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Future Disease Prevention by Turning Genes On And Off

The Future Of Disease Prevention May Not Depend On Your Genes But Upon Ways To Turn Them On And Off

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The new field of epigenetics has shown that the choice of which of your genes are “expressed,” or activated, is strongly affected by environmental influences.

This means that expression of your genes can change, and they are influenced by external factors.

One implication of this is that many health problems — ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease to neurological disorders — can be caused at least in part by altered “histone modifications,” which affect DNA.

According to Eurekalert:
“The good news … is that ‘HDAC inhibitors’ can stop this degenerative process, and some of them have already been identified in common foods. Examples include sulforaphane in broccoli, indole-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables, and organosulfur compounds in vegetables like garlic and onions.”


Resources:

Eurekalert April 28, 2010
Experimental Biology 2010, Anaheim, California April 24-28, 2010

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News on Health & Science

Antibody ‘Fixes Internal Bleeds’

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Scientists say they have discovered an antibody that could minimise the major internal bleeding seen in traumas like bullet wounds and car crashes.
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The team at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) has discovered that a protein called histone is responsible for much of the damage.

They say they have found a specific type of antibody that can block the ability of histone to cause damage.

They say it could lead to new ways to treat diseases and serious injuries.

‘Life threatening’
Writing in the journal, Nature Medicine, the OMRF researchers found that when mice had a bad blood stream infection (sepsis), their blood contained high levels of histones.

They checked this in primates and humans and found the same result.

The histone protein normally sits in the nucleus of a cell, packed around the strands of DNA.

It regulates the DNA, causing it to fold and form the characteristic double helix.


Bullet wounds often lead to severe internal bleeding

When the cell is damaged by injury or disease, the histone is released into the blood system where it begins to kill the lining of blood vessels, causing damage, the OMRF researchers said.

This, they believe, results in uncontrolled internal bleeding and fluid build-up in the tissues, which are life threatening.

Dr Charles Esmon, of OMRF who led the research, said: “When we realised that histones were so toxic, we immediately went to work looking for a way to stop their destructive tendencies.”

Mouse antibody
Marc Monestier, a colleague at Temple University in Philadelphia, had already discovered a specific type of antibody known as a monoclonal antibody that could block the histones.

It had been observed that patients with auto-immune diseases make antibodies to the proteins in their cell nuclei but it was not known why.

This antibody came from a mouse with an auto-immune disease.

The OMRF team have tested the antibody in mice with sepsis and it does stop the toxic effects of the histones and they recover, the researchers say.

They now want to test it in primates and eventually humans.

Dr Esmon said histones were similar in all mammals because they were such basic building blocks.

So a mouse antibody should work equally well in a human.

He said: “We think it was an adaptation during evolution.

“Millions of years ago, when people and animals got ill, they did not die of heart attacks or car accidents they died of infectious diseases.

“Their immune systems went into overdrive throwing everything at it and we believe the histones in the cell nucleus, part of the basic building blocks of life, were the last resort.”

Dr Stephen Prescott, president of OMRF, said: “These findings offer some clues as to why people suffering from one traumatic injury often experience a catastrophic ‘cascade’ of secondary traumatic events.

“If we can figure out how to control the initial injury, perhaps that will stop the domino effect that so often follows.”

Source: BBC News: 26th.Oct.’09

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Diagnonistic Test

Colonoscopy

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Definition:
A colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAH-skuh-pee) allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine. The procedure enables the physician to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.

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What is the colon?
The colon, or large bowel, is the last portion of your digestive tract, or gastrointestinal tract. The colon is a hollow tube that starts at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum and anus. The colon is about 5 feet long, and its main function is to store unabsorbed food waste and absorb water and other body fluids before the waste is eliminated as stool.

Preparation for Colonscopy test
You will be given instructions in advance that will explain what you need to do to prepare for your colonoscopy. Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. To prepare for the procedure you will have to follow a liquid diet for 1 to 3 days beforehand. The liquid diet should be clear and not contain food colorings, and may include

*fat-free bouillon or broth
*strained fruit juice
*water
*plain coffee
*plain tea
*diet soda
*gelatin
Thorough cleansing of the bowel is necessary before a colonoscopy. You will likely be asked to take a laxative the night before the procedure. In some cases you may be asked to give yourself an enema. An enema is performed by inserting a bottle with water and sometimes a mild soap in your anus to clean out the bowels. Be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions you have or medications you take on a regular basis such as

*aspirin
*arthritis medications
*blood thinners
*diabetes medication
*vitamins that contain iron

The medical staff will also want to know if you have heart disease, lung disease, or any medical condition that may need special attention. You must also arrange for someone to take you home afterward, because you will not be allowed to drive after being sedated.

Procedure
For the colonoscopy, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. You will be given pain medication and a moderate sedative to keep you comfortable and help you relax during the exam. The doctor and a nurse will monitor your vital signs, look for any signs of discomfort, and make adjustments as needed.

The doctor will then insert a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The tube is called a colonoscope (koh-LON-oh-skope). The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon onto a video screen so the doctor can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends so the doctor can move it around the curves of your colon.

You may be asked to change positions at times so the doctor can more easily move the scope to better see the different parts of your colon. The scope blows air into your colon and inflates it, which helps give the doctor a better view. Most patients do not remember the procedure afterwards.

The doctor can remove most abnormal growths in your colon, like a polyp, which is a growth in the lining of the bowel. Polyps are removed using tiny tools passed through the scope. Most polyps are not cancerous, but they could turn into cancer. Just looking at a polyp is not enough to tell if it is cancerous. The polyps are sent to a lab for testing. By identifying and removing polyps, a colonoscopy likely prevents most cancers from forming.

The doctor can also remove tissue samples to test in the lab for diseases of the colon (biopsy). In addition, if any bleeding occurs in the colon, the doctor can pass a laser, heater probe, electrical probe, or special medicines through the scope to stop the bleeding. The tissue removal and treatments to stop bleeding usually do not cause pain. In many cases, a colonoscopy allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment of colon abnormalities without the need for a major operation.

During the procedure you may feel mild cramping. You can reduce the cramping by taking several slow, deep breaths. When the doctor has finished, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of your bowel is carefully examined. Bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible but uncommon complications of a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. The sedative and pain medicine should keep you from feeling much discomfort during the exam. You may feel some cramping or the sensation of having gas after the procedure is completed, but it usually stops within an hour. You will need to remain at the colonoscopy facility for 1 to 2 hours so the sedative can wear off.

Rarely, some people experience severe abdominal pain, fever, bloody bowel movements, dizziness, or weakness afterward. If you have any of these side effects, contact your physician immediately. Read your discharge instructions carefully. Medications such as blood-thinners may need to be stopped for a short time after having your colonoscopy, especially if a biopsy was performed or polyps were removed. Full recovery by the next day is normal and expected and you may return to your regular activities.

For More Information
American College of Gastroenterology
P.O. Box 342260
Bethesda, MD 20827–2260
Phone: 301–263–9000
Fax: 301–263–9025
Email: info@acg.gi.org
Internet: www.acg.gi.org

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
P.O. Box 170864
Milwaukee, WI 53217–8076
Phone: 1–888–964–2001 or 414–964–1799
Fax: 414–964–7176
Email: iffgd@iffgd.org
Internet: www.iffgd.org

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3570
Phone: 1–800–891–5389
TTY: 1–866–569–1162
Fax: 703–738–4929
Email: nddic@info.niddk.nih.gov
Internet: www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov

Sources: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/colonoscopy/index.htm,  http://healthtopics.hcf.com.au/Colonoscopy.aspx

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News on Health & Science

Hope For Acute Leukaemia Patients

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A mechanism that improves functioning of proteins impaired in patients with acute forms of leukaemia has been unveiled by researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York.

The protein, called AML1, plays a crucial role in the development of the blood system and in the production of platelets and immune cells.

Investigators identified the methyltransferase enzyme that controls the activity of normal AML1 protein – also called RUNX1. They demonstrated its ability to regulate the function of proteins that control cell fate by turning genes on or off.

The researchers found that cellular pathways that regulate activity of normal AML1 protein through a process called arginine methylation cannot similarly regulate the activity of AML1-ETO, a protein associated with causing acute leukaemia.

Methylation is the process by which methyltransferases catalyze the attachment of a methyl group to DNA or protein in order to regulate gene expression or protein function.

Demethylase enzymes that remove methyl groups from proteins have only recently been discovered.

“By manipulating the activity of these enzymes, it may be possible to promote the activity of the normal protein, and thereby lessen the impact of the protein that promotes leukaemia,” said the study’s co-author Stephen D. Nimer, of Hematology Service at MSKCC.

There are currently no available drugs that target protein methylation, although two drugs that target DNA methylation are FDA approved for treating patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.

Sources: The Times Of India