Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Math may help calculate way to find new drugs for HIV and other diseases

Math may help calculate way to find new drugs for HIV and other diseases

Technique finds best drug candidates among millions of choices

Princeton researchers, Christodoulos Floudas and Meghan Bellows-Peterson, have developed a way to use mathematical models to take some of the guesswork out of discovering new drugs. Using the technique, they have identified several potential new drugs for fighting HIV. The image on the screen shows a graphic of their drug candidate (red) attached to HIV (blue).

From the February 4, 2011 Eureka news alert

Using mathematical concepts, Princeton researchers have developed a method of discovering new drugs for a range of diseases by calculating which physical properties of biological molecules may predict their effectiveness as medicines.

The technique already has identified several potential new drugs that were shown to be effective for fighting strains of HIV by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

“The power of this is that it’s a general method,” said Princeton chemical and biological engineering professor Christodoulos Floudas, who led the research team. “It has proven successful in finding potential peptides to fight HIV, but it should also be effective in searching for drugs for other diseases.”

Floudas, the Stephen C. Macaleer ’63 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science, and Princeton engineering doctoral student Meghan Bellows-Peterson collaborated on the study with researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Their findings were reported in the Nov. 17, 2010, issue of Biophysical Journal.***

The researchers’ technique combines concepts from optimization theory, a field of mathematics that focuses on calculating the best option among a number of choices, with those of computational biology, which combines mathematics, statistics and computer science for biology research.

In the case of HIV, the challenge for the Princeton team was to find peptides — the small chains of biologically active amino acids that are the basic building blocks of proteins — that could stop the virus from infecting human cells….

 

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

 

 

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Genes of the immune system are associated with increased risk of mental illness

Genes of the immune system are associated with increased risk of mental illness

From a February 3, 2011 Eureka news alert

Genes linked to the immune system can affect healthy people’s personality traits as well as the risk of developing mental illness and suicidal behaviour, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Inflammation is part of the immune system and is responsible for defending humans against infection as well as fascilitating the healing of injuries, and is therefore vital for our survival. Research has demonstrated that inflammatory processes also have other roles to play as inflammatory substances produced by the body influence mechanisms in the brain involving learning and memory.

Inflammatory substances produced in moderate quantities in the brain can be beneficial during the formation of new brain cells, for example. However, an increase in the levels of these substances as is the case during illness, can result in damage to the brain.

“Previous studies have shown that individuals suffering from various mental illnesses have an increased peripheral inflammation, but the reason behind this increase is not known,” says Petra Suchankova Karlsson, who wrote the thesis. “It has been suggested that the stress that goes with mental illness activates the body’s immune system, but it is also possible that inflammation in the body affects the brain, which in turn results in mental illness.”

Previous studies have focused on how environmental and psychological factors affect the immune system’s impact on the brain. Suchankova’s thesis presents, for the first time, results that suggest that several different genes linked to the immune system are associated with healthy people’s personality traits. It also demonstrates that some of these genes are associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia or suicidal behaviour….

 

 

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make the Call, Don’t Miss a Beat – Heart Attack Information for Women

Print ad for fatigue symptomPrint ad for weight symptom

[ Click here for larger images]

HEART ATTACK INFORMATION FOR WOMEN by the National Women’s Health Center includes



February 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrical Stimulation of the Brain May Spark Insight

Electrical Stimulation of the Brain May Spark Insight

Noninvasive procedure spurred study volunteers to come up with fresh ways to solve a problem

HealthDay news image

 

 


February 7, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

ACP Announces High-Value, Cost-Conscious Care Initiative

ACP Announces High-Value, Cost-Conscious Care Initiative


Excerpts

ACP’s High-Value, Cost-Conscious Care initiative, announced in April 2010, is a broad program that connects two important priorities for the College: helping our physicians to provide the best possible care to their patients, and simultaneously reducing unnecessary costs to the health care system. The initiative includes clinical, public policy, and educational components.

Clinical

ACP launched the clinical component of the initiative with the publication of “High-Value, Cost-Conscious Health Care: Concepts for Clinicians to Evaluate the Benefits, Harms, and Costs of Medical Interventions” in the February 1, 2011, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. In the paper, ACP explains the purpose of the initiative: to help physicians and patients understand the benefits, harms, and costs of an intervention and whether it provides good value, and to slow the unsustainable rate of health care costs while preserving high-value, high-quality care….

Public Policy

ACP’s High-Value, Cost-Conscious Care initiative continues the College’s position formulated in our 2009 policy paper “Controlling Health Care Costs While Promoting the Best Possible Health Outcomes.” In January 2011, ACP released “How Can Our Nation Conserve and Distribute Health Care Resources Effectively and Efficiently?” In the paper, ACP makes the case that there is an urgent need for the country to have a discussion on how to conserve and allocate limited resources in a uniquely American way that puts the principal responsibility on patients and physicians making informed choices based on evidence.

Education

The next edition of ACP’s Medical Self-Assessment Program (MKSAP) will have a focus on optimal diagnostic and treatment strategies, based upon considerations of value, effectiveness, and avoidance of overuse and misuse.

Additional components of the initiative include patient education materials and possibly curricula for medical students and residents.


February 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Health Care Visits To Check More Than Just Health?

Health Care Visits To Check More Than Just Health?
Study Shows Health Care Providers Can Help with School Readiness During Primary Care Visits

Doctor examining baby

From the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development Web page

It seems it’s never too early to start thinking about getting your child ready for school. From picture books to educational toys and videos, there’s no shortage of items and programs geared toward helping children to prepare to succeed in school.

But some children, especially those in at-risk families, don’t hear as many words and aren’t read-to on a regular basis; others don’t engage in skill-building play until they start preschool or kindergarten. By that time, researchers say, at-risk children already lag behind peers in school readiness skills. Finding earlier opportunities to intervene and to encourage school readiness and other skills could help to bridge the achievement gap between at-risk children and their peers who are not at risk.

Researchers’ efforts led them to a trusted resource for many families—the health care provider.

Including school readiness interventions in regular well-baby and well-child visits seems a natural fit for a number of reasons, such as:

  • The visits occur frequently.
  • Nearly all families attend the visits because of the immunizations and screenings required for child care and school settings.
  • Parents often have close relationships with their children’s health care provider.
  • The infrastructure for the visits and processes related to payment for visits is already in place.
  • Conducting the interventions during regularly scheduled visits eliminates additional travel for the families…….

 

Related article

Understanding Fragile Families - More than 10 years of research reveals much about fragile families

 


February 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Carbon Dioxide – The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide

Image via Wikipedia

From the  Emergency Care for You article (American College of Emergency Physicians Foundation)

Colorless, Odorless Killer Claims Hundreds Of Lives Each Year, More Than 20,000 Visit ERs

Emergency physicians see the tragic consequences of carbon monoxidepoisoning each year, especially during the winter months when people begin using heating devices and stoves to keep warm.“This colorless, odorless gas is deadly if you don’t take precautionary steps or notice the symptoms,” said Dr. Sandra Schneider of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Thinking about it now and acting to prevent the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning may save your life and the lives of those around you.”

Each year, more than 400 people in the United States die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 20,000 people visit emergency departments, with more than 4,000 needing to be hospitalized. Emergency physicians urge everyone to spot the potential signs ofcarbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion

Carbon monoxide poisoning often is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses.

“If you get bad headaches or suffer from any of these symptoms, you may easily confuse them with the flu,” said Dr. Schneider. “People should be concerned about the possible presence of carbon monoxide if more than one person living or working together develops these symptoms simultaneously over a short period of time.”

Also, people who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from carbon monoxide poisoning without ever experiencing symptoms, or knowing they are experiencing them.

Of course, we always urge people to call 911 if they feel they may be experiencing an emergency.

Ways To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

  • Have gas appliances installed or maintained by a qualified professional.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
  • Never leave a motor running of a vehicle parked in an enclosed garage.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. Even if they don’t have flames, they burn case and release carbon monoxide in your homes, cabins or campers.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Make sure all gas appliances (grills, camp stoves, power tools, generators, etc.) are properly vented so that carbon monoxidedoes not build in homes, cabins or campers.
  • Turn on the exhaust fan over your gas stove when using it.
  • Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year.
  • Make sure fireplace flues are open during use.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

DHS Announces New National Terrorism Advisory System

DHS Announces New National Terrorism Advisory System
http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1296158119383.shtm

Department of Homeland Security Seal: National Terrorism Advisory System


Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will discontinue the color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) in favor of a new system, the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), that will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing
timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first

 

The press release

 

DHS Discontinues Color-Coded Alert System

Washington, D.C. – Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will discontinue the color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) in favor of a new system, the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), that will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector.

The National Terrorism Advisory System will be implemented over the next 90 days in order for DHS and our federal, state, local, tribal, community and private sector partners to transition to the new system.

“Security is a shared responsibility, and we must work together to keep our nation safe from threats,” said Secretary Napolitano. “This new system is built on a clear and simple premise: when a credible threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you and provide whatever information we can so that you know how to keep yourselves, your families and your communities safe.”

HSAS was first introduced on March 11, 2002. In July 2009, Secretary Napolitano formed a bipartisan task force of security experts, state and local elected and law enforcement officials, and other key stakeholders—co-chaired by Fran Townsend, former Assistant to President George W. Bush for Homeland Security, and Judge William Webster, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—to assess the effectiveness of HSAS. The results of this assessment formed the basis of the National Terrorism Advisory System.

Under the new system, DHS will coordinate with other federal entities to issue formal, detailed alerts when the federal government receives information about a specific or credible terrorist threat. These alerts will include a clear statement that there is an “imminent threat” or “elevated threat.” The alerts also will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals and communities, businesses and governments can take.

The National Terrorism Advisory System alerts will be based on the nature of the threat: in some cases, alerts will be sent directly to law enforcement or affected areas of the private sector, while in others, alerts will be issued more broadly to the American people through both official and media channels—including a designated DHS webpage (www.dhs.gov/alerts), as well as social media channels including Facebook and via Twitter @NTASAlerts.

Additionally, NTAS will have a “sunset provision,” meaning that individual threat alerts will be issued with a specified end date. Alerts may be extended if new information becomes available or if the threat evolves significantly.

Secretary Napolitano announced this change today during her “State of America’s Homeland Security” address at the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute. A copy of her prepared remarks is available here.

For more information on the National Terrorism Advisory System, visit www.dhs.gov/alerts.

responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private
sector.

 

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , | Leave a comment

CDC Reports Most Americans with High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol are Not Being Treated Effectively

Main complications of persistent high blood pr...

Image via Wikipedia

CDC Reports Most Americans with High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol are Not Being Treated Effectively
http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0201_vitalsigns.html?s_cid=2011_p0201_vitalsigns
Two out of three U.S. adults with high cholesterol and half of U.S. adults with high blood pressure are not being treated effectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Among the findings in the Vital Signs Report:

  • By the Numbers – High Blood Pressure
    • 1 in 3 Adults has high blood pressure
    • 1 in 3 Adults with high blood pressure does not get treatment
    • 1 in 2 Adults with high blood pressure does not have it under control
  • By the Numbers – High Cholesterol
    • 1 in 3 Adults has high cholesterol
    • 1 in 2 Adults with high cholesterol does not get treatment
    • 2 in 3 Adults with high cholesterol do not have it under control
  • Is Your Medication Raising Your Cholesterol? (everydayhealth.com)
  • Study Suggests That ‘Bad’ Cholesterol Is Not As Bad As People Think (6 May 2011, Medical News Today)

    “The so-called “badcholesterol” – low-density lipoprotein, commonly called LDL – may not be so bad after all, shows a Texas A&M University study that casts new light on the cholesterol debate, particularly among adults who exercise. “

    “Riechman and colleagues examined 52 adults from ages to 60 to 69 who were in generally good health but not physically active, and none of them were participating in a training program. The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, “a very unexpected result and one that surprised us.

    “It shows that you do need a certain amount of LDL to gain more muscle mass. There’s no doubt you need both – the LDL and the HDL – and the truth is, it (cholesterol) is all good. You simply can’t remove all the ‘bad’ cholesterol from your body without serious problems occurring. “

    “”Our tissues need cholesterol, and LDL delivers it,” he notes. “HDL, the good cholesterol, cleans up after the repair is done. And the more LDL you have in your blood, the better you are able to build muscle during resistance training.”

    Riechman says the study could be helpful in looking at a condition called sarcopenia, which is muscle loss due to aging. Previous studies show muscle is usually lost at a rate of 5 percent per decade after the age of 40, a huge concern since muscle mass is the major determinant of physical strength. After the age of 60, the prevalence of moderate to severe sarcopenia is found in about 65 percent of all men and about 30 percent of all women, and it accounts for more than $18 billion of health care costs in the United States.

    “The bottom line is that LDL – the bad cholesterol – serves as a reminder that something is wrong and we need to find out what it is,” Riechman says.

    “It gives us warning signs. Is smoking the problem, is it diet, is it lack of exercise that a person’s cholesterol is too high? It plays a very useful role, does the job it was intended to do, and we need to back off by always calling it ‘bad’ cholesterol because it is not totally bad.”

  • Diagnosing High Cholesterol (everydayhealth.com)
  • Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet for High Cholesterol (everydayhealth.com)

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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