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New Antiviral Protein Discovered In Human Body

The Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (CeMM) announces the discovery of a new molecular sensor in human cells capable of recognizing infecting viruses and transmitting an alarm signal to the body. The study, directed by the center's director Giulio Superti-Furga, appears January 22 in the online advanced publication route of the journal Nature Immunology.

The newly discovered protein, termed AIM2, patrols the inside of human immune cells and when it encounters a DNA that is suspicious, possibly coming from an intruding virus or bacterium, triggers the secretion of the signaling protein Interleukin-1. This proinflammatory molecule activates an anti-invasion alarm program throughout the entire body. It is one of the main causes of fever and a central mediator of autoimmune disease. Thus, the study identified a new centerpiece of the human's defense arsenal against pathogens.
Magnify

Inflammation Worsens Danger due to Atherosclerosis

Current research suggests that inflammation increases the risk of plaque rupture in atherosclerosis. The related report by Ovchinnikova et al, "T cell activation leads to reduced collagen maturation in atherosclerotic plaques of ApoE-deficient- mice," appears in the February 2009 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Atherosclerosis is a disease of arterial blood vessels where fats, cholesterol, blood cells, and fibers form hardened plaques on the artery wall. These plaques restrict blood flow to tissues such as the heart and brain by narrowing the artery. Atherosclerosis can be caused by high blood pressure, high fat and high cholesterol diets, smoking, and diabetes. People with atherosclerotic plaques often show no symptoms for decades.

Atherosclerotic plaques consist of lipid cores covered by collagen fiber caps. These plaques can suddenly rupture, resulting in blood clots that completely block blood flow and lead to heart attack or stroke in otherwise healthy individuals. One potential cause of plaque rupture is the thinning of the collagen fiber cap covering the plaque.
Chart Pie

Autism Screening Tops Obama's Medical To-Do List

Autism tops Barack Obama's medical to-do list, according to the new president's website. Whitehouse.gov launched at 12:01 pm yesterday, even before the new president had taken his oath of office on the Capitol's West Front.
Gear

Anti-Smoking Propaganda! 'Third-hand smoke' is the contamination that remains after smoke is gone

Ever sniffed a smoker's coat, hair or car and felt the toxic air down your lungs?

That's "third-hand" smoke.

A new study conducted by a team of medical researchers and published in the journal Pediatrics, reports there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco, even its invisible toxins.

Comment: Don't worry about the mercury in vaccines. Don't worry about the toxins in what they want us to call food. Don't worry about the poisons in our water, soft drinks, and the list goes on.

Blame the smokers.

Evil Rays

Bill Gates, others pledge $630 million to beat polio

Washington - An infusion of more than $630 million spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is intended to help finish the job of eradicating the crippling disease polio, officials said on Wednesday.

The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rotary International charity joined with the governments of Britain and Germany to commit the money over the next five years to support child immunization.

An international effort has cut polio cases by 99 percent in 10 years -- a drop from more than 350,000 cases in 1998 to about 1,600 in 2008.
Bulb

Popular Songs Can Cue Specific Memories, Psychology Research Shows

Whether the soundtrack of your youth was doo-wop or disco, new wave or Nirvana, psychology research at Kansas State University shows that even just thinking about a particular song can evoke vivid memories of the past.

"We thought that actually hearing the song would bring back the most vivid memories," said Richard Harris, professor of psychology at K-State. "But in our study there wasn't a lot of difference in memory between those who heard the song and those who didn't. What we determined was happening is that you already know the song and you're hearing it in your mind."

Harris and Elizabeth Cady, a 2006 K-State doctoral graduate in psychology, recently published a study of music as a memory cue in the journal Psychology of Music. J. Bret Knappenberger, a 2004 K-State bachelor's graduate in psychology, also was co-author.

Harris said the study fit his other research on the intersection of media and memory. In another project, Harris explored why people like to quote movies. He said the project with Cady was one of the first times his research delved into the medium of music.
Heart

Inflammation Contributes to Colon Cancer

Researchers led by Drs. Lillian Maggio-Price and Brian Iritani at The University of Washington found that mice that lack the immune inhibitory molecule Smad3 are acutely sensitive to both bacterially-induced inflammation and cancer. They report these findings in the January 2009 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Bacteria contribute to the development of certain cancers, in some measure, by stimulating chronic inflammation. Absence of a molecule that inhibits inflammation, Smad3, may therefore increase susceptibility to colon cancer.

To examine whether Smad3 signaling contributes to development of colon cancer, Maggio-Price et al examined mice deficient in Smad3 that lack of adaptive immune responses. They found that these mice are acutely sensitive to bacterially-induced inflammation and cancer due to both deficient T regulatory cell function and increased expression of proinflammatory cytokines. Through increased expression of both pro-oncogenic and anti-apoptotic proteins, epithelial cells in colonic tissues underwent both enhanced proliferation and survival.
Info

Study: Excessive Use of Antiviral Drugs Could Aid Deadly Flu

Influenza's ability to resist the effects of cheap and popular antiviral agents in Asia and Russia should serve as a cautionary tale about U.S. plans to use the antiviral Tamiflu in the event of widespread avian flu infection in humans, scientists say.

Researchers analyzed almost 700 genome sequences of avian influenza strains to document where and when the virus developed resistance to a class of antiviral drugs called adamantanes and how far resistant strains spread. The analysis suggests that widespread antiviral drug use can accelerate the evolution of drug resistance in viruses, and that resistant strains can emerge and spread rapidly.

The results should serve as a warning to those who consider Tamiflu the next great antiviral medication, the researchers say. Stockpiling Tamiflu has become a standard part of many government, business and health organization plans to prepare for a long-feared pandemic flu outbreak, especially in the event that avian flu mutates enough to infect and be easily transmitted among humans.
Pocket Knife

Forget Pot Smokers; What Does It Take to Lock Up Drug Company Execs?

"Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through." - Jonathan Swift

After reading "The Neurontin Legacy -- Marketing through Misinformation and Manipulation" in the January 8, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, one may conclude that (1) America's prisons would be put to better use incarcerating drug company executives instead of pot smokers, and (2) society may need a return of public scorn via the pillory for those doctors who are essentially drug-company shills.
Smiley

What Happy People Don't Do

Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers - but they don't spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.

That's what unhappy people do.

Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.
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