Health and Fitness

Breakthrough Heart Scanner Being Developed At The University Of Leeds Will Allow Earlier Diagnosis

An innovative cardiac scanner will dramatically improve the process of diagnosing heart conditions. The portable magnetometer* is being developed at the University of Leeds, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) playing a key role. Due to its unprecedented sensitivity to magnetic fluctuations the device will be able to detect a number of conditions, including heart problems in foetuses, earlier than currently available diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound, ECG (electrocardiogram) and existing cardiac magnetometers. It will also be smaller, simpler to operate, able to gather more information and significantly cheaper than other devices currently available. Another key benefit is that, for the first time, skilled nurses as well as doctors will be able to carry out heart scans, helping to relieve pressure on hospital waiting lists. The device will also function through clothes, cutting the time needed to perform scans and removing the need for patients to undress for an examination.

2010 Louis-Jeantet Prize For Medicine

The 2010 Louis-Jeantet Prize For Medicine is awarded to the French cardiologist Michel Haissaguerre, professor of cardiology at the University Victor-Segalen Bordeaux 2 and head of the Department of Cardiac Arrhythmias of the University Hospital of Bordeaux, and to the British biologist Austin Smith, Medical Research Council professor at the Department of Biochemistry and director of the Welcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research at Cambridge University. The Louis-Jeantet Foundation awards the sum of CHF 600'000 to each of the prize- winners for the continuation of their work, and CHF 100'000 for their personal use. The Foundation distinguishes this year not only a biologist whose fundamental research will have important repercussions in the field of medicine, but also and for the first time a doctor whose clinical research has revolutionised the treatment of cardiac rhythm disorders. Michel Ha ssaguerre is awarded the 2010 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his work on cardiac fibrillation, notably for his discovery of the origin of atrial fibrillation, and for developing treatment that has already helped thousands of people in the world.

Powering Pacemakers, Mobile Phones With Energy-Harvesting Rubber Sheets

Power-generating rubber films developed by Princeton University engineers could harness natural body movements such as breathing and walking to power pacemakers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. The material, composed of ceramic nanoribbons embedded onto silicone rubber sheets, generates electricity when flexed and is highly efficient at converting mechanical energy to electrical energy. Shoes made of the material may one day harvest the pounding of walking and running to power mobile electrical devices. Placed against the lungs, sheets of the material could use breathing motions to power pacemakers, obviating the current need for surgical replacement of the batteries which power the devices. A paper on the new material, titled "Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion, " was published online Jan. 26, in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was funded by the United States Intelligence Community, a cooperative of federal intelligence and national security agencies.

Increased Risk Of Kidney Failure, Blindness, Heart Attack And Stroke In Depressed Diabetes Patients

Depression raises risks of advanced and severe complications from diabetes, according to a prospective study of Group Health primary-care patients in western Washington. These complications include kidney failure or blindness, the result of small vessel damage, as well as major vessel problems leading to heart attack or stroke. The findings were published this week in Diabetes Care, a scientific journal of the American Diabetes Association. The study was conducted by scientists from the Group Health Research Institute, Seattle; the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine and School of Public Health, and the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System. The lead author is Dr. Elizabeth Lin of the Group Health Research Institute. Among their research volunteers with type 2 diabetes followed over 5 years, major depression was associated with a 36 percent higher risk of developing advanced micro-vascular complications, such as end-stage kidney disease or blindness, and a 25 percent higher risk of developing advanced macrovascular complications, such as stroke or myocardial infarction (heart attack from a blood clot), compared with diabetes patients without depression.

Renowned Duke Researcher Wins Frontiers Of Knowledge Award

The prestigious BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category goes this year to Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D., James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Duke University Medical Center. This is only the second year the award has been given. Dr. Lefkowitz's research has affected millions of cardiac and other patients worldwide. Lefkowitz proved the existence of, isolated, characterized and still studies G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The receptors, which are located on the surface of the membranes that surround cells, are the targets of almost half of the drugs on the market today, including beta blockers for heart disease, antihistamines and ulcer medications. Lefkowitz, a Duke faculty member since 1973, also investigates related enzymes, proteins and signaling pathways and continues to learn all he can about these pivotal receptors. "I am surprised, delighted and honored by the award, and am honored to be in the company of Joan Massagu, a fellow HHMI investigator who won last year, " said Lefkowitz, who is also a Duke professor of immunology and a basic research cardiologist in the Duke Heart Center.

Medtronic Announces Two Late Breaking Clinical Trials Accepted For American College Of Cardiology Meeting

Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) announced pivotal data for the Medtronic Arctic Front® CryoAblation Catheter System will be presented as a late breaking clinical trial at the 59th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology on Monday, March 15 at 8 a.m. ET. The STOP-AF (Sustained Treatment of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation) clinical trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the Arctic Front CryoAblation Catheter System for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) patients. The system is approved for use in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong and is under investigational use in the United States. Additionally, data from the Medtronic-sponsored CONNECT (Clinical Evaluation of Remote Notification to Reduce Time to Clinical Decision) clinical trial also will be presented as a late breaker on Monday, March 15. The trial is assessing how the use of the Medtronic CareLink® Network to remotely monitor patients with Medtronic cardiac resynchronization therapy-defibrillators (CRT-Ds) and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) equipped with Conexus®

Lefkowitz, BBVA Foundation Frontiers Of Knowledge Award In Biomedicine

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category goes in this second edition to Prof. Robert J. Lefkowitz (1943, New York, United States), investigator in the Department of Medicine at Duke University (United States). The award was granted, in the words of the jury, "for his discoveries of the seven transmembrane receptors (G protein-coupled receptors), the largest, most versatile and most therapeutically accessible receptor signaling system, and of the general mechanism of their regulation". Lefkowitz is author of more than 850 research papers that at the time of writing have been cited on over 95, 000 occasions. His findings have led to the development of numerous drugs for a wide variety of conditions, above all in neurology (Parkinson's disease), cardiology (arterial hypertension ) and diabetes. The Frontiers of Knowledge Awards honor world-class research and artistic creation. The breadth of disciplines addressed and their monetary amount, an annual 3.

German Man Bridged-to-Transplant After 615 Days Of Life With SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart

Bobby Dhawan, 51, is the owner of a successful taxi service in Germany. Normally, he does not allow bumper stickers to be placed on his cabs, but recently, he made a special exception for a sticker which reads, "Don't take your organs to heaven - heaven knows we need them here! " Last August, Dhawan received a donor heart transplant after living for 615 days with a SynCardia temporary CardioWest™ Total Artificial Heart. For nearly a year and a half prior to his transplant, Dhawan had enjoyed life at home with his family and gone back to work using the European portable driver to power his Total Artificial Heart. "With the Total Artificial Heart, my health was so good and I felt so strong. I told myself, 'I don't want a human heart anymore, I want to keep my Total Artificial Heart, ' " said Dhawan. "Today, however, I think the donor heart transplant is the best thing I've ever done. I feel like a newborn person." Dhawan was first diagnosed with an enlarged heart in 1996.

Patients Can Benefit From Choosing High-Volume Hospitals For Cardiovascular Procedures Even If Facilities Do Not Have High Ratings

New research published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons finds that while popular hospital rating systems can help identify high-quality hospitals for cardiovascular operations, patients can achieve similar outcomes by seeking care at high-volume hospitals closer to home. Hospital quality ratings have become a source of bragging rights for many hospitals, and they receive substantial attention from both the public and media. Two of the most recognized ratings are the U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Hospitals" and HealthGrades' "America's 50 Best Hospitals." Although patients and caregivers increasingly use these quality ratings to choose hospitals, the relationship between ratings and outcomes remains unclear. This research is the first of its kind that addresses the important question of whether surgical outcomes at the highly rated hospitals are better than surgical outcomes at other hospitals in the United States. "Both the U.S. News and World Report and HealthGrades quality rating systems are frequently used for hospital marketing.

EMBL Scientists Shed Light On Cellular Communication Systems Involved In Neurodegeneration, Cancer And Cardiovascular Disease

Cells rely on a range of signalling systems to communicate with each other and to control their own internal workings. Scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Hamburg, Germany, have now found a way to hack into a vital communications system, raising the possibility of developing new drugs to tackle disorders like neurodegeneration, cancer and cardiovascular disease. In a study published in Science Signaling, they have pieced together the first snapshot of what two of the system's components look like while interacting. One way these signalling systems work is by triggering a flood of calcium ions inside the cell. These get picked up by a receiver, a protein called calmodulin which turns this calcium signal into action by switching various parts of the cell's machinery on or off. Calmodulin regulates a set of proteins called kinases, each of which controls the activity of specific parts of the cell, thus altering the cell's behaviour. Using high-energy X-rays produced by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, and by the German Synchrotron Radiation Centre (DESY), in Hamburg, Germany, Matthias Wilmanns' team at EMBL revealed the molecular structure of one of these kinases, a protein called Death-Associated Protein Kinase DAPK, when bound to calmodulin.

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