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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Seniors Helped By Blood Pressure Reduction

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, August 9, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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             New glaucoma treatment studied

AMES, Iowa, -- U.S. scientists have developed a technique to
treat glaucoma -- the second leading cause of blindness in 
the developed world. The Iowa State University researchers 
said the procedure has been used successfully in rats and 
now will be used on canine patients. If successful, it will 
then begin human trials. Assistant Professor Sinisa Grozdan-
ic, Associate Professor Donald Sakaguchi, doctoral student 
Matt Harper and colleagues determined animals with glaucoma 
increase production of proteins with neuron-protective capa-
bilities in an attempt to shield against blindness. So they 
imitated that process in the laboratory, modifying bone 
marrow-derived stem cells and transplanting them into lab 
rats eyes. A computerized analysis showed dramatic improve-
ment in the rats visual functions after the procedure. "One 
of the really unique aspects of this approach is that we can
isolate these stem cells from the same individual being tre-
ated," Sakaguchi said. "It eliminates the ethical issues 
associated with embryonic stem cells, and the immunological 
problems of graft rejection." The team presented the study 
during a recent meeting of the Association for Research in 
Vision and Ophthalmology.
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         Personalized medical 'tool kit' proposed

MOLNDAL, Sweden, -- A Swedish-led team of scientists is dev-
eloping a "tool kit" for personalized medicine based on a 
person's genetic characteristics. Fredrik Nyberg, Gyorgy 
Marko-Varga, Atsushi Ogiwara and colleagues at AstraZeneca's
research and development center in Molndal, Sweden, note 
cancer therapy already is moving toward individualized tr-
eatments selected according to tumor cell type and patients'
predicted responses to different kinds of anti-cancer drugs.
The researchers have developed a system of state-of-the-art 
proteomic profiling, in which blood tests are used to ana-
lyze single proteins and multiple "fingerprint" protein 
patterns, including proteins that can serve as biomarkers 
for disease. The aim is to create a "tool kit" that phys-
icians could use in everyday medicine, including rapid meth-
ods for identifying proteins in the blood and processing the
resulting data. The project is presented in the current 
issue of the Journal of Proteome Research.
            Gene defects cause lung tumors

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., -- A U.S. study has identified a tumor 
suppressor gene known as LKB1 that is mutated in nearly a 
quarter of all human lung cancers. Although cancer causing 
mutations occur in our bodies every day, humans have specif-
ic genes that recognize such malignant events and keep cells
from growing out of control, researchers said. But only a 
few such tumor suppressors are currently known. Now scient-
ists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School have found 
mutations of LKB1 in mice result in tumors that are more 
aggressive and more likely to spread throughout the body.
"Defects in this gene appear to result in a much nastier 
form of lung cancer, a disease that is bad to begin with," 
said Dr. Norman Sharpless, an assistant professor of medic-
ine and senior author of the study. The finding is expected 
to help physicians better assign a prognosis to their pat-
ients, as well as giving them a new target for future ther-
apies, Sharpless said. The study, published online in the 
journal Nature, also presents the first mouse model of the 
most lethal malignancy in man, a form of lung cancer called 
squamous cell carcinoma.

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           Scientists identify source of fevers

BOSTON, -- U.S. medical scientists have discovered the sour-
ce of fevers and how they help protect the body during ill-
ness."Our laboratory identified the key site in the brain at
which a hormone called prostaglandin E2, or PGE2, acts on a 
target, called the EP3 receptor, on neurons to cause the fe-
ver response," said Dr. Clifford Saper, professor of neuro-
logy and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and chairman 
of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's neurology dep-
artment. During an infection or illness, the body produces 
hormones known as cytokines that, in turn, act on blood 
vessels in the brain to produce PGE2, which enters the 
brain's hypothalamus, causing fever, he said. "When body 
temperature is elevated by a few degrees, white blood cells 
can fight infections more effectively," Saper added. "Also, 
individuals tend to become achy and lethargic. Consequently,
they tend to take it easy, thereby conserving their energy 
so that they can better fight the infection. That is why so 
many different types of illness result in more or less the 
same sickness behaviors." The findings appear in the advance
online issue of Nature Neuroscience.
         Seniors helped by blood pressure reduction

LONDON, -- A British-led international study showed signif-
icant mortality and stroke reductions among elderly patients
receiving blood pressure lowering drugs. The 3,845 patient 
study is the largest clinical trial looking at the effects 
of lowering blood pressure solely in people aged 80 and 
older. Preliminary results of the trial, coordinated by sci-
entists from Imperial College London, suggest lowering blood
pressure significantly reduces both stroke and mortality in 
those older than 80 years. Patients with high blood pressure
from around the world were randomized for the double-blind, 
placebo-controlled trial, which began in 2001. "It was not 
clear prior to our study whether the over-80s would benefit 
from blood pressure lowering medication in the same way as 
younger people," said Professor Emeritus Chris Bulpitt, the 
study's principal investigator. "Our results are great news 
for people in this age group because they suggest that where
they have high blood pressure, such treatment can cut their 
chances of dying as well as stroke." The researchers said 
definitive figures will not be available until all the data 
has been collected. Results will then be published in the 
scientific press.


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       New light-initiated drug delivery studied

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, -- Northern Irish scientists, in 
a move toward delivering medication directly to diseased ti-
ssue, have developed a light-controlled dosing system. Colin
McCoy and colleagues at Queen's University Belfast said 
their new molecular-scale dosing system is a "new paradigm 
for price control of drug dosing using light" that minimizes
side effects and damage to healthy parts of the body. The 
technique consists of medications combined with certain 
chemical compounds that respond to light in ways that rel-
ease precisely controlled amounts of the drug. Drug release 
begins when light falls on the compounds, and lasts only as 
long as the light continues to shine. The study reports suc-
cessful laboratory tests of the system in the controlled 
release of three common medications used to treat pain and 
inflammation -- aspirin, ibuprofen and ketoprofen. One pot-
ential use cited in the study would be in the treatment of 
urinary catheter infections. The system might also be app-
lied in other conditions using an implant under the skin 
for precisely controlled drug dosing, the researchers sug-
gest. The study is scheduled to appear in the Aug. 15 issue 
of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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