Wednesday, April 23, 2008

15 with 16 pounds facial tumor

her ability to eat and speak.

Fifteen-year-old Lai Thi Dao suffers from a Schwannoma tumor that has been growing since she was 3. The tumor has severely disfigured her face and kept her from ever attending school.

Doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital say the tumor threatens to suffocate Lai. They will remove the tumor in a 10-hour surgery on April 29.

Schwannoma tumors are usually benign. Lai's doctors say the size of her tumor is extremely rare, but it probably won't return once it's removed.

The teen hopes to finally attend school once she recovers and returns to Vietnam.

The International Kids Fund is seeking donations to fund Lai's surgery.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Comment on Italian Elections: what's the message

Italian people decided to grow, to change, to leave italuy and enter Europe and the world.
They finally understood the World war has finished since long, that the Berlin wall has gone a few years ago, that there aro no Fascists and no Communists any more.
Just like in the rest of Europe and in the US.
Finally we have two parties that are slightly on the lefet and slightly on the right.
Both understand that the right is in the middle.
People understood that without rules, without justice, without programs you just have chaos, getting everyday bigger.
Hope they had enough of it, because, if this is the case, ALL will try to change and make this beautiful country a little bit closer to what it should be.

Good luck Italy, do not waist this chance!

Placenta's evolutionary origins

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have uncovered the first clues about the ancient origins of a mother’s intricate lifeline to her unborn baby, the placenta, which delivers oxygen and nutrients critical to the baby’s health.

The evidence suggests the placenta of humans and other mammals evolved from the much simpler tissue that attached to the inside of eggshells and enabled the embryos of our distant ancestors, the birds and reptiles, to get oxygen.

“The placenta is this amazing, complex structure and it’s unique to mammals, but we’ve had no idea what its evolutionary origins are,” said Julie Baker, PhD, assistant professor of genetics. Baker is senior author of the study, published in the May issue of Genome Research.

The placenta grows inside the mother’s uterus and serves as a way of exchanging gas and nutrients between mother and fetus; it is expelled from the mother’s body after the birth of a baby. It is the only organ to develop in adulthood and is the only one with a defined end date, Baker said, making the placenta of interest to people curious about how tissues and organs develop.

Beyond being a biological curiosity, the placenta also plays a role in the health of both the mother and the baby. Some recent research also suggests that the placenta could be a key barrier in preventing or allowing molecules to pass to the unborn baby that influence the baby’s disease risk well into adulthood.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

A shield against radiations

A drug that can protect against the effects of radiation, whether from cancer treatment, a nuclear accident or an atomic bomb, is unveiled today.

The drug is to be developed for the US military to protect troops and is already undergoing tests to help improve cancer treatments.

The new drug protects animals' bone marrow and gut cells from being destroyed by radiation therapy, without reducing radiation's effectiveness against tumour cells, say today's studies.

Although radiation is an important weapon used by doctors to blast cancers, drugs that limit radiation's devastating effects on healthy cells are needed to reduce the potentially severe side effects.

Radiation induces damage in healthy tissues not by directly killing cells but by prompting them to commit "suicide" through a process called apoptosis.

The new drug, called "Protectan CBLB502, tested in mice and monkeys, protects radiation-blasted tissues by shutting down this cell death programme, which the body normally turns on in cells with damaged DNA to keep them from multiplying, says Dr Lyudmila Burdelya, who worked with Drs Vadim Krivokrysenko and Andrei Gudkov at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and colleagues at the company Cleveland BioLabs, also in Buffalo, New York.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Addicted to smoking

Scientists say they have pinpointed a genetic link that makes people more likely to become hooked on tobacco, causing them to smoke more cigarettes, making it harder to quit and leading more often to deadly lung cancer.

The discovery by three separate teams of scientists makes the strongest case so far for the biological underpinnings of the addiction of smoking and sheds light on how genetics and cigarettes join forces to cause cancer, experts said. The findings also lay the groundwork for more tailored treatments to quit smoking.

“This is kind of a double-whammy gene,” said Christopher Amos, a professor of epidemiology at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and author of one of the studies. “It also makes you more likely to be dependent on smoking and less likely to quit smoking.”

A smoker who inherits this genetic variation from both parents has an 80 percent greater chance of lung cancer than a smoker without the variants, the researchers reported. And that same smoker on average lights up two extra cigarettes a day and has a much harder time quitting.

The three studies, financed by governments in the United States and Europe, are being published Thursday in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics.

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Viruses are not always bad

A British scientist says some of the oxygen we breathe is being produced because of viruses that infect micro-organisms in the Earth's oceans.

University of Warwick Professor Nicholas Mann says about half of the world's oxygen is produced by bacteria living in tiny photosynthesizing creatures called phytoplankton.

"In major parts of the oceans, the micro-organisms responsible for providing oxygen and locking away carbon dioxide are actually single-celled bacteria called cyanobacteria," said Mann. "These organisms, which are so important for making our planet inhabitable, are attacked and infected by a range of different types of viruses."

The researchers found some of the viruses provide the genetic material that code for key components of the photosynthesis process.
"It's beginning to become to clear to us that at least a proportion of the oxygen we breathe is a by-product of bacteria suffering from a virus infection," said Mann. "Instead of being viewed solely as evolutionary bad guys, causing diseases, viruses appear to be of central importance in the planetary process. In fact they may be essential to our survival."

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Hope for liver cirrhosis

Scientists in Japan have designed artificial molecules that when used with rats successfully reversed liver cirrhosis, a serious chronic disease in humans that until now can only be cured by transplants.

Cirrhosis is the hardening or scarring of the liver, and is caused by factors such as heavy drinking and Hepatitis B and C. The disease is especially serious in parts of Asia, including China.

Cirrhosis occurs when a class of liver cells starts producing collagen, a fibrous material that toughens skin and tendons. Such damage cannot be reversed although steps can be taken to prevent further damage. In advanced cases, transplants are the only way out.

In the journal Nature Biotechnology, the researchers said they designed molecules that can block collagen production by liver "stellate cells", which are also known to absorb vitamin

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