scientists have been uncertain about how these NK cells could contribute to a miscarriage and this has raised doubt over their importance in causing pregnancy loss.Led by Professor Jan Brosens of Warwick Medical School, the team found that elevated uterine NK cells in the lining of the womb indicate deficient production of steroids. Deficient steroid production in turn leads to reduced formation of fats and vitamins that are essential for pregnancy nutrition.This study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, is the first of its kind to provide an explanation for why high levels of NK cells can cause miscarriage.Siobhan Quenby, Professor of Obstetrics at Warwick Medical School, explained, “This work is really exciting because after years of controversy and doubt we have a crucial breakthrough. This means, quite simply, that we have excellent scientific justification for steroid based treatment to prevent miscarriage.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal Reference:Keiji Kuroda, Radha Venkatakrishnan, Sean James, Sandra Šućurović, Biserka Mulac-Jericevic, Emma S. Lucas, Satoru Takeda, Anatoly Shmygol, Jan J. Brosens, and Siobhan Quenby. Elevated Periimplantation Uterine Natural Killer Cell Density in Human Endometrium Is Associated With Impaired Corticosteroid Signaling in Decidualizing Stromal Cells. …

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Ashtray availability, signage may determine success of smoke-free legislation

Sep. 4, 2013 — Signs banning smoking may not have as much of an impact on secondhand smoke concentrations as the presence of ashtrays or ashtray equivalents, according to research published September 4 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Constantine Vardavas from the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues from other institutions.Share This:The authors measured the success of a non-enforced, nationwide smoke-free legislation in Greece by testing levels of secondhand smoke before the ban and for two years afterward. Following the 2010 legislation, secondhand smoke concentrations dropped immediately, but gradually increased again in subsequent measurements. However, all measurements after the ban remained significantly lower than levels of secondhand smoke measured before the legislation.They found that outdoor or indoor signs that banned smoking did not correlate with levels of secondhand smoke in areas where signs were posted. However, the presence of ashtrays, or ashtray equivalents, such as candleholders, was strongly associated with a higher concentration of secondhand smoke. Based on their results, the authors conclude “While the public may be supportive of smoke-free legislation, adherence may decline rapidly if enforcement is limited or non-existent. Moreover, enforcement agencies should also focus on the comprehensive removal of ashtray equivalents that could act as a cue for smoking within a venue.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal Reference:Constantine I. …

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Chemotherapy helps elderly patients with small cell lung cancer

Sep. 4, 2013 — Although numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated a benefit of chemotherapy for patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), these trials have predominantly compared different chemotherapy regimens rather than comparing chemotherapy to best supportive care. Some of them included chest radiation or prophylactic cranial irradiation. Moreover, many trials excluded elderly patients.Share This:A recent retrospective study looked at the benefit of chemotherapy on survival of elderly patients with SCLC in the community. This is the first large-scale analysis of chemotherapy use among patients with SCLC in the community setting.In the October issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s journal, the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO), researchers conclude that chemotherapy is associated with a greater than 6-month improvement in median survival among elderly patients with SCLC, even in patients over the age of 80 years.The researchers looked at data from 10,428 patients aged 65 years and older who were diagnosed with SCLC between 1992 and 2001. In this study, 67.1 percent received chemotherapy, most of whom (41.6 percent) received etoposide with carboplatin or cisplatin with or without other agents.The researchers found that one third of elderly patients with SCLC never receive chemotherapy, and one sixth are never referred to a medical oncologist, suggesting that chemotherapy is underused.They conclude that, “despite methodological limitations, their study provides strong evidence that chemotherapy improves survival in elderly patients with SCLC.”The lead author is Dr. Laura Caprario. Dr. Gary Strauss is a co-author and IASLC member.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …

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Pain-free microneedle influenza vaccine is effective, long-lasting

Sep. 4, 2013 — Scientists have developed an influenza vaccine delivered via microneedle patch that provided 100 percent protection against a lethal influenza virus in mice more than one year after vaccination. They report their findings in the September 2013 issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.Share This:Microneedles are a medium for delivery of influenza vaccine that avoids the pain associated with ordinary hypodermic needles. They are a mere seven tenths of a millimeter in length, and the volume of vaccine — a major contributor to pain — is minuscule.Instead of a liquid containing whole killed or attenuated virus, this vaccine uses dry virus-like particles (VLPs) which simply coat the needles in the presence of a simple stabilizing agent, reducing the need for refrigeration — a potential boon for use in developing countries. The lower dose required when using microneedles also reduces the potential for side effects, such as lung inflammation.”This method can induce higher levels of IgG2a antibodies as well as rapid recall immune responses following lethal challenge infection. Our previous study showed that microneedle vaccination induced higher levels of antibody-secreting cells in spleen and bone marrow compared to intramuscular vaccination,” says Sang-Moo Kang of Georgia State University, a researcher on the study.Earlier studies by this group showed that influenza VLP-coated microneedles actually produced higher short-term protection than conventional intramuscular immunization. In this study the researchers tested how effective the long-term protection of the vaccine was. Mice that received the vaccine were 100 percent protected from a lethal challenge with the influenza virus 14 months after vaccination.Kang says his aim was to develop an easier and pain-free method of vaccine delivery. He also says that patients could probably use this system to vaccinate themselves.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …

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Canine remote control, using your smart phone? Hands-free dog walking for the digital age

Sep. 3, 2013 — That old “best friend” can get a bit tiresome, all that rolling over, shaking paws, long walks and eating every crumb of food off the floor. But, what if there were a way to command your dog with a remote control, or even via your smart phone…or even without hands?Share This:Jeff Miller and David Bevly of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, have devised just such a system and describe details in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control. The device based on a control suite with a microprocessor, wireless radio, GPS receiver, and an attitude and heading reference system provides autonomous guidance of the canine using an embedded command module with vibration and tone generation capabilities. Tests in a structure and non-structured environment show obedience accuracy up to almost 98%. It sounds like a boon for the lazy dog owner.Of course, there is a serious side to the development of such a technology that allows dogs to be given commands remotely and for them to respond consistently. Dogs remain, for instance, the most accurate and sensitive mobile detection system for hidden explosives, people trapped after earthquakes and other disasters and in sniffing out drugs. However, the dog handler in such environments may not be able to safely access the place the dog can reach. Moreover, in a noisy environment or where the dog’s hearing is compromised giving the necessary commands might also be impossible.The team has demonstrated that a search & rescue or other working dog can be trained to respond “virtually flawlessly” to remote control tones and vibrations as if they were immediate commands from a human handler. “The ability to autonomously control a canine has far reaching,” the team says. …

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