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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Gold nanorods are used to fight tumors

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, October 18, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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      Chemists turn killer gas into medical cure

SHEFFIELD, England, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- British scientists have developed a technology that uses small amounts of carbon monoxide to help people undergoing heart surgery or organ transplants.
Despite its deadly reputation, carbon monoxide can boost the health of such patients, as well as people suffering from high blood pressure, by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow.
The problem has been in how to safely deliver the correct amount of CO into the body.
University of Sheffield researchers have developed water-soluble molecules that, when swallowed or injected, safely release small amounts of CO inside the body.
"The molecules dissolve in water, so they can be made available in an easy-to-ingest, liquid form that quickly passes into the bloodstream," said Professor Brian Mann, who led the research. "As well as making it simple to control how much CO is introduced into a patient's body, it will be possible to refine the design of the molecules so that they target a particular place while leaving the rest of the body unaffected."

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        Genetic defect studied in mice and humans

BOSTON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have identified a molecular pathway necessary for normal development of reproductive, olfactory and circadian systems in humans and mice.
Massachusetts General Hospital researchers, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of California-Irvine, determined defects in a gene called PROK2 in human siblings with two different forms of infertility. The University of California-Irvine team previously found mice lacking PROK2 had abnormal olfactory structures and disrupted circadian rhythm.
"We have demonstrated that PROK2 signaling is a novel pathway that is critical to the development of neurons that control the reproductive system -- findings that should enable better understanding of human reproduction," said lead study author Dr. Nelly Pitteloud.
    NSAIDs use underreported potentially dangerous 

NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. study suggested people underreport their use of common but potentially dangerous over-the-counter pain medications known as NSAIDs.
Serious gastrointestinal complications such as bleeding, ulceration and perforation can occur in people who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, researchers said. With millions taking NSAID pain medications daily, it's estimated more than 100,000 U.S. citizens are hospitalized each year with ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding linked with NSAID use.
Dr. David Johnson and colleagues at Eastern Virginia Medical School surveyed patients at a private GI practice. Nearly 1-in-5 study participants noted use of a NSAID that hadn't been reported verbally to nursing staff, including 8 percent who reported daily use.
The researchers found 22 percent didn't believe the medications were important enough to report, while 30 percent didn't mention use of the drugs because they weren't prescribed by a physician.
"This reflects a common misperception that these medications are insignificant or benign, when actually their chronic use -- particularly among the elderly and those with conditions such as arthritis -- is linked to serious and potentially fatal GI injury and bleeding," said Johnson.

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        Gastrointestinal ills keep people off work

ROCHESTER, Minn., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. study finds people with functional gastrointestinal disorders suffer work productivity losses that amount to at least one day a week.
Functional gastrointestinal disorders include irritable bowel syndrome; gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD and functional dyspepsia. The maladies are associated with impaired quality of life and are among the most common causes of work-related absenteeism.
The new study by researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Novartis Pharmaceuticals suggests such disorders also contribute to the problem of "presenteeism" -- going to work, but being less productive.
The study found patients suffering gastrointestinal illnesses report greater work productivity loss and daily impairment over a six-month period than patients with just GERD. The mean hours lost per week for GERD patients were 6.3 compared with 10.3 hours per week for those with the other functional GI disorders.
GERD patients also scored lower on a scale measuring impairment/productivity loss resulting from GI disorders than those patients with chronic functional GI problems, reflecting a greater burden of illness for conditions such as IBS with constipation, chronic constipation and chronic abdominal problems.

         DNA abnormality can cause breast cancer

CHICAGO, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A Japanese-U.S. study suggested that a mechanism that repairs damaged DNA might malfunction and result in breast cancer.
Although defects in the "breast cancer gene" BRCA1 have been known for years to increase the risk of breast cancer, exactly how it leads to tumor growth hasn't been determined.
In the new research, medical scientists from the University of Chicago and Kyoto University provide insight into how the normal BRCA1 gene suppresses the growth of tumors, as well as the nature of the genetic instability that leads to cancer when BRCA1 is defective.
"If you take a normal, healthy cell and get rid of BRCA1, you end up with an unhealthy, slow-growing cell," said Associate Professor Douglas Bishop of the University of Chicago, principal investigator of the study. "That's a bit of a paradox, because loss of BRCA1 also causes tumors and tumor formation is not normally associated with poor cell growth."
BRCA1 itself promotes DNA repair through recombination and the conventional view is that loss of BRCA1 causes tumors because DNA repair fails. The new work from Bishop and colleagues challenges that view.

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       Gold nanorods are used to fight tumors

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have used nanotechnology and lasers to successfully fight malignant tumors.
Purdue University researchers have shown how tiny gold nanorods can be triggered by a laser beam to blast holes in the membranes of tumor cells, leading to the cell's self-destruction.
The researchers attached folate -- which many tumor cells crave -- to the gold nanorods, enabling them to target tumor receptors and attach to the cell membranes.
"The cells are then illuminated with light in the near-infrared range," said Assistant Professor Ji-Xin Cheng. "This light can easily pass through tissue but is absorbed by the nanorods and converted rapidly into heat, leading to miniature explosions on the cell surface."
Scientists know nanostructures can be used to target and destroy tumor cells but it was generally assumed cell death was due to the heat produced by the light-absorbing nanoparticles. The Purdue team discovered, however, that a more complex biochemical scenario is responsible for killing the cells.


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