They are examining the use of drug propranolol to improve the primary traits associated with autism – difficulty with normal social skills, language and repetitive behaviours.

David Beversdorf, associate professor and Thompson Endowed Chair at the MU Thompson Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, found that the drug propranolol is beneficial for improving language development and social communication in people with autism.

“We can clearly say that propranolol has the potential to benefit language and may help people with autism function appropriately in social situations, including making eye contact with others,” said Beversdorf.

“Enhancing both language and social function is significant because those are two of the three main features of autism. Clinical trials will assess the drug’s effect on all three features, including repetitive behaviours,” he added.


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The concern surrounds ‘boob job jabs’ in which fat and stem cells from the waist, hips, thighs or buttocks are used to plump up the bust without surgery.

The 6,000 pounds operation is becoming more popular, as, unlike conventional procedures, it also slims the lower half by transferring fat.

But a conference has heard there might be a risk in moving stem cells, or ‘master cells’, and processing them to be more concentrated.

“I would like them to be banned. They must not be provided for breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons,” the Daily Mail quoted Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, as saying.

“The warning must be very clear and given to the public: they should not subject themselves to this treatment until they hear from reliable sources such as the Royal Colleges or surgical associations, that it is safe,” he stated.


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The culprit is human enterovirus 68 (HEV68), and its respiratory symptoms can be particularly dangerous to children, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In six separate clusters of the virus that showed up worldwide, patients commonly experienced cough, difficulty breathing and wheezing.

The highest number of cases were found in Japan, where local public health authorities reported more than 120 cases last year.

However, the CDC said it could only confirm clinical data for 11 of those patients, all children, one of whom died.

The Philippines had 21 cases in late 2008 and early 2009, causing two deaths, the CDC said.

Other cases surfaced in the Netherlands and the US states of Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, for 95 total confirmed cases over two years.

The virus was first discovered in four children who were sick with pneumonia in California in 1962, but subsequent incidences have been rare and sporadic, according to the CDC.

“Identification of a large number of patients with HEV68 respiratory disease detected during a single season, such as described in this report, is a recent phenomenon,” it added.

“Whether this increase in recognized cases is attributable to improved diagnostics or whether the clusters themselves represent an emergence of the pathogen is unknown.”

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They have claimed that the corporation has made at least two films containing ‘unsubstantiated and fictional portrayals” of the founder of modern nursing, reports the Telegraph.

The academics from University College London and the University of Manchester have written to Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC trust, to withdraw the two films – ‘Florence Nightingale: Iron Maiden’ (2001) and ‘Reputations: Florence Nightingale’ (2008) – from distribution.

They have also criticized “the BBC’s persistent, hostile and greatly erroneous treatment of Florence Nightingale” in the films.

The first film is being described in one newspaper as “a manipulative, neurotic, sexually repressed woman” under whose leadership “10 times more men perished at her Scutari hospital near Sebastopol from illness than from wounds”.

The second resulted in press coverage that she was “the kiss of death to thousands of men in her care”.

“We ask the BBC to (preferably) withdraw the two hostile films, at the very least to identify them as including unsubstantiated and fictional portrayals of Nightingale,” the letter said.

“Of course scholars may differ in interpretation, but still the BBC’s record is appalling. Not one of the academics used to attack Nightingale ever published his/her accusations in a peer-reviewed book or journal, it added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the BBC has defended the programmes, saying they contained “a broad range of sources, giving a broad range of opinions”.


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The findings were published online this week in Diabetes, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

Usually, the liver stores excess blood sugar as glycogen, which it doles out overnight during sleep and other periods of fasting to keep glucose levels within a normal physiological range, explained H. Henry Dong, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine. But in diabetes, the liver continues to pump out glucose even when insulin is provided as a treatment.

“Scientists have been trying to find the factors that contribute to this liver overproduction of glucose for decades,” Dr. Dong said. “If we can control that pathway, we should be able to help reduce the abnormally high blood sugar levels seen in patients with diabetes.”

He and his team have been studying a family of proteins called Forkhead box or FOX, and for the current project focused on one called FOX06. They found that mice engineered to make too much FOX06 developed signs of metabolic syndrome, the precursor to diabetes, including high blood sugar and high insulin levels during fasting as well as impaired glucose tolerance, while mice that made too little FOX06 had abnormally low blood sugars during fasting.

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Michael Levy, PhD, assistant professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, along with other collaborators from Penn, Johns Hopkins University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, are in the trenches combining tried-and-true epidemiological approaches with new statistical methods to learn more about the course of a dangerous, contagious disease epidemic. Their research was published last week in PLoS Computational Biology.

Chagas disease, primarily seen in South America, Central America, and Mexico, is the most deadly parasitic disease in the Americas. Caused by the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, it is spread chiefly via several species of blood-sucking triatomine insects. After an initial acute phase, the disease continues to lurk in the body and can eventually cause a variety of chronic life-threatening problems, particularly in the heart. Although there are some drugs to treat Chagas disease, they become less effective the longer a person is infected. The lack of a vaccine also means that the only effective way to control the disease is to control the disease vectors.

Because the chronic effects of Chagas disease can take decades to manifest themselves, tracking the development and progression of epidemics has been a challenging problem. In the past, Chagas disease was known mostly in rural regions, but has been spreading into more urbanized areas over the last 40 years. Levy’s team has been focusing on one of those areas in the city of Arequipa, Peru.

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According to a study of more than 31,000 children and adults by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, physicians should diligently monitor Vitamin D levels in patients being treated with oral steroids.

“When doctors write that prescription for steroids and they’re sending the patients for lab tests, they should also get the vitamin D level measured,” Amy Skversky, the lead author said.

The researchers examined data collected from participants who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006.

About one percent of the participants answered “yes” when asked if they had used oral steroids during the previous 30 days, whereas eleven percent of the self-reported steroid users had severely low vitamin D levels compared to a severe vitamin D deficiency of 5 percent for people not taking steroids, which showed a two-fold increased risk for severe vitamin D deficiency.

The risk of deficiency was particularly pronounced in steroid users under the age of 18, who were 14 times more likely to have a severe vitamin D deficiency compared with young non-steroid users.

The findings of the study have been published in the 28th September online edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.


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Homocystein is an amino acid that is produced by
the body. It is natural to have some homocysteine in the body but elevated
homocysteine levels can cause health hazards like heart attack, stroke and
venous thrombosis (blood clots in veins).

Thus there is a direct association between
elevated homocysteine levels and the increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Studies have estimated that a reduction of 3 μmol/L in serum homocysteine would decrease risk of coronary heart
disease by 18 percent and stroke by 24 percent after a mean follow-up of 7·3
years. However, this association
was more pronounced in populations with low dietary folate consumption.
In regions with established policies of
population folate supplementation, no coronary benefits were observed from
lowering of homocysteine.

Some studies have associated the MTHFR 677C→T polymorphism with raised
homocysteine concentration and increased risk of stroke. MTHFR is a gene called
methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. It provides instructions for making an
enzyme that plays an important role in a chemical reaction involving B-vitamin

In order to
investigate the potential modifying effect of folate status on the association
between the MTHFR 677C→T
variant and stroke risk, a collaboration of genetic studies including data for
homocysteine concentration and stroke events was established. The finding of
this genetic analysis was compared with a meta-analysis of randomised
controlled trials of homocysteine-lowering treatments on stroke risk.

Researchers established genetic studies
consisting of 237 datasets including 59,995 individuals with data for
homocysteine and 20885 stroke events. On comparing the genetic findings with a
meta-analysis of 13 randomised trials of homocysteine lowering treatments and
stroke risk, the following results were found –

The effect of the MTHFR 677C→T variant on homocysteine concentration was larger in
low folate regions than in areas with folate fortification.

It was highly dependent on probable folate
status category.

In regions with no supplementation with folic
acid, for eg; Asia, participants homozygous for the T allele had higher
concentrations of homocysteine than did those homozygous for the C allele. The
effect was reduced in studies undertaken in geographical regions with policies
of folic acid fortification like America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Patterns were similar when heterozygous
individuals were compared with those homozygous for the C allele, although the
magnitude of the genetic effect was smaller.

In regions without
folic acid fortification, the odds of
stroke was 1·68 for comparison of individuals with the TT genotype and those
with the CC genotype. This increase in risk was substantially larger than that
noted in regions with low folate intake and regions with mid folate intake or
folate fortification.

Even though there is a strong evidence of an
increased risk of stroke associated with the MTHFR 677C→T variant, reduction of homocysteine concentration
might not necessarily reverse the risk of stroke in adult life
. Such conclusions can be derived from randomised trials of interventions
such as folic acid that reduce the concentration of homocysteine.

It is important to
emphasis on few differences between the evidence obtained from randomised
trials and genetic studies. Firstly, most trial evidence arose from settings in
which policies of folic acid fortification were well in place. Secondly, genetic
studies reflect lifetime exposure to the phenotype resulting from the genetic
variant, since randomization to the allele variants occurs at conception.
Third, the number of stroke events in trials is substantially lower than that
included in the genetic analyses. Fourth, evidence from randomized trials is
derived mainly from individuals with established vascular disease, whereas that
from genetic studies is mainly population-based. Therefore, genetic evidence
should be regarded only as an approximate guide to the risk reduction achieved
by modification of homocysteine concentrations in randomised trials.

It should also be
considered that MTHFR 677C→T, a
genetic instrument used to evaluate the effects of homocysteine on stroke risk,
has poor specificity and it can not be denied that the genetic effect of
MTHFR could be because of some mechanism other than homocysteine.
the effect seen in low folate regions could be due to selective reporting bias
in the subtype of stroke reported in genetic case-control or cohort studies i.e
if stroke subtype was differentially reported according to continent and was
associated with MTHFR genotype,
the observed signal could be inflated.

The researchers
conclude ‘In regions with increasing levels or established policies of
population folate supplementation, evidence from genetic studies and randomised
trials is concordant in suggesting an absence of benefit from lowering of
homocysteine for prevention of stroke. Further large-scale genetic studies of
the association between MTHFR 677C→T and stroke in low folate settings are
needed to distinguish effect modification by folate from small-study bias. If
future randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions for stroke
prevention are undertaken, they should take place in regions with low folate

Source: Holmes MV, et al. Effect modification by population
dietary folate on the association between MTHFR genotype, homocysteine, and
stroke risk: a meta-analysis of genetic studies and randomised trials. Lancet.
2011 Aug 13;378(9791):584-94. Epub 2011 Jul 29.


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The report by Surgeons from Boston Medical Center (BMC) also found the incidence of hypoglycemic events increased with aggressive glycemic control.

Currently, 40 percent of all patients undergoing CABG suffer from diabetes, and this number is quickly rising. Traditionally these patients have more complications following surgery, including greater risk of heart attacks, more wound infections and reduced long-term survival.

In the study, eighty-two diabetic patients undergoing CABG were prospectively randomized to receive either aggressive glycemic control or moderate glycemic control using continuous intravenous insulin solutions beginning at anesthesia and continuing for 18 hours after surgery.

Researchers found that there was no difference in the incidence of major adverse effects between the two groups.

“Aggressive glycemic control did not result in any significant improvement of clinical outcomes than can be achieved with moderate control,” said Lazar, who is also a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Boston University School of Medicine.

“Although aggressive glycemic control did increase the incidence of hypoglycemic events, it did not result in an increased incidence of neurological events,” he added.

The study has been published in the journal Annals of Surgery.


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Diabetes has become increasingly common in the United States and the world, according to background information in the article. Elevated levels of hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood glucose levels and control over two to three months), blood pressure (BP), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) are associated with an increase in the risk of complications. Reducing the levels decreases those risks, but the article notes that most patients with diabetes do not have these levels under control. Currently, treatment guidelines do not include recommendations for how frequently physicians should see patients with diabetes, although recommended intervals for testing and adjustments to medication may range from every two to three days for insulin to every three months for hemoglobin A1c. “However,” the authors write, “benefits of more frequent provider encounters may not be limited to treatment intensification and testing.”

Fritha Morrison, M.P.H., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study to determine whether more frequent encounters with a physician help patients improve control of diabetes. The authors analyzed data from 26,496 adult patients with diabetes and elevated hemoglobin A1c, BP and/or LDL-C levels who visited primary care physicians affiliated with two Boston hospitals for at least two years between January 2000 and January 2009. Treatment goals at the beginning of the study were hemoglobin A1c of less than 7 percent, BP of less than 130/85 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) and LDL-C of less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). The researchers assessed the relationship between the frequency of clinician encounters (defined as notes in the medical record) and time to control of hemoglobin A1c, BP and LDL-C.

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