January 2008 Briefing - Neurology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Neurology for January 2008. 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.

Modified Atkins Diet May Decrease Epileptic Seizures

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A recent prospective study of adult patients with epilepsy who failed multiple anticonvulsive treatments showed a decrease in the frequency of seizures in response to following a modified Atkins diet. The study was published in the February issue of Epilepsia.

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Young Children Rapidly Excrete Vaccine Mercury

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A recent prospective observational study of mercury concentration in blood, urine and stool of neonates and infants recently vaccinated with thimerosal-containing vaccines showed that ethyl mercury had a short half-life in these children and was primarily excreted rapidly in feces. This differs from oral methyl mercury from fish, which has a longer half-life in humans and toxicity at low concentrations, researchers report in the February issue of Pediatrics.

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Possible Alzheimer's Disease Therapy Falters in Lab

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- New findings on the behavior of amyloid inhibitors -- considered possible therapeutic candidates for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's -- cast doubt on their usefulness. The research was published online Jan. 27 in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

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Study Highlights Brain Injuries Among U.S. Soldiers

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Among U.S. soldiers who have served in Iraq, mild traumatic brain injuries have been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical health problems, according to a study published in the Jan. 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Methotrexate Effective for Primary CNS Lymphoma

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Intravenous methotrexate is promising as induction therapy for primary central nervous system lymphoma, or PCNSL, and more research is needed to determine optimal methotrexate-based combination therapies, according to an article published in the Jan. 29 issue of Neurology.

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Idraparinux Leads to Excess Bleeding in Study

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Although idraparinux performed at least as well as vitamin K antagonists in reducing stroke and systemic embolism, a trial comparing the two was halted early due to excessive bleeding in subjects taking idraparinux, according to a report published in the Jan. 26 issue of The Lancet.

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Gene Therapy Effective for Chronic Pain in Rats

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A modified virus carrying an analgesic gene can relieve neuropathic pain in rats when injected into the cerebrospinal fluid, according to study findings published in the Jan. 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Role of ALS Mutations in Nox Regulation Examined

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) is a catabolic enzyme that can also directly regulate NADPH oxidase-dependent (Nox-dependent) O2 production, a process that can be disrupted by SOD1 mutations associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), researchers report in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. They also report that treatment of ALS mice with apocynin slowed disease progression and significantly increased life span.

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New Classification System Proposed for Neck Pain

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A new classification system for neck pain has been recommended by the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. The recommendations are included in a 21-chapter special supplement issue of Spine published Feb. 15.

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Heart Disease and Stroke Mortality Rates Falling

THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Between 1999 and 2005, deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke were down by 25.8 percent and 24.4 percent, respectively, but the underlying risk factors are still too high, which could lead to a reversal of the gains made as a result of better medical care for those with cardiovascular disease, according to a statement from the American Heart Association.

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Few Brain Plaques in Modified Mouse Alzheimer's Model

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A mouse model of Alzheimer's disease that overproduces a protein that modifies apolipoprotein E (apoE) has less amyloid peptide deposition and almost no plaques in the brain, researchers report in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Axon Guidance Gene Variants Predict ALS

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Gene variants involved in axon guidance in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) predict susceptibility, survival free of disease and age of disease onset, according to a report published online Jan. 16 in PLoS ONE.

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Weak Evidence on Surgical Options for Lower Back Pain

TUESDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The decision-making process behind surgical options for chronic lower back pain is complex, and should not overshadow the primary concern of identifying the root cause of the pain, according to a paper published in the January/February issue of The Spine Journal.

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Embryonic Stem Cells Show Muscle Regenerating Potential

MONDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers demonstrated the possibility of using embryonic stem cells to treat muscular dystrophy by inducing proliferation of myogenic progenitors, sorting out cells with more muscle regeneration potential and transplanting them in dystrophic mice. The research was published online Jan. 20 in Nature Medicine.

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No Link Found Between Statin Use and Alzheimer's Disease

THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- There appears to be no relationship between the use of statins and Alzheimer's disease or neuropathologies associated with Alzheimer's, according to a report published online Jan. 16 in Neurology.

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Study Reports Selective Publishing of Drug Studies

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Clinical trials of antidepressant drugs are more likely to be published if the results are positive, and are sometimes published in a manner that suggests they are positive when reviews by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded otherwise, researchers report in the Jan. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Undernourishment Leads to Poor Stroke Outcomes

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Undernourished stroke patients are more likely to experience complications and poor clinical outcomes, according to study findings published in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Triples in U.S. Combat Forces

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Among U.S. military personnel, the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder is three times higher in those who have seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq than in other soldiers, according to research published online Jan. 15 in BMJ Online First.

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Cerebellar Changes Linked to Essential Tremor

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A post-mortem study of brains of patients who had essential tremor quantified that the number of Purkinje cells in these patients who did not have Lewy bodies was reduced. This study, which was published in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology, further showed that the presence of torpedoes (axonal swelling of Purkinje cells) was inversely correlated with the number of cerebellar Purkinje cells.

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Tamoxifen Protects Rat Brains in Acute Stroke

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Tamoxifen appears to exert neuroprotective effects via an antioxidant mechanism in an animal model of acute stroke, according to research published in Endocrinology in January.

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Estradiol Promotes Brain Homeostasis During Aging

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Estradiol's neuroprotective effects in aging female rats may be due to increased levels of glucose transporters and changes in brain signaling pathways, according to study findings published in the January issue of Endocrinology.

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Birth Defects Still Affect 3 Percent of U.S. Babies

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The Jan. 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report marks January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month with a series of papers on prevalence and prevention.

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Allele Predicts Treatment Response in Schizophrenia

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with schizophrenia, variations in the regulator of G-protein signaling 4 (RGS4) gene appear to correlate with severity of symptoms, and may be used to predict response to particular antipsychotic treatments, reports an article published in the January issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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Estimates Given for Survival After Onset of Dementia

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The median survival time for people aged 65 years and older who develop incident dementia is 4.5 years from onset, according to a report published Jan. 10 in the Online First edition of BMJ.

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New Insights Gained into Huntington's Disease

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Using a Drosophila fly model of Huntington's disease, researchers have discovered that increased neurotransmission caused by the abnormal huntingtin protein leads to neuronal degeneration long before huntingtin aggregates accumulate in neurons, according to an article published in the Jan. 10 issue of Neuron.

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Altered Brain Responses Seen in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with irritable bowel syndrome experience more anxiety and fail to downregulate activity in certain brain areas in anticipation of an uncomfortable visceral stimulus compared to controls, according to an article published in the Jan. 9 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Trichloroethylene Exposure May Raise Parkinson's Risk

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic exposure to trichloroethylene appears to be a risk factor for Parkinson's disease, based on a study of a cluster of workers exposed to the chemical, and accompanying animal studies. The research was published online Dec. 21 in the Annals of Neurology.

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Combo Therapy Doesn't Benefit Children with Cerebral Palsy

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In children with cerebral palsy, a combination of botulinum toxin type A injections and abduction hip bracing does not prevent progressive hip displacement, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

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Gene Deletion on Chromosome 16 Linked to Autism

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Deletions or duplications of a region of chromosome 16p11.2 appear to increase susceptibility to autism, according to an article published online Jan. 9 in advance of publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Mechanism Identified in Spinal Cord Injury Recovery

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- After severe spinal cord injury, mice can recover supraspinal control of stepping via indirect propriospinal relay connections, researchers report in the January issue of Nature Medicine.

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Gene Variation Linked to Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who carry the TT genotype of the functional factor XII C46T gene polymorphism may be at increased risk of developing cerebral venous thrombosis, according to research published in the Jan. 8 issue of Neurology.

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No Link Between Mercury in Childhood Vaccines and Autism

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In California children, the prevalence of autism has continued to increase despite the removal of thimerosal from most vaccines, suggesting that mercury exposure is not a primary cause of autism, according to an article published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Studies Assess Postoperative Cognitive Impairment

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Postoperative cognitive impairment is common in adults of all ages, but only elderly patients are at risk of prolonged cognitive problems, and the type and severity of cognitive impairment varies based on time after surgery, according to two articles published in the January issue of Anesthesiology.

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Antipsychotics Don't Curb Aggressive Behaviors

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Though commonly used with the goal of curtailing aggressive behaviors in intellectually disabled individuals, antipsychotic drugs may actually be inferior to placebo at reducing aggression and should no longer be recommended, according to the results of a randomized trial published in the Jan. 5 issue of The Lancet.

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Suspected Viral Meningitis Warrants Hospital Referral

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Because of the difficulty of reliably differentiating viral and bacterial meningitis clinically, suspected cases of viral meningitis should always be referred to hospital, according to an article published in the Jan. 5 issue of BMJ.

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Tailored Craniotomies OK for Glioma Resection

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Neurosurgeons have traditionally relied on extensive intraoperative language mapping of the cortex to localize regions involved in language prior to resection of brain tumors. However, focused craniotomies, in which surgeons map only regions immediately surrounding a tumor and may not necessarily identify language sites prior to resection, result in adequate language preservation while still allowing aggressive tumor resection, according to research published in the Jan. 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Restless Legs Syndrome Linked to Heart Disease

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to research published in the Jan. 1 issue of Neurology.

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Training May Aid Plasticity in Rats with Spinal Injury

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- In rats with partial spinal cord injury, reaching training promotes recovery of the trained task by enhancing plasticity in the central nervous system, but may impede the ability to perform an untrained task, according to research published in the January issue of Brain.

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Epilepsy Patients' Response to New Drugs Can Be Predicted

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with epilepsy, the number of failed prior treatments, the type and duration of epilepsy, and recent seizure frequency all help predict their response to a new antiepileptic medication, according to an article published in the Jan. 1 issue of Neurology.

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Other Lipid Measures May Predict Stroke Better Than LDL

TUESDAY, Jan. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol may be less useful in predicting large artery atherosclerotic stroke than some other traditional serum lipid measures, according to research published online Dec. 26 in Neurology.

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