Novel test to predict breast cancer metastasis

Washington, Mar 28 (ANI): Researchers from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have identified a new marker that may lead to the development of a novel test to predict breast cancer metastasis.

The research team has identified a marker called TMEM, for Tumor Microenvironment of Metastasis, density of which is associated with the development of distant organ metastasis via the bloodstream – the most common cause of death from breast cancer.

“Currently, anyone with a breast cancer diagnosis fears the worst – that the cancer will spread and threaten their lives,” said Dr. Joan G. Jones, professor of clinical pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of Anatomic Pathology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“A tissue test for metastatic risk could alleviate those worries, and prevent toxic and costly measures like radiation and chemotherapy,” Jones added.

“If patients can be better classified as either low risk or high risk for metastasis, therapies can be custom tailored to patients, preventing over-treatment or under-treatment of the disease,” said first author Dr. Brian D. Robinson, resident in Anatomic Pathology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

During the study, the researchers analysed the tissue samples of 30 patients with invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast who developed systemic, distant-organ metastases.

These samples were compared to matched controls that had only localized disease i.e., invasive ductal carcinoma limited to the breast or with regional lymph node metastasis only.

They found that TMEM density was more than double in the group of patients who developed systemic metastases compared with the patients with only localized breast cancer.

“Traditionally, the likelihood of breast cancer metastasis is estimated based on tumor size, tumor differentiation – how similar or dissimilar the tumor is compared to normal breast tissue – and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes,” said Jones.

“While these are useful measures, TMEM density directly reflects the blood-borne mechanism of metastasis, and therefore may prove to be more specific and directly relevant.”

The findings appear in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. (ANI)

Suspected virus kills a score of Peacock in Indore

Navda Pandha (MP), Mar 25 (ANI): Around twenty peacocks have died at a village near Mhow in Indore following outbreak of suspected virus.

Ten peacocks were found dead at Navda Pandha village while ten more dead peacocks were located in other parts of Indore distrct.

However, the concerned authorities claimed to have saved the lives of two peacocks by rushing them to the Government Veterinary College, Mhow.

Reportedly, these two peacocks are now out of danger.

A post mortem is being conducted on all the birds to determine the exact cause of the peacocks death.

“We are conducting the post mortem and once it is done on all the birds, then only we can come to any conclusion,” said Dr. D K Garg, Professor of Pathology, Veterinary College, Mhow.

According to the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Indore Range, consequent to this mishap, a close eye is being kept on birds and the water bodies have been chemically treated to prevent any virus from spreading.

“I went to the same village again and another case of peacock death has been reported, which means that the virus is still among the birds. We then added certain antibiotics in the water to prevent the peacock from dying further,” said L Krishnamurthy, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Indore Range.

Meanwhile, it is believed that symptoms of Raniketh (an avian disease) have been found in some of the birds. (ANI)

Cellular process to fight herpes virus identified

London, Mar 24 (ANI): In a collaborative effort, scientists in the US and Canada have identified a cellular process that seeks out and fights herpes virus- Type 1 herpes simplex (HSV-1).

The finding has uncovered a new way for our immune system to combat the elusive virus, which causes cold sores.

“Once human cells are infected with Type 1 herpes simplex, the virus comes back because it hides and blocks protection from our immune system. For the first time, our research team has indentified a combative cellular mechanism in this game of hide-and-seek,” Nature quoted Luc English, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student at the Universiti de Montrial’s Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, as saying.

He added: “We’ve found that the nuclear membrane of an infected cell can unmask Type 1 herpes simplex and stimulate the immune system to disintegrate the virus.

The discovery was made while the scientists were conducting various tests in HSV-1 infected mice cells.

They replicated environments when Type 1 herpes simplex thrives, namely periods of low-grade fever between 38.5 to 39 degrees, and found that herpes-fighting mechanisms were unleashed.

Now, the researchers are planning to study how activation of the herpes-combating cellular process could be applied to other illnesses.

And the results could speed up the development of therapies to prevent other immune-evading bacteria, parasites and viruses.

“Our goal is to further study the molecules implicated in this mechanism to eventually develop therapies against diseases such as HIV or even cancer,” said English.

Dr. Michel Desjardins, senior author and a professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology at the Universiti de Montreal has said that one can imagine treatment options in a decade.

The study is published in the advance online edition of Nature Immunology. (ANI)

Canada’s first TB vaccine set to go under clinical trial

Washington, Mar 20 (ANI): For the first time, researchers at McMaster University have fully designed, manufactured and tested Canada’s first tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, which is all set to go under clinical trial.

Zhou Xing, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, led development of the vaccine, currently called AdAg85A vaccine, for the landmark trial.

“The exciting thing for McMaster is that this is translational research that has gone from the basic science where the vector has been designed here at McMaster, then manufactured here, with all the pre-clinical studies done at McMaster,” said Dr. Fiona Smaill, a professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.

While the vaccine was manufactured in the Robert E. Fitzhenry Vector Laboratory of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Health on campus, most of the pre-clinical testing of the vaccine was undertaken at McMaster.

The phase 1 clinical trial will begin to recruit 48 healthy volunteers between 18 and 55 years of age in mid-April.

For more than 12-18 months, the researchers will evaluate the safety of the new vaccine and assess blood samples from vaccinated healthy human volunteers to determine whether the vaccine is generating a desired immune response.

A team of infectious disease physicians, vaccine manufacturing specialists, and immunologists at McMaster will conduct the trial.

The announcement of the new TB vaccine trial coincides with World TB Day on Tuesday, March 24, when health authorities and researchers around the world will be raising awareness about the need for new TB vaccines.

The researchers developed the new TB vaccine using a genetically modified adenovirus – a virus responsible for the common cold.

After removing a small portion of the gene, they inserted part of the TB gene responsible for immunity.

“It is natural ways of making the body use its own immune machinery,” said Smaill.

“Based on all pre-clinical studies carried out on animals, including mice, guinea pigs (who are very prone to TB) and cattle, this vaccine appears to be a very promising candidate vaccine,” said Xing.

Smaill said that the vaccine, manufactured to clinical grade standards at McMaster, has passed all the testing required for its use in humans. (ANI)

Gastric virus ‘triggers diabetes in kids’

Washington, Mar 6 (ANI): A new study has revealed that a common family of viruses (enteroviruses) in the pancreas may play an important role in triggering the development of diabetes, particularly in kids.

The study has been conducted by researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England, the University of Brighton and the Department of Pathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Type 1 diabetes usually starts in young people and results from the destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

It has long been speculated that viruses might play a role in causing type 1 diabetes by infecting the beta cells of the pancreas.

For the study, the researchers looked at the collection of pancreases from 72 young people who died less than a year after the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

The study revealed that more than 60 per cent of the organs contained evidence of enteroviral infection of the beta cells.

By contrast, infected beta cells were hardly ever seen in tissue samples from 50 children without the condition.

The study has suggested that enteroviral infection of the beta cells in children with a genetic disposition to type 1 diabetes may initiate a process whereby the body’s immune system identifies beta cells as ‘foreign’ and rejects them, as it would a transplanted organ.

A further extension of the study to adults with type 2 diabetes showed that a large proportion (40 per cent) of these patients also had enteroviral infection in their beta cells.

However, a link has not been totally established and this does not mean that lifestyle and obesity do not contribute towards the disease.

Overall, the findings of this new study suggest that vaccination in childhood to prevent enteroviral infections of beta cells might be an attractive means to reduce the incidence of both common forms of diabetes.

However, there are up to 100 different strains of enterovirus and more research will be needed to identify which particular enteroviruses are associated with the development of diabetes, and whether vaccines could be developed to prevent their spread.

The study is published in the leading European diabetes journal, Diabetologia. (ANI)

Lowering cholesterol levels may cut prostrate cancer risk

Washington, Feb 24 (ANI): Lowering cholesterol may block the growth of prostate tumors, claims a new study.

Prostate tumors accumulate high levels of cholesterol, and tumor incidence correlates with eating a high fat/high cholesterol diet “Western” diet. In addition, prostate tumor progression has been linked to serum cholesterol levels.

To reach the conclusion, Dr. Keith Solomon and colleagues fed mice a high fat/high cholesterol “Western” diet.

They found that high cholesterol levels promoted tumor growth and that Ezetimibe (Zetia), which blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine, could prevent this increased tumor growth.

Ezetimibe also blocked a cholesterol-mediated increase in angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels required for tumor progression.

These data suggest that reducing cholesterol levels may inhibit prostate cancer growth specifically by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis.

The article from Solomon et al suggests “that cholesterol reduction, which is routinely accomplished pharmacologically in humans, may reduce angiogenesis, ultimately leading to less aggressive tumors.”

“Lowering cholesterol levels whether through diet, exercise, or the use of safe cholesterol-lowering drugs is known to provide a substantial benefit to patients-in the future it may be possible to add reduced risk of serious prostate cancer to that list of benefits” says Solomon.

“We are in the process of working with clinicians to translate these findings into potential human studies. If we can demonstrate the effects noted in our pre-clinical studies in human patients we may be save lives and improve the quality of life,” adds Dr. Michael Freeman, senior author of the study.

The related report by Solomon et al, “Ezetimibe Is an Inhibitor of Tumor Angiogenesis,” appears in the March 2009 issue of The American Journal of Pathology. (ANI)

Consistent pattern of brain injury behind delusions uncovered

Washington, January 14 (ANI): Studying patients with certain delusions and brain disorders, NYU Langone Medical Center researchers have revealed a consistent pattern of injury to the frontal lobe and right hemisphere of the brain.

Research leader Dr. Orrin Devinsky says that his team’s study provides a novel theory for how delusions arise and why they persist.

Writing about the findings in the journal of Neurology, he says that the cognitive deficits caused by these injuries to the right hemisphere lead to the over compensation by the left hemisphere of the brain for the injury, resulting in delusions.

“Problems caused by these brain injuries include impairment in monitoring of self, awareness of errors, and incorrectly identifying what is familiar and what is a work of fiction,” said Dr. Devinsky, professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurosurgery and Director of the NYU Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“However, delusions result from the loss of these functions as well as the over activation of the left hemisphere and its language structures, that ‘create a story’, a story which cannot be edited and modified to account for reality. Delusions result from right hemisphere lesions, but it is the left hemisphere that is deluded,” he added.

Delusions are generally described as bizarre pathologic beliefs that remain fixed despite clear evidence that they are incorrect.

“Delusions are common problems in a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Psychiatric disorders with delusions, for example- schizophrenia, have been proven to have functional and structural brain pathology. But now improved diagnostic techniques are allowing us to have increased identification of neurologic disorders among other patient populations with delusions,” said Dr. Devinsky.

During the study, the research team observed that the most neurologic patients with delusions usually had lesions in the right hemisphere and/or bifrontal areas.

According to Dr. Devinsky, the right hemisphere of the brain dominates self recognition, emotional familiarity and ego boundaries.

The researcher said that when the right hemisphere of the brain gets injured, the left hemisphere tends to have a creative narrator leading to excessive, false explanations.

He further said that the resistance of delusions to change despite clear evidence that they are wrong likely reflects frontal dysfunction of the brain, which impairs the ability to monitor self and to recognize and correct inaccurate memories and familiarity assessments.

Based on their observations, the study’s authors concluded that right hemisphere lesions might cause delusions by disrupting the relation between and the monitoring of psychic, emotional and physical self to people, places, and even body parts.

This, according to them, explains why content specific delusions involve people places or things of personal significance and distort ones relation to oneself.

“Our knowledge of delusions is limited by our ability to comprehend the patients irrational thought process. The pathogenesis of delusions likely includes many mechanisms that span overlapping psychological, cognitive and neurological disorders.

Future research should explore the psychological, cognitive, and pyschologic-anatomic systems that change during the emergence and resolution of delusions as well as strategies to treat delusions,” said Dr. Devinsky. (ANI)

Consistent pattern of brain injury behind delusions uncovered

Washington, January 14 (ANI): Studying patients with certain delusions and brain disorders, NYU Langone Medical Center researchers have revealed a consistent pattern of injury to the frontal lobe and right hemisphere of the brain.

Research leader Dr. Orrin Devinsky says that his team’s study provides a novel theory for how delusions arise and why they persist.

Writing about the findings in the journal of Neurology, he says that the cognitive deficits caused by these injuries to the right hemisphere lead to the over compensation by the left hemisphere of the brain for the injury, resulting in delusions.

“Problems caused by these brain injuries include impairment in monitoring of self, awareness of errors, and incorrectly identifying what is familiar and what is a work of fiction,” said Dr. Devinsky, professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurosurgery and Director of the NYU Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“However, delusions result from the loss of these functions as well as the over activation of the left hemisphere and its language structures, that ‘create a story’, a story which cannot be edited and modified to account for reality. Delusions result from right hemisphere lesions, but it is the left hemisphere that is deluded,” he added.

Delusions are generally described as bizarre pathologic beliefs that remain fixed despite clear evidence that they are incorrect.

“Delusions are common problems in a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Psychiatric disorders with delusions, for example- schizophrenia, have been proven to have functional and structural brain pathology. But now improved diagnostic techniques are allowing us to have increased identification of neurologic disorders among other patient populations with delusions,” said Dr. Devinsky.

During the study, the research team observed that the most neurologic patients with delusions usually had lesions in the right hemisphere and/or bifrontal areas.

According to Dr. Devinsky, the right hemisphere of the brain dominates self recognition, emotional familiarity and ego boundaries.

The researcher said that when the right hemisphere of the brain gets injured, the left hemisphere tends to have a creative narrator leading to excessive, false explanations.

He further said that the resistance of delusions to change despite clear evidence that they are wrong likely reflects frontal dysfunction of the brain, which impairs the ability to monitor self and to recognize and correct inaccurate memories and familiarity assessments.

Based on their observations, the study’s authors concluded that right hemisphere lesions might cause delusions by disrupting the relation between and the monitoring of psychic, emotional and physical self to people, places, and even body parts.

This, according to them, explains why content specific delusions involve people places or things of personal significance and distort ones relation to oneself.

“Our knowledge of delusions is limited by our ability to comprehend the patients irrational thought process. The pathogenesis of delusions likely includes many mechanisms that span overlapping psychological, cognitive and neurological disorders.

Future research should explore the psychological, cognitive, and pyschologic-anatomic systems that change during the emergence and resolution of delusions as well as strategies to treat delusions,” said Dr. Devinsky. (ANI)

German shoe-thrower pleads not guilty over attack on Wen Jiabao

German shoe-thrower pleads not guilty over attack on Wen Jiabao London- A German student who hurled a shoe at Chinese premier Wen Jiabao during his recent visit to Cambridge University in Britain pleaded not guilty to the charge of committing a public order offence Tuesday.

Martin Jahnke, a 27-year-old graduate student at the university’s pathology department, appeared at Cambridge Magistrate’s Court Tuesday before being released on bail. His trial date has been set for March 10.

Jahnke was arrested on February 2 for throwing a shoe at Wen, who was giving a lecture to students. The missile missed the Chinese leader by about a metre.

China’s foreign ministry Monday urged Cambridge University to expel Jahnke. “Education is the best help for a young student,” a statement released via the Chinese embassy in London said. (dpa)

Chinese PM urges Cambridge University to forgive shoe thrower

Beijing, Feb 9 (ANI): Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has asked Cambridge University to forgive the student who threw a shoe at him during his speech on February 2.

A Foreign Ministry press release quoted Chinese Ambassador to UK, Fu Ying as saying : “I would like to convey the following from Premier Wen: Education is the best help for a young student. It is hoped the university will give the student an opportunity to continue his studies.”

“As a Chinese saying goes, it is more precious than gold for a young person to turn around and redress mistakes,” Fu added.

“It is hoped this student will see his mistake and seek to understand a real and developing China,” China Daily quoted Fu as saying.

“From the words and actions of this student, it could be seen how he lacks knowledge about China. It has also affected the image and reputation of Cambridge in China,” Fu added.

Martin Jahnke, 27, a student in pathology from Germany, threw a shoe at Premier Wen and yelled towards the end of his lecture.

Jahnke was charged with disorderly conduct.

On February 4, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown personally apologized to Wen for the incident in a letter, while the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University visited Fu Ying in London last Friday to offer a formal apology. (ANI)

Chinese PM urges Cambridge University to forgive shoe thrower

Beijing, Feb 9 (ANI): Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has asked Cambridge University to forgive the student who threw a shoe at him during his speech on February 2.

A Foreign Ministry press release quoted Chinese Ambassador to UK, Fu Ying as saying : “I would like to convey the following from Premier Wen: Education is the best help for a young student. It is hoped the university will give the student an opportunity to continue his studies.”

“As a Chinese saying goes, it is more precious than gold for a young person to turn around and redress mistakes,” Fu added.

“It is hoped this student will see his mistake and seek to understand a real and developing China,” China Daily quoted Fu as saying.

“From the words and actions of this student, it could be seen how he lacks knowledge about China. It has also affected the image and reputation of Cambridge in China,” Fu added.

Martin Jahnke, 27, a student in pathology from Germany, threw a shoe at Premier Wen and yelled towards the end of his lecture.

Jahnke was charged with disorderly conduct.

On February 4, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown personally apologized to Wen for the incident in a letter, while the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University visited Fu Ying in London last Friday to offer a formal apology. (ANI)

Major discovery could lead to new autism treatment

Washington, Feb 5 (ANI): Researchers at Brown University have discovered a structure in the brain called the Fragile X granule, which offers a potential target for treating certain kinds of autism and mental retardation.

Led by Justin Fallon, professor of neuroscience at Brown, the study’s finding opens a new line of research about potential treatments for autism.

Austism is a neurological disorder that strikes young children and can impair development of social interaction and communication.

“If you are going to treat the disease you need to be able to target the defective elements. The Fragile X granule offers such a target,” said Fallon.

Although, autism can be caused by a variety of genetic factors, Fallon’s lab focused on one particular area – the Fragile X protein.

If that protein is mutated, it leads to Fragile X syndrome, which causes mental retardation and is often accompanied by autism.

It is believed that autism and mental retardation are diseases of the synapse, the basic unit of information exchange and storage in the brain.

The researchers focused their study on the Fragile X protein and synaptic connections in healthy mice.

By examining specially prepared sections of mouse brain tissue with high-powered light and electron microscopes, researchers made a number of determinations.

First, they showed that Fragile X exists at the pre-synaptic, or sending side of the synapse, an area that had not been widely studied.

“For over 25 years the field has focused almost exclusively on the post-synaptic, receiving side. Almost no one has looked at the pre-synaptic side, as it was not thought to be involved in Fragile X,” said Fallon.

This discovery is important because scientists, if they are to treat Fragile X syndrome, autism or mental retardation must know where the functional defect actually is. Fallon’s research helps fill in a potential gap.

“The implication is that pre-synaptic defects could contribute to the pathology in autism in Fragile X,” said Fallon.

Also, researchers found that Fragile X protein is only present in a small fraction of what are known as pre-synaptic specializations.

The pre-synaptic Fragile X protein also turned out to be present in microscopic granules, which look like tiny pebbles under a high-powered microscope. Understanding the Fragile X granule is important in this context because the finding could lead to more targeted treatments.

The researchers hypothesize that the granules contain multiple RNAs, or sets of genetic information to help modify the synapse during learning and memory.

If their theory is proven correct, the granules might serve as pinpoint targets for eventual drug treatments of autism.

The study, titled “The FXG: A presynaptic Fragile X granule expressed in a subset of developing brain circuits,” is published in the recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. (ANI)

Risk factors for contralateral breast cancer identified

Washington, Jan 27 (ANI): Researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Centre have identified certain risk factors that may help predict the likelihood of patients developing breast cancer in the opposite breast.

These risk factors may help women who are diagnosed with breast cancer make the difficult decision about whether to have their second breast removed as a preventive step.

“Women often consider contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) not because of medical recommendation, but because they fear having their breast cancer return,” said Kelly Hunt, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at M. D. Anderson and lead author on the study.

“Currently it is very difficult to identify which patients are at enough risk to benefit from this aggressive and irreversible procedure. Our goal was to determine what characteristics defined these high-risk patients to better inform future decisions regarding CPM,” she added.

During the study, the researchers reviewed the cases of 542 women with breast cancer only in one breast who received CPM to remove the second breast.

Out of this group, 435 patients had no abnormal pathology identified in the opposite breast, 25 patients had contralateral breast cancer identified at surgery, and 82 patients had abnormal cells that indicate a moderate to high-risk for breast cancer development in the contralateral breast found at the time of surgery.

Further analysis of the patients with contralateral breast cancer revealed that a five-year Gail risk of 1.67 percent or greater; an invasive lobular histology; and multiple tumours in the original breast were all strong predictors for contralateral breast cancer.

However, patient race, estrogen receptor status and progesterone receptor status were not associated with increased risk.

“We went from having very little information on the benefit of this procedure for individual patients to identifying three independent and significant risk factors,” Hunt said.

“Each provides valuable insight into how likely a woman is to develop the disease in her other breast and enables physicians to make an educated recommendation if a patient will potentially benefit from CPM.

“We’ve always known contralateral breast cancer risk is not the same for all women and it is unnecessary to perform preventive mastectomies routinely.

“As we begin to clarify the specific risk factors, the number of women undergoing CPM may decrease and those with a low to moderate-risk may be more open to less extreme options for risk reduction, such as hormonal therapy and newer agents for prevention of breast cancer,” she added.

The findings are published in journal Cancer. (ANI)

MRI proving a great boon to back pain treatment, says report

Washington, January 2 (ANI): Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is providing an increasing number of clinical benefits when used in the evaluation of back pain, and additional technical developments may allow it to provide even more useful orthopaedic benefits in future, according to a research article.

“Because of the many different ways to gather this important information, MRI can be used to identify or display almost every type of spinal tissue or pathology. The imaging sequence can be modified to meet many different clinical needs,” Dr. Victor M. Haughton, a radiologist at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, says in the article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The authors write that MRI—which is considered safe, fast and versatile—is being used in several spinal applications like intervertebral disk and facet joint degeneration, spinal canal stenosis, vascular disorders, and trauma.

They also suggest it to be useful for almost every spinal pathology—such as diseases of the spinal cord, nerve roots, vertebrae, disks and blood vessels.

They further say that there is no radiation risk to the patient undergoing MRI.

“The possibilities of magnetic resonance have not yet been realized. It is a rapidly evolving field. When we need tools to identify a possible herniated disk, the simplest type of MR imaging or CT imaging can be used successfully. However, if you want to find out which disk is causing pain, which nerve is firing, which metabolites are present in abnormal amounts, or how well the spinal elements are functioning, MR will provide the answers,” adds Dr. Haughton. (ANI)