Oxygen Key Switch in Transforming Adult Stem Cells From Fat Into Cartilage

In their ongoing research on turning adult stem cells isolated from fat into cartilage, researchers have demonstrated that the level of oxygen present during the transformation process is a key switch in stimulating the stem cells to change. Using a biochemical cocktail of steroids and growth factors, the researchers have “retrained” specific adult stem cells that would normally form the structure of fat into another type of cell known as a chondrocyte, or cartilage cell. During this process, if the cells were grown in the presence of “room air,” which is about 20 percent oxygen, the stem cells tended to proliferate; however, if the level of oxygen was reduced to 5 percent, the stem cells transformed into chondrocytes.

Removing Portion of Spleen Effective in Treating Inherited Childhood Anemias

Researchers have shown that removing a portion, instead of all, of the spleen, can successfully treat children with a variety of congenital anemias while preserving important splenic immune function. In the largest study of its kind in the U.S., the researchers performed the surgery, known as a partial splenectomy, on 25 children with congenital forms of anemia caused by abnormal red blood cells. Typically, these children suffer from fatigue, jaundice and extreme vulnerability to infections that can require repeated hospital or physician visits. Many also need repeated blood transfusions.

Sleep apnea treatment also effective for gastroesophageal reflux

Doctors have found that a positive-pressure method commonly used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also alleviates symptoms of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nGER) in many patients suffering from both disorders. The results of their study are published in the Jan. 13, 2002, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers believe that the treatment, called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) likely alleviates nGER by preventing acid from regurgitating from the stomach.

Gulf War chemicals can damage testes, study shows

A combination of chemicals given to protect Gulf War soldiers against deadly diseases and nerve gas may have inadvertently damaged their testes and sperm production, according to animal experiments at Duke University Medical Center. The new study could explain why some veterans have experienced infertility, sexual dysfunction, and other genitourinary symptoms, said Mohamed Abou Donia, Ph.D., a Duke pharmacologist.

Drug Combo Opens Clogged Arteries Faster, Keeps Them Open Longer

By taking continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) readings for 24 hours after treating heart attack patients, researches have shown that giving a combination of a new drug that prevents platelets from clumping together, as well as a clot-busting drug, opens up clogged arteries faster and keeps them open longer.

By Repairing Vessels, Marrow Cells Slow Atherosclerosis in Mice

Researchers have shown that an age-related loss of specific stem cells that continually repair damage to blood vessels is critical to determining the onset and progression of atherosclerosis. Stem cells are immature cells that have the potential to mature into a variety of different cells. This novel view of the disease, based on experiments in mice, constitutes a potential new avenue in the treatment of one of the leading causes of death and illness in the U.S., the researchers said.

Study Shows Pre-Menopausal Females Protected From Heart Injury

Despite recent reports that hormone therapy does not offer protection for post-menopausal females against heart disease and heart attack, researchers from Duke University Medical Center have determined in mouse studies that non-hormone treated pre-menopausal females are, in fact, better protected from cardiac damage following ischemia compared to their male counterparts. The findings suggest that research should continue toward finding better ways to treat post-menopausal women to maintain such cardiac protection, the researchers said.

Flaxseed-Rich Diet Blocks Prostate Cancer Growth, Development in Mice

A diet rich in flaxseed seems to reduce the size, aggressiveness and severity of tumors in mice that have been genetically engineered to develop prostate cancer, according to new research from Duke University Medical Center. And in 3 percent of the mice, the flaxseed diet kept them from getting the disease at all. “The amount of flaxseed given to each mouse was 5 percent of its total food intake, which would be a very difficult amount for humans to eat,” said a lead researcher. “[B]ut it does signal that we are on the right track and need to continue research in this area.”

Antidepressant Shows Promise in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a common condition, and a costly one. The gastrointestinal disorder accounts for 12 percent of primary care visits and costs our health care system $8 billion annually. Now a pilot study has found that paroxetine, a drug in the most common class of antidepressants, is effective and safe for treating IBS symptoms.

Genetic Variant Protects People Against Malaria

An international team of scientists has discovered a novel genetic trait that protects its carriers against the deadliest forms of malaria, while people without the trait are more likely to succumb to its fatal consequences. This trait — a mutation or “polymorphism” in the NOS2 gene — controls the production of nitric oxide, a small chemical that can kill parasites and prevent malaria disease.

Exercise, even without weight loss, helps cholesterol

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that exercise — without accompanying weight loss — has a positive impact on improving cholesterol levels. Further, they report that it is the amount of activity, and not necessarily any changes in fitness or intensity of exercise, that is important for cholesterol improvement. In the process of their studies, the researchers also demonstrated that the standard lipid panels used by doctors to measure the so-called “bad” LDL and “good” HDL forms of cholesterol do not necessarily provide the most accurate information in determining one’s risk of developing heart disease.

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

From anti-aging to the search for alien life, we promise to never bore.