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March 3, 2009
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How HIV Stays One Step Ahead of Immune System
from The Los Angeles Times
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the fastest-evolving entities known. That's why no one has yet been able to come up with a vaccine: The virus mutates so rapidly that what works today in one person may not work tomorrow or in others. A study published in the journal Nature confirms that dizzying pace of evolution on a global scale. More

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Researchers Find Safer Way to Produce Stem Cell Alternative
from Reuters
Researchers said they had found a safer way to transform ordinary skin cells into powerful stem cells in a move that could eventually remove the need to use human embryos. It is the first time that scientists have turned skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells − which look and act like embryonic stem cells − without having to use viruses in the process. More

Should This Test Be Ordered?
from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry
As the medical armamentarium expands, physicians face an ever-growing array of tests to assist in the diagnosis, classification, and monitoring of both wellness and disease. Clinical guidelines provide assistance in the choice and use of diagnostics for selected conditions, but new tests are continually being introduced, and existing ones used for new purposes or populations—often without conclusive evidence of benefit. Concern about the appropriate use of tests has taken on more importance in light of rising health care costs. More

Spun-sugar Fibers Spawn Sweet Technique for Nerve Repair
from Medical News Today
Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique using spun-sugar filaments to create a scaffold of tiny synthetic tubes that might serve as conduits to regenerate nerves severed in accidents or blood vessels damaged by disease. The sugar filaments are coated with a corn-based degradable polymer, and then the sugar is dissolved in water, leaving behind bundles of hollow polymer tubes that mimic those found in nerves. More

Obama Taps Sebelius, DeParle for Health Posts
from CNN
President Obama announced his choices for two key health care positions this week, tapping Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for health and human services secretary and former Clinton administration official Nancy-Ann DeParle as White House health care czar. As director of the White House Office on Health Reform, DeParle will work with Sebelius as the president's point person coordinating outreach to Congress on the administration's ambitious health care reform agenda. More

New Approach Associates Multiple Pathway Genes with Crohn's Disease
from Medscape Medical News
A pathway-based approach has demonstrated significant association between Crohn's disease and the interleukin 12/IL-23 pathway, which contains 20 genes. Many genes associated with CD susceptibility are contained in this pathway but do not demonstrate genomewide significance in single genomewide association studies. Subscription required


Scientists Shed Light on How Proteins Find Their 3-D Shapes
from Science Daily
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at San Diego have brought together theoretical modeling and experimental data to show just how amino-acid chains might fold up into unique, three-dimensional functional proteins. The researchers’ method of watching proteins as they crumple and fold involves the use of a picosecond camera that captures fluorescent flashes as a laser pulse excites a donor probe, which emits light and transfers that light to an acceptor probe. More

FDA Allows Brain Implants for Obsessions
from The Washington Post
The Food and Drug Administration last week approved "deep brain stimulation" for the treatment of intractable obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. This is the first time that the technique, which involves surgically implanting electrodes deep within the brain to trigger electrical activity, has been approved for use in a psychiatric condition. The implants have been previously used to treat Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. More

Movement Disorder Associated with Mutation That Impairs DNA Binding
from Medscape Medical News
Researchers have identified a mutation in THAP1 that cosegregates with primary torsion dystonia in affected members of 3 Amish-Mennonite families, according to an article published in the March issue of Nature Genetics. An unrelated THAP1mutation was found in affected members of a family with no Amish-Mennonite heritage, suggesting that THAP1 plays a role in dystonia across ethnic groups. THAP1is the second gene to be specifically associated with any of the 15 or more forms of dystonia. Subscription required

Drug Tandem may Work Against Deadliest TB
from Reuters
Two existing drugs used in combination appear to offer great promise against the most dangerous form of tuberculosis, U.S. researchers said. AstraZeneca's MERREM I.V., also called meropenem, used together with clavulanate, sold by GlaxoSmithKline in combination with amoxicillin as the drug Augmentin, killed laboratory-grown strains of TB, they said. More

FDA Slaps Warning on Heartburn Drug Tied to Spasms
from The Associated Press via Newsweek
Federal health officials are adding their sternest warning to a heartburn drug that has been linked to muscle spasms. The Food and Drug Administration said the drug, widely known as Reglan, has been shown to cause spasms and tics when used for long periods of time or at high doses. The problems include uncontrollable movement of the limbs, face and tongue, and are usually irreversible, even after patients stop taking the drug, according to the FDA's warning. More


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