Life Science Newsletter – 6/11/12

In this issue: pricing out prostate surgery, when knowing doesn’t matter, C sections and obesity, your doctor’s notes, human side of Zebra Fish, keeping stem cells young, defining biological ground zero, restless legs by design, biochip speeds testing, building molecular cages, a new spin on ‘it’s in their genes’, preventing diabetes at Yale, and more…

Study Shows Consumers Need More Guidance about Fish Consumption Choices

Boston, MA — In a first-of-its kind summary of fish consumption choices, a team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has determined that consumers are not getting all the information they need to make informed decisions about fish consumption.

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Threshold Pharmaceuticals Announces Highlights of TH-302 Presentations at 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting

Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (THLD), today announced details from two clinical posters featured at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting in Chicago: a trial-in-progress presentation summarizing the design and status of the ongoing international Phase 3 study comparing TH-302 in combination with doxorubicin to single agent doxorubicin in patients with first-line soft tissue sarcoma and a presentation of promising updated results from the Phase 1 study of TH-302 in patients with advanced leukemias conducted at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

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Preventing Diabetes: Yale Researchers Measure Loss Of Human Pancreas Cells

A Yale University-led research team has developed a way to measure the loss of insulin-producing islet cells in the human pancreas.

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Four-Drug Mix Treats Multiple Myeloma With Fewer Side Effects Mayo Clinic-Led Study Finds

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A four-drug combination of chemotherapy drugs scored high marks as a highly effective treatment for patients newly diagnosed with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, according to results from a Mayo Clinic-led study.

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ZIOPHARM Oncology Completes Enrollment in PICASSO 3 Trial Evaluating Palifosfamide in Front-Line Metastatic Soft Tissue Sarcoma

ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of new cancer therapies, today announced completion of enrollment of the PICASSO 3 trial, an international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical study of palifosfamide in combination with doxorubicin, versus doxorubicin alone, for the treatment of metastatic soft tissue sarcoma (STS) in the front-line setting. Doxorubicin is the current standard of care for the treatment of STS in the front-line setting.

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Building Molecular ‘Cages’ To Fight Disease

UCLA biochemists have designed specialized proteins that assemble themselves to form tiny molecular cages hundreds of times smaller than a single cell.

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Surgical Site Infections More Likely in Patients with History of Skin Infection

People with a past history of just a single skin infection may be three times more likely to develop a painful, costly — and potentially deadly — surgical site infection (SSI) when they have an operation, according to new Johns Hopkins research.

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BioChip May Make Diagnosis Of Leukemia And HIV Faster, Cheaper

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Inexpensive, portable devices that can rapidly screen cells for leukemia or HIV may soon be possible thanks to a chip that can produce three-dimensional focusing of a stream of cells, according to researchers.

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Restless Legs: Mutation In Fly Version Of A Human RLS Gene Disturbs Sleep

Scientists have discovered that mutations in the gene BTBD9, which is linked with restless legs syndrome (RLS) in humans, disturb sleep in fruit flies.

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Children with Juvenile Arthritis Have Higher Rates of Bacterial Infection

Children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have higher rates of hospitalized bacterial infection than children without JIA according to an observational study appearing in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal
published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

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One Size Doesn’t Fit All When Treating Blood Pressure In People With Diabetes, VA/U-M Study Suggests

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The research shows that there have been dramatic improvements in blood pressure control among patients with diabetes in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, with as many as 82 percent of patients having blood pressure controlled and 94 percent getting appropriate BP treatment.

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Researchers Find A Way To Delay Aging Of Stem Cells

LA JOLLA, CA — Stem cells are essential building blocks for all organisms, from plants to humans.

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Math Predicts Size Of Clot-Forming Cells

UC Davis mathematicians have helped biologists figure out why platelets, the cells that form blood clots, are the size and shape that they are.

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Zebrafish Could Hold The Key To nderstanding Psychiatric Disorders

Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London have shown that zebrafish could be used to study the underlying causes of psychiatric disorders.

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To Dictate or Not to Dictate?

BOSTON, MA — Could the quality of care you receive be affected by how your doctor takes notes?

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Intensive Mobile Phone Use Affects Young People’s Sleep

Young adults who make particularly heavy use of mobile phones and computers run a greater risk of sleep disturbances, stress and symptoms of mental
health.

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Babies’ Brains Benefit From Music Lessons, Researchers Find

Hamilton, Ont. — After completing the first study of its kind, researchers at McMaster University have discovered that very early musical training benefits children even before they can walk or talk.

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Locating Ground Zero

Heidelberg, — Like emergency workers rushing to a disaster scene, cells called microglia speed to places where the brain has been injured, to contain the damage by ‘eating up’ any cellular debris and dead or dying neurons.

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Relief of Urinary Symptoms Underappreciated Benefit of Early Stage Prostate Cancer Treatment

BOSTON — Treatment of early stage prostate cancer can also result in improved quality of life for a subgroup of men who suffer from lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), according to an abstract of a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center-led study presented to the American Urological Association.

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Hormone Plays Surprise Role in Fighting Skin Infections

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are molecules produced in the skin to fend off infection-causing microbes.

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UC HEALTH LINE: Surgery May Be Best for Certain Back Condition

CINCINNATI — Orthopedic spine surgery may be more effective than non-surgical treatment for low back disorders.

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Oxytocin Improves Brain Function In Children With Autism

Preliminary results from an ongoing, large-scale study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows that oxytocin — a naturally occurring substance produced in the brain and throughout the body— increased brain function in regions that are known to process social information in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

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Robotic-Assisted Prostate Cancer Surgery Drives Up Costs, Despite Little Evidence of Better Outcomes for Patients, UPMC Study Finds

PITTSBURGH, — In one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of the cost of robotic-assisted, laparoscopic surgery for prostate cancer, researchers
at UPMC found that this now-dominant surgical approach is significantly more costly than standard open surgery, despite little scientific evidence of long-term improved patient outcomes.

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First, Do No Harm: Study Finds Danger In Standard Treatment For A Serious Lung Disease

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A combination of three drugs used worldwide as the standard of care for a serious lung disease puts patients in danger of death or hospitalization, and should not be used together to treat the disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, according to the surprising results of a rigorous independent study.

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Sundown Syndrome-like Symptoms in Fruit Flies May be Due to High Dopamine Levels

PHILADELPHIA — Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania researchers have discovered a mechanism involving the neurotransmitter dopamine that switches fruit fly behavior from being active during the day (diurnal) to nocturnal.

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‘Fertilizing’ Bone Marrow Helps Answer Why Some Cancers Spread To Bones

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Researchers found that administering a common chemotherapy drug before bone tumors took root actually fertilized the bone marrow, enabling cancer cells, once introduced, to seed and grow more easily.

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UC Davis MIND Institute Study Shows That Fever During Pregnancy More Than Doubles The Risk Of Autism Or Developmental Delay In Children

A team of UC Davis researchers has found that others who had a fever during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a child with autism or developmental delay than mothers who did not have a fever or who took medication to counter its effect.

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Levels Of Dementia Underestimated In Developing Countries

Conventional estimates of dementia incidence in middle-income countries have been too optimistic, suggests one of the largest studies of dementia
incidence to date, led by researchers at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and published online in The Lancet.

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Newly Discovered Breast Milk Antibodies Help Neutralize HIV

Antibodies that help to stop the HIV virus have been found in breast milk.

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