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March 24, 2009
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Study Finds 10 Genes that Raise Sudden Death Risk
from Reuters
Researchers have found nine new gene variations that can make a person vulnerable to sudden cardiac death and confirmed the role of another, international researchers said. "Almost half were surprising new genes that no one would have guessed as being involved in cardiac biology," said Dan Arking of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, whose team was one of many working on the study in the journal Nature Genetics. More

Beckman Coulter

The Whole World Is Watching
from Newsweek
Hope—and anxiety—run high as the first clinical trial of embryonic-stem-cell therapy begins this summer. Opinions about the moral status of an embryo won't change with presidential decrees or FDA decisions, so you can bet that the debate over embryonic-stem-cell research is far from over. But no matter how loud the chatter gets, the science is about to leave the Petri dish. More

Scientists Find Cellular Process That Fights Herpes Virus
from Infection Control Today
Scientists have discovered a new way for our immune system to combat the elusive virus responsible for cold sores: Type 1 herpes simplex (HSV-1). As reported in the advance online edition of Nature Immunology, a group of virus hunters from the Université de Montréal, in collaboration with American colleagues, have identified a cellular process that seeks out and fights herpes. "Once human cells are infected with Type 1 herpes simplex, the virus comes back because it hides and blocks protection from our immune system," says Luc English, the study's lead author. More

Prostate Test Found to Save Few Lives
from The New York Times
The PSA blood test, used to screen for prostate cancer, saves few lives and leads to risky and unnecessary treatments for large numbers of men, two large studies have found. The findings, the first based on rigorous, randomized studies, confirm some longstanding concerns about the wisdom of widespread prostate cancer screening. Although the studies are continuing, results so far are considered significant and the most definitive to date. More

U.S. Food Safety System Too Flawed for a Quick Fix
from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Our 100-year-old food inspection system is not aging gracefully. Despite a century of improvements, consumers are still playing Russian roulette when it comes to the food they eat. Even today, one in four Americans — 76 million people — endures a food-borne illness and 5,000 people die each year. This year’s peanut meltdown alone has killed nine people, sickened thousands and shaken consumer confidence in food safety. More

Harvard Prof Will Head Health Technology Effort
from The Boston Globe
The Obama administration announced that David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical professor will be national coordinator for health information technology. Senator Edward M. Kennedy applauded the choice of Blumenthal, who was on Kennedy’s health staff from 1977 to 1980. "President Obama has made an inspired choice in selecting David Blumenthal to lead the Administration’s effort to bring health care into the digital age. David is the right person to oversee this major initiative to reduce costs, avoid errors, improve care, and save lives,” Kennedy said in a statement. More


Routine Use of BNP Testing May Not Be Justified in Severely Dyspneic Patients
from Medscape Medical News
Routine use of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) testing in all severely dyspneic patients in the emergency department is not supported by the results of a randomized, single-blind study, reported in the March 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine"... BNP is used to diagnose heart failure, but the effects of using the test on all dyspneic patients are uncertain," authors of the study concluded. Subscription required.

Antibiotics Before Prostate Biopsy Questioned
from The Clinical Advisor
New findings raise questions about the practice of prescribing antibiotics to men prior to prostate biopsy if they have newly elevated PSA levels and a normal digital rectal examination (DRE). The thinking behind this practice is that prostatic inflammation is known to raise PSA levels, and studies have shown that antibiotic treatment can lower those levels. More

Researchers Find Gene that Turns Carbs Into Fat
from Reuters
U.S. researchers have found a gene responsible for turning a plate of pasta into fat, offering new clues about how the body metabolizes carbohydrates and how they contribute to obesity. The gene, called DNA-PK, appears to regulate the process in the liver that turns carbohydrates into fat, the University of California, Berkeley team reported recently in the journal Cell. More

AD/PD 2009: Biomarkers to Detect Dementia on the Horizon
from Medscape Medical News
Researchers are getting tantalizingly close to developing biomarkers that can diagnose Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and perhaps other dementia types. Here at the 9th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases, investigators presented an update on novel radioactive markers that can detect beta amyloid in areas of the brain that signal AD and dopamine deficits in other areas of the brain that indicate PD. All are in various stages of development. Subscription required.

Hormone Offers Promise as Fertility Treatment
from Science Daily
New research suggests the hormone kisspeptin shows promise as a potential new treatment for infertility. Scientists led by Dr Waljit Dhillo from Imperial College London, have shown that giving kisspeptin to women with infertility can activate the release of sex hormones which control the menstrual cycle. This research could lead to a new fertility therapy for women with low sex hormone levels. More

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