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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > AIDS/HIVInfections

 

New research examines how HIV infections occur on the molecular level

AIDS/HIV • • InfectionsJan 19 11

The UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with the University of Edinburgh and IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center have published new research about the structure of an HIV-1 protein that could help to develop new drugs to stop the virus infecting healthy cells.

The research provides a new insight into how the changes in structure of a small part of an HIV protein (a membrane proximal peptide) may alter the infection of the virus into healthy cells. The team was able to observe key changes in this part of the protein implicated in the early stages of the infection by using a combination of powerful experimental and computational tools. This is the first attempt to demonstrate that the inducible binding of the peptide with membrane-like surfaces can serve as a responsive molecular anchor underpinning HIV fusion to target cells.

This information is important as it gives us a better understanding of how HIV infections take hold at the molecular level. Drug designers could use this information to develop treatments that stop HIV from entering a healthy cell and infecting it.

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Functional boost for magnetic resonance imaging

Public HealthJan 19 11

Over the last few years, researchers have used a type of brain scanning, known as functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI, to help them map changes in blood flow in the brain and to correlate this with thoughts and behavior. A new way to analyze fMRI data, which could improve is reported in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design.

Scientists have known since the 1890s that changes in blood flow and blood oxygenation in the brain (hemodynamics) are correlated with activity in brain cells, neurons. When a neuron is active it needs more energy from glucose and this demand increases blood flow to the regions of the brain where there is more neural activity. This leads to local changes in the relative concentration of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin and changes in local cerebral blood volume and in local cerebral blood flow, which researchers have been measuring using fMRI since the early 1990s. Since then, brain mapping using this relatively non-invasive technique, which also avoids exposure to ionizing radiation has become more and more widely used.

Researchers have used fMRI to study brain development and function, to diagnose problems following injury and to predict when a person might be fit enough to return to work, as an alternative to lie detectors, to allegedly peer into a person’s dreams, and even to communicate with patients in a vegetative state. Many of the experiments that have received attention in the news media are controversial in that interpreting images of changing blood flow in the brain is only a proxy of actual activity Moreover, extrapolating those proxy images to thoughts and behavior involves a not in significant extrapolation.

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Cheney to consider heart transplant at some point

Public HealthJan 19 11

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview aired on Tuesday that he will have decide whether to undergo a heart transplant to replace the heart pump that is now keeping him alive.

“I’ll have to make a decision at some point whether or not I want to go for a transplant,” he told NBC News. “But we haven’t addressed that yet.”

Cheney, who turns 70 later this month, has had five heart attacks, the latest in February 2010.

He opted for a heart pump in July after experiencing increasing congestive heart failure, a chronic condition that develops as the heart loses its ability to pump properly and gradually enlarges.

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Scientists bring cancer cells back under control

CancerJan 19 11

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have brought cancer cells back under normal control - by reactivating their cancer suppressor genes. The discovery could form a powerful new technology platform for the treatment of cancer of the breast and other cancers.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in about 1.4 million women throughout the world every year, with half a million dying from the disease. A common cause of cancer is when cells are altered or mutated and the body’s tumour suppressor genes are switched off.

Research, published today in the Journal Molecular Cancer, reveals how Dr Cinzia Allegrucci from the School of Veterinary Science and Medicine and Dr Andrew Johnson in the Centre for Genetics and Genomics reactivated tumour suppressor genes and stopped the cancer from growing by treating them with Axolotl oocyte extract. After 60 days there was still no evidence of cancerous growth.

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