Study shows promise for smokers trying to quit

The use of the antidepressant, sustained release (SR) bupropion, triples quit rates among women and smokers with a history of depression as compared to placebo, according to a new study just published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research by researchers at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. Historically, women and formerly depressed smokers are at particularly high risk of relapse.

Annual dog vaccines may not be necessary

Once a year, Ronald Schultz checks the antibody levels in his dogs’ blood. Why? He says for proof that most annual vaccines are unnecessary. Schultz, professor and chair of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has been studying the effectiveness of canine vaccines since the 1970s; he’s learned that immunity can last as long as a dog’s lifetime, which suggests that our “best friends” are being over-vaccinated. Based on his findings, a community of canine vaccine experts has developed new veterinary recommendations that could eliminate a dog’s need for annual shots. The guidelines appear in the March/April issue of Trends, the journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Clouds mitigate effects of warming on Arctic

Cloudy weather may dampen the human spirit, but it also may dampen the effects of global warming on the Arctic, according to new study published in the March 14 issue of the journal Science. Data from dozens of meteorological stations show that the surface temperature across Arctic land and water keeps getting warmer. However, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison now show that Arctic clouds and the climate conditions with which the clouds interact produce a cooling effect, possibly offsetting to some degree the effects of global warming in this region.

Diamond film may enable critical new sensors for bioterror fight

In this time of the chronic threat of terrorism and the possibility of war with an adversary who may be armed with biological weapons, high on the wish list of security agencies and battlefield commanders is a quick and easy way to detect the presence of dangerous biological agents. Now, with the help of a novel diamond film developed by chemists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the age of the inexpensive, compact sensor that can continuously scan airports, subways and battlefields for the slightest trace of biological weapons may be at hand. Coupled with modern electronics, the new sensors would not only be able to detect nearby biological agents, but also sound alarms and even call for help.

Tapeworm trick could make drugs more effective

To survive and thrive in a decidedly hostile environment, the lowly tapeworm uses a chemical trick to evade the propulsive nature of its intestinal home. Capitalizing on that tapeworm chemistry, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison believe they may have found a way to slow the transit of drugs through the intestine, making them more effective in their delivery and holding out the promise not only of more effective treatment, but also of lowering dosage and cost, and eliminating wasted medicine.

Method provides new tool for diagnosing heart disease

A quick and painless technique recently developed by Wisconsin researchers could help clinicians identify signs of coronary heart disease (CHD), a condition that claims the lives of 2,000 Americans every day. The technique, called cardiac elastography creates real-time, two-dimensional images of muscle strain as the heart moves blood through its chambers to the rest of the body.

Brain images reveal effects of antidepressants

The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW Medical School recently added important new information to the growing body of knowledge. For the first time, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)–technology that provides a view of the brain as it is working–to see what changes occur over time during antidepressant treatment while patients experience negative and positive emotions.

Study shows preschool can prevent abuse

In one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, a little girl with pigtails and a denim jumper stands in front of a table and fingers the shape of wooden letters as she fits them into a puzzle. In the next room, her mother talks to a parent-resource teacher about taking the GED and how she can help her daughter with homework. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this type of learning environment does more than strengthen skills – it helps cut the rate at which enrolled children will be abused or neglected by their parents or caregivers. The findings, published in the current issue of the journal Child Development, provide new evidence that preschool programs can impact not just school readiness, but long-term family outcomes.

Study examines aging ‘Happy Days’ cohort

They say money can’t buy love, but could it change the structure of your brain? When the going gets tough, do the tough live longer? And if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what can hard apple cider do? For 45 years, the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) has provided policy makers and social science researchers with an unparalleled look at how education, career and family affect adult life. Housed in the Center for Demography of Health and Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this groundbreaking study repeatedly surveys thousands of 1957 graduates from all of Wisconsin’s high schools about their interests and experiences, habits and health.

Newly identified enzyme reduces bitterness in cheese

A Wisconsin scientist is using new technology to tackle an old problem in cheesemaking – and the solution could mean both a bigger market for the state’s dairy producers and reduced costs for cheesemakers. One of the major expenses in cheesemaking is the cost of storing cheeses as they age and develop their distinctive flavors, says Jim Steele, a food scientist with the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Cheddar takes six months to a year to mature, while Parmesan takes a full year. During that time off-flavors and bitterness, the most common Cheddar defects, may develop. “We’ve identified an enzyme that plays a critical role in reducing bitterness in cheese,” says Steele. “If the bacteria in the starter culture produced this enzyme cheesemakers would save money and ensure a more consistent product.”

Cutting calories slows aging of the heart

Keep eating like that and I'll outlive you for sure.To remain young at heart, eat less. That’s the message drawn from new research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where a team of scientists studied middle-aged mice that were put on a calorie-restricted diet. What they found were signs of a remarkable uptick in heart health in old age. “It looks like caloric restriction just retarded the whole aging process in the heart,” said one of the researchers. The new study provides evidence that — even starting in middle age — cutting calories can confer significant health benefits for the heart and extend its working life. It does so, according to the team’s results, by exerting influence on the genetic program that governs heart cells.

Kids with Down syndrome learn language beyond adolescence

Researchers have traditionally thought that language learning in children with Down syndrome stopped during the teenage years. As a result, Down youth typically received no language instruction after puberty. But a new study suggests the opposite: that individuals with Down syndrome can benefit from language intervention programs during adolescence and beyond, precisely because it takes them longer to learn. Down syndrome is a developmental disability resulting from an extra copy of chromosome 21, and it affects about 5,000 newborns in the United States every year. Most children begin learning language skills, such as grammar and speaking, at rapid rates early in their lives. Children with Down syndrome, however, typically experience delays in language development, learning more slowly and at varying rates.