Researchers find genes for depression

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have completed the first survey of the entire human genome for genes that affect the susceptibility of individuals to developing clinical depression. George S. Zubenko, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and adjunct professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and his team have located a number of chromosomal regions they say hold the genetic keys to a variety of mental illnesses, including major depression and certain addictions. The survey was done in 81 families identified by individuals with recurrent, early-onset, major depressive disorder (RE-MDD), a severe form of depression that runs in families. The Pitt team’s findings are published today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

Pittsburgh approach has lung transplant patients taking fewer drugs

Surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have instituted a new clinical protocol that has the potential to redefine the standard of care for lung transplant patients. Bucking conventional thought that successful lung transplantation can only be achieved with a three-punch assault on the immune system, the new protocol is a departure from the triple-drug therapy in place at nearly every other transplant center.

Hypothermia helps brain heal after cardiac arrest

Cooling body temperature to levels consistent with hypothermia improves survival when induced after cardiac arrest and also promotes growth factors important for the brain’s recovery, suggests a study performed by researchers in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Preliminary results of their study were reported today at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) in Boston.

Gastric bypass surgery improves diabetes in most patients

According to a new study, 97 percent of patients who underwent laparoscopic Roux-en Y gastric bypass surgery for obesity had resolution or improvement of their type 2 diabetes mellitus. The study examined 1,150 patients over a five-year period following their LGBP surgeries. Of those patients in the study, 240 (21 percent) had type 2 diabetes mellitus and 192 of the 240 patients (80 percent) were available for follow-up.

Bone loss possible after stomach reduction surgery

Women and men who have stomach reduction surgery to lose weight may be losing bone even when they take daily calcium supplements, putting them at risk for osteoporosis and bone fracture. These findings from a University of Pittsburgh study were presented Sunday in San Diego at the American Society of Nutritional Sciences program, part of the Experimental Biology 2003 meeting.

Possible colorectal cancer gene identified

Researchers have found that a recently discovered gene plays an essential role in mediating apoptosis, or cell death, in colorectal cancer cells. The gene, PUMA, or p53 up-regulated modulator of apoptosis, is controlled by p53 ? a tumor-suppressing gene that prevents normal cells from turning into life-threatening tumor cells. Previous research has determined that damage to p53 is fundamental to the development of a vast majority of cancers, and inactivation of the growth-controlling function of p53 is critical to the growth and spread of most cancers.

Normal weight elderly still may be at risk for developing diabetes

Elderly men and women with normal body weight still may be at risk for developing type 2 diabetes if they have large amounts of muscle fat or visceral abdominal fat, according to a University of Pittsburgh study published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care. “Our study found that, even though an elderly person may not be overweight, he or she might still be at risk for developing diabetes,” said Bret H. Goodpaster, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh division of endocrinology and metabolism and principal investigator of the study. “An important factor is where in the body their excess fat is stored.”