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December 2007 Briefing - Neurology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Neurology for December 2007. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

Neuroimaging Predicts Cigarette Craving

MONDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- MRI of smokers' brains shows that abstinence-produced cravings are associated with increased activity in areas related to attention, behavioral control, memory and reward, according to a report in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Reduced Alzheimer's Risk with NSAIDs Depends on Genetics

MONDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly individuals who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease, although the reduction for Alzheimer's is found only in individuals with a particular genetic background, researchers report in the Jan. 1 issue of Neurology.

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B12 Deficiency, Higher Serum Folate Causes Adverse Effects

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Among people with low serum vitamin B12 concentrations, high plasma folate is associated with higher concentrations of the two indicators of impaired B12 status: total homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, researchers report in the Dec. 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Inherited Mental Retardation Reversed in Mice

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Many of the neurological and psychiatric symptoms of Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of mental retardation, can be reversed by reducing the expression of a gene unrelated to the underlying genetic defect of the disease in mice, according to the results of a study published in the Dec. 20 issue of Neuron.

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Combination of Stroke, Genetics Linked to Dementia

THURSDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly individuals who have both the apolipoprotein E (APOE) 4 allele and have had a stroke are at higher risk of developing dementia, according to the results of a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of Neurology.

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Structure of Synaptic Protein May Provide Clues to Autism

THURSDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new study provides insight into the molecular structure of neuroligins, a family of postsynaptic cell adhesion proteins required for neural synapse formation. These findings are relevant to the study of autism because mutations in the genes encoding neuroligins have been implicated in autism spectrum disorders and mental retardation. The research is published in the December issue of Neuron.

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Telmisartan Combined with Ramipril Curbs Strokes in Rats

THURSDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Combined doses of telmisartan and ramipril are effective at preventing strokes and lowering blood pressure in stroke-prone rats, researchers report in the November-December issue of the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension.

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Treatment May Correct Gene Defect in Muscular Dystrophy

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- An antisense oligonucleotide can correct the genetic defect in patients with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and induce dystrophin production, according to a report in the Dec. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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COL4A1 Mutations Implicated in Proposed New Syndrome

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Mutations in the COL4A1 gene may be the cause of a proposed new syndrome: hereditary angiopathy with nephropathy, aneurysms and muscle cramps (HANAC), according to research published in the Dec. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Transient Neurological Attacks Predict Future Events

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Transient neurological attacks (TNAs) with diffuse, non-localizing cerebral symptoms are risk factors for major vascular diseases and dementia, according to a report in the Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Brain Activity Codes for Speech at Abstract Level

MONDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Neural activity in some left hemisphere regions of the brain codes for speech at an abstract level independent of its visual or auditory features, researchers report in the Dec. 20 issue of Neuron.

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FDA Issues New Warning on Fentanyl Skin Patch

FRIDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Ongoing concerns about the fentanyl transdermal system, which is marketed under the brand name Duragesic and is also available in generic versions, have prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue its second safety warning in two years. The FDA's Dec. 21 warning emphasizes the need to exactly follow directions on the product label and patient package insert in order to avoid accidental overdoses.

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Physical Activity May Lower Vascular Dementia Risk

THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly individuals who are physically active appear to have a reduced risk of developing vascular dementia, while the risk of Alzheimer's disease may be unchanged, according to an article published online Dec. 19 in Neurology.

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Fetal Alcohol Exposure Affects Infant Response to Alcohol

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Rats exposed to alcohol in utero demonstrate an increased affinity for alcohol as infants that may be mediated by the effect of ethanol on the developing olfactory system, according to two articles published in Behavioral Neuroscience in December.

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Secretoneurin Promotes Neuroprotection After Stroke

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Secretoneurin, a neuropeptide derived from secretogranin II, may promote neuroprotection and neuronal plasticity after a stroke, according to a report published online Dec. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Pergolide Increases Valve Disease Risk in Parkinson's

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Treating patients with Parkinson's disease with pergolide, a dopamine receptor agonist, increases the risk of moderate to severe heart valve disease in a dose-dependent manner, researchers report in the December issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Predictors of Hemorrhagic Stroke Explored

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- In patients who have had a recent stroke or transient ischemic attack, treatment with atorvastatin, hemorrhagic stroke as an entry event, male sex, increased age and stage 2 hypertension may be associated with an increased risk of subsequent hemorrhagic stroke, according to study findings published online Dec. 12 in Neurology.

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Novel Drug Combination Effective for Multiple Sclerosis

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients treated for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis with a combination of interferon beta-1a and doxycycline experienced a reduction in number of enhancing plaques on MRI exams. The drug combination was also safe and well-tolerated, according to the results of a study published online Dec. 10 in the Archives of Neurology.

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Imaging Technique Localizes Belief/Disbelief Processing

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Brain imaging might one day be a feasible method of distinguishing belief from disbelief, researchers postulate, based on the results of a new study published online Dec. 10 in the Annals of Neurology.

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Conflicting Data on Steroid Use in Bacterial Meningitis

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A study of adults in sub-Saharan Africa with acute bacterial meningitis showed no benefit of corticosteroid adjuvant therapy, while a study of Vietnamese adults and adolescents reported a beneficial effect in only those with microbiologically confirmed disease, according to research published in the Dec. 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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FDA: Carbamazepine Risks in Asians Reflected in Label

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that manufacturers of drugs containing carbamazepine have agreed to add a recommendation to the drugs' labeling that patients of Asian descent undergo blood testing prior to initiating therapy, to identify individuals at increased risk of developing serious skin complications. Carbamazepine is used in the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain, and is sold under the trade names Carbatrol, Equetro and Tegretol.

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Sugary Beverages May Promote Alzheimer's Disease

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Sugar-sweetened beverages can worsen memory and promote the development of plaques in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, researchers report in the Dec. 14 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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Sedative Carries Lower Risk of Acute Brain Dysfunction

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new sedative, dexmedetomidine, which acts at α2 receptors in the locus ceruleus and spinal cord, results in fewer days of delirium or coma compared to lorazepam when used in mechanically ventilated patients, according to an article published in the Dec. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Hypertension Increases Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly individuals with a history of hypertension are at greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, particularly the non-amnestic type, according to the results of a study published in the December issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Progression of Ossification Common After Spinal Fusion

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- In patients treated with anterior cervical arthrodesis with plates, those developing degenerative changes in adjacent discs within one year after surgery have a high likelihood of progressing to advanced ossification by two years, reports a study published in the November-December issue of the Spine Journal.

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Better Physical Functioning Points to Lower Stroke Risk

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged and older people with good physical functional health have a lower risk of stroke, and measuring this factor could help doctors identify and better manage patients who are at elevated risk, according to research published in the Dec. 11 issue of Neurology.

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Head Injuries on the Rise in Skiers and Snowboarders

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are increasing among alpine skiers and snowboarders, especially in young males who perform daredevil stunts, researchers report in the December issue of Injury Prevention.

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder Alters Perception of Faces

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- People with body dysmorphic disorder have a different perception of other people's faces than someone without the condition, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Computer Tool Improves Spine X-Ray Interpretation

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Standard techniques for interpreting flexion-extension X-rays of the spine may be unreliable in characterizing spine stability, but use of computer-assisted methods dramatically improves agreement among physicians reading these X-rays, according to a report published in the Spine Journal in December.

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Relatives of Parkinson's Patients Prone to Depression

THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Relatives of patients with Parkinson's disease are more prone to depression and anxiety than those with no family members affected by the disease, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Worldwide Burden of Chronic Disease Targeted

THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Experts address the worldwide chronic disease epidemic in a series of articles published online Dec. 5 in The Lancet. The authors review the burden of chronic disease in developing countries and discuss cost-effective strategies to mitigate this burden in keeping with the World Health Organization's (WHO) global goal of reducing chronic disease mortality by 2 percent over the next decade.

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Hepatitis B Vaccine Not Linked to Childhood-Onset MS

TUESDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Being vaccinated against hepatitis B virus does not increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in children, researchers report in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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Sporadic & Familial Hemiplegic Migraine Have Genetic Link

TUESDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Some individuals with sporadic hemiplegic migraine (SHM) -- a severe migraine subtype that involves transient hemiparesis -- carry gene mutations that are associated with familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM), suggesting that the two diseases may be part of a disease spectrum with similar pathogenesis, researchers report in an article published in the Dec. 4 issue of Neurology.

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Study of Rare Brain Disorder Provides Clues to Dyslexia

TUESDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with the rare genetic brain malformation, periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH), which is characterized by faulty neuronal migration and consequent abnormalities in white matter organization, share behavioral features with individuals with dyslexia, according to research published in the Dec. 4 issue of Neurology. The study authors postulate that structural brain changes may underlie the reading difficulties seen in PNH and propose that PNH might serve as a useful model in understanding dyslexia and other cognitive impairments.

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Test Vaccine Shows Promise Against Japanese Encephalitis

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A novel inactivated vaccine for Japanese encephalitis virus provides at least an equivalent immunogenicity benefit as a licensed vaccine that is no longer being produced for developed countries, according to research published in the Dec. 1 issue of The Lancet.

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