Facts, not Fantasy

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Today in the News (4 Aug 09)

Vaccines:
Anti-influenza Drugs -- Relenza And Tamiflu -- Appear Equally Effective At Preventing Flu Symptoms. Two common anti-influenza drugs — Relenza and Tamiflu — appear equally effective at preventing common flu symptoms when given before infection, say researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine. However, data is lacking on the effectiveness and safety of the two drugs in vulnerable groups such as the very young and people with compromised immune systems. The researchers pooled and analyzed the data from seven previously published studies because countries around the world are stockpiling these and other drugs for possible use in the current H1N1 pandemic, as well as for future influenza pandemics.


Promising Candidate Protein For Cancer Prevention Vaccines. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have learned that some healthy people naturally developed an immune response against a protein that is made in excess levels in many cancers, including breast, lung, and head and neck cancers. The finding suggests that a vaccine against the protein might prevent malignancies in high-risk individuals. Mice that were vaccinated to boost their immune response against this cell cycle protein, called cyclin B1, were able to reject a tumor challenge in which they were exposed to a cancer cell line that overproduced it, explained senior author Olivera Finn, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Immunology at the Pitt School of Medicine. The results were recently reported in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Autism:
Autism Study Finds Visual Processing 'Hinders Ability' To Read Body Language. The way people with autism see and process the body language of others could be preventing them from gauging people's feelings, according to new research. With around half a million people in the UK affected by autism, the Durham University study suggests visual processing problems could be contributing to their day-to-day difficulties with social interaction. The research showed that adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found it difficult to identify emotions, such as anger or happiness, from short video clips of body movements without seeing faces or hearing sound.

How to debunk a health myth? Not as easy as one would seem to think. We are fearful animals that are incredibly gullible and swayed by irrelevant factors. Hopefully we won't have the children of irresponsible adults dying left and right from preventable diseases. Of course, they are the ones who can prevent it with simple science.

Evolution:
Your parent's genes shape the way your brain works. DUH! Although this article explores the evolutionary background information in this, which I found fascinating! We each have two parents, but their genetic contributions to what makes us us are uneven. New research shows we are an amalgam of influences from mom and dad.

Being more infantile may lead to bigger brains. For decades scientists have noted that mature humans physically resemble immature chimps—we, too, have small jaws, flat faces and sparse body hair. The retention of juvenile features, called neoteny in evolutionary biology, is especially apparent in domesticated animals—thanks to human preferences, many dog breeds have puppy features such as floppy ears, short snouts and large eyes. Now genetic evidence suggests that neoteny could help explain why humans are so radically different from chimpanzees, even though both species share most of the same genes and split apart only about six million years ago, a short time in evolutionary terms.

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