This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Person-to-person contact may cause most drug-resistant TB

 The worst form of drug-resistant tuberculosis isn’t just arising from inadequate treatment, it’s mostly being spread from person to person, according to a new study of hundreds of cases in South Africa that has important implications for how the deadly disease is treated.

Researchers tracked TB that is resistant to at least four key drugs and found that 69 percent of the victims had never received treatment, an indication that they had acquired it from others with extensively drug-resistant TB.

TB develops resistance to drugs when it is attacked with lackluster therapy, allowing the slow-growing bacterium to become insensitive to well-established therapies. Strains that are simultaneously resistant to at least four drugs have been reported in 105 countries.

“For many years, there was this thought that maybe drug-resistant TB strains might not be able to be transmitted as efficiently a regular TB strains,” coauthor Dr.. Neel R. Gandhi of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta told Reuters Health by phone.

The results published in the New England Journal of Medicine “turn this

Bed Bugs Can Bypass Pitfalls of Inbreeding

Bed Bugs Cincinnati

 Bed bugs appear to breed with their close relatives, an adaptation that not only ups their “yuck” factor but also enhances the tiny bloodsuckers’ ability to thrive, two new studies find.

Entomologists from North Carolina State University did a genetic analysis of bed bugs taken from infested apartment buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey. Their analysis showed the bugs had low genetic diversity, meaning that close relatives had mated with one another.

In most species, breeding with close relatives means genetic mutations accumulate, and offspring are more likely to be sickly or infertile, which hurts the species over time, explained study author Coby Schal, a professor of entomology. Yet, inbreeding doesn’t seem to bother bed bugs.

Just one “mated” female could be enough to start a nasty infestation, because her offspring will mate with each other, and so on. In the North Carolina building, for example, about one-quarter of about 90 apartments had bed bugs.

“Infestations are generally founded by just one female, and the fact is that theinfestation can

A new approach to medical implants

 Medical implants like stents, catheters and tubing introduce risk for blood clotting and infection — a perpetual problem for many patients.

Colorado State University engineers offer a potential solution: A specially grown, “superhemophobic” titanium surface that’s extremely repellent to blood. The material could form the basis for surgical implants with lower risk of rejection by the body.

It’s an outside-the-box innovation achieved at the intersection of two disciplines: biomedical engineering and materials science. The work, recently published in Advanced Healthcare Materials, is a collaboration between the labs of Arun Kota, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering; and Ketul Popat, associate professor in the same departments.

Kota, an expert in novel, “superomniphobic” materials that repel virtually any liquid, joined forces with Popat, an innovator in tissue engineering and bio-compatible materials. Starting with sheets of titanium, commonly used for medical devices, their labs grew chemically altered surfaces that act as perfect barriers between the titanium and blood. Their teams conducted experiments showing very low levels of platelet adhesion, a biological process that leads to

DNA as a weapon of immune defense

To defend themselves, our immune cells have two mechanisms. The first, called phagocytosis, kills bacteria within the phagocytic cell itself. The cell envelops the foreign body and exterminates it specifically by using reactive oxygen species (ozone, hydrogen peroxide, bleach), generated thanks to the enzyme NOX2. However, when the invader is too large to be taken up, cells use a second defense mechanism which consists of expelling their genetic material, that is to say their DNA. This DNA transforms into sticky and poisoned nets called “neutrophil extracellular traps” (NETs). These DNA nets then capture bacteria outside of the cell and kill them.

The ancestor of our innate immune system

In collaboration with researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Huston (USA), Professor Thierry Soldati’s team from the Department of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Science at UNIGE studies the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. These microorganisms are bacteria predators. But when food is short, they come together and form a “mini animal” of more than 100,000 cells, called a slug. This will then turn into a “fruiting body” made up of a mass of spores on top of a stalk. Dormant spores will survive without food until the

Time to put TB on a diet

TB kills over 1.5 million people a year. Although the mortality rate has dropped by 47% since 1990 due to advances in preventive and treatment options, the tuberculosis bacillus is growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics. For this reason, biochemists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, are attempting to identify the mechanisms that enable the bacterium to reproduce, spread and survive in latent form in our macrophages. The scientists have discovered that the bacterium has the ability to “reprogramm” the cell it infects so that it can feed on its lipids. The UNIGE research results, which will be published in the PLOS Pathogens journal, will pave the way for new treatment opportunities based on starving and weakening the bacterium.

Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air via droplets of saliva. Although treatments exist for tuberculosis, new antibiotic-resistant strains are preventing TB from being eradicated. The goal is to find new ways to tackle the disease, which requires a thorough understanding of how the bacterium, known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, behaves once it takes hold of the macrophages in our lungs. The team headed by Thierry Soldati, Professor at the Biochemistry department

Pain often overlooked in premature infants

Premature infants receiving intensive care are exposed to a great deal of pain, and this pain causes damage to the child. Despite this half of the infants admitted to neonatal intensive units will not receive any pain relief, according to a new European study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

– That is, no one assesses if the infant is experiencing pain or how much pain relief the infant requires, says Mats Eriksson, researcher at Örebro University.

“Premature infants are sensitive to pain because their brain and nervous systems are still in development. But we cannot administer pain relief or sedation simply as a precaution, because pain relief at the wrong time will also lead to damage. Therefore, correct pain assessment is extremely important,” says Mats Eriksson, a specialist nurse in intensive care and researcher in medical science, who has worked on this survey, together with Hugo Lagercrantz at the Karolinska Institute and Ricardo Carbajal from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, and in cooperation with researchers from 17 other countries.

The international EU project has investigated 6,700 premature infants in 243 neonatal intensive care units in 18 countries, the largest

Great differences in the view of withdrawing futile

The views among physicians and the general public when it comes to deciding whether to withhold or withdraw treatment of terminally ill patients differ greatly. However, in a hypothetical case study at Umeå University in Sweden of a clearly hopeless medical case, great unanimity among physicians’ and the public’s assessments could be seen with regards to cancelling treatment or offering relief at the final stages of life.

Anders Rydvall, physician at the University Hospital of Umeå and doctoral student at the Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, has completed two surveys in Sweden that investigate attitudes and what arguments seem most significant. The development of techniques to prolong life support in intensive care, which is a relatively young speciality, has advanced at high speed and the opportunities are hence greater than ever. At the same time, there are limiting factors set by human physiology that can often be difficult to relate to. In turn, this leads to continuous treatment beyond what is reasonable when the patient is beyond rescue.

“This ethical dilemma is something that many, including family members, are aware of. But the difficulties in these types of situations often arise when

Precision medicine advances pediatric brain tumor diagnosis

Precision medicine — in which diagnosis and treatments are keyed to the genetic susceptibilities of individual cancers — has advanced to the point where it can now impact the care of a majority of children with brain tumors, a new study by investigators at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center suggests.

In the largest clinical study to date of genetic abnormalities in pediatric brain tumors, researchers performed clinical testing on more than 200 tumor samples and found that a majority had genetic irregularities that could influence how the disease was diagnosed and/or treated with approved drugs or agents being evaluated in clinical trials. The findings, reported online by the journal Neuro-Oncology, demonstrate that testing pediatric brain tumor tissue for genetic abnormalities is clinically feasible and that in many cases the results can guide patients’ treatment.

The need for new approaches to treating brain cancer in children is urgent, the study authors say. “Although there has been a great deal of progress over the past 30 years in improving survival rates for children with cancer, advances in pediatric brain cancer haven’t been as dramatic,” says co-lead author Pratiti Bandopadhayay, MBBS, PhD, of Dana-Farber/Boston

Brain stimulation used like a scalpel

Northwestern Medicine scientists showed for the first time that non-invasive brain stimulation can be used like a scalpel, rather than like a hammer, to cause a specific improvement in precise memory.

Precise memory, rather than general memory, is critical for knowing details such as the specific color, shape and location of a building you are looking for, rather than simply knowing the part of town it’s in. This type of memory is crucial for normal functioning, and it is often lost in people with serious memory disorders.

“We show that it is possible to target the portion of the brain responsible for this type of memory and to improve it,” said lead author Joel Voss, assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “People with brain injuries have problems with precise memory as do individuals with dementia, and so our findings could be useful in developing new treatments for these conditions.”

By stimulating the brain network responsible for spatial memory with powerful electromagnets, scientists improved the precision of people’s memory for identifying locations. This benefit lasted a full 24 hours after receiving stimulation and corresponded to changes in brain activity.

How rescue proteins dispose of harmful messages?

During protein synthesis, the genetic information stored in a gene’s DNA is translated into proteins. This process takes place inside veritable macromolecular machines known as ribosomes, and starts by transcribing genetic information from a cell’s DNA into transportable units known as messenger RNAs (mRNAs). These units, which contain detailed instructions for the synthesis of specific proteins, are then read and translated by ribosomes into proteins. Defective mRNAs will result in aberrant, potentially harmful proteins; an efficient process for recognizing and disposing of such mRNAs is therefore essential.

As part of their study, researchers led by Dr. Tarek Hilal from Charité’s Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics studied mRNAs that lack ‘stop codons’ — genetic stop signs that signal the end of protein synthesis. Attempts to decode and translate such ‘nonstop-mRNAs’ leads to a complete stalling of the ribosomal machinery, resulting in effectively blocking continued protein synthesis. Using cryo-electron microscopy to study the structure of such ribosome-mRNA complexes, the researchers were able to show the manner in which special rescue proteins (Dom34 and Hbs1) recognize such stalled ribosomes, thereby initiating the splitting of the arrested complex and the degradation of the faulty mRNA. The rescue proteins recognize arrested

Help AmeriCares Save Lives in Japan

More than a week after the terrifying earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, accounts of both devastation and hope keep rolling in. As the official death toll has climbed to more than 18,000, inspiring survival stories — such as that of teenager Jin Abe and his grandmother Sumi, who were trapped in a collapsed wooden home in Ishinomaki for nine days before rescue workers heard Jin’s cries for help — have surfaced too.

Such survivors need our help now more than ever, and it’s not too late to contribute. Everyday Health members have so far donated almost $30,000 in aid to AmeriCares, a non-profit aid organization with an emergency response team on the ground in Tokyo and Sendai setting up deliveries of crucial supplies to people who lost their homes and everything they own. AmeriCares’ emergency response manager Michelle Jackson’s first-person account reaffirms why we need to keep giving.

“At one shelter, a doctor pleaded for more medicines and supplies, saying that people are getting very anxious,” says Jackson, who arrived the day after the earthquake and is overseeing a small team to identify the needs of the nearly 300,000 Japanese people living in shelters (often

Why Does a Trip Home Always Feel Shorter ?

You’ve been looking forward to this vacation for months. You started packing weeks ago, spent days mapping out family activities, and arrived at the airport hours before departure. So now that you’re finally en route, why does it feel like you’ll never get there?

According to researchers (as well as frequent business travelers and wanderlusters), your reason for traveling doesn’t matter: The outward journey always seems to take longer than the trek back home.

What’s going on? A recent study from Tilburg University in the Netherlands found this “return trip effect” all boils down to our expectations. Before you head out on that initial voyage (Paris, here we come!), you tend to underestimate the time it will take, says researcher Niels van de Ven, PhD, an assistant professor of social psychology. Chalk it up to pre-trip excitement, but when you lowball your travel time, the journey ends up feeling a whole lot longer.

And it has an effect on the trip home, too. “Based on that feeling, the traveller expects the return journey to be long as well, and this then turns out to be shorter than expected,” van de Ven said in a

Why Do We Talk in Our Sleep?

The When and How of Sleep Talking

Sleep talking tends to occur during two different stages of sleep: During stage two, when it’s just a stream of thoughts not accompanied by a dream, and during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when it’s accompanied by active dreams. During REM sleep it’s easy to arouse a person out of sleep talking, but during stage two, it’s very hard to wake someone up, and they likely won’t remember what they were talking about. And even during REM sleep, what a sleep-talker is saying may not be related to what’s happening in their dream.

“With sleep talking, we may have active dreams — we may be speaking about what we’re dreaming. On the other hand, we could be dreaming one thing and speaking something completely different,” says Dr. Kohler.

Sleep talking can vary in frequency and intensity, and can be caused by a variety of factors, which may be as simple as drinking alcohol before going to sleep. “Having a high fever, being under emotional stress, taking certain medications, and having underlying sleep problems like sleep apnea can all cause a person to talk in their sleep,” says

Health Reform Law Gaining Wider Acceptance

To be sure, Americans remain sharply divided over the legislation, with slightly more than one-third (36 percent) of adults saying they want the law repealed and 21 percent saying they want it to remain as is. Another 25 percent would like to see only certain elements of the law modified, the poll found.

“The public is still divided, mainly on partisan lines, as to whether to implement or repeal all, parts, or none of the health care reform bill,” said Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor.

The poll, conducted earlier this month, found that support for the legislation clearly breaks down along party lines. Almost two-thirds of Republicans (63 percent) said they wanted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act repealed, compared to 9 percent of Democrats.

But while poll respondents were split about the law as a whole, many strongly supported key elements of the bill, “with the notable exception of the individual mandate [the requirement that all adults purchase health insurance] which remains deeply unpopular,” Taylor said.

That support for certain components of the law seems to be increasing slowly with time. For instance, 71 percent of those polled now back the

Ticks that spread Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a mysterious, chronic condition that can lead to devastating symptoms, and a new study suggests the ticks that spread it may be increasing in numbers.

The report, published Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Entomology, found that the blacklegged tick and the western backlegged ticks, two vectors of Lyme, have now been reported in nearly half of all U.S. counties. The last comprehensive survey of the ticks’ presence was published in 1998, Science Daily reported.

By using a similar method to the one used in 1998, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed that the backlegged tick has been reported in more than 45 percent of counties compared to 30 percent in 1998. Compared to 1998, the backlegged tick is considered established in twice the number of counties today, Science Daily reported. The western backlegged tick, meanwhile, only increased from 3.4 to 3.6 percent of counties.

The Northeast has seen the biggest spread of the backlegged tick, while the nusiance’s presence in the South has stayed stable.

“This study shows that the distribution of Lyme disease vectors has changed substantially over the last nearly two decades and highlights areas where risk for human exposure to

Research team develops new diagnostic tool to identify tinnitus in animals

A team of researchers from Wayne State University has developed a behavioral tool that may significantly aid in understanding the underlying mechanisms of tinnitus, ultimately leading to new drugs and treatment methods.

According to Jinsheng Zhang, Ph.D., professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in the School of Medicine, professor of communication sciences and disorders in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and corresponding author of the recently published paper, “A Conditioned Behavior Paradigm for Assessing Onset and Lasting Tinnitus in Rats,” in PLOS ONE, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. Roughly defined as ringing in the ears, tinnitus is often associated with other conditions such as ear injury, age-related hearing loss or traumatic brain injury-related neurological disorder. Currently, there is no objective test to measure tinnitus; therefore, there is no way to assess tinnitus onset, severity, longevity and a number of other factors.

Zhang and his team have developed an optimized conditioned licking suppression behavioral testing method for tinnitus in rats. Advancements in behavioral testing for animals are vital, since while there are many different behavioral tests, many have certain shortcomings. These shortcomings

Athlete with brain cancer to run 7 marathons on 7 different continents in 7 days

More than a decade ago, BethAnn Telford was diagnosed with brain cancer. On Monday, she’ll set off on the first of seven marathons she plans to run on seven continents in seven days.

Telford, who lives in Fairfax County, Virginia, hopes to raise $1 million for Washington, D.C. non-profit, Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, Fox 5 NY reported. So far, she’s raised more than $800,000.

In 2004, Telford got the first sign of the tumor in her brain during the Marine Corps Marathon.

“Mile 19 and I felt a huge pop in my head, almost like going up in a plane,” Telford told Fox 5 NY. “The hardest thing in my life so far was telling my parents that their child was probably going to die from brain cancer.”

She’s undergone several brain surgeries and re-learned how to talk and walk again before jogging and then running.

“I’m blind in my left eye,” she told the news station. “I have not driven in the last 12 years because I seizure. I also have a major issue with my bladder. Due to my brain cancer, my bladder shut down several years ago.”

Additionally, since

Why We Sleepiness When Sickness Strikes ?

It’s well known that humans and other animals are fatigued and sleepy when sick, but it’s a microscopic roundworm that’s providing an explanation of how that occurs, according to a study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. A study published this week in eLife reveals the mechanism for this sleepiness.

Working with a worm’s simple nervous system shows how a single nerve cell named ALA coordinates an organism-wide response to sickness. During sickness, cells are under stress, and organisms experience sleepiness to promote sleep and recover from the cellular stress. In the worm, this sleepiness is caused by release from the ALA neuron of FLP-13 and other neuropeptides, a group of chemicals that send signals between brain neurons.

“Sleep is vitally important in helping both people and animals to recover during sickness,” said senior author David M. Raizen, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Neurology and a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology. “Similar signaling may operate in humans and other animals to regulate sleep during sickness. These findings create a launching pad towards future research into the mechanisms for illness-induced sleepiness in

School curricula are a reflection of society’s expectations

In a pioneering project, researchers studied the development of school curricula in Switzerland’s three main language regions. This SNSF-funded project clearly showed that ever since the Swiss school system was created in 1830 the importance and content of every subject in the curriculum, whether language, history, handicraft or physical education, has been in flux.

In primary schools, history lessons in the 19th century primarily consisted of story telling. Foreign languages — French or German, depending on the language region in which the school was located — were introduced as a school subject for economic reasons. The awareness of the importance of foreign languages in supporting national unity did not develop until many years later. German as the school subject we know today only came into being very gradually. Initially the focus was on teaching pupils the essentials of reading and writing, with grammar and literature only being added much later. Physical education was made a compulsory subject as a matter of military policy, and it is still regulated at the national level today. Handicraft for boys (i.e. technical crafts such as woodwork or metalwork) was only introduced at the end of the 19th century

Lap band surgery benefits

Lap band surgery has significant benefits for severely obese teenagers and, despite its controversial nature, should still be considered as a first option to manage obesity during adolescence, a new study has found.

Led by University of Adelaide researchers, in collaboration with Flinders Medical Centre, and published in the journal Obesity Surgery, the study is the first to show medium to long-term follow-up (3-5 years) of lap band surgery in Australian adolescents.

The research followed 21 severely obese teenagers between 14 and 18 years who had Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (lap band surgery) in the South Australian Health Service.

Severe obesity is associated with serious physical and psychological conditions affecting quality of life. Australian revised National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for obesity management say that lap band surgery should be considered in adolescents with severe obesity — that is with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 kg/m2 or over 35 kg/m2 (weight/height2) with the presence of obesity-related diseases and who don’t respond to medical treatment. However there is no data available in Australian adolescents beyond 24 months post-surgery.

“We are talking about a group of adolescents with severe