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Blood and Saliva Tests Help Predict Return of HPV-Linked Oral Cancers 

Physicians have developed blood and saliva tests that help accurately predict the comeback of HPV-linked oral cancers in a substantial number of patients. The tests screen for DNA fragments of the human papillomavirus (HPV) shed from cancer cells lingering in the mouth or other parts of the body. 

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Greasing the Body’s Joints to Ease Pain 

By finding a way to “capture” a slippery molecule naturally found in the fluid surrounding healthy joints, Johns Hopkins University researchers engineered surfaces that have the potential to deliver long-lasting lubrication at specific spots throughout the body. Their finding may eventually help ease the pain of arthritis and keep artificial joints working smoothly.

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Different forms of Alzheimer’s have similar effects on brain networks

Brain networks break down similarly in rare, inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease and much more common uninherited versions of the disorder, a new study has revealed.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that in both types of Alzheimer’s, a basic component of brain function starts to decline about five years before symptoms, such as memory loss, become obvious.

The breakdown occurs in resting state functional connectivity, which involves groups of brain regions with activity levels that rise and fall in coordination with each other. Scientists believe this synchronization helps the regions form networks that work together or stay out of each other’s way during mental tasks.

Funding: This work was funded by grants U19-AG032438 from the National Institute on Aging; K23MH081786 and R21MH099979 from the National Institute of Mental Health; R01NR014449, R01NR012657, and R01NR012907 from the National Institute of Nursing Research; P30NS048056, P50 AG05681, P01 AG03991, and P01 AG026276 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and G0601846 from the Medical Research Council. The study was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research Queen Square Dementia Biomedical Research Unit and the Washington University in St Louis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Genetics Core. Jack received grants R01-AG011378, U01-HL096917, U01-AG024904, RO1 AG041851, R01 AG37551, R01AG043392, and U01-AG06786 from the National Institutes of Health. Morris received grants P50AG005681, P01AG003991, P01AG026276, and U19AG032438 from the National Institutes of Health. Ourselin received grants EP/H046410/1, EP/J020990/1, and EP/K005278 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; MR/J01107X/1 from the Medical Research Council; and FP7-ICT-2011-9-601055 from the EUFP7 project at the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre High Impact Initiative.

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Newly Discovered Protein Inhibits Cancer Growth

A previously unknown variant of an extensively studied protein has been found to inhibit the growth of tumors and slow the development of new blood vessels necessary for cancers to metastasize, according to Cleveland Clinic research published in Cell.

The creation of new blood vessels, or angiogenesis, is a vital part of cancer growth and metastasis. Blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen, which tumors need to survive, expand, and migrate to other parts of the body. A family of proteins called vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are behind the process of angiogenesis, and one particular protein, VEGF-A, is the principal driver in the process.

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TAMU researches care arrangements of children orphaned by AIDS

Over 17 million children worldwide have been orphaned from AIDS, and most of these orphans live in poor resource settings. How to care for these vulnerable children remains an urgent public health issue.

Yan Hong, Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, has been doing research on care arrangement of AIDS orphans for years and just published her recent findings from rural central China. Many children have been orphaned in this area of the world because of unhygienic commercial blood collection since 1990

Funding: The study received funding from National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

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Blood Transfusions May Cut Risk of ‘Silent’ Stroke in Kids With Sickle Cell

Monthly blood transfusions may lower the chances of “silent” strokes in some children with sickle cell anemia, a new clinical trial indicates.

The study, reported in the Aug. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that in children with a previous silent stroke, monthly blood transfusions cut the rate of future strokes by more than half.

The researchers said their findings support screening children with sickle cell for evidence of silent stroke — something that is not routinely done now.

"Prior to this, there was no treatment, so the argument was, ‘Why screen?’" explained Dr. James Casella, vice chair of the clinical trial and director of pediatric hematology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. “Now we have a treatment to offer.”

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Teen sleeplessness piles on risk for obesity

Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep may wake up to worse consequences than nodding off during chemistry class. According to new research, risk of being obese by age 21 was 20 percent higher among 16-year-olds who got less than six hours of sleep a night, compared with their peers who slumbered more than eight hours. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends nine to ten hours of sleep for teenagers.)

Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health are the first to examine the effect of sleeplessness on obesity in teenagers over time, providing the strongest evidence yet that lack of sleep raises risk for an elevated BMI. Results appear in Journal of Pediatrics.

Funding:The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (K01HL103199, K01CA172717, P01-HD31921).

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New Treatment Successful for Rare and Disabling Movement Disorder, the Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS)

People who suffer from a rare illness, the Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS), now have a chance for full recovery thanks to treatment developed by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  Their findings were published online in the July issue of Frontiers in Neurology.  

People often feel a sensation of movement, called Mal de Debarquement, after they have finished boating, surfing or a sea voyage. The symptoms usually disappear within hours, but in some people, and more frequently in women, symptoms can continue for months or years, causing fatigue, insomnia, headaches, poor coordination, anxiety, depression and an inability to work. Known as the Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS), the rare condition is marked by continuous feelings of swaying, rocking or bobbing.

Funding: The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), (Grant #R21, DC012162).

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Alzheimer’s Clue

"A new study may help scientists unlock a medical mystery.  Researchers have found that rheumatoid arthritis patients seem to have protection from developing Alzheimer’s disease.  The scientific link between the two may help researchers develop a new treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Looking at pictures is just one way Bob and Donna Otten cope, after Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago. While looking through old photos, Donna explained “It’ll help him recall what we saw, because he won’t remember the trip all that well.”

A new study from the University of Colorado may change that. “A protein that is released during rheumatoid arthritis into the blood seems to get into the brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease from getting hold.” Dr. Huntington Potter, professor of Neurology at the University of Colorado told Ivanhoe.”

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New research sheds light on how children’s brains memorize facts

As children learn basic arithmetic, they gradually switch from solving problems by counting on their fingers to pulling facts from memory. The shift comes more easily for some kids than for others, but no one knows why.

Now, new brain-imaging research gives the first evidence drawn from a longitudinal study to explain how the brain reorganizes itself as children learn math facts. A precisely orchestrated group of brain changes, many involving the memory center known as the hippocampus, are essential to the transformation, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Funding: The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants HD047520, HD059205 and MH101394), Stanford’s Child Health Research Institute, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, Stanford’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (grant UL1RR025744) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

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Scientists Create a 3-D Model That Mimics Brain Function

For the first time, bioengineers have produced a kind of rudimentary “brain in a dish.” The 3-D model could eventually lead to new ways of studying disease, injury, and treatment.

The research, led by David Kaplan, the chairman of the bioengineering department at Tufts University, and published Monday in the journal PNAS, is the latest example of biomedical engineering being used to make realistic models of organs such as the heart, lungs and liver.

Brain models have been mostly two-dimensional or made with a three-dimensional gel, said Rosemarie Hunziker, program director of tissue engineering and biomaterial at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which funded Dr. Kaplan’s research.

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Columbia University Medical Center researchers have identified the immune cells responsible for destroying hair follicles in people with alopecia areata and restored hair growth with an FDA-approved drug.

Watch the video story here: http://bit.ly/1BgykcI

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Funding: This work was supported in part by USPHS NIH/NIAMS

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Model to predict COPD hospital readmission developed

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have identified predictors of early rehospitalization among patients hospitalized for complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This study was recently published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

In a nationwide analysis of more than 8,000 commercially insured adult patients with COPD, UTMB researchers concluded that several modifiable factors, such as appropriate prescriptions upon discharge and early follow up after discharge from the hospital, were associated with lower likelihood of early readmission.

Funding: This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and a University of Texas System Information Technology grant.

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CWRU, UH researchers’ discovery behind first approved stool DNA colorectal cancer screening test

The Food and Drug Administration this week approved the first stool-based colorectal screening test approved for the detection of colorectal cancer and precancerous growths that can be used in the privacy of one’s home. The technology used to create the test emerged more than a decade ago from labs at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University.

Those who would rather avoid having a colonoscopy now have the option of Cologuard, a noninvasive test that detects the presence of red blood cells and DNA mutations that may indicate the presence of certain kinds of abnormal growths.

People can order the test through their physician or other health care provider, who can have the test sent directly to patients’ homes. The time frame for sending the tests is still being determined, said a spokeswoman for Exact Sciences, which makes the test.

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Funding: Since 2011, UH has enrolled 450 patients in a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of sDNA compared with colonoscopy. Patients are given both. It’s one of several studies of the GI SPORE (Specialized Program of Research and Excellence)- GI Cancers Research Center at CWRU, created with a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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Newly discovered heart molecule could lead to effective treatment for heart failure

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown cardiac molecule that could provide a key to treating, and preventing, heart failure.

The newly discovered molecule provides the heart with a tool to block a protein that orchestrates genetic disruptions when the heart is subjected to stress, such as high blood pressure.

When the research team, led by Ching-Pin Chang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, restored levels of the newly discovered molecule in mice experiencing heart failure, the progression to heart failure was stopped. The research was published in the online edition of the journal Nature.

The newly discovered molecule is known as a long non-coding RNA. RNA’s usual role is to carry instructions — the code — from the DNA in a cell’s nucleus to the machinery in the cell that produces proteins necessary for cell activities. In recent years, scientists have discovered several types of RNA that are not involved in protein coding but act on their own. The role in the heart of long non-coding RNA has been unknown.

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Funding: The research was supported by the American Heart Association; the National Institutes of Health; et. al

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