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Growing Human Skin in Laboratory Can Prematurely Age Cells

Children who receive laboratory-expanded sheets of their own skin to cover severe burns are saved from certain death, but their new skin can have the cellular age of an 80 year old, according to a study at Duke University Medical Center. The process of growing small patches of human skin into larger sheets, called tissue engineering, makes cells divide so many times that the skin becomes prematurely aged at a cellular level.

Antiepileptic Drug Useful for Weight Loss in Obese Adults

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have concluded, in a preliminary study published today, that the drug zonisamide (trade name Zonegran), an anticonvulsant used to treat some types of epileptic seizures, has appetite-reducing effects that could eventually offer hope to thousands of people as an effective therapy for weight loss.

Antiepileptic Drug Useful for Weight Loss in Obese Adults

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have concluded, in a preliminary study published today, that the drug zonisamide (trade name Zonegran), an anticonvulsant used to treat some types of epileptic seizures, has appetite-reducing effects that could eventually offer hope to thousands of people as an effective therapy for weight loss.

Genetic Risk Factor for Parkinson's Disease Discovered

Inherited variations in proteins that produce energy for the body may provide protection from developing Parkinson's disease, according to a new study by scientists at Duke University Medical Center. Furthermore, the inherited gene variations seem particularly to protect white women, which may help explain why Parkinson's disease is seen more often in men.

Chemical Keeps Pancreatic Islet Cells Healthier During Freezing

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have shown that a novel chemical permits greater amount of insulin-producing islet cells to survive freezing intact. Additionally, the researchers reported, these cells appear to be better able to secrete insulin in response to glucose after they are thawed, in contrast to currently available techniques. The discovery could represent an important step forward in making islet cell transplants a viable treatment option for patients with diabetes, they said.

Bypass Surgery Better for Patients Over 70

When compared to angioplasty or treatment with drugs, coronary artery bypass surgery was better at relieving chest pain (angina) and improving functional abilities at one year for elderly patients, according to Duke University Medical Center cardiologists.

Mechanical Support Induces Genetic Changes in Failing Hearts

Using new DNA microarray technology, researchers have found significant changes in the expression pattern of hundreds of genes in heart muscle cells after mechanical pumps are used to take over from failing hearts. This finding represents a first step, they say, in a line of research that could help predict how heart failure patients will respond when supported by a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). These devices are employed when the heart's left ventricle -- the chamber of the heart that pumps blood throughout the body -- is too weak to pump enough blood to nourish the body's tissues. They have been used as successful short-term "bridges to heart transplant" and are increasingly being considered as long-term heart failure destination therapy, also known as "bridge to recovery."

Study Says Not Enough Time for Preventive Care

Primary care physicians do not have the time to offer needed preventive health care to their patients, says a new Duke University Medical Center study. According to the study published in the April 2003 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, providing the recommended preventive maintenance for patients would take an estimated 7.4 hours out of a primary care physician's day, leaving approximately 30 minutes for critical and chronic disease care.

Trial Seeks Molecular Basis of Post-Operative Delirium in Elderly

A new clinical trial hopes to unravel the genetic and molecular basis for delirium, a common complication afflicting elderly patients after major surgery. Delirium, which can prolong the recovery of elderly surgical patients, is a mental state characterized by impaired cognitive function, fluctuating levels of consciousness, disturbed sleep-wake cycles and agitation. Although difficult to measure, the incidence of delirium has been reported to be as high as 60 percent, with the elderly at the highest risk, the researchers said.

Xenon Shows Promise in Protecting Brain During Bypass Surgery

In studies using rats, researchers from Duke University Medical Center and the Imperial College, London, have found evidence that the chemically inert gas xenon can protect the brain from the neurological damage often associated with the use of the heart-lung machine during coronary artery bypass surgery. The researchers say that xenon appears to block receptors on nerve cells in the brain that can be "overstimulated" in response to the surgery. This overstimulation can lead to nerve cell damage or death.

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