Posts Tagged ‘research’

Can Gene Inactivation Prevent Aging and Cancer?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

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A new study published in the journal Nature concluded that every body cell contains the complete DNA library and the so called methyl groups regulate the DNA library in tissues so that only the genetic information needed in that tissue is expressed. Now for the first time, researchers verified that a lack of methyl groups in the gene body leads to an incorrect gene activation and, subsequently may lead to the emergence of cancer.

Each body cell contains the entire building plan of the whole organism written in the DNA and comprises single genes that determine the specific attributes of the individual.  Gene expression builds tissue cells with tissue-specific attributes. Thus, genes information is activated that forms cells identified as intestinal cells or lung cells etc. In this regulated process methyl groups play an important role. If they are enzymatically bound to a gene’s starting point, known as the promoter, the respective gene is inactivated and the DNA is methylated. As we age and develop age-related diseases such as cancer the activation of genetic information is increasingly defective. However, until now, the detailed processes of these errors and the role of  DNA methylation  in these processes has been poorly understood.

Researchers have known for some time that DNA methylation at the promoter of a gene functions as an on/off switch. However, it was unknown in epigenetics why DNA within the gene body housing the important genetic information is methylated also which was answered in this research. This research showed that genes also aberrant activated if–beyond promoters–DNA methylation is missing within the gene body. Subsequently aberrant proteins are produced that impinge on the cell structure that result in massive disruption of the function and identity of a cell and cell degradation occurs and cancer may emerge.  Researchers concluded “this new knowledge that a lack of DNA methylation at the gene body  may lead to the production of aberrant proteins, might offer a target for cancer therapy. If we succeed to find a way to traffic methyl groups to non-methylated DNA sequences of cancer cells, we could possibly stop proliferation of these cells.”

Testing Edible Marijuana Driver Impairment

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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Testing edible marijuana for driver impairment is the subject of new research published in AACC’s Clinical Chemistry. Although edible marijuana is becoming increasingly common there is little information on testing drivers following consumption.  This study evaluated the performance of roadside saliva tests  following consumption of edible tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Researchers observed that consumption of marijuana edibles have expanded along with legalized medical and recreational use and about 1/3 of all marijuana is now either eaten or ingested in drinks. Marijuana-associated  traffic accidents and fatalities have also increased in states where they have been legalized increasing in those states from 8.6% in 2007 to 12.6% in 20132014.

In the study researchers gave occasional and frequent marijuana smokers brownies laced with 50.6 mg of THC. Over the next 48 hours the researchers collected saliva and blood samples at several time points. Saliva samples were analyzed using the roadside screening devices , the Draeger Drug Test 5000 (DT5000) and Alere DDS2 (DDS2) that use a cutoff point of 5µg/L and 25µg/L respectively to determine someone who is positive or negative for marijuana use. These tests were then confirmed  using a standard laboratory method for marijuana testing–the liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to analyze both the saliva and blood samples at different .THC cut off points ranging from 0.2µ/L to 25µg/L.

By comparing the roadside and the LC-MS/MS results, researchers determined that confirmation cutoffs for THC of >1 µg/L    and 0.2 µg/L led to the greater number of true positives both through the initial and through confirmation testings. Thus, saliva testing devices can successfully detect THC after ingestion of edible marijuana. Researchers recommended confirming edible marijuana use with saliva tests instead of blood tests due to a lack of correlation between the blood and saliva testing  over time.

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Exercise Not Important in Weight Loss

Friday, February 10th, 2017

 

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Exercise may not be key to controlling weight  according to new research in Peer J.  Young adults from the United States and four other countries were studied by researchers who found that neight physical activity nor sedentary lifestyle were associated with weight gain. Researchers said that although exercis has many health benefits people who are physically active tend to be healthier but although this activity burns calories it also increases appetite, and people may compensate by eating more, or by being less active the rest of the day.

In the study participants in the 5 countries wore tracking devices called accelerometers on their waists for a week to measure their energy expenditure and step count. Researchers also measure their weight, height, and body fat. After the initial exam participants returned one and two years later. Initially only 44 percent of American men and 20 percent of American women met the U.S. Surgeon General physical activity guidelines that recommended at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise such as brisk walking weekly.

Results showed total weight gain was greater among those who met the physical activity guidelines. In America, men who met the guidelines gained a half pound per year, whereas American men who did not meet the guidelines lost 0.6 pounds. Researchers also found no relationship between sedentary lifestyle initially and subsequent weight gain or weight loss. The only significant factors for weight gain were weight at the initial visit, age and gender.

Food/Antibiotics May Cause IBS

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

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A recent review of research published in the American Journal of Physiology–Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, suggested that changes in the microorganisms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may be the cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This condition is common in up to 20 percent of the middle aged people in North America who suffer from abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, or constipation or both. In the past it was thought to be caused by emotional stress, environmental factors, and genetics. Based upon their review of research they found: 1)diet can change the makeup of bacteria in the GI tract that may contribute to symptoms of IBS;  2) antibiotic use, which disturbs microbiota in the gut is associated with IBS; 3) changes in the gut microbiota  influences the ability of the GI tract to contract to move waste through the system; and 4) changes in the gut microbes can impair communication networks between the immune, nervous and endocrine systems, predisposing people to IBS.  They also found that emotional stress may change the shape and function of microrganisms in the GI tract. Authors were optimistic that their findings would help facilitate treatments for IBS.

Are Salmonella Bacteria a Possible New Treatment for Cancer?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

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A new study published in PLOS ONE concluded that Salmonella has a unique characteristic allowing it to penetrate through a cell barrier and replicate inside its host. Scientist have now developed a non-toxic strain of Salmonella to penetrate and target cancer cells that may lead to treatments actively targeting and controlling the spread of cancer. The researchers said “Salmonella strains have a natural preference for infiltrating and replicating within the cancer cells of a tumor, making the bacterial an ideal candidate for bacteriotherapy. …..the use of live bacteria as therapy to treat medical conditions, like cancer.”

Researchers developed  CRC2631, a Salmonella strain that was genetically modified to render the bacteria non-toxic and enhance its natural ability to target and kill cancer cells without harming normal, healthy cells. This Salmonella strain was administered directly into the circulatory system of mice with prostate cancer. Results show that the mice tolerated the treatment well and the prostate tumors decreased by about 20% when compared with a control group,  The success of the study was dependent upon the strain of Salmonella, CRC2631, that was collected and stored in a test tube at room temperature for more than 50 years. It differs from that used by other researchers trying to obtain the same results because it is unique and essential to the study.

Can Depression Influence Lung Cancer Survival?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

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A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on October 3 concluded that worsening symptoms depression are associated with shorter survival for lung cancer patients, especially for those in the early stages of the disease. On the other hand, when symptoms lift, survival tends to improve. Researchers said “This study cannot prove causation–but it lends support to the idea that surveillance for depression symptoms and treatment for depression could provide significant impact on patients outcomes, perhaps even a mortality benefit.” They also said “Suprisingly, depression remission was associated with a mortality benefit as they had the same mortality as never-depressed patients.”

In the study more than 1700 newly diagnosed lung cancer patients between 2003 and 2005 who had completed an eight item depression assessment at diagnoses and 12 months later were followed. they found almost 40 percent or 681 people had depressive symptoms at diagnosis and 14 percent or 105 people developed new-onset symptoms during treatment. Those depressed at the beginning of the study were 17 percent more likely to die during follow up than those with out depressive symptoms. Those (105 patients) with newly-diagnosed depression symptoms were 50 percent more likely to die than those (640 patients) who never developed depression. And another 254 patients whose depression lasted throughout the study period were 42 percent more likely to die. However, those whose depression at diagnoses were free of depression one year later had the same risk of death as those without depression.

Researchers concluded “Clinicians have to do a better job of treating the whole person and not focusing on the disease only.” “From the patients’ perspective, hopefully some of them will take a look at this study and realize the feelings they arew experiencing are common and they will feel empowered to advocate for themselves and ask their clinician for help or resources when they need it.”

New Tool Measures Expense Stress of Cancer patients?

Friday, October 14th, 2016

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A recent article in the journal Cancer reported on a new tool that measures a patient’s risk for, and ability to tolerate , the financial stress associated with cancer treatment.  They previously found that many patients experience uncertainty and stress as a result of the cancer treatment compounded by what is called “financial toxicity”  or the anxiety and distress that follows health care and medical expenses, often compounded by reduced ability to pay.

Using data from 233 advanced cancer patients receiving treatment, they found that the COST (Comprehensive Score for financial Toxicity) questionnaire identified patients in financial stress. They said “As expected, we found a strong association between a patient’s use of health care resources and his or her sense of financial toxicity.  For example, more than two admissions to the hospital significantly affected a patient’s financial toxicity. The questionnaire has 11 brief statements about costs, resources and concerns and for each question patients circled one of five possible responses to determine their level of concern. An example of a question included “I feel financially stressed.”

Researchers found several factors associated with financial toxicity. These included employment status, household income, psychological stress, number of hospital admissions, and race in rank order.  Researchers were surprised to find a lack of perceived financial benefit from participating in clinical trials even when there was no cost. Researchers said “It is important to note that the financial distress identified by the COST scale captures a unique set of stressors affecting patients above and beyond the physical and psychological strains of the disease.” Further research is planned.

Does Working Nights Increase Breast Cancer Risk?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

 

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A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that working nights has little or no effect on a woman’s breast cancer risk despite a review in 2007 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifying night work as disrupting the body clock and a probably cause of cancer. In 2007 there was limited research on breast cancer risks in humans so the classification was based primarily on lab and animal studies.

The recent study followed 1.4 million women working night shift in 10 studies to determine if they developed breast cancer. Those who worked night shift for 20 to 30 years had no increased risk of breast cancer when compared with w2omen who had never worked night shift. Researchers found the incidence of breast cancer essentially the same for women who did not work night shift or worked night shift for several decades. The combined relative risk from all 10 studies together was 0.99   for any night work, 1.01 for 20 or more years night shift work, and 1.00 for 30 or more years night shift work. Researchers said “Breast cancer is the most common cause in women so it is vital for us to fund work in this area to establish if there is a link to night work.”  The also said ” This study has shwn that night dhift work, including long-term shift work, has little or no effect on breast cancer incidence in women. However, there are a number of other known risks with shift work that employers must take into consideration when protecting their workers’ health and safety.,” These include  “maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol, and being active.”

Does your Place of Residence influence your Immune System?

Friday, October 7th, 2016

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In a recent issue of Trends in Immunology researchers concluded where and with whom we live account for 60 to 80 per cent of the differences between individual immune systems, while genetics account for the rest. Like fingerprints, immune systems vary from person to person and despite our unique set of genes that help us respond to infections our diet, quality of air, food, stress levels, sleep patterns and lifestyle choices have a stronger effect on our immune system. The researchers said “Just like it took a while to crack the genetic code, we’re finally starting to crack the immune code, and we’re shifting away from the simplistic idea that there is only one type of immune system. diversity isn’t just programmed into our genes–it emerges from how our genes respond to their environment.”

They say that long-term infections are responsible for most of the differences between individual immune systems and use the example of herpes or shingles. In these processes the virus has more opportunity to interact with the immune system and these interactions slowly change the cellular makeup of the immune system and make it more sensitive to that specific virus but also easier for other infections to move past its defenses. People who do not have these infections don’t experience cellular changes, and even with the occasional cold or fever, their immune system stays relatively stable over time.

The exception is an elderly person when our immune system reacts differently to threats. This is related partially to the thymus organ that gradually stops producing T cells, which are made to fight infections. Without these cells, older people are more likely to get sick and less likely to respond to vaccines. In addition, to the lack of T cells there seems to be other changes in the way the immune system reacts. For example, the researchers say “A lot of diseases we associate with aging have an inflammatory component, which suggests there is likely immune involvement.”  The further say differences can be overcome and studies of people living together show that air-quality, fod, stress level, sleep patterns, and lifestyle choices had a strrong combined effect on immune responses and couples who cohabitate had more similar immune systems compared with the general public.  Researchers now plan to study how changing the envorinbment could purposefully shape our immune system and potentially effect our health.

Can Men with a High Genetic Chance of Bowel Cancer lower their Risk with a Healthy Lifestyle?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

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Recent research published in the journal Genetics in Medicine concluded that men with a high genetic risk of developing bowel cancer over the next 25 years could have a lower of developing the disease if they have a healthy lifestyle. They continue that men of 50 who have a high risk of developing bowel cancer have a 29 per cent risk of developing the disease within 25 years and by living healthy the risk could drop as low as 13 per cent.

In the study genetic and lifestyle risk factors were combined to help find men at the highest risk of developing bowel cancer.  Mathematical models of 37 different factors that could put people at risk of cancer were used to calculate how likely it was for a man to be diagnosed with bowel cancer over the following 25 years. Factors included inherited genetic faults increasing the risk of bowel cancer, and lifestyle factors affecting that risk such as consumption of alcohol, red meat, and fruit and vegetables, body mass index, smoking habits, physical activity, aspirin use, and inflammatory bowel disease. Based upon their findings they estimated 610 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented over the following 25 years if 10,000 men in the highest risk category had the healthiest lifestyle.  For men in the lowest risk group, 70 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented.

Researchers concluded “Bowel cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers and the number of cases is going up in the Western world. We have made big strides in our understanding of the genetic and lifestyle factors  that can contribute to the development of bowel cancer, and that gives us an opportunity to begin assessing people for their future risk. If we can identify people who are at a strongly increased risk, through genetic and lifestyle factors, we can begin to give them targeted health messages, aimed at helping them make choices that could prevent the disease.”