New Smart monitoring pills will help healthcare providers profit from your compliance ( can be both good, and bad )

Silicon pill beams back body’s response to medicines

07 May 2014 by Aviva Rutkin

Drugs work best when taken as prescribed. Take control with the help of a smart pill and skin patch that report back if you forget to take your meds

TIME to take your electric meds. Sensors could come embedded in the pills in your next prescription, watching whether you take your medication on time and tracking your body’s response to the drugs.

The tiny sensors, which are ingested and pass harmlessly through the body, are part of the Helius system, developed by Proteus Digital Health in Redwood City, California. Together with a sensor-laden patch worn on the skin, Helius can let patients track personal data like activity levels and body temperature, and share it with their doctors or loved ones.

Continue reading “New Smart monitoring pills will help healthcare providers profit from your compliance ( can be both good, and bad )”

Multivitamins with minerals may protect older women with invasive breast cancer

Contact: Deirdre Branley sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu 718-430-3101 Albert Einstein College of Medicine

October 9, 2013 — (BRONX, NY) — Findings from a study involving thousands of postmenopausal women suggest that women who develop invasive breast cancer may benefit from taking supplements containing both multivitamins and minerals. The new research, published today in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, found that the risk of dying from invasive breast cancer was 30 percent lower among multivitamin/mineral users compared with nonusers.

“Our study offers tentative but intriguing evidence that multivitamin/mineral supplements may help older women who develop invasive breast cancer survive their disease,” said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., lead author of the study and distinguished university professor emerita of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Multivitamin/mineral supplements are the most commonly consumed dietary supplements among U.S. adults. They usually contain 20-30 vitamins and minerals, often at levels of 100 percent of U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances or less, and the usual label recommendation is to take them daily.

The research was conducted as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trials and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study. Combined, the two studies include data from 161,608 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 when they first joined the study. These women were enrolled at 40 clinical centers throughout the United States during the years 1993-1998.

The current study focused on 7,728 participants who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during the WHI and were followed for an average of seven years after their diagnosis. Invasive breast cancer is defined as cancer that has spread outside the membrane of the milk glands or ducts and into the breast tissue. Two common types of invasive breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma and infiltrating lobular carcinoma.

After enrolling in the WHI and during repeated follow-up visits, all participants provided extensive information about their health including whether or not they had taken a multivitamin/mineral supplement at least once a week during the prior two weeks.

About 38percent of the 7,728 women who developed invasive breast cancer during the WHI were using the supplements. The vast majority were taking the supplements before their breast-cancer diagnosis. A comparison of mortality rates revealed that women with invasive breast cancer who took multivitamin/mineral supplements were 30 percent less likely to die from their cancers than women with invasive breast cancer who hadn’t taken the supplements.

Could differences between the multivitamin/mineral users and nonusers account for this finding? The researchers looked at many possible confounding factors including additional supplements that the women took, their smoking status, education, race/ethnicity, weight, depression, alcohol use, physical activity, age at breast cancer diagnosis, and diabetes. The association between regular use of multivitamin/mineral supplements and reduced risk of death persisted even after these factors were taken into account.

“Controlling for these other factors strengthens our confidence that the association we observed – between taking multivitamin/mineral supplements and lowering breast-cancer mortality risk among postmenopausal women with invasive breast cancer – is a real one,” said Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller, who also holds the Dorothy and William Manealoff Foundation and Molly Rosen Chair in Social Medicine Emerita. “But further studies are needed to confirm whether there truly is a cause-and-effect relationship here. And our findings certainly cannot be generalized to premenopausal women diagnosed with invasive cancer or to other populations of women.”

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The paper is titled “Multivitamin and Mineral Use and Breast Cancer Mortality in Older Women with Invasive Breast Cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative.” Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller is the principal investigator of the WHI at Einstein. Other authors of the study at Einstein are  Aileen McGinn, Ph.D., and Gloria Ho, Ph.D., and additional co-authors are affiliated with the following centers: University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Stanford Prevention Research Center, University of Alabama School of Medicine at Birmingham, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

The WHI is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Einstein is home to 734 M.D. students, 236 Ph.D. students, 106 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 353 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2013, Einstein received more than $155 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center (http://www.montefiore.org/), the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center–Einstein’s founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn, Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States. For more information, please visit http://www.einstein.yu.edu and follow us on Twitter @EinsteinMed.

New theory uncovers cancer’s deep evolutionary roots / Cancer is realated to embryo development

Contact: Skip Derra skip.derra@asu.edu 480-965-4823 Arizona State University

 

Tracing cancer back to the dawn of multicellularity could explain its mysterious properties and transform therapy

TEMPE, Ariz. — A new way to look at cancer — by tracing its deep evolutionary roots to the dawn of multicellularity more than a billion years ago — has been proposed by Paul Davies of Arizona State University’s Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science in collaboration with Charles Lineweaver of the Australian National University. If their theory is correct, it promises to transform the approach to cancer therapy, and to link the origin of cancer to the origin of life and the developmental processes of embryos.

Davies and Lineweaver are both theoretical physicists and cosmologists with experience in the field of astrobiology — the search for life beyond Earth. They turned to cancer research only recently, in part because of the creation at Arizona State University of the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. The Center is one of twelve established by the National Cancer Institute to encourage physical scientists to lend their insights into tackling cancer.

The new theory challenges the orthodox view that cancer develops anew in each host by a series of chance mutational accidents. Davies and Lineweaver claim that cancer is actually an organized and systematic response to some sort of stress or physical challenge. It might be triggered by a random accident, they say, but thereafter it more or less predictably unfolds.

Their view of cancer is outlined in the article “Exposing cancer’s deep evolutionary roots,” written by Davies. It appears in a special July issue of Physics World devoted to the physics of cancer.

“We envisage cancer as the execution of an ancient program pre-loaded into the genomes of all cells,” says Davies, an Arizona State University Regents Professor. “It is rather like Windows defaulting to ‘safe mode’ after suffering an insult of some sort.” As such, he describes cancer as a throwback to an ancestral phenotype.

The new theory predicts that as cancer progresses through more and more malignant stages, it will express genes that are more deeply conserved among multicellular organisms, and so are in some sense more ancient. Davies and Lineweaver are currently testing this prediction by comparing gene expression data from cancer biopsies with phylogenetic trees going back 1.6 billion years, with the help of Luis Cisneros, a postdoctoral researcher with Arizona State University’s Beyond Center.

But if this is the case, then why hasn’t evolution eliminated the ancient cancer subroutine?

“Because it fulfills absolutely crucial functions during the early stages of embryo development,” Davies explains. “Genes that are active in the embryo and normally dormant thereafter are found to be switched back on in cancer. These same genes are the ‘ancient’ ones, deep in the tree of multicellular life.”

The link with embryo development has been known to cancer biologists for a long time, says Davies, but the significance of this fact is rarely appreciated. If the new theory is correct, researchers should find that the more malignant stages of cancer will re-express genes from the earliest stages of embryogenesis. Davies adds that there is already some evidence for this in several experimental studies, including recent research at Harvard University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

“As cancer progresses through its various stages within a single organism, it should be like running the evolutionary and developmental arrows of time backward at high speed,” says Davies.

This could provide clues to future treatments. For example, when life took the momentous step from single cells to multicellular assemblages, Earth had low levels of oxygen. Sure enough, cancer reverts to an ancient form of metabolism called fermentation, which can supply energy with little need for oxygen, although it requires lots of sugar.

Davies and Lineweaver predict that if cancer cells are saturated with oxygen but deprived of sugar, they will become more stressed than healthy cells, slowing them down or even killing them. ASU’s Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, of which Davies is principal investigator, is planning a workshop in November to examine the clinical evidence for this.

“It is clear that some radically new thinking is needed,” Davies states. “Like aging, cancer seems to be a deeply embedded part of the life process. Also like aging, cancer generally cannot be cured but its effects can certainly be mitigated, for example, by delaying onset and extending periods of dormancy. But we will learn to do this effectively only when we better understand cancer, including its place in the great sweep of evolutionary history.”

Study finds vitamin C can kill drug-resistant TB

Contact: Kim Newman sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu 718-430-3101 Albert Einstein College of Medicine

May 21, 2013 — (Bronx, NY) — In a striking, unexpected discovery, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have determined that vitamin C kills drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in laboratory culture. The finding suggests that vitamin C added to existing TB drugs could shorten TB therapy, and it highlights a new area for drug design. The study was published today in the online journal Nature Communications.

TB is caused by infection with the bacterium M. tuberculosis. In 2011, TB sickened some 8.7 million people and took some 1.4 million lives, according to the World Health Organization. Infections that fail to respond to TB drugs are a growing problem: About 650,000 people worldwide now have multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), 9 percent of whom have extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).TB is especially acute in low and middle income countries, which account for more than 95 percent of TB-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The Einstein discovery arose during research into how TB bacteria become resistant to isoniazid, a potent first-line TB drug. The lead investigator and senior author of the study was William Jacobs, Jr. Ph.D., professor of microbiology & immunology  and of genetics at Einstein. Dr. Jacobs is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Jacobs and his colleagues observed that isoniazid-resistant TB bacteria were deficient in a molecule called mycothiol. “We hypothesized that TB bacteria that can’t make mycothiol might contain more cysteine, an amino acid,” said Dr. Jacobs. “So, we predicted that if we added isoniazid and cysteine to isoniazid-sensitive M. tuberculosis in culture, the bacteria would develop resistance. Instead, we ended up killing off the culture— something totally unexpected.”

The Einstein team suspected that cysteine was helping to kill TB bacteria by acting as a “reducing agent” that triggers the production of reactive oxygen species (sometimes called free radicals), which can damage DNA.

“To test this hypothesis, we repeated the experiment using isoniazid and a different reducing agent— vitamin C,” said Dr. Jacobs. “The combination of isoniazid and vitamin C sterilized the M. tuberculosis culture. We were then amazed to discover that vitamin C by itself not only sterilized the drug-susceptible TB, but also sterilized MDR-TB and XDR-TB strains.”

To justify testing vitamin C in a clinical trial, Dr. Jacobs needed to find the molecular mechanism by which vitamin C exerted its lethal effect. More research produced the answer: Vitamin C induced what is known as a Fenton reaction, causing iron to react with other molecules to create reactive oxygen species that kill the TB bacteria.

“We don’t know whether vitamin C will work in humans, but we now have a rational basis for doing a clinical trial,” said Dr. Jacobs. “It also helps that we know vitamin C is inexpensive, widely available and very safe to use. At the very least, this work shows us a new mechanism that we can exploit to attack TB.”

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The paper is titled, “Mycobacterium tuberculosis is extraordinarily sensitive to killing by a vitamin C-induced Fenton reaction.” The other contributors are Catherine Vilcheze, Ph.D., Travis Hartman and Brian Weinrick, Ph.D., all at Einstein.

The study was supported by a grant (AI26170) from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

About Drug-Resistant TB

Multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB): TB that does not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most potent anti-TB drugs.  Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB): TB that is resistant to rifampicin and isoniazid, as well as to any member of the quinolone family of antibiotics and at least one of four second-line injectable anti-TB drugs.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Einstein is home to 742 M.D. students, 245 Ph.D. students, 116 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 360 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2012, Einstein received over $160 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center –Einstein’s founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn, Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States. For more information, please visit http://www.einstein.yu.edu and follow us on Twitter @EinsteinMed.

Scientific fraud: Misconduct occurs across the career spectrum, from trainees to senior scientists

Contact: Kim Newman sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu 718-430-3101 Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Men more likely than women to commit scientific fraud

January 22, 2013 — (Bronx, NY) —Male scientists are far more likely to commit fraud than females and the fraud occurs across the career spectrum, from trainees to senior faculty. The analysis of professional misconduct was co-led by a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and was published today in the online journal mBio.

“The fact that misconduct occurs across all stages of career development suggests that attention to ethical aspects of scientific conduct should not be limited to those in training, as is the current practice,” said senior author Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D.,  professor and chair of microbiology & immunology and professor of medicine at Einstein, as well as editor-in-chief of mBio.

He added, “Our other finding – that males are overrepresented among those committing misconduct – implies a gender difference we need to better understand in any effort to promote the integrity of research.”

In a previous study, Dr. Casadevall found that misconduct is responsible for two-thirds of all retractions of scientific papers. The finding was unexpected, since earlier research had suggested that errors account for the majority of retracted scientific papers.

Researchers embarked on the current study to better understand those who are guilty of scientific fraud. They reviewed 228 individual cases of misconduct reported by the United States Office of Research Integrity (ORI) from 1994 through 2012. ORI promotes the responsible conduct of research and investigates charges of misconduct involving research supported by the Department of Health and Human Services.

An analysis determined that fraud was involved in 215 (94 percent) of the 228 cases reported by the ORI. Of these, 40 percent involved trainees, 32 percent involved faculty members, and 28 percent involved other research personnel (research scientists, technicians, study coordinators, and interviewers).

Overall, 65 percent of the fraud cases were committed by males, but the percentage varied among the academic ranks: 88 percent of faculty members who committed misconduct were male, compared with 69 percent of postdoctoral fellows, 58 percent of students, and 43 percent of other research personnel. In each career category, the proportion of males committing misconduct was greater than would have been predicted from the gender distribution of scientists. The gender difference was surprisingly large among faculty, said Dr. Casadevall, who also holds the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in/of Microbiology & Immunology. Of the 72 faculty who committed fraud, just 9 were female – one-third of the expected 27 if females had committed fraud at the same rate as males.

The study did not examine why men are more likely to commit fraud. One possibility is that misconduct is biologically driven. “As research has shown, males tend to be risk takers, more so than females, and to commit fraud entails taking a risk,” said Dr. Casadevall. “It may also be that males are more competitive, or that women are more sensitive to the threat of sanctions. I think the best answer is that we don’t know. Now that we have documented the problem, we can begin a serious discussion about what is going on and what can be done about it.”

The researchers had hypothesized that the majority of cases of misconduct would involve trainees, who face intense pressure to publish – a critical step toward obtaining research funds. But they found that misconduct was spread rather evenly across the career spectrum. “You might think that as scientists go up the career ladder, they would feel more secure. But the bigger the lab you run, the more grants you need, which increases the pressures to publish and the temptation to cheat,” said Dr. Casadevall.

While calling for more research to understand the motives for scientific misconduct, Dr. Casadevall recommends periodic ethics training for scientists at all levels of academia. “Right now we target trainees for ethics training,” he added. “We don’t do anything after they are hired. It might help if universities required refresher courses in ethics, as they do with courses to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. It won’t stop all misconduct, but it’s one place to start.”

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The paper is titled “Males Are Overrepresented among Life Science Researchers Committing Scientific Misconduct.” Additional authors are Ferric Fang, M.D., at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, and Joan W. Bennett at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, Einstein is home to 742 M.D. students, 245 Ph.D. students, 116 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 360 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has 2,476 full time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2012, Einstein received over $160 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center –Einstein’s founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn,  Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu and follow us on Twitter @EinsteinMed.