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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
New brain scanning technology announced

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Friday, June 20, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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         New brain scanning technology announced

MELBOURNE, -- Australian scientists say they're developing
the technology to create individualized brain maps that 
will revolutionize disease diagnosis and brain surgery. The 
researchers from the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne 
said neurosurgeons currently must rely on coarse maps of 
the brain's structure that don't allow for differences be-
ween people's brains. They said their new brain mapping 
technology -- expected to be available within two or three 
years -- will use acquisition and analysis processes and 
software to provide microscopic level magnetic resonance 
imaging scanning of individual brains. "Microscopic images 
inside the living brain will transform diagnosis and treat-
ment of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's 
disease, Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease," said
University of Melbourne Associate Professor Gary Egan, the 
study's leader. "This technology will allow us to look at 
cortical gray matter and underlying white matter at a level
previously only seen before in post-mortem brains." The 
scientists, with collaborators from the Neuroscience 
Research Institute in South Korea, presented their research 
this week in Melbourne during the annual meeting of the 
Organization for Human Brain Mapping.

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        New stem cell tracking technology created

STANFORD, Calif., -- U.S. medical researchers say a new 
stem cell tracking technology might lead to major advances 
in the use of stem cell therapies to treat cancer. The Stan-
ford University researchers are using non-invasive molecular
imaging technology to track the location and activity of 
mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, in the tumors of living 
organisms. "Stem cell cancer therapies are still in the 
early stages of development, but they offer great promise in
delivering personalized medicine that will fight disease at 
the cellular level," said Hui Wang, a postdoctoral fellow at
Stanford and lead researcher of the study. "Our results ind-
icate that molecular imaging can play a critical role in 
understanding and improving the process of how stem cells 
migrate to cancer cells. Eventually, this technique could 
also be used to determine if gene-modified stem cells are 
effective in fighting cancer." MSCs are adult stem cells 
that have the ability to transform into many different 
types of cells, the researchers said, noting a few stem 
cell therapies are already being used to fight some types 
of cancer. Wang and her team detailed the research in New 
Orleans this week during the annual meeting of the Society
of Nuclear Medicine.


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         Gene mutation ups leukemia drug's effect

COLUMBUS, Ohio, -- U.S. scientists have discovered genetic 
mutations that make cells cancerous can sometimes make them
more sensitive to chemotherapy. Specifically, an Ohio State 
University study shows a mutation in some cases of acute 
leukemia makes the disease more susceptible to high doses of
a particular anticancer drug. The researchers, led by Dr. 
Clara Bloomfield, said their finding could change the manner
by which physicians manage such patients. The retrospective 
study shows people with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, 
whose leukemic cells have mutations in the RAS gene are more
likely to be cured when treated after remission with high 
doses of the drug cytarabine. It also suggests testing for 
RAS mutations might help identify which AML patients should 
receive the high-dose post-remission therapy. "This appears 
to be the first example in AML of a mutation in an oncogene 
that favorably modifies a patient's response to the dose of 
a routinely used chemotherapeutic drug," Bloomfield said. 
"If confirmed, AML patients in the future will likely be 
screened for RAS mutations, and those who have one may get 
high-dose cytarabine for post-remission therapy rather than 
a stem-cell transplant." The research is published online 
in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.   
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        Molecular pathway may hike lung stem cells

PHILADELPHIA, -- A U.S. study shows the activation of a mol-
ecular pathway important in stem cell and developmental bio-
logy leads to an increase in lung stem cells. University of 
Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers said understand-
ing that action could help develop therapies for lung-tissue
repair after injury or disease. "The current findings show 
increased activity of the Wnt pathway leads to expansion of 
a type of lung stem cell called bronchioalveolar stem 
cells," said Associate Professor Edward Morrisey. "This 
information will give us a more extensive basic understand-
ing of Wnt signaling in adult tissue repair in the lung and 
other tissues and also start to help us determine whether 
pharmacological activation or inhibition of this pathway can
be utilized for treatments." The findings appeared online 
last week in advance of print publication in the journal 
Nature Genetics.

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