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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Officials question child cold remedies

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, January 31, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   

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              DNA mutation causes are studied

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., -- U.S. scientists have conducted the 
first genome-wide study comparing the relative importance of
factors that contribute to DNA mutations. The Pennsylvania 
State University research team led by Assistant Professor 
Kateryna Makova compared factors thought to increase suscep-
tibility to mutations of microsatellites -- variable-length 
sequences of recurring DNA subunits. Such mutations are imp-
licated in cancer and more than 40 neurological disorders.
"Our statistical analysis may be useful in predicting which 
disease-causing microsatellites are likely to have high 
rates of de novo mutations," said Makova. De novo mutations 
are those that occur for the first time in a family. The 
scientists found mutability increases with repeat number and
microsatellite length -- a finding that had been expected, 
Makova said. However, team members said they were surprised 
by how strong that relationship was. "Depending on the 
number of repeats, the mutability of microsatellites with 
the same repeat length varied more than 100 fold," Makova 

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          Breast size linked to diabetes, study says

TORONTO, -- A Canadian health study suggested a link between
a woman's breast size by age 20 and the development of type 
2 diabetes as she matures. A study appearing in the Canadian
Medical Association Journal said an analysis beginning in 
1989 found that 1,844 of 92,000 women participating in a 
breast-cancer research program developed adult-onset dia-
betes. The study suggested breast size was an independent 
factor in diabetics when adjusted for body mass index, the 
CTV television network said Tuesday. Researchers said adi-
pose tissue in woman's breast is hormonally sensitive and 
likely to influence insulin resistance, leading to diabetes.
The leading scientists in the report cautioned the research 
is preliminary and further analysis may determine if breast 
reductions decrease the risk of diabetes.
          Pancreatic progenitor cells found in mice

BRUSSELS, -- Belgian scientists, in an animal model, have 
identified a pancreatic progenitor cell with the capacity 
to generate new insulin-producing beta cells. If the finding
by researchers at Vrije University Brussels in mice holds 
for humans, the newly found progenitor cells might represent
a target for therapeutic regeneration of beta cells in dia-
betes. In people with type 1 diabetes, blood sugar rises due
to a loss of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. 
Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for 
energy. "One of the most interesting characteristics of 
these (adult) progenitor cells is that they are almost indi-
stinguishable from embryonic progenitor cells," said Harry 
Heimberg at the university's Juvenile Diabetes Research 
Foundation Center. Patricia Kilian, regeneration program 
director at the center, said the study provides novel in-
sights that might provide therapeutic potential to regen-
erate beta cells in type 1 diabetes. "The most important 
challenge now is to extrapolate our findings to patients 
with diabetes," Heimberg said.

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           Officials question child cold remedies

ATLANTA,-- A U.S. government report said a high number of 
emergency room visits by children under 5 years old are 
linked to the ingestion of cough and cold medicine. The 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its first 
estimate on the health effects of common cold and cough med-
icines suggested children sent to emergency rooms for prob-
lems associated with the medicines took the remedies on 
their own, The Washington Post said Tuesday. Opponents of 
the report said the issue suggests parental monitoring plays
a role in the accidental ingestions but supporters said the 
report showed "it's time to pull the plug on the marketing 
of these products." The CDC reported at least 1,500 children
2 years and younger had complications from the medication 
and the Food and Drug Administration said the ingestions 
resulted in at least 123 deaths in 2003-04. The FDA offici-
ally advised against using cough and cold medicines in 
children younger than 2 and the pharmaceutical industry 
voluntarily took medicines targeted from those children off 
the shelves in 2007. The report comes as FDA officials 
examine further restrictions on the products as the health 
agency said evidence suggests cough and cold medicines are 
ineffective on children younger than 6 years old.
         Potential new asthma treatment proposed

NEW YORK, -- U.S. scientists have found an enzyme released 
by mast cells in the lungs appears to play a key role in 
airway constrictions associated with asthma. Weill Cornell 
Medical College medical researchers discovered that during 
an immune response, mast cells release the enzyme -- called
renin -- that produces angiotensin, a potent constrictor of 
the smooth muscle that lines airways. Weill Cornell scien-
tists, in 2005, discovered mast cells in the heart released 
renin locally, triggering angiotensin production. "Now, 
we've expanded those findings to the lungs, where similar 
mechanisms appear to work locally to help trigger constric-
tion in the airway," said study co-author Professor Roberto 
Levi. Levi's co-author, Associate Professor Randi Silver, 
added: "In the heart and now the lungs, this localized pro-
duction of renin appears to have a profound effect on nearby
tissues, More study is needed, of course, but our finding 
suggests that drugs that target renin might prove effective 
agents in dampening asthma or other respiratory diseases."


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        Stem cells useful in animal stroke models

POCHON, South Korea, -- South Korean and Canadian studies 
suggested stroke victims might benefit from transplantation 
of human mesenchymal or bone marrow stem cells. In the South
Korean study, researchers transplanted human mesenchymal 
stem cells, or hMSCs, into animal stroke models with cere-
bral artery occlusion. The animals were monitored by magnet-
ic resonance imaging at two days, one week, two weeks, six 
weeks and 10 weeks after transplant. "Cells started showing 
indications of migration as early as one or two weeks foll-
owing transplantation," said lead author Jihwan Song of the 
Pochon CHA University College of Medicine. "At 10 weeks, the
majority of the cells were detected in the core of the 
infarcted area. "We speculate that the extensive migratory 
nature of stem cells and their utilization will provide an 
important tool for developing novel stroke therapies," Song 
said. In the joint Canadian-Chinese study, bone marrow stro-
mal cells, or BMSCs, were injected into animals 24 hours 
following stroke. Researchers found that within seven days 
the animals exhibited significant reductions in scar size 
and cell death and improvements in neurological function 
when compared to controls receiving no BMSCs.

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