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.”

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.

Cholestrol Drug Could Lead to New Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

While cautioning that their findings still must be evaluated in humans, University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University Medical Center researchers report that the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor) significantly improved, prevented relapses or reversed paralysis in mice with an experimental disease that closely resembles multiple sclerosis. The study, reported in the November 7 issue of Nature, was conducted in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the standard animal model for multiple sclerosis.

Math rivals ultrasound for predicting birth weight

Many low birth-weight babies face serious health problems, but there are also risks of injury during delivery for large infants — and their moms. A new study confirms that a mathematical equation using standard health data obtained from every woman during pregnancy can predict birth weight within eight percent of actual birth weight, which is just as accurate as ultrasound.

Another job discovered for a master metabolic off-switch

Researchers have discovered that an important cellular “off-switch” that desensitizes receptors on the cell surface also regulates a second deactivation mechanism that had not been suspected before. Their finding that the off-switch, known as beta-arrestin, operates in two distinct ways may hint at a broader set of regulatory roles for the molecule.

Mild Injury May Render Brain Cells Vulnerable to Immune Attack

A seemingly mild “insult” to the brain could sensitize neurons to attack by immune system proteins that are otherwise protective, researchers have found. The finding could explain why sufferers of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases significantly worsen following such insults. The scientists believe that drugs to selectively inhibit the immune proteins could reduce the rate of neural damage in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. Such drugs could also protect other organs against damage from autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks body tissues.

Researchers Discover ‘Doorways’ Into Brain Cells

Come on in, we saved a place for youBrain cell membranes have established “doorways” that accept or reject molecules trying to pass into the cell, researchers have founbd. The discovery fundamentally changes how researchers think about the behavior of neurons. It had been long believed that surface molecules such as receptors are enveloped right where they rest in the fatty membrane, to be drawn into the cell’s interior.

Researchers to test smallpox vaccine

Researchers in Northern California are conducting a clinical trial that will test whether diluted doses of the smallpox vaccine produce adequate immunity in adults who have previously been vaccinated. The results of the federally funded study, for which volunteers are now being sought, will help shape U.S. policy on how the vaccine would be given in the event of a smallpox outbreak.

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