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Modified Smell Enzyme Could Reduce Pesticide Use

April 27, 2015 - 2:02pm

There may be more a natural way to reduce the use of pesticides but still save plants from attack -  by recreating a natural insect repellent based on smell.

Scientists from Cardiff University and Rothamsted Research have created tiny molecules which mirror a natural occurring smell known to repel insects by providing the enzyme ((S)-germacrene D synthase), which creates the smell, with alternative substrate molecules. 

The effectiveness of the smell or perfume to function as an insect repellent was tested and the team found that the smells repelled insects but in one case a reversal of behavior - an attractant - was observed which raises the prospect of being able to develop a trap-and-kill device. 


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Screen For Celiac Disease In High-Rsk Groups Such As Diabetics, Anemics And Down's Syndrome

April 27, 2015 - 1:58pm

Celiac disease is a life-long condition that has severe consequences yet many people remain undiagnosed. 

Celiac disease is a genetically-determined, autoimmune condition caused by a permanent intolerance to gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. The condition causes inflammation in the small intestine, leading to diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue and other non-specific symptoms. It has been estimated that around 1% of the population may have Celiac disease, although estimates vary between countries. Its prevalence may be increasing. If left undiagnosed and untreated, CD can have a profound effect on quality of life may lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes and has been associated with a reduced life-expectancy.


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Inability To Concentrate: 'Chemo Brain' Is Real, Study Finds

April 27, 2015 - 1:52pm

Chemotherapy has been linked to excessive mind wandering and an inability to concentrate. The condition, colloquially called 'chemo-brain,' has long been suspected.

A new University of British Columbia study says it is the first to explain why patients have difficulty paying attention. Breast cancer survivors were asked to complete a set of tasks while researchers in the Departments of Psychology and Physical Therapy monitored their brain activity. What they found is that the minds of people with chemo-brain lack the ability for sustained focused thought.


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How The Brain Translates Sound

April 27, 2015 - 1:45pm

When people hear the sound of footsteps or the drilling of a woodpecker, the rhythmic structure of the sounds is striking, says Michael Wehr, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, and even when the temporal structure of a sound is less obvious, as with human speech, the timing still conveys a variety of important information. 

Neurons in the brain use two different languages to encode information: temporal coding and rate coding.


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The Brain's Source Of Power

April 27, 2015 - 1:28pm

Neurons are more independent than previously believed - a finding which has implications for a range of neurological disorders and how nerve cells in the brain generate the energy needed to function. 

The brain requires a tremendous amount of energy to do its job. While it only represents 2 percent of the body mass of the average adult human, the brain consumes an estimated 20 percent of body's energy supply. Unraveling precisely how the brain's cells - specifically, neurons - generate energy has significant implications for not only the understanding of basic biology, but also for neurological diseases which may be linked to too little, or too much, metabolism in the brain. 


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5X: Alarming Rise In Cost Of Multiple Sclerosis Drugs Over 20 Years

April 27, 2015 - 1:16pm

A new study shows an "alarming rise" in the costs of drugs used to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) or reduce the frequency of attacks over the last 20 years.

Yet this increase occurred even as there was a substantial increase in the number of MS drugs in the marketplace, which would ordinarily lead to lower or stabilized costs for patients who use those drugs, especially for first-generation therapies.

The costs of MS drugs accelerated at rates 5X to 7X higher than prescription drug inflation and substantially higher than rates for drugs in a similar class between 1993 and 2013, the researchers report. Drug costs for several MS agents rose on average 20 to 30 percent per year over this time period. 


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Stem Cell And Feeder Cell Link Challenged

April 27, 2015 - 1:08pm

Stem cells cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes and it has been thought that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells with essential nutrients.


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Putting An End To Cancer Pain

April 27, 2015 - 1:04pm

A new study has discovered the trigger behind the most severe forms of cancer pain. Released in top journal Pain this month, the study points to TMPRSS2 as the culprit: a gene that is also responsible for some of the most aggressive forms of androgen-fueled cancers.

The work focused on cancers of the head and neck, which affect more than 550,000 people worldwide each year. Studies have shown that these types of cancers are the most painful, with sufferers experiencing pain that is immediate and localized, while pain treatment options are limited to opioid-family pharmaceuticals such as morphine.

Since the majority of head and neck cancer patients are men, the team investigate a genetic marker with a known correlation to prostate cancer - TMPRSS2. 


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Are Insects The Future Of Food?

April 27, 2015 - 1:00pm

At first my meal seems familiar, like countless other dishes I’ve eaten at Asian restaurants. A swirl of noodles slicked with oil and studded with shredded chicken, the aroma of ginger and garlic, a few wilting chives placed on the plate as a final flourish. And then, I notice the eyes. Dark, compound orbs on a yellow speckled head, joined to a winged, segmented body. I hadn’t spotted them right away, but suddenly I see them everywhere – my noodles are teeming with insects.

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7 Great Achievements In Children's Health Research

April 27, 2015 - 12:56pm

Pediatric research discoveries over the past 40 years have led to prevention and treatment strategies that have saved millions of lives worldwide and seven of the greatest research achievements were presented on Sunday, April 26 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting at the San Diego Convention Center. 

"Today, we often take these research discoveries for granted," said presenter Tina Cheng, MD, MPH, FAAP, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Pediatric Research. "Because of research and science in these seven areas, American children are healthier and safer today and will grow up to be healthier adults."


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New Life For First-Line Antibiotics

April 26, 2015 - 8:00pm

Researchers have identified a single, simple metric to guide antibiotic dosing that could bring an entire arsenal of first-line antibiotics back into the fight against drug-resistant pathogens.

A computer simulation created by Hannah Meredith, a biomedical engineering graduate fellow at Duke University, revealed that a regimen based on a pathogen's recovery time could eliminate an otherwise resistant strain of bacteria. In theory, a database of recovery times for bacterial and antibiotic combinations could allow first-line antibiotics to clear many resistant infections.

Work to create such a database is underway and early tests are confirming her model's predictions.


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Abuse-Deterrent OxyContin Led To Fewer Overdoses

April 26, 2015 - 7:00pm

The introduction of abuse-deterrent OxyContin, coupled with the removal of propoxyphene from the US prescription marketplace, are getting the credit for decreasing opioid prescribing and overdoses in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Those two changes led to a 19 percent drop in prescription opioid supply that was mirrored by a 20 percent drop in prescription opioid overdose between August 2010 and December 2012. The drop in prescription opioid overdose was partially offset by an increase in overdose due to heroin, an illicit opioid.


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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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