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August 21, 2006, 9:56 PM CT

Cost Of Treating Chest Pain In The Average Woman

Cost Of Treating Chest Pain In The Average Woman
Treating chest pain associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) could cost a woman more than $1 million during her lifetime; and even the chest pain associated with mild artery blockage (nonobstructive CAD) could reach $750,000 for an average woman, according to a study published in Circulation.

Chest pain symptoms may be the most important driver of women's cardiovascular healthcare costs, said lead study author Leslee J. Shaw, Ph.D.

"Lifetime healthcare costs can reach $1 million for each woman with heart disease in this country," she said. "The societal burden for coronary artery disease for women with chest pain is expensive and could be responsible for a sizeable portion of U.S. healthcare costs".

Researchers investigated the economic burden of cardiac symptoms on women. Shaw and scientists from the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study reviewed data on 883 women who had been referred for coronary angiography and compared data on their health, finances and quality of life for at least five years. Coronary angiography is a specialized X-ray examination of the coronary arteries and is one of the most frequently preformed procedures in women.

Researchers found that 62 percent of women studied had nonobstructive coronary artery disease defined as blockage less than 50 percent of the artery. Seventeen percent had one coronary artery vessel blocked or narrowed, 11 percent had two vessels narrowed and 10 percent had three vessels affected.........

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August 21, 2006, 9:50 PM CT

Major Strategic Breakthrough In Controling The Aids Virus

Major Strategic Breakthrough In Controling The Aids Virus
A team of researchers from the Universit de Montral and the Centre hospitalier de l'Universit de Montral (CHUM) have announced an important breakthrough in fighting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). For the first time, scientists have identified a defect in the immune response to HIV and found a way to correct the flaw. Dr. Rafick-Pierre Skaly, an eminent researcher in cell biology, immunology, and virology, has confirmed the identification of a new therapeutic target (the PD-1 protein) that restores the function of the T cells whose role is to eliminate cells infected with the virus. This constitutes a major breakthrough, opening new prospects for the development of therapeutic strategies for controlling HIV infection. The research findings appear in today's issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

Dr. Skaly explained that "immune system cells made non-functional by HIV can be identified by the presence of a protein that is significantly overexpressed when infected by the virus." In fact, high levels of the protein are associated with a more serious dysfunction. "The most important discovery made in this study arises from the fact that by stimulating this protein, we succeeded in preventing the virus from making immune system cells dysfunctional," he added.

The findings were simultaneously reproduced by two other laboratories the labs headed by Dr. Bruce Walker at Harvard and Dr. Richard Koup at the NIH. "It's a rare occurrence for three teams to work together on attacking a major problem. Up until now, the virus has been more or less invincible. By combining our efforts, we found the missing link that may enable us to defeat the virus," noted Dr. Skaly. Discussions with partners are also underway to translate these research findings into clinical trials, which could start during the coming year.........

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August 21, 2006, 9:15 PM CT

Biologist Trying To Crack Microscopic Code

Biologist Trying To Crack Microscopic Code
The Bowling Green State University biologist wants to crack the communication code of proteins, especially the ones whose "talking" aids and abets disease.

"Proteins interact; they 'talk' to each other," the associate professor says. "It's how they know what to do, and it's how most of the things that need to happen for living organisms get done".

Over the past three years he has received $300,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation for his research.

What talking proteins have to do with infectious disease is a story that unfolds in the submicroscopic world of molecular biology. It starts with bacteria, which are cloaked by an outer membrane--a defensive barrier against the harsh elements of their environment, whether toxins in nature or the protective antibodies of an infected host. Specific proteins interact to support this shield, and knowing how they communicate would provide a key to disabling it, Larsen says.

Once communication questions are answered, a goal is to develop drugs to break the barrier, rendering the bacteria more susceptible to the human body's natural defenses--antibodies--as well as certain antibiotics, he points out.

While keeping potential dangers out, the outer membrane must also be porous enough to allow nutrients in, he continues. As an analogy, he cites a house with a yard and a chain-link fence that "keeps the dogs out of the roses but lets the butterflies through".........

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August 21, 2006, 9:07 PM CT

Bulls-eye For Antibiotic Target

Bulls-eye For Antibiotic Target
A Purdue University researcher has opened the door for possible antibiotic treatments for a variety of diseases by determining the structure of a protein that controls the starvation response of E. coli.

This research is applicable to the treatment of many diseases because that same protein is found in numerous harmful bacteria, including those that cause ulcers, leprosy, food poisoning, whooping cough, meningitis, sexually transmitted diseases, respiratory infections and stomach cancer, said David Sanders, an associate professor of biology. Sanders, who is part of the Markey Center for Structural Biology at Purdue, detailed his research in a paper published in the Aug. 16 issue of the journal Structure.

"This is an important discovery for the field of antibiotics, which was greatly in need of something new," Sanders said. "The antibiotics available today face a challenge of increasing resistance and failure. This research suggests a whole new approach to combat bacterial infections. In addition, this protein is an excellent antibiotic target because it only exists in bacteria and some plants, which means the treatment will only affect the targeted bacterial cells and will be harmless to human cells".

Sanders and his collaborator, Miriam Hasson, studied the structure of exopolyphosphatase, a protein in E. coli bacteria that functions as an enzyme and catalyzes chemical reactions within the bacteria. This enzyme provides the signal for bacteria to enter starvation mode and limit.........

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August 21, 2006, 5:04 AM CT

Knitting Times

Knitting Times
Knitting - a harmless, straightforward, calming and contemplative activity. But what kinks develop when one knits not with ordinary wool, but with human hair?

Strong, shining and neatly-trimmed hair denotes strength, expresses individuality and exudes allure. This has been so at least since biblical times. In the Old Testament the supposedly invincible Samson was reduced to a weakling, when his beloved Delilah chopped off his hair as he slept. According to the cliche, a dramatic change of hairstyle reflects a similar change in one's life; men prefer to use hair restorers which threaten the libido, rather than go bald; and in the military, heads are shorn to counter individuality. Hair, along with flawless white teeth, is one of the strongest forms of natural body adornment.........

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August 20, 2006, 9:54 PM CT

Driving Australia's light metal dollar

Driving Australia's light metal dollar
CSIRO today launched a national research partnership aimed at positioning Australia as a technology leader in designing lighter car components - a key to making cars more fuel-efficient.

The new venture will also develop technology to make Australia competitive in manufacturing high-value titanium metal and metal products from the country's rich titanium ore deposits.

The Australian Partnership in Light Metals Research is the latest initiative of the Light Metals Flagship, one of six flagships established by the CSIRO to tackle major challenges facing the nation, such as adding value to its mineral resources.

The new light metals partnership is the second in the national Flagship Collaboration Fund program to enhance collaboration between CSIRO, Australian universities and other publicly funded research agencies.

As part of the $305 million over seven years provided by the Australian Government to the National Research Flagships, $97 million was specifically allocated to the Fund.

The partnership brings together three centres for light metals research and development - the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals based at Melbourne's Monash University; the Brisbane-based CAST Cooperative Research Centre (CRC); and the CSIRO Light Metals Flagship.........

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August 20, 2006, 9:44 PM CT

Hubble Sees Faintest Stars

Hubble Sees Faintest Stars ancient globular star cluster NGC 6397
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered what astronomers are reporting as the dimmest stars ever seen in any globular star cluster.

Globular clusters are spherical concentrations of hundreds of thousands of stars. Seeing the whole range of stars in this area will yield insights into the age, origin, and evolution of the cluster.

These clusters formed early in the 13.7-thousand-million-year-old universe. The cluster observed by Hubble, called NGC 6397, is one of the closest globular star clusters to Earth.

Eventhough astronomers have conducted similar observations since Hubble was launched, a team led by Harvey Richer of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, is reporting that they have at last unequivocally reached the faintest stars. Richer's team announced their findings on 17 August at the 2006 International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Prague, Czech Republic, and in the 18 August edition of the journal Science.

"We have run out of hydrogen-burning stars in this cluster. There are no fainter such stars waiting to be discovered," said Richer. "We have discovered the lowest-mass stars capable of supporting stable nuclear reactions in this cluster. Any less massive ones faded early in the cluster's history and by now are too faint to be observed."........

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August 20, 2006, 9:24 PM CT

A New Tool Against Brain Disease

A New Tool Against Brain Disease A shell from the venomous cone snail Conus omaria, which lives in the Pacific and Indian oceans and eats other snails
Credit: Kerry Matz, University of Utah
University of Utah scientists isolated an unusual nerve toxin in an ocean-dwelling snail, and say its ability to glom onto the brain's nicotine receptors may be useful for designing new drugs to treat a variety of psychiatric and brain diseases.

"We discovered a new toxin from a venomous cone snail that may enable researchers to more effectively develop medications for a wide range of nervous system disorders including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, depression, nicotine addiction and perhaps even schizophrenia," says J. Michael McIntosh.

Discovery of the new cone snail toxin will be published Friday, Aug. 25 in The Journal of Biological Chemistry by a team led by McIntosh, a University of Utah research professor of biology, professor and research director of psychiatry, member of the Center for Peptide Neuropharmacology and member of The Brain Institute.

McIntosh is the same University of Utah researcher who as an incoming freshman student in 1979 discovered another "conotoxin" that was developed into Prialt, a drug injected into fluid surrounding the spinal cord to treat severe pain due to cancer, AIDS, injury, failed back surgery and certain nervous system disorders. Prialt was approved in late 2004 in the United States and was introduced in Europe last month.........

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August 20, 2006, 3:17 PM CT

Focus On Bullying Hotspots

Focus On Bullying Hotspots
In the battle against bullying, school officials and parents commonly focus on the behavior of the bully, but to get to the root of the problem, they also must look at the physical context of the school, says Ronald Pitner, Ph.D., school violence expert and assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Bullying behavior, and school violence more generally, typically occurs in predictable locations within schools," he says.

"Research has shown that violence occurs more in unmonitored areas within schools such as hallways, bathrooms, stairwells, and playgrounds. Thus, one way of cutting down on violence in schools is to identify 'hotspots' within the school where children feel that violence is likely to occur, and then to place school monitors in those areas."

In his study, Pitner asked students to pinpoint on maps the areas in their school that make them feel unsafe or where fights are likely to occur. Other questions asked for the time of day those places were unsafe and for whom they were unsafe.

"School officials can use this information in their strategy to make their schools safer," said Pitner, who noted that these high-risk areas likely will vary by school.

"Eventhough this approach will not completely eliminate bullying, research has shown that it would at least cut down on the areas where violence is likely to occur," he says.........

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August 20, 2006, 3:11 PM CT

MIT-Beijing design studio plans for urban future

MIT-Beijing design studio plans for urban future Students' design for urban green space
For five weeks this summer, a group of 20 MIT graduate students in architecture, planning and real estate joined with a dozen graduate students from Beijing's Tsinghua University to work together on issues of urban design and development in the context of China's breakneck modernization.

The work marked the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Urban Design Studio, a joint program between the schools of architecture and planning at MIT and at Tsinghua University. Since 1985, close to 400 students and faculty have taken part in the studio, making it one of the world's most enduring academic programs between the United States and China.

The goal of the studio is to foster international understanding of urban issues by undertaking joint city planning and design projects involving important, often controversial sites in Beijing. Conducted every other summer, the studio has received the Irwin Sizer Award from MIT for outstanding innovation in education.

The studio opened with a major exhibition at the Beijing Planning Exhibition Center near Tiananmen Square, commemorating the history of the studio and displaying 20 years of work on sites across the city.

At the opening, Adèle Naude Santos, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and Wenyi Zhu, dean of architecture at Tsinghua University, signed an agreement establishing the Urbanization Laboratory, which will build on the work of the studio through a continuing agenda of joint research and projects focused on the challenges of rapid urbanization.........

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