Scientists Study Bedbug Genome for Weaknesses

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- As the war on bedbugs wears on, scientists try to understand the invasive pests so they can kill the suckers.  Now, Ohio State University researchers have conducted the first genetic study to identify pesticide-resistant genes the bugs carry.  It may lead to new ways of controlling the bugs in the future.

"Right now, these studies are still preliminary and only scratching the surface of the bedbug genome," said Omprakash Mittapalli, Ph.D., assistant professor of entomology at Ohio Agricultural and Development Center and corresponding author of the study.  "But bedbugs could be a lot more complicated than previously thought."

Mittapalli and his team analyzed laboratory-reared bedbugs vulnerable to insecticides, and compared them to pesticide-exposed bedbugs found in a local apartment in 2009 and 2010.  Researchers identified more than 35,000 expressed sequence tags, tiny portions of a gene that can be used to help identify unknown genes and map their positions within the genome.

"The genetic bases for these genes could enable us to formulate newer development strategies that may be more effective than what we have right now," said Mittapalli.  "But a lot more studies need to be done, not only to identify candidate genes, but also to get a better understanding of the biology of the insect."

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found that there were differences in a gene, known as CYP9, between the bedbugs exposed to pesticides and the non-exposed bedbugs.  In other words, scientists say bedbugs may be genetically resistant to the pesticides currently used to get rid of them.

"If we can suppress the expression of that gene and see if bedbugs are still able to overcome the pesticide, then we'll be able to see that that gene is involved in overcoming pesticide resistance," said Mittapalli.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA to Improve Premarket Review of Medical Devices

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans Wednesday to improve the most common path to market for medical devices. The agency revealed its plan consisting of 25 actions to implement during 2011.

Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), hopes these new actions will result in "a smarter medical device program that supports innovation, keeps jobs here at home and brings important, safe and effective technologies to patients quickly."

Key measures of the plan include establishing a new Center Science Council of senior FDA experts who will ensure timely and consistent decision making based on science, new guidance that will increase the efficiency of the premarket review process, and a recommendation of a suitable time for submission of clinical data for premarket review.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers Link Periodontal Health to Respiratory Illnesses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- New research published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that periodontal disease may increase risk for respiratory infections such as chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. 

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth.  Respiratory infections like pneumonia or COPD occur when bacteria from the upper throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.  Researchers infer that oral pathogens associated with periodontal disease increase the risk of developing respiratory illnesses.

Donald S. Clem, DDS, the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, emphasized the importance of proper oral care to prevent or treat the development of periodontal disease.

"By working with your dentist or periodontist, you may actually be able to prevent or diminish the progression of harmful diseases such as pneumonia or COPD," he said.  "This study provides yet another example of how periodontal health plays a role in keeping other systems of the body healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kidneys Can Travel Long Distances, Survive Long Hours

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) – A new study suggests that kidneys can be transported across the country and still be as viable for transplant as those who remain in the same hospital.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied 56 kidneys that traveled an average of 792 miles and spent an average of 7.6 hours outside of the body.

"There was no difference in how well the kidneys functioned compared to those transplanted immediately from someone in a nearby operating room in the same hospital," Dr. Dorry L. Segev, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

The news could allow an expansion in kidney exchanges that allow donors to give a kidney to someone else in exchange for one that is a match for their loved one.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Stents Could be Used in Stroke Victims

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) – New research suggests that stents, in addition to opening clogged heart arteries, can help clear blockage in the brain after a stroke, reports Healthday News.

Researchers at the Baptist Cardiac and Vascular Institute in Miami say that if traditional stroke treatments fail, stents can unblock the arteries of the brain and increase the survival rate for stroke victims.

"The bottom line is that stroke is a deadly condition," said study lead author Dr. Italo Linfante. "Up to 10 years ago it was a death sentence. Yet now if you go to the hospital early enough with a stroke there are several ways to be treated."

Linfante says current treatments are about 60 percent successful in opening arteries, while stents could bring that figure up to 95 percent.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Website Offers Medication Translations for World Travelers 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RADNOR, Penn.) – World travelers will now have more help identifying their medications in other countries.

Global health and safety services company HTH Worldwide has expanded a mobile and online translation guide to ensure that travelers get the same medication there were prescribed at home as drug names can vary by country.

The company has recently expanded, an online medication database, to include 28 of the world’s most visited countries. Recently, translations have been added for those visiting South Korea and South Africa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Teen Mom 2': Medical Reality Intrudes on MTV Reality Show

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Now here's a dose of reality. New mother Leah Messer learned in the last episode of MTV's Teen Mom 2 that one of her twins may have disabilities.

The reality star left the doctor's office crying after hearing the devastating news that her one-year-old daughter Aliannah was not growing as well as her twin sister.

On the show, Aliannah shrieks as the doctor attempts to straighten her crooked legs.

"It's pretty obvious that there are deficits," said the doctor, who could not provide more details, but immediately ordered an MRI of the child's spine. "To me, it looks like her arms are too short. She looks a little disproportioned. You see that? There certainly are things that aren't working."

He suspected a "nerve-rooted injury" could be causing the deformity.

The twins were born in an emergency Caesarian section and Aliannah was born in the breach position -- or legs first.

After the doctor's visit, Messer called Corey Simms, who is the twins' father. The couple first appeared on the prequel show, 16 and Pregnant, and were recently married.

Both MTV shows have been under heavy fire for encouraging teen pregnancy and painting an attention-getting picture of pregnancy and motherhood. Reps for MTV didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Even the show's website acknowledges the trend: "After examining the Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant phenomenon we can say that how eager are the young ladies to be on reality TV shows. They are not even hesitating to be pregnant to just score an audition."

But with new story lines like these, experts like Leslie Hughes, a nurse practitioner at the Teen Ob Clinic at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, says that television is "doing a better job."

"A few years ago, Hollywood glamorized teen pregnancy with girls like Britney Spears' younger sister being called, 'the little homemaker,'" she said. "I didn't think that was cute at all."

"But Teen Mom shows the harsh realities -- it's not just a dress-up doll," said Hughes. "It's a major responsibility."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Finds One in 12 Are Drunk at Major Sporting Events

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Many fans lucky enough to have tickets to one of the NFL conference championship games this weekend will cheer for their team with a beer in hand, and about one in 12 will leave the stadium legally drunk, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota say people under the age of 35 were eight times more likely to be legally drunk than other attendees, and fans who tailgate in the parking lot before the game were the worst offenders -- they were 14 times more likely to leave a game intoxicated.

In an anonymous survey given by the researchers after administering a breathalyzer test, one in four tailgaters owned up to downing at least five alcoholic beverages, with those in the highest BAC range knocking back an average of 6.6 drinks.

Doug Shavel, who has tailgated at New York Jets home games in Giants Stadium for more than 10 years, agreed that tailgating and drinking seem to go hand in hand.

"Everywhere you look voluminous quantities of alcohol are being consumed," he said. "People arrive by 9 a.m. for a [1 p.m.] kickoff and they're drinking the entire time. Some continue drinking postgame while they wait for the parking lot to clear out."

Shavel has seen a lot of bad behavior in his time that can be attributed to drinking. Once a drunken fan vomited on the person sitting next to him, then later he saw someone puking in the aisles. At another event, Shavel said he saw a man who was so inebriated he had to be carried out on a stretcher with an IV attached to his arm.

In his own tailgating circle, a friend once drank until he was so drunk he fell over into a pit of hot charcoal. "That's the exception, not the rule," Shavel insisted.

In fact, the percentage of drinkers discovered by the study may seem surprising low to anyone who has ever attended a sporting event and witnessed an alcohol-fueled fist fight or someone staggering through the stands.

But lead investigator Darin Erickson, an assistant professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota's School of Public Health said the numbers match up with findings from a previous study.

"People's perception of how many people get drunk at games may be somewhat distorted. Their estimates are likely greater than the actual numbers," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers: Not Everyone Needs Statins to Prevent Heart Disease

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LONDON) -- Millions of people take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol levels, and there's been an even bigger push to use them to prevent heart disease since the cholesterol-busting statin drug Crestor was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a way to stave off cardiovascular disease in those who don't yet have it.

But new research may throw into question exactly who is at enough risk for heart problems to justify taking the medications and who might be better off skipping them.

On the one hand, the drugs have been shown to lower levels of dangerous LDL, or "bad," cholesterol.  On the other hand, they do carry rare but serious side effects, including the breakdown of muscle tissue, memory loss and a nervous system malfunction called neuropathy.

A group of British researchers found that people who are at low risk for heart disease -- in this case, those who have never had heart disease and aren't likely to develop it -- may not benefit very much from taking statins.  In a report published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a group of British researchers reviewed 14 studies with more than 34,000 low-risk participants who took statins for at least a year and found that there is a very low likelihood of death from any cause.

"Cochrane Review guidance is helpful in highlighting that the current evidence does not support use of statins below a one percent annual all-cause mortality risk or an annual CVD [cardiovascular disease] event rate of below two percent," the report said.  Experts say this level of risk is extremely low.

The researchers also found that statins lowered cholesterol levels, reduced the number of procedures required to improve or restore blood flow through the heart and reduced the number of strokes.  Despite these benefits, the authors say the use of statins doesn't really improve people's quality of life, and that a number of the trials they analyzed were significantly flawed.  As a result, they say "caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people with low cardiovascular risk."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heart Disease Death Rate Drops with Fruits and Veggies 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OXFORD, England) -- It's time to make friends with the produce aisle: pumping your diet with fruits and vegetables isn't just good for your waistline -- it could save your life, according to new research from the University of Oxford.

While "five a day" has traditionally been the mantra for fruit and veggie consumption, researchers found that those who consumed eight or more servings were 22 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who consumed three or fewer servings a day.

Even among those who couldn't manage the eight servings, more fruits and veggies consistently meant a lower risk; for every additional serving above two per day, researchers observed a four percent decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths.

Though past studies have linked the consumption of fruit and vegetables to heart health, many remain skeptical as to whether these foods have a direct protective effect on the heart. Given the size of Tuesday's study -- over 300,000 participants from eight different European countries -- and the strength of its findings, some doctors feel that it may erase and remaining doubts concerning fruits and veggies, and cardiovascular health.

"This is probably the largest study of its type and should convince even the greatest skeptic of the value of fruits and veggies," said Dr. Randall Zusman, director of the division of hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"This compares 'enough' fruit and vegetable intake to 'more than enough' and suggests that 'more than enough' is better," said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center. This could have big implications considering that the U.S. population "doesn't even approximate the 'enough' target" as it is.

The study, which was published Tuesday in the European Heart Journal, is part of the EPIC trial, a long-term study in Europe initially set up to track the effect of vegetable and fruit intake on cancer.

In the U.S., the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables has often been promoted as "five a day". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved away from that recommendation in 2007, to a more flexible approach, dubbed Fruits & Veggies - More Matters.

Instead of a flat recommendation of five servings a day, the new program changes recommendations based on age, sex and activity level. For a 40-year-old sedentary man, recommendations are now two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day; for a sedentary woman of that age, the recommendation is 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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