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June 2006 Briefing - Neurology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Neurology for June 2006. 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.

Memory Loss May Affect Several Brain Regions

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), there may be altered functionality in both the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, according to a study in the July issue of Radiology.

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New Tool Tracks Infant Brain Development, Disturbances

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- A new tool combining diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging -- which shows diffusion of water molecules -- with fiber tracking to construct a 3-D image of the brain's white matter, can track brain development and disturbances in infants, according to a study in the July issue of Radiology.

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Lack of Gene Abolishes Sexual Behavior in Female Mice

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Knocking out the estrogen receptor in a specific brain area of female mice abolishes their sexual behavior and leads to aggressive rejection of male advances, according to a report published online June 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Netrins May Spur Blood Vessels in Ischemia, Diabetes

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have found that the developmental signaling molecules called netrins, previously shown to direct neuron migration, also help form new blood vessels, according to a report published June 29 in Sciencexpress, the early edition of Science. The molecules boosted capillary growth in animal models of ischemia and diabetes.

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Treatment Improves Motor Function in Stroke Patients

THURSDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- In stroke patients, five consecutive sessions of transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment improves motor function without causing adverse cognitive effects of epileptogenic activity, according to a report published online June 30 in Stroke.

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Having Biological Brothers Linked to Male Homosexuality

THURSDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- Having more biological older brothers, regardless of the amount of time spent raised together, is associated with male homosexuality, suggesting a prenatal origin to sexual orientation, according to a report published online June 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Reducing Homocysteine Does Not Improve Cognition

WEDNESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- In healthy older people, B-vitamin therapy to reduce blood levels of homocysteine does not appear to improve cognitive function, according to a study in the June 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Pesticide Exposure May Increase Parkinson's Risk

WEDNESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of developing Parkinson disease by nearly twofold, according to a study in the July issue of the Annals of Neurology.

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FDA Approves First Treatment for Parkinson's Dementia

WEDNESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Exelon (rivastigmine tartrate) was approved June 27 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the first treatment for mild to moderate dementia in Parkinson disease. The FDA had previously approved the drug for the treatment of mild to moderate dementia in Alzheimer disease.

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Behavioral Therapy Effective in Treating Insomnia

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral therapy can be more effective than sleep medication in treating insomnia, improving sleep efficiency and reducing the time spent awake at night, according to a report in the June 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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One-Third of Elderly Have Alzheimer's Signs in Brain

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- More than a third of elderly individuals without dementia or cognitive impairment have evidence of Alzheimer disease in their brains post-mortem, which may be related to deficits in episodic memory, according to a report in the June 27 issue of Neurology.

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Cellular Phones Cause Changes in Intracortical Excitability

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Acute exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by cellular phones can produce changes in brain excitability, although the effects are transient, according to a study published online June 26 in the Annals of Neurology.

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Embryonic Stem Cells Partially Reverse Paralysis in Rats

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Paralyzed rats treated with a combination of motor neurons derived from embryonic stem cells, inhibitors of myelin and a neurotrophic factor develop new nerve connections and achieve a partial recovery from paralysis, according to a study in the July issue of the Annals of Neurology.

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Hot Flashes Are Linked to Insomnia

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- In perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, hot flashes are strongly associated with insomnia, according to a study in the June 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Factors Associated with Aggression in Elders Identified

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Depression, delusions and hallucinations may be associated with physically and verbally aggressive behavior among nursing home residents, according to a study in the June 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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First Generic Version of Simvastatin Gets FDA Approval

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of simvastatin (Zocor), the second most widely prescribed statin in the United States, to treat hypercholesterolemia. The FDA also recently approved generic versions of Proscar, Propecia and Lamictal.

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Targeted Programs Effective for Childhood Depression

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Selective and indicated programs targeting children at risk for depression are better for treatment and prevention of the disease than universal programs, according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

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Concussion Has Long-Term Effect on Gait Stability

FRIDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Concussion can affect gait stability for at least a month after the injury occurs, according to a report in the June issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise published by the American College of Sports Medicine.

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Incubation Period of Prion Disease Could Exceed 50 Years

FRIDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Kuru, the human prion disease found in Papua New Guinea related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, can have an incubation period of 50 years or longer, according to a report in the June 24 issue of The Lancet.

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Digoxin-Like Compound Protects Rat Brains from Stroke

FRIDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- A compound similar to cardiac glycosides such as digitoxin and digoxin, which are used to treat congestive heart failure and arrhythmias, can protect the brain cells of rats from the effects of a stroke, according to a study published online June 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Girl on Mobile Phone Severely Injured by Lightning Strike

FRIDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- A 15-year-old girl was struck by lightning while talking on a mobile phone, sustaining injuries so severe that a year later she was wheelchair-bound with a complex range of health problems, according to a letter published in the June 24 issue of BMJ.

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Blockage of Cellular Pathway Associated with Parkinson's

THURSDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have demonstrated that blocking a cellular pathway can cause neuronal death, and they have identified proteins that could reverse the neuronal loss in three different animal models of Parkinson disease, according to a report published online June 22 in Science.

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Acupuncture May Relieve Fibromyalgia Fatigue, Anxiety

THURSDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture may relieve fatigue and anxiety in fibromyalgia patients more so than a placebo acupuncture-like procedure, according to a report in the June issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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Ablation Cost-Effective for Some Atrial Fibrillation Patients

THURSDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Left atrial catheter ablation (LACA) can be cost effective for atrial fibrillation patients in their 50s and 60s if they have a moderate, but not low, stroke risk, according to a report in the June 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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Filter with Carotid Stenting May Benefit High-Risk Patients

WEDNESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- A distal embolic protection system that utilizes a filter may be an alternative way to perform carotid artery stenting in patients who are too high-risk for endarterectomy, according to a study published in the June 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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Aggression in Children Linked to Serotonin Gene Variants

WEDNESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Extreme, persistent aggression in children is associated with "low expressing" polymorphisms in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene, according to a report in the June issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Brain Lesion Causes Cessation of Drug Craving in Patient

TUESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- A 34-year-old man who sustained hypoxia-related bilateral damage to the globus pallidus during a drug overdose, developed a syndrome characterized by loss of drug cravings, severe depression, extrapyramidal symptoms and anhedonia, according to a case study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. The brain region is known to play a key role in the reward circuit, the authors note.

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Sugar Derivative Improves Alzheimer Disease in Mice

TUESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- A glucose derivative can inhibit the aggregation of amyloid beta (Aβ) protein and the symptoms of Alzheimer disease both prophylactically and therapeutically in a transgenic mouse model, according to an advance online publication in Nature Medicine.

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Type 1 Diabetics Over 50 Have Little Cognitive Impairment

MONDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic hyperglycemia associated with type 1 diabetes does not seem to have a dramatic impact on cognition and brain abnormalities in older patients as has been shown in younger patients, according to a report in the June issue of Diabetes.

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Pregnancy Outcomes Worse in Diabetic Than Other Women

FRIDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Infants born to women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have perinatal mortality rates and major congenital anomaly rates about four times and more than two times higher, respectively, than infants in the general population, according to a study published online June 16 in BMJ.

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Spinal 'Pain Amplifier' May Enhance Pain Sensitivity

THURSDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- A "pain amplifier" in the spinal cord turned on by low-level, irregular pain inputs may be the origin of inflammation and hyperalgesia, according to a study in rats in the June 16 issue of Science.

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Blacks at Greater Risk of Dementia Than Other Patients

WEDNESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly black patients in the United States have a higher risk of dementia than white patients even after adjustment for education and other potential confounders, and the racial disparity is especially pronounced after adjustment for baseline cognitive screening scores, according to a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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DNA Vaccine Reduces Alzheimer Symptoms in Mice

WEDNESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have developed a non-viral, DNA-based vaccine that reduces the symptoms of Alzheimer disease in mice without apparent side effects, according to a report published online June 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Epstein-Barr Titers Up Decades Before Multiple Sclerosis

WEDNESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Elevated levels of anti-Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibodies can be found up to 20 years before the onset of multiple sclerosis and may be an early sign of multiple sclerosis rather than a non-specific dysregulation of the immune system, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Psychogenic, Epileptic Seizures Distinguished in Three Studies

MONDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Three studies in the June 13 issue of Neurology may help identify the nearly 30 percent of patients diagnosed with epilepsy who actually have psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).

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Gene Mutation Can Accelerate Parkinson Disease Onset

MONDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Mutations in the parkin gene can accelerate the development of Parkinson disease by 12 or more years, according to a study in the June issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Glucose Metabolism Impaired in Chronic Neuropathies

MONDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of patients with chronic neuropathic pain of unknown cause have impairments in glucose metabolism, with the two-hour oral glucose tolerance test (2h-OGTT) a better indicator than fasting plasma glucose levels, according to a study published online June 12 in the Archives of Neurology.

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Warfarin Best at Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation

FRIDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with atrial fibrillation, anticoagulants such as warfarin continue to be the gold-standard treatment for preventing stroke, according to a study published in the June 10 issue of The Lancet, which was halted early due to the superiority of the oral anticoagulant.

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New Tool Improves Ethnic Group Heart Risk Assessment

FRIDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- A new risk score helps more accurately predict the risk of cardiovascular disease and 10-year coronary heart disease risk for seven black and minority ethnic groups, according to a U.K. study published online June 8 in Heart.

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Protein May Be Marker for Stroke Risk

FRIDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A) is found at high levels in the serum and carotid plaques of patients with vulnerable or ruptured plaques and may be useful in estimating stroke risk, according to a study in the June 6 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. PAPP-A is found in both men and women, but is elevated in pregnancy.

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Modified Radiation Therapy Spares Normal Tissue

THURSDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- By modifying conventional microbeam radiation therapy, researchers have produced a strong, focused X-ray beam that spares normal tissue and may be useful in treating brain tumors, according to a study published online June 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Median Nerve Not Always Key in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

THURSDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- About 40 percent of patients with suspected carpal tunnel syndrome do not present with involvement of the median nerve, suggesting the importance of more awareness of all patterns of presentation, according to a study in the June issue of Pain.

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Birth Defects Higher After ACE Inhibitor Use in 1st Trimester

WEDNESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women who take angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors during the first trimester of pregnancy have a greater risk of having an infant with major congenital malformations than women who do not take the antihypertensives, according to a report in the June 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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FDA Approves Resumption of Marketing for Tysabri

WEDNESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the resumption of marketing for Tysabri (natalizumab) under a restricted distribution program. The drug, a monoclonal antibody, is used in multiple sclerosis patients to reduce the frequency of flare-ups.

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Radiation Does Not Improve Survival for Brain Metastases

TUESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Adding whole-brain radiation to radiosurgery does not improve survival in patients with brain metastases, but patients experience higher tumor recurrence rates and more often need salvage brain treatment if they have radiosurgery alone, according to a study in the June 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Diagnosis of Autism at Age 2 Usually Confirmed at Age 9

TUESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Children diagnosed with autism by the age of 2 years are likely to have that diagnosis confirmed at age 9, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Teens with Bipolar Disorder Misinterpret Facial Expressions

FRIDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents with bipolar disorder are more likely than healthy teens to interpret neutral facial expressions as displaying hostility, identifying a deficient link between attention and emotion centers of the brain, according to a report in the June 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Left Ventricular Dysfunction a Risk Factor for Stroke

THURSDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Ischemic stroke patients are almost four times more likely to have left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) compared with healthy controls, and even mild, symptom-free impaired heart function increases the risk of stroke, according to a study published online June 1 in Stroke.

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Two Cell Types Play Role in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

THURSDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Two separate cell types in the nervous system may be responsible for the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis caused by dominant mutations in the superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene, according to a report in the June 2 issue of Science. The findings have important implications for therapeutic targeting, the authors report.

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Aortic Debris Not a Risk Factor for Stroke

THURSDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of aortic debris is not an independent risk factor for cryptogenic ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack, according to a study in the May issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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Urban Air Pollution Linked to Stroke Admissions

THURSDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Environmental ozone and carbon monoxide levels are associated with emergency department admissions for cerebrovascular disease, according to a study conducted in Taipei, Taiwan, and published in the May issue of the European Heart Journal.

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