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.

Technique Could Spare Half of Women From Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

Oncologists are testing a new technique called gene expression profiling that subtypes each breast cancer tumor by its genetic defects so that doctors can tailor their treatment to inhibit that particular tumor. The researchers believe the technique could spare millions of women from needlessly receiving toxic chemotherapy, and they are leading a national clinical trial to study gene profiling. “Currently, we have no predictive model to determine who will respond to hormonal therapies and who won’t, so we prescribe chemotherapy as a backup measure to ensure the cancer’s demise,” said Matthew Ellis, M.D., Ph.D., director of the breast cancer program at Duke. “This one-treatment-fits-all approach leads to a huge amount of over treatment, with up to 50 percent of women unnecessarily receiving chemotherapy.”

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.