Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Access Full Text Life Science and Healthcare Texts Using A New NCBI Bookshelf Homepage

Access Full Text Life Science and Healthcare Texts Using A New NCBI Bookshelf Homepage

The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) has released a new version of their “Bookshelf” homepage.

Bookshelf provides free access to over 700 texts in life science and healthcare. One of many NCBI resources,Bookshelf enables users to easily browse, retrieve, and read content, and spurs discovery of related information.

The 700+ texts include biomedical textbooks, other scientific titles, some genetic resources, such as Gene Review, and NCBI help manuals.

The search box includes options for Limits (as subject area, resource type) and an Advanced Search Option (as author, publisher, year).
Alternatively one can browse Browse Titles . Browsing results (one or two titles) can be used to create and modify a personal table of titles from one, two, or three columns/facets.
The columns include:

+ Types of books

+ Subjects

+ Publishers

One can learn more by taking a look at this tutorial about browsing the Bookshelf.Other tutorials cover search, searching “inside” a book, using limits, and advanced search. Links to all tutorials can be found on this page.

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , | 1 Comment

Research from MU Brain Imaging Center may lead to treatment of a variety of mental disorders

 

 

Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

 

Research from MU Brain Imaging Center may lead to treatment of a variety of mental disorders

 

(image at right- animated image of MRI brain scan, starting at top of head)

From the January 25, 2011 Eureka news alert

COLUMBIA, Mo. – One of the first studies published from the University of Missouri Brain Imaging Center (BIC) gives researchers insight into the brain and memory and may provide researchers clues to treating a variety of debilitating disorders.

Nelson Cowan, director of the BIC and Curator’s Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, used the BIC’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce graphics that depict the structure and function of the brain during various mental tasks in an effort to understand abstract working memory. People use their abstract working memories to assign meaning when trying to recall facts – for example, when someone dials a set of phone numbers, their abstract memory brings forth an image of the person they are calling.

Previous studies identified an area of the brain responsible for holding abstract working memory, although it was assumed by some researchers to hold only visual information. At the BIC, Cowan found that this same part of the brain can hold auditory information as well. For example, when people hear “Jingle Bells” they relate it to the Christmas season and retain the meaning of the song temporarily.

“This research has given us better understanding of an area of the brain that may be affected in people with various learning disabilities, autism and schizophrenia,” said Cowan. “For example, recent research has shown that people with schizophrenia simply hold fewer items in their working memories, rather having an inability to disregard unimportant items, as previously thought. Thus, discovering more about working memory will enable scientists to better target schizophrenia, among other disorders.”

Cowan’s research will be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, and his related research on the childhood development of working memory has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1985.

The study is one of many research projects that are currently underway at the BIC.

For example, researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in the College of Human Environmental Sciences are studying the neurological effects of eating breakfast on obese people. That research team is also studying the effects of eating breakfast on working memory. Cowan said psychiatry researchers are studying the effects of medications on the brain, and researching addictive behaviors is enhanced by the BIC.

“The center enables us to conduct interdisciplinary research that can advance the field of psychology,” Cowan said. “Brain imaging makes our behavioral research more powerful because we can better understand the brain and how it functions during different activities and conditions.”

In addition, Nelson says the ability to do brain imaging makes grant proposals stronger. He says the facility attracts new faculty members and makes for better research.

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Secondhand smoke laws may reduce childhood ear infections

Secondhand smoke laws may reduce childhood ear infections

From a January 26, 2011 Eureka news alert

Boston, MA — Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers and colleagues from Research Institute for a Tobacco Free Society have found that a reduction in secondhand smoking in American homes was associated with fewer cases of otitis media, the scientific name for middle ear infection. The study appears on January 26, 2011, as an online first article on the website of the journal Tobacco Control.

“Our study is the first to demonstrate the public health benefits to children of the increase in smoke-free homes across the nation. It also is the first study to quantify over the past 13 years a reversal in what had been a long-term increasing trend in middle ear infections among children,” said lead author Hillel Alpert, research scientist in HSPH’s Department of Society, Human Development, and Health. “If parents avoid smoking at home, they can protect their children from the disease that is the most common cause of visits to physicians and hospitals for medical care,” he said.

Secondhand smoke (smoke from a burning cigarette combined with smoke exhaled by a smoker) has been shown to increase the level of unhealthy particles in the air, including nicotine and other toxins. In 2006 the U.S. Surgeon General stated that enough evidence existed to suggest a link between parents’ smoking and children’s ear infections.

Otitis media is the leading reason for visits to medical practices and hospitals among U.S. children, with an annual estimated economic burden of $3 billion to $5 billion. Children’s visits for otitis media increased steadily from 9.9 million in 1975 to 24.5 million visits in 1990. However, the researchers found the average annual number of outpatient visits for otitis media in children aged 6 years and younger dropped 5%, and hospital discharges fell by 10% per year from 1993 to 2006. (The researchers note that other factors may have contributed to the decline, including a pneumonia vaccine that was introduced in 2000.)

To determine the number of smoke-free households, the researchers used data from the National Cancer Institute‘s Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey. They found voluntary no-smoking rules in households nearly doubled from 45% in 1993 to 86% in 2006, most likely due to increased awareness of secondhand smoke hazards and a reduction in the number of people smoking in homes.

“Smoke-free rules in homes are extremely important to protect children, given the many adverse effects that secondhand tobacco smoke exposure has on child health,” Alpert said.

 

 

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ancient body clock keeps all life on time: studies

Ancient body clock keeps all life on time: studies

24 hour rhythms may be protein, not be DNA based

From the January 26, 2011 Health Day news item by Kay Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have identified the mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life — a finding they say should shed light on some shift work-related problems like diabetes, depression and cancer.

Researchers from Britain’s Cambridge and Edinburgh universities, whose work was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday**, said their findings provide important insight into health-related problems linked to people such as nurses, pilots and other shift workers, whose body clocks are disrupted.

The studies also suggest that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae, and dates back millions of years to early life on earth, they said.

In the first study, Cambridge scientists found for the first time that red blood cells have a 24-hour rhythm.

This is significant, they explained, because circadian rhythms have always been assumed to be linked to DNA and gene activity — but, unlike most other cells in the body, red blood cells do not have DNA.

“The implications of this for health are manifold. We already know that disrupted clocks…are associated with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, mental health problems and even cancer,” said Akhilesh Reddy, who led the study. “By furthering our knowledge of how the 24-hour clock in cells works, we hope that the links…will be made clearer.”

Many scientific studies have found links between working irregular hours and a greater likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Sleep disruption is also associated with mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder.

A team of scientists said last year they had used experimental drugs being developed by Pfizer to reset body clocks of mice in a lab — opening up the possibility that drugs might in future be developed to restore rhythms to people whose body clocks have been messed up.

In these new studies, Reddy’s team incubated purified red blood cells from healthy volunteers in the dark and at body temperature and sampled them regularly over several days.

They then examined the levels of certain biochemical markers — proteins called peroxiredoxins that are found in virtually all known organisms and are produced in high levels in blood. The results showed that there was a modification in these proteins in a pattern that went back and forth over 24 hours.

A further study found a similar 24-hour cycle in marine algae — suggesting that internal body clocks have always been important, even for ancient forms of life.

The researchers found those rhythms by sampling the peroxiredoxins in algae at regular intervals over several days. When the algae were kept in darkness, their DNA was no longer active, but the algae kept their circadian clocks ticking even without active genes.

Scientists had previously thought the circadian clock was driven by gene activity, but both the algae and the red blood cells kept time without it.

Andrew Millar of Edinburgh University, who led the second study, said it showed that body clocks are ancient mechanisms that have been around through a billion years of evolution.

“They must be far more important and sophisticated than we previously realized,” he said. He added that more research was now needed to determine how and why these clocks developed in people, and what role they play in controlling our bodies.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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