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Household Pets Can Transmit Infections To People

April 26, 2015 - 6:00pm

Household pets can transmit infection to people, especially those with weak immune systems, young children, pregnant women and seniors, according to a new study. Health care providers and pet owners should be aware of this risk to prevent illness in vulnerable people.

Surveys suggest that the general public and people at high risk for pet-associated disease are not aware of the risks associated with high-risk pet practices or recommendations to reduce them; for example, 77% of households that obtained a new pet following a cancer diagnosis acquired a high-risk pet," states Dr. Jason Stull, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.


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Breast Milk Protects Against Necrotizing Enterocolitis In Preemies

April 26, 2015 - 5:30pm

The immune-boosting properties of breast milk have long been known and experiments in mice are beginning to show another way how. A team of scientists led by Johns Hopkins pediatric surgeon-in-chief David Hackam, M.D., Ph.D., says their experiments reveal how breast milk works to ward off the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating intestinal disorder that affects 12 percent of premature babies and claims the lives of one in four of those who have it.

If affirmed in human studies, the experiments could pave the way to new preventive approaches to stave off NEC in premature babies and spark the development of treatments for those who develop the condition.


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New Guidelines For How To Treat A First Seizure

April 26, 2015 - 5:00pm

Following a first seizure, physicians should discuss with patients whether it is appropriate to prescribe medication to reduce risk of another seizure, according to new guidelines released at the latest American Academy of Neurology meeting. 


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XactMice: 'Humanized' Mice Mean Better Cancer Immunotherapy Testing

April 26, 2015 - 3:30pm

Human tumors grown in mouse models have long been used to test promising anti-cancer therapies. However, when a human tumor is transplanted into a mouse, the mouse immune system must be knocked down so that it doesn't attack the foreign tumor tissue, thus allowing the tumor to grow. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study describes a new model, XactMice, in which human blood stem cells are used to grow a "humanized" mouse immune system prior to tumor transplantation.


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Sorry Star Trek Fans, Tau Ceti Is Not The Next Earth

April 26, 2015 - 3:04pm

As the search continues for Earth-size planets orbiting at just the right distance from their star, a region termed the habitable zone, the number of potentially life-supporting planets grows. In two decades we have progressed from having no extrasolar planets to having too many to search. Narrowing the list of hopefuls requires looking at extrasolar planets in a new way.

But Tau Ceti already doesn't make the cut.


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Women Who Smoke More Likely To Give Birth To Twins

April 26, 2015 - 2:55pm

A new study provides a possible explanation of reports that mothers of twins are more likely to have smoked, despite evidence that nicotine reduces fertility.

Nicotine has an effect on hormone production, and while smoking may have deleterious effects on fertility, the study found that it may raise the likelihood of producing twins in women with certain genetic backgrounds. The researchers discovered significant interactions between smoking and variants in several genes, especially one in the TP53 gene.


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Health Food Stores Recommend Body-Shaping Supplements To Minors, Despite Being Illegal In 49 States

April 26, 2015 - 2:45pm

Health food stores often regard science and evidence-based medicine as the tools of profiteering and greed so it is ironic that they continue to sell dietary supplements to children. Some even recommend them, despite clear warning labels that read "for adult use only."

Though supplements are an unregulated wild frontier at the US Food&Drug Administration level, body-shaping supplements are banned for sale to minors in 49 U.S. states. Nonetheless, 15-year-olds were able to buy them in health food stores across the country and the staff even recommended certain products that were illegal for sale to minors.


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How To Conduct A Personalized Pancreas Cancer Clinical Trial

April 26, 2015 - 2:16pm

After performing thousands of unsuccessful experiments in his attempt to perfect the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously remarked: "I have not failed, not once. I've discovered ten thousand ways that don't work."

Australian leaders of an ongoing pancreatic cancer clinical trial known as the Individualised Molecular Pancreatic Cancer Therapy or 'IMPaCT' trial, can say exactly the same thing as Edison. In conventional terms, the trial has been a failure, because it has been unable to recruit eligible patients to-date, but that may lead to a new paradigm of personalized cancer care for pancreatic cancer and other aggressive cancer types. 


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LAWS And The Autonomy Of Killer Robots

April 26, 2015 - 1:00pm
The future of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) – often referred to in the popular press as “killer robots” – remains uncertain following a week-long meeting in Geneva to discuss their legality.

While the LAWS debate in Geneva was deeper and richer than previous discussions, key definitions – which are needed to word a protocol to restrict them – remain unclear and up for continued debate.

And with nations like the United Kingdom openly opposed to a ban, a protocol may end up being blocked entirely, much to to the chagrin of activists.

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The Gene That Determines Cocoa Butter's Melting Point (And Why That's Important)

April 26, 2015 - 2:13am

The discovery of a gene involved in determining the melting point of cocoa butter should lead to new varieties of the cocoa plant that could extend the climate and soil-nutrient range for growing the crop


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End The Summer Break Literacy Slide By Letting Kids Pick Their Summer Books

April 25, 2015 - 7:50pm
Those "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid" books are not "The Good Earth", they are not going to win Pulitzer Prizes, but they are a lot better for kids in the summer than staying glued to YouTube videos. And for most kids, that is going to be the choice. Rather than sending home a reading list (poor schools) or stacks of books (rich schools) in the hopes of combating the the literacy loss experienced during the summer break, a new study finds that letting kids choose the books is better.
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TOPOFEN Migraine Therapy Phase II Clinical Trial Results

April 25, 2015 - 5:30pm

A Phase IIa placebo-controlled clinical trial of TOPOFEN, a topical anti-migraine therapy for moderate and severe migraine sufferers, showed that the application of a well-known non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) over the trigeminal nerve branches can be a safe and effective alternative treatment for patients suffering from acute migraine.


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We Don't Hear Much About The 10,000 French Deaths At Gallipoli

April 25, 2015 - 5:30pm

With almost the same number of soldiers as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) – 79,000 – and similar death rates – close to 10,000 – French participation in the Gallipoli campaign could not occupy a more different place in national memory.

What became a foundation myth in Australia as it also did in the Turkish Republic after 1923 was eventually forgotten in France.

Some of the reasons are obvious.

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You Can't Exercise Through A Bad Diet

April 25, 2015 - 4:30pm

It's time to bust the myth that anyone, and that includes athletes, can outrun a bad diet, say experts in an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Excess carbohydrates, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity.

Regular exercise is key to staving off serious disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, write the authors, but our calorie-laden diets now generate more ill health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking - combined. The evidence they cite suggests that up to 40% of those within a normal weight (BMI) range will nonetheless harbor harmful metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity.


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College Rankings Under The Microscope

April 25, 2015 - 3:30pm

A Boston College expert in educational measurement is taking a look at the controversial college and university rankings lists that are promoted by schools hoping to lure full-fare students from out of state and parents and students who want validation for their choices.


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Muscle Regeneration After Traumatic Injury - No Donor Tissue Needed

April 25, 2015 - 3:00pm

Loss of muscle volume is a common debilitating outcome of traumatic orthopedic injury, resulting in muscle weakness and loss of limb function.  The current best solution is muscle graft but a new therapeutic approach uses small pieces of autologous muscle which can be expanded in a collagen hydrogel and used to regenerate functional muscle at the sight of injury.

A study demonstrating the feasibility of using autologous minced tissue grafts for muscle regeneration shows it would be better for repairing large areas of muscle loss.  


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Arginine Deprivation May Be A Potential Cause For Alzheimer's

April 25, 2015 - 2:55pm

Some studies find that the immune system, which protects our bodies from foreign invaders, plays a part in Alzheimer's disease, though the actual role of immunity in the disease is a mystery.

A new Duke University study in mice suggests that in Alzheimer's disease, certain immune cells that normally protect the brain begin to abnormally consume an important nutrient: arginine. Blocking this process with a small-molecule drug prevented the characteristic brain plaques and memory loss in a mouse model of the disease.


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BPA Risk To Newborns Smaller Than Claimed

April 25, 2015 - 2:32pm

Many newborns are exposed in their earliest days to bisphenol A (BPA) and lots of other chemicals, the world is all chemical, but BPA has been the subject of more scrutiny than most because it is ubiquitous. Due to that, environmental advocacy studies have claimed there is probably risk to adults and newborns, while more neutral science says that it is detectable but not harmful.


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Survey Finds People With Hepatitis B And C Suffer From Discrimination

April 25, 2015 - 2:11pm

If you have hepatitis B or C and feel like you are treated poorly by others due to it, you are not alone. As many as half of people infected with viral hepatitis say they have suffered discrimination and one-quarter admit that family members have avoided physical contact with them after finding out they had the infection. 


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Triple Negative Breast Cancer In African-American Women Has Distinct Difference

April 25, 2015 - 1:30pm

What makes triple negative breast cancer more lethal in African-American women than European-American ("White") women? A new study reveals specific genetic alterations that appears to impact their prognosis and ultimately survival rates.


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