Activating the right immune cells in infants could lead to new vaccine strategies.

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A team of scientists from Singapore has discovered two genes from the collagen family which demonstrate strong association with Central Corneal Thickness (CCT). CCT is a risk factor of glaucoma, the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.

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University of Manchester scientists have discovered for the first time an important new way in which the human papilloma virus (HPV) triggers cancer in what could lead to new treatments for cervical and mouth cancer.

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Cambridge, MA - In an exciting example of international collaboration, a Qatar astronomer teamed with scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and other institutions to discover a new alien world. This "hot Jupiter," now named Qatar-1b, adds to the growing list of alien planets orbiting distant stars. Its discovery demonstrates the power of science to cross political boundaries and increase ties between nations.

"The discovery of Qatar-1b is a great achievement -- one that further demonstrates Qatar's commitment to becoming a leader in innovative science and research," said Dr. Khalid Al Subai, leader of the Qatar exoplanet survey and a research director of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

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For patients with glioma, the most common primary brain tumor, new findings may explain why current therapies fail to eradicate the cancer. 

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(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Two discoveries at UC Santa Barbara point to potential new drug therapies for patients with kidney disease. The findings are published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Neuherberg-- Fighting hay fever with a plant extract – this works, as was shown in a clinical study conducted by researchers of the Center of Allergy & Environment (ZAUM) of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen and Technische Universitat Munchen. Allergic symptoms were alleviated significantly better than with the usual histamine receptor antagonists. In a paper published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology the scientists explained how this plant extract works and how effective it is.

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VA-USF study finds cotinine reduces the brain plaques associated with dementia.

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    Rasilamlo combines in a single pill the only approved direct renin inhibitor, Rasilez, with the widely used calcium channel blocker amlodipin[1] Data showed Rasilamlo provides greater blood pressure reductions than Rasilez and amlodipine alone[2] Up to 85 percent of patients may need multiple medications to help control their high blood pressure underscoring the need for effective combination treatments[3],[4]

Basel, April 28, 2011 - Novartis announced today that Rasilamlo®, a single-pill combination of aliskiren and amlodipine, has received approval from the European Commission (EC) for the treatment of high blood pressure patients not controlled by either aliskiren or amlodipine alone[1]. Rasilamlo combines the only approved direct renin inhibitor worldwide, Rasilez®, with the widely used calcium channel blocker amlodipine[1].

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DURHAM, N. C. - Botox injections may hide more than just the effects of aging. New research from Duke University and USC found people injected with Botox may have trouble telling what other people are thinking and feeling. 

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The latest issue of the journal Cell* carries an article that is likely to help solve one of the long-standing mysteries of biomedicine. In a study that challenges currently held views, researchers at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC), in Portugal, unravel the molecular mechanism whereby sickle cell hemoglobin confers a survival advantage against malaria, the disease caused by Plasmodium infection. These findings, by the research team lead by Miguel P. Soares, open the way to new therapeutic interventions against malaria, a disease that continues to inflict tremendous medical, social and economic burdens to a large proportion of the human population.

Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease in which red blood cells reveal an abnormal crescent (or sickle) shape when observed under a conventional microscope. It is an inherited disorder – the first ever to be attributed to a specific genetic modification (mutation), in 1949 by Linus Pauling (two-times Nobel laureate, for Chemistry in 1954, and Peace, in 1962). The cause of sickle cell anemia was attributed unequivocally to a single base substitution in the DNA sequence of the gene encoding the beta chain of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells.

Only those individual that inherit two copies of the sickle mutation (one from their mother and the other from their father) develop sickle cell anemia. If untreated, these individuals have a shorter than normal life expectancy and as such it would be expected that this mutation would be rare in human populations. This is however, far from being the case. Observations made during the mid-20th century and building on Pauling's findings, revealed that the sickle mutation is, in fact, highly, selected in populations from areas of the world were malaria is very frequent, with sometimes 10-40% of the population carrying this mutation.

Individuals carrying just one copy of the sickle mutation (inherited from either the father or mother) were known not to develop sickle cell anemia, leading rather normal lives. However, it was found that these same individuals, said to carry the sickle cell trait, were in fact highly protected against malaria, thus explaining the high prevalence of this mutation in geographical areas where malaria is endemic.

These findings lead to the widespread believe in the medical community that understanding the mechanism whereby sickle cell trait protects against malaria would provide critical insight into developing treatment or a possible cure for this devastating disease, responsible for over a million premature deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite several decades of research, the mechanism underlying this protective effect remained elusive. Until now.

Several studies suggested that, in one way or another, sickle hemoglobin might get in the way of the Plasmodium parasite infecting red blood cells, reducing the number of parasites that actually infect the host and thus conferring some protection against the disease. The IGC team's results challenge this explanation.

In painstakingly detailed work, Ana Ferreira, a post-doctoral researcher in Miguel Soares' laboratory, demonstrated that mice obtained from Prof. Yves Beuzard's laboratory, that had been genetically engineered to produce one copy of sickle hemoglobin similar to sickle cell trait, do not succumb to cerebral malaria, thus reproducing what happens in humans.

When Prof. Ingo Bechman observed the brains of these mice he confirmed that the lesions associated with the development of cerebral malaria where absent, despite the presence of the parasite.

Ana Ferreira went on to show that the protection afforded by sickle hemoglobin in these mice, acts without interfering directly with the parasite's ability to infect the host red blood cells. As Miguel Soares describes it, "sickle hemoglobin makes the host tolerant to the parasite".

Through a series of genetic experiments, Ana Ferreira was able to show that the main player in this protective effect is heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an enzyme whose expression is strongly induced by sickle hemoglobin. This enzyme, that produces the gas carbon monoxide, had been previously shown by the laboratory of Miguel Soares to confer protection against cerebral malaria. In the process of dissecting further this mechanism of protection Ana Ferreira demonstrated that when produced in response to sickle hemoglobin the same gas, carbon monoxide, protected the infected host from succumbing to cerebral malaria without interfering with the life cycle of the parasite inside its red blood cells.

Miguel Soares and his team believe that the mechanism they have identified for sickle cell trait may be a general mechanism acting in other red blood cell genetic diseases that are also know to protect against malaria in human populations: "Due to its protective effect against malaria, the sickle mutation may have been naturally selected in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is endemic and one of the major causes of death. Similarly, other clinically silent mutations may have been selected throughout evolution, for their ability to provide survival advantage against Plasmodium infection".

This research was carried out the at the IGC in collaboration with the Team of Prof. Yves Beuzard (Universite Paris VII et XI, France), an expert in sickle cell anemia, and Prof. Ingo Bechman an expert in neuropathological diseases (Institute of Anatomy, University of Leipzig, Germany). Other IGC researchers involved in this study are Ivo Marguti, Viktoria Jeney, Angelo Chora, Nuno Palha and Sofia Rebelo. This project was funded by Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia (Portugal), GEMI Fund Linde Healthcare and the European Commission's Framework Programme 7.  

*Ferreira, A., et al. Sickle Hemoglobin Confers Tolerance to Plasmodium Infection. Cell; DOI 10.1016/j. cell.2011.03.049

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A widely used HIV drug could be used to prevent cervical cancer caused by infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), say scientists.

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genetic Testing

New UCLA study says testing leaves some families with great uncertainty.

Mandatory genetic screening of newborns for rare diseases is creating unexpected upheaval for families whose infants test positive for risk factors but show no immediate signs of disease, a new University of California, Los Angeles study warns.

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From atomic crystals to spiral galaxies, self-assembly is ubiquitous in nature. In biological processes, self-assembly at the molecular level is particularly prevalent. Phospholipids, for example, will self-assemble into a bilayer to form a cell membrane, and actin, a protein that supports and shapes a cell's structure, continuously self-assembles and disassembles during cell movement.  Bioengineers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been exploring a unique phenomenon whereby randomly dispersed microparticles self-assemble into a highly organized structure as they flow through microscale channels.           This self-assembly behavior was unexpected, the researchers said, for such a simple system containing only particles, fluid and a conduit through which these elements flow. The particles formed lattice-like structures due to a unique combination of hydrodynamic interactions.           The research, published online today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by UCLA postdoctoral scholar Wonhee Lee and UCLA assistant professor of bioengineering Dino Di Carlo.           The research team discovered the mechanism that leads to this self-assembly behavior through a series of careful experiments and numerical simulations. They found that continuous disturbance of the fluid induced by each flowing and rotating particle drives neighboring particles away, while migration of particles to localized streams due to the momentum of the fluid acts to stabilize the spacing between particles at a finite distance. In essence, the combination of repulsion and localization leads to an organized structure.            Once they understood the mechanism, the team developed microchannels that allowed for "tuning" of the spatial frequency of particles within an organized particle train. They found that by simply adding short regions of expanded channel width, the particles could be induced to self-assemble into different structures in a controllable and potentially programmable way.            "Programmable control of flowing microscale particles may be important in opening up new capabilities in biomedicine, materials synthesis and computation, similar to how improved control of flowing electrons has enabled a revolution in computing and communication," Di Carlo said.           For example, controlling the positions of microscale bioparticles, such as cells in flowing channels, is important for the operation of blood analysis and counting diagnostic systems. In addition, improving the uniformity of cell concentrations entering the microscale volume of a print head can enable burgeoning fields such as "tissue printing," in which single cells in a polymer ink are sequentially positioned to form a functional tissue architecture, such as the cylindrical lumen of a blood vessel.           More complete control of lattices of particles may also allow tunable manufacturing of optical or acoustic metamaterials that interact uniquely with light and sound waves based on the arrangement of the embedded particles, the researchers said.  

By Matthew Chin and Wileen Wong Kromhout

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorder was effective at reducing joint and muscle pain associated with a breast cancer treatment, according to a study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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Research published today identifies two genetic variants that increase the risk of developing endometriosis, a common gynaecological disease. The study provides clues to the origin of this often very painful condition, which has a significant impact on the quality of life of sufferers.

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New treatments blocking vimentin disruption may slow osteoarthritis, reduce hip and knee replacement surgeries.

December 10, 2010 - (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) —  Research conducted by UC Davis Health System and the Shiley Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education at Scripps Clinic shows how the protein filament vimentin provides healthy cartilage with the mechanical strength and flexibility necessary to resist stress. Published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, the study is the first detailed look at the role of vimentin in cartilage in both healthy and osteoarthritic joints.

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A team of scientists led by Melissa Rolls, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, has peered inside neurons to discover an unexpected process that is required for regeneration after severe neuron injury. The process was discovered during Rolls's studies aimed at deciphering the inner workings of dendrites -- the part of the neuron that receives information from other cells and from the outside world. The research will be published in the print edition of the scientific journal Current Biology on Dec. 21.

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The fungal pathogen has only those genes left that are necessary for its parasitical existence.

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Penn Study: Slowly Progressive Weight-Training Program Reduces Chances of Increased Arm Swelling By As Much as 70 Percent.

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Zen meditation has many health benefits, including a reduced sensitivity to pain. According to new research from the Universite de Montreal, meditators do feel pain but they simply don't dwell on it as much. These findings, published in the month's issue of Pain, may have implications for chronic pain sufferers, such as those with arthritis, back pain or cancer.

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Scientists Warn that Many Low-Lying Ones Vital for Dryland Communities May Disappear Over Coming Decades 

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Benefit unrelated to dose, gender or smoking – but increases with age.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has contributed to a study showing that a low dose of aspirin reduces the occurrence of several common cancers. The study is published in today’s Lancet.

The work was started and carried out by Professor Peter Rothwell in Oxford, and is based on an overview of several randomised trials of aspirin. These have been primarily concerned with reducing heart attacks, but have also gathered information on deaths from cancer.

The trial contributing most information to the overview has been the Thrombosis Prevention Trial (funded jointly by the Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation) which was carried out by Tom Meade when he was with the Medical Research Council. Professor Meade is now Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology in LSHTM’s Department of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology.

As well as confirming that low dose aspirin reduces large bowel cancer cases reported in another recent study also led by Professor Rothwell and to which Professor Meade contributed, it also reduces total deaths due to cancer because it affects several common individual cancers, such as those of the oesophagus (gullet), lung, stomach, pancreas and possibly the brain. Reductions in deaths are around 20-30%.

Benefit is unrelated to aspirin dose from 75 mg upwards, gender or smoking habit but increases with age. Aspirin may need to be taken for at least five years before it confers benefit, probably longer for some cancers, but benefit is generally greater the longer aspirin has been taken.

Hitherto, advice about aspirin has been mainly concerned with reducing heart attacks and strokes in those who have already had them. Caution should be exercised by those who are so far free of these conditions because, unless a person’s risk of them is very high, the benefit may be outweighed by the risk of serious bleeding.

Professor Meade says: "These are very exciting and potentially important findings. They are likely to alter clinical and public health advice about low dose aspirin because the balance between benefit and bleeding has probably been altered towards using it", although Professor Meade adds that this does not mean everyone should automatically take aspirin. Health professionals and others will now have to consider the practical implications.

Contact: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Press Office, Tel: +44 (0) 207 927 2073, Email lindsay. wright@lshtm. ac. uk

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New data presented at American Society of Hematology annual meeting highlight promising treatments that may help patients with bleeding disorders to better manage their condition than today.

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    Fewer patients taking Tasigna for Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase progressed to advanced stages of the disease 24-month analysis confirms Tasigna induces deeper and more durable cytogenetic and molecular responses Tasigna now approved in the US and Switzerland for this indication; regulatory submissions under review in EU, Japan and other countries worldwide

Basel, December 6, 2010 - Novartis announced today 24-month data showing that Tasigna® (nilotinib) continues to surpass Glivec® (imatinib)* in the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+ CML) in chronic phase[1]. These new data, from the first Phase III comparison of the two oral therapies as initial treatment for this blood cancer, were presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in Orlando, Florida.

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Glycine reuptake inhibitor RG1678 with novel mode of action first compound to show meaningful impact on negative symptoms of disease.

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Damage caused by multiple sclerosis could be reversed by activating stem cells that can repair injury in the central nervous system, a study has shown.

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    Regimen including Zometa significantly improved both progression-free survival and overall survival when compared to regimen including oral clodronate Zometa provided significant clinical anticancer benefit independent of and in addition to significant reduction in skeletal-related events, compared to clodronate Initially presented at ASCO, these data add to the growing body of clinical evidence suggesting potential anticancer activity of Zometa in multiple cancer types

Basel, December 4, 2010  - A newly published study in the Lancet suggested that a first-line treatment regimen including Zometa® (zoledronic acid) significantly improved overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients compared with a regimen that included oral clodronate. The impact on survival was independent of the effect of Zometa on bone complications (also known as skeletal-related events or SREs)[1],[2].

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A gene that can cause congenital heart defects has been identified by a team of scientists, including a group from Princeton University. The discovery could lead to new treatments for those affected by the conditions brought on by the birth defect. 

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The guidelines show how people with HIV can be protected from TB with regular, low-cost preventive medication

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Unseasonal warm temperatures caused by El Nino have a profound effect on the fish populations of coral reefs in the South Pacific, scientists have found.  An international team of biologists studied the arrival of young fish to the atoll of Rangiroa in French Polynesia for four years and compared their results with satellite and oceanographic data.  They found that the El Nino event caused a sudden collapse in the plankton community and this led to a near absence of the young fish that are required to replenish adult stocks.

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    24-month update on Phase III data comparing Tasigna® to Glivec® in patients with newly diagnosed Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase
    Afinitor® plus hormonal therapy studied in patients with ER+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer with prior exposure to aromatase inhibitors
    Zometa® studies continue to explore anticancer effect in multiple myeloma and breast cancer
    Pipeline advances with presentations on multiple investigational compounds, including pivotal results for LBH589 in relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma

Basel, December 1, 2010 - With more than 170 presentations focused on its marketed and pipeline compounds at key oncology medical congresses in December, Novartis continues to demonstrate progress of its innovative research and development efforts, collaboration with the scientific community and commitment to patients with cancer and rare diseases[1],[2].

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A protein identified in a University of Central Florida lab has the power to suppress inflammation, a discovery that could help get to the root causes of disorders from arthritis to heart diseases.

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Links between early paracetamol use and the development of allergies and asthma in five and six year old children have been confirmed by health researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington.

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BUFFALO, N. Y. -- Isoflavones, chemicals found in soy products and in small amounts in other plant-based foods, may be associated with a reduced risk of developing certain types of breast tumors, a new study by researchers at the University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute has found.

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