Use of common anti-inflammatory drug fails to slow progression of Alzheimer’s

Hopes that naproxen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), or rofecoxib, a COX-2 inhibitor, could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been dashed as researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center report in the June 4 Journal of the American Medical Association that neither drug slows the cognitive deterioration that is the hallmark of AD. In addition, more adverse effects were reported in patients taking either drug as compared to the placebo group.

Researchers identify best hours for shut-eye when sleep must be limited

People getting a minimal amount of sleep do better if they go to bed early in the morning rather than late at night, suggests Stanford University Medical Center research. A recently published pilot study on the effects of sleep deprivation also found that individual tolerance of sleep restriction varies widely, yet study participants had a better overall adaptation to early morning sleep.

Newer Epilepsy Drug Has Worse Side Effects Than Older Drug

Two commonly prescribed epilepsy drugs have varied cognitive side effects on patients, report doctors from Georgetown University Medical Center. Their findings are published in the May 13 issue of the journal Neurology. In a double-blind, randomized study, researchers looked at 2 drugs, valproate–released in 1978 for the treatment of epileptic seizures, and topiramate, approved by the FDA in late 1996. Each drug was added to carbamazepine, a standard epilepsy treatment, and then given to patients with epilepsy. The cognitive effects on those patients taking topiramate were slightly, although noticeably, worse than those taking the older valproate for a subset of patients.

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.

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.

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.

Researchers identify a gene responsible for spread of cancer in the body

Researchers have identified a gene that promotes metastases, the spread of cancer cells through the body. This new understanding of how cancer metastasizes, linking a gene product and migration of cancer cells, may lead to therapies to stop this spread. The results of the study are published in the May 2003 issue of the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell. Richard G. Pestell, M.D., Ph.D. and his research team have been studying the cyclin D1 gene and the protein it produces for the past decade. Now they have found that by “knocking out” this gene, the migration of cells can be halted. The migration of cancer cells through the body is a major reason why cancer is deadly.

Study finds addictive drugs all tweak same neurons in brain

Drug addicts may prefer some drugs over others, but their brains all have something in common. Whether it’s uppers or downers, addictive drugs tweak the same addiction-related neurons, causing them to become more sensitive, say researchers at Stanford University Medical Center. “What we have identified is a single change caused by drugs of abuse with different molecular mechanisms,” said researcher Robert Malenka.