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FRIDAY - March 16, 2007-------------------------Previous Week News Alerts / Return to Today's News Alerts

Stem cell therapy improves sight of patients born with no irises.
Aniridia results in near blindness as the limbal cells that keep the surface of the cornea clear and healthy are missing or few in number. Donor limbal cells are grown in a laboratory. A sheet of these cells is placed over the patient's cornea, held by an amniotic membrane from donated placentas. After two or three weeks, the membrane dissolves but the stem cells remain and restore the epithelium, or top layer of the cornea.

Arsenic in drinking water leads to miscarriages and SID.
For the first time, researchers have been able to show that mothers who drink water containing arsenic run an increased risk of having a miscarriage or losing their child in its first year.

Family Stress Linked to Kids' Illnesses.
Children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after undergoing physical, emotional or sexual abuse, witnessing violence, or experiencing lasting separation and loss, showed significant decreases over time in the volume of the right hippocampus.

Traumatic Stress Induces Brain Change in Children.
Children with post-traumatic stress disorder, similar to adults, show physical changes in the brain, according to researchers at Stanford University. In a pilot study of 15 children, higher PTSD scores and higher cortisol levels were significantly (P<0.05) correlated with relative decreases over time in the volume of the right hippocampus.

Discovery of new stem cell involved with cancer.
Ohio State University Medical Center, has identified a new set of cells called precancerous stem cells (pCSCs). "First it appears that pCSCs require some sort of signal, or cue, from their immediate environment that directs them to become benign or malignant. Second, it seems clear that they can be detected and eliminated by a robust immune system when they are actively developing into cancer cells." Dr. Jian-Xin Gao, a researcher in the department of pathology at Ohio State University Medical Center.

THURSDAY - March 15, 2007--------------------Previous Week News Alerts / Return to Today's News Alerts

Depression Risk Higher in Girls with Low Birth Weight.
Girls' risk for developing depression after puberty increases significantly if they had low birth weight. Additionally, low birth weight seemed to increase the risk effects of social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorders three times higher in girls with low birth weight than in boys or girls with normal birth weight.

Male offspring of assisted reproduction less fertile.
A study of young men undergoing compulsory physical examination for military service found that men whose mothers underwent fertility treatments to conceive appear to have impaired reproductive health. The men had 46 percent lower sperm concentration, a 45 percent lower total sperm count, smaller testes, fewer motile sperm and fewer normal appearing sperm.

Sleeping Sickness Parasite Can't Live with Stress.
The parasite responsible for African sleeping sickness causes its victims plenty of sleepless nights - but the parasite itself cannot cope with stress. New research shows that the parasite's natural response to stress is enough to kill it, a weakness that researchers want to exploit. SL RNA is the key molecule in this parasite - there is no messenger RNA produced, and no protein being made.

Pre-pregnancy douching may curb early birth risk - more info.
Although the number of women douching is down, about half of African American women still douche. Douching is more common among minority and low-income women. Douching fewer than three times a month in the 6 months before pregnancy reflected a 37% reduced risk of preterm delivery compared with women who never douched. However, women who douched during pregnancy had an increased risk of preterm delivery.

Study Compares Stem Cell Transplants for Myeloma.
Young patients diagnosed with the blood cancer myeloma (a cancer of the blood's plasma cells) survived longer after receiving a stem cell transplant from themselves followed by one from a matched sibling - rather than receiving two transplants from themselves. However, the protocol may be a good treatment alternative for only a fraction of patients.

WEDNESDAY - March 14, 2007------------------Previous Week News Alerts / Return to Today's News Alerts

Long QT Syndrome and Pregnancy.
Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a disorder of the heart's electrical system. The condition leads to fast, chaotic heartbeats with possible fainting, or in some cases, cardiac arrest. Women with LQTS have a reduced risk for cardiac events during pregnancy, but an increased risk during the 9-month postpartum period. Beta-blockers can reduce cardiac events during the high-risk postpartum time period.

Unlocking the mystery of skin renewal.
Previously, it was thought that two types of cells were needed to regenerate skin: adult stem cells and short lived cells that soon stopped dividing. New research led by the MRC Cancer Cell Unit in Cambridge, UK found that what actually happens is very different. The adult stem cells don’t seem to do anything for normal skin, but help repair and replace injured skin. Skin is actually regenerated by non stem cells behaving strangely.

Craig Venter discovers a startling array of new genes.
Genome pioneer Craig Venter's trip around the world has turned up a startling array of new genes and new gene families. Venter's team thinks they had identified more than 6 million new proteins.

Second-hand smoke riskier for black children.
Black children with asthma exposed to at least five cigarettes a day had significantly higher toxin levels in their hair and blood than white children exposed to the same amount of smoke. Children aged 5 to 12 tested for levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine that has been processed by the body, revealed black children had 32 percent higher cotinine levels than white children.

Early infection tied to leukemia risk in childhood.
New findings support a theory that "a dysregulated immune response to infection in the first few months of life" promotes the development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) later in childhood. In the study, 24 percent of ALL children and 18 percent of controls were diagnosed with at least one infection during the first month of life.

TUESDAY - March 13, 2007----------------------Previous Week News Alerts / Return to Today's News Alerts

Baby Talk.
Japanese researchers examined how newborns respond to adult-directed speech (ADS) and to infant-directed speech (IDS), found that the frontal area of the infants' brains are more active in response to "baby talk." Newborns between the ages of 2 and 9 days were studied. Brain oxygenation levels were measured while babies were sleeping, but while their mothers read aloud to them.

Measles Used to Kill Bone Marrow Cancer.
A phase I clinical trial is set to test an engineered measles virus against the bone marrow cancer multiple myeloma. The measles viruses were engineered with added genes and seek out the protein CD46 - overexpressed by many cancers. Using CD46 to enter the cancer cells, the measles virus spreads, infecting nearby tumor cells, causing them to fuse together and increasing cancer cell death.

Delayed cord clamping gives preemies oxygen boost.
Holding a newborn below the placenta and delaying clamping of the umbilical cord for up to 90 seconds boosts brain tissue oxygen levels in the first 24 hours after birth, neonatologists from Switzerland found. The technique, called "placentofetal transfusion," reduces the need for blood transfusion and improves blood-related stability in preterm babies.

Ageless Fatherhood? Maybe Not.
Research is revealing that a man's potential for producing a child "forever", is not without risk to the child. In Down syndrome, when both mother and father are over 35 at conception, the father's age is more prevalent for the disorder. Schizophrenia in children has also been tied to the older father, and advanced father's age is associated with an increased risk of autism.

Science adviser backs animal eggs for human stem cells.
The UK Government's chief scientific adviser has expressed his support for proposals to use animal eggs in the creation of human embryonic stem (ES) cells for research purposes. The scientists want to use such embryos, dubbed cytoplasmic hybrid or 'cybrids', to create ES cell lines from patients affected by conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease and motor neuron disease. These cells could be used to shed light on how the illnesses develop, and to test out new treatments.

MONDAY - March 12, 2007--------------------Previous Week News Alerts / Return to Today's News Alerts

Old Preemie Lung Treatment is Safe.
Preemies between 28 and 32 weeks are not harmed by a treatment no longer used to help their lungs mature before birth, according to findings of a study in this month's Pediatrics magazine. Even though previous observational studies suggested that repeated courses of steroids in the womb may result in brain damage, this study shows that the babies' brains are virtually unaffected.

Mouse Tests Show Stem Cells Treat Brain Disease.
Human stem cells taken from both embryos and fetuses delayed the fatal brain and nerve disease, Sandhoff, in mice. Sandhoff is caused by a mutation in the gene for the enzyme hexosaminidase or hex, which brain cells need to get rid of excess fatty material called lipids. Reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Hormone Paradox May Help Explain Teen Moodiness.
THP, a hormone, is produced by the body in response to stress. Normally THP serves to calm adults and young children. In adolescents THP increases anxiety. THP acts on brain cells via molecular doorways known as receptors. During adolescence, mice have the usual receptors and extra-high levels of a second type that creates anxious, rather than calming, responses to THP.

Bacterial Walls Come Tumbling Down.
New, detailed images of the outer wall of bacteria may provide scientists with enough information to design novel antibiotics. Such antibiotics are needed to treat deadly Staphylococcus aureus infections and other bacterial pathogens.

The Old-Age Puzzle.
Mutations in mitochondrial DNA are thought to be the driver of human aging. Cells contain thousands of mitochondria with their own DNA distinct from DNA in the cell's nucleus. Scientists suspected mitochondrial DNA, (mtDNA), to be more vulnerable to mutations from errors in DNA replication. But mice engineered to have 500 times more mtDNA mutations than normal, showed no signs of premature aging. Reported in Nature Genetics.

An Infection to Remember.
Vertebrate immune systems are supposed to be unique in their ability to "remember" an infection and mount specific attacks against microbial invaders. But a new study of fruit flies shows that invertebrates are capable of something quite similar, suggesting that even relatively simple immune systems can act in ways immunologists never thought possible.

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