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Easing Heartburn

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, July 3, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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           $4M grant aids healthcare reform study

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., -- Pennsylvania State University has 
received a three-year, $4 million grant to expand its eval-
uation of a health quality reform project. Associate Pro-
fessor Dennis Scanlon will use the Robert Wood Johnson Foun-
dation funding to evaluate that organization's national 
initiative "Aligning Forces for Quality," or AF4Q. The grant
is in addition to last year's original $3.4 million award 
from the foundation. "AF4Q aims to bring together patients, 
healthcare providers and payers to turn proven practices for
improving (healthcare) quality into real results," Penn 
State said in a statement. "Through regional collaboratives,
it aims to lift the overall quality of health, reduce racial
disparities and provide models for national reform." The 
$300 million initiative involves 14 community-based programs
across the United States in which teams help physicians 
improve their quality of care and give consumers information
that helps them manage their health and in making informed 
choices about their healthcare. The community alliances will
also work to improve care inside hospitals, with a special 
focus on nursing and on reducing inequality in care for pat-
ients of different races and ethnicities. Scanlon and his 
colleagues will evaluate the impact of the program in the 14

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          FDA: Food protection plan shows progress

WASHINGTON,  -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration 
says its plan to keep U.S. citizens enjoying one of 
the safest food supplies in the world shows significant 
progress. The FDA said its Food Protection Plan Progress 
Report, released Wednesday, shows significant areas of act-
ivity in its efforts to address domestic and global changes 
in food supply. "The Food Protection Plan is the comprehen-
sive framework the agency needs to enhance the protection 
of our nation's food supply," said FDA Commissioner Andrew
von Eschenbach. "Implementing the strategic approaches out-
lined in the plan is essential if we are to enhance our 
ability to respond and intervene in foodborne outbreaks."
The progress report is available at...
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         An Alzheimer's disease target identified

PHILADELPHIA,-- U.S. scientists say the protein neprilysin 
can reduce plaque formation and neuron death associated with
Alzheimer's disease, but at the expense of lifespan. Thomas 
Jefferson University researchers said the buildup of amyloid-
beta protein plaques within the brain is a hallmark of Alz-
heimer's. Normally, enzymes remove the plaques, and defici-
encies in those enzymes are one potential disease cause. The
scientists said neprilysin, or NEP, a major amyloid degrad-
er, decreases naturally with age and might be the reason the
elderly are more at risk for Alzheimer's. While studies 
using mice suggest enhancing NEP production has potential, 
the possible adverse effects of such therapy were unknown. 
The new research with transgenic fruit flies expressing 
human NEP found a "good news-bad news" scenario. On the pos-
itive side, NEP expression did reduce plaque deposits and 
neuron damage in the flies. On the other hand, NEP also 
reduced the activity of important neural proteins called 
CREB proteins and shortened the flies' average lifespan. The
researchers said their finding illustrates caution is need-
ed when considering Alzheimer's treatments, and that it's 
critical to better understand normal aging when dealing with
Alzheimer's or other age-related conditions. The study 
appears online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Set of 4 Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloths

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Set of 4 Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloths

        Scientist hones cancer therapy strategies

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., -- A U.S. scientist says he's using high-
powered computers to create cancer treatments involving a 
new class of tumor-killing drugs. Florida State University 
Assistant Professor Kevin Chen says he wants to determine 
how substances known as recombinant immunotoxins can best be
modified to attack and kill malignant tumors while doing 
minimal harm to a patient's healthy cells. "Cancer is a 
disease of tremendous complexity, so the analysis and inter-
pretation of data demands sophisticated, specialized compu-
tational methods," Chen said. He said recombinant immunotox-
ins are new drugs consisting of tiny fragments of antibody 
proteins that are fused at the genetic level to toxins pro-
duced by certain types of bacteria, fungi or plants. "Once 
injected into the body, the antibody portion of the immuno-
toxin targets specific proteins called antigens that are 
massively expressed on the surface of cancer cells," Chen 
said. "These cells are subsequently killed by the accom-
panying toxins. Normal, healthy cells, meanwhile, are not 
recognized and thus are spared." The study that included 
FSU researchers Junho Kim and Xinmei Li and molecular bio-
logist Byungkook Lee of the National Cancer Institute in 
Bethesda, Md., appeared in the March issue of the journal 
Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

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Health Tip: Easing Heartburn


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