Wellness Incentives Work at Chandler Unified School District!

The Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) has a long history of commitment to the health and wellness of their employees, their families and their students.  First, forming their own health care trust and later combining with the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT), CUSD continues to offer cutting edge healthcare coverage, health fairs, and wellness incentives.  These efforts have really paid off.

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Good Stories from Wellness Incentive Participants

More than 800 employees participated in the Wellness Incentive program and were awarded $200.  In addition to completing a health risk assessment and one wellness activity, participants had to complete their normal wellness exam.   Yes, we all know annual exams are important plus normal wellness exams and cancer screenings are covered at 100%.  Even armed with this knowledge, sometimes an incentive is just what is needed to prompt us to prioritize our own health and wellbeing.  Because of the incentive, three of our employees did just that.   They decided to put their own needs first and scheduled their wellness exams.   As a result, their lives have been changed.  Let me tell you their stories.

Here is a link to those specific wellness victories experienced this year:

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This year alone, many CUSD employees have told the staff that they have found early detection of serious conditions which literally saved their lives.  This also helps the bottom line for the district and their staff when it comes to medical expenses and premiums.  It is much cheaper to treat or cure disease at early stages.  The financial incentives are win medically, financially, and for the friends and families of those they save.

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Good work Chandler Unified School District!

 

 

 

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Belly Fat May Cause Alzheimer’s And Dementia, Study Says

Belly Fat May Cause Alzheimer’s And Dementia, Study Says

Posted: 10/09/2013 4:31 pm EDT  |  Updated: 10/11/2013 12:17 pm EDT

That treat you just indulged in won’t just go from your lips to your hips — it might just go straight to your head. Middle-aged people with high abdominal fat are 3.6 times as likely to suffer from memory loss and dementia later on in life, researchers have discovered.

The protein responsible for metabolizing fat in the liver is the same protein found in the part of the brain that controls memory and learning, researchers at Rush University Medical Center found. People with higher abdominal fat actually have depleted this fat metabolizing protein.

“We need to better understand how fat is connected to memory and learning so that we can develop an effective approach to protect memory and learning,” said Dr. Kalipada Pahan, a professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center, in a press release.

The liver is the body’s main fat metabolizing organ. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) is known to control fat metabolism in the liver. Therefore, PPARalpha is highly expressed in the liver.

“We are surprised to find a high level of PPARalpha in the hippocampus of animal models,” said Pahan in a press release.

“While PPARalpha deficient mice are poor in learning and memory, injection of PPARα to the hippocampus of PPARalpha deficient mice improves learning and memory,” said Pahan.

This isn’t the first study to point to a healthy weight and diet as a way to avoid Alzheimer’s, which affects an estimated 5.1 million AmericansThe Mediterranean Diet, high in omega-3’s and low in bad fats, has been shown to help preserve memory and thinking skills.

Aside from a healthy, balanced diet, people at risk for memory loss have also been able to improve memory and neural efficiency just by taking regular walks. As if you needed another reason to trim that waistline.

Read the full results of the study here.

New blood test can detect lung and prostate cancers

New blood test can detect lung and prostate cancers

By Loren Grush

Published October 16, 2013

FoxNews.com
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A new blood test can help detect the presence of early-stage lung and prostate cancers – as well as any recurrences of these diseases.

In a new study presented at the Anesthesiology 2013 annual meeting, researchers have found that an increased level of serum-free fatty acids and their metabolites in the blood stream can help indicate the presence of lung cancer in the body.

According to the study’s authors, such a test could be extremely beneficial for the detection and management of the disease.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and unlike some other cancers, there is no easy way to diagnose it,” senior author Dr. David Sessler, professor and chair of the department of outcomes research at the Cleveland Clinic, told FoxNews.com.  “The current standard is a spiral CT, which works well, but they are expensive, and they expose patients to radiation.  So having a blood test for lung cancer would be very helpful.”

Sessler said that he and his research team stumbled upon these biomarkers for lung cancer while conducting an entirely different experiment.

“It was complete serendipity,” Sessler said.  “We were looking for inflammatory markers associated with a particular type of anesthesia – general anesthesia versus epidural anesthesia.  There was no difference in inflammation, but we noticed that patients with lung cancer had higher incidences of these fatty acids and their metabolites.”

After making this discovery, the researchers decided to further analyze these potential biomarkers. They examined blood samples from 55 patients with lung cancer and 40 patients with prostate cancer, comparing them to samples from people without cancer. The blood samples from the cancer patients had one- to six-times greater amounts of the serum-free fatty acids and their metabolites than the samples from cancer-free patients.

In a second phase of the study, the researchers examined blood samples from 24 patients with lung cancer before they underwent curative surgery.  They then analyzed the patients’ blood at six and 24 hours after surgery.  The level of serum-free fatty acids and their metabolites decreased three to 10 times within 24 hours after the cancerous tumors were removed.

The researchers didn’t assess why the level of these compounds increased, but they said their findings are consistent with previous research on the relationship of serum-free fatty acids and cancer.

“The three fatty acids are necessary for cancer cell growth, and some cancers stimulate the release of these fatty acids,” Sessler said.

Though the blood test was shown to be effective in detecting the disease, the researchers argue that it should not be used as the go-to test for lung cancer screenings.  However, it could be helpful for a certain population of patients.

“It’s by no means a perfect test; blood tests rarely are,” Sessler said. “It is about 75 percent for sensitivity and specificity.  It is probably not a good enough test to use for routine screening, but it well could be helpful for high risk patients or patients who have found a nodule but don’t know if it’s cancerous enough.”

Sessler also said the blood test could be helpful for those who have already undergone lung cancer surgery to better understand if they will suffer recurrence.

“If someone who has lung cancer and has surgery, you might use this as a follow up,” Sessler said. “Presumably the fatty acids go down after surgery, and an increase in concentration might tell you if patient is having a relapse.”

While other blood tests do exist for some cancers – most notably the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer – Sessler said this is still an exciting discovery for the future of lung cancer treatment.

“Yes, there are some biomarkers for some cancers, but there’s no general cancer biomarker, nor has there ever been an established biomarker for lung cancer,” Sessler said.

Money Motivates Employees To Lose Weight

Money Motivates Employees To Lose Weight

Financial incentives can be a very effective tool in encouraging employees to lose weight at companies that offer their workers those types of programs, research from a University of Texas at Arlington economics assistant professor shows. Joshua Price, a UT Arlington assistant professor of economics, teamed with Cornell University Professor John Cawley to perform a case study on an employer-sponsored program that offered financial incentives for weight loss.

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“We examined how effective different weight loss programs are to business,” Price said. “We discovered that the best results for weight loss were through a more regular payment of refundable participation fees. The payments seem to work as a reinforcement for people to continue to lose weight.” Price and Cawley were given access to outcomes of 2,635 workers at one company. Under an agreement with the business, the researchers cannot reveal the company’s name. “Overall, we found modest weight loss in the program that offers financial incentives for weight loss,” Price said. “We wanted to show the effectiveness of the different types of payment structures offered in this intervention.”

Price said the research studied four weight-loss options the company provided in its wellness package to employees.

  • Option one was the control group. Participants signed up and participated in weigh-ins but there was no financial component to the intervention.
  • Option two allowed employees to join a weight loss program for free and paid the financial incentives for losing weight once per quarter.
  • Option three required employees to pay to join the weight loss program. This option then paid employees a refundable bond or rebate at the end of the year based on how much weight the employees lost.
  • Option four was similar to the second except that the bonds were refunded every quarter instead of at the end of the year.

Individuals who were asked to put up their own money, either with a deposit contract or refundable participation fee, experienced more weight loss than in the control group, Price said. “In option three, we discovered that the large incentives to lose weight at the end of the year created unintended consequences,” Price said. “Anecdotally, the employer observed unhealthy weight loss methods being implemented leading up to the last weigh in.”

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Rachel Croson, dean of the UT Arlington College of Business, said Price’s work makes useful recommendations based on behavioral economics. “Finding creative ways to improve our health is an increasingly important endeavor as we continue to struggle with spikes in health care costs,” Croson said. “With this research, we can identify which types of financial incentives work best. When employees lose weight, they win and the employers win, too.”

Companies across the globe are becoming more and more interested in keeping their employees healthier, Price said. Price and Cawley wrote that businesses bear some of the costs of employee obesity. In the United States, obesity raises medical care costs by $190.2 billion annually, a 2012 Cawley study showed. Moreover, obesity is associated with $4.3 billion in job absenteeism costs annually, 2007 Cawley research showed. These costs may ultimately be borne by workers in the form of lower wages, but employers are increasingly offering worksite health promotion programs to help employees lose weight. Employers save on health insurance premiums and absenteeism. Plus, Price said companies could bargain for better health care rates when negotiating with carriers.

As of 2012, 94% of large employers (those with 200 or more employees) in the U.S. offer wellness programs, and among those offering health benefits, 65% offer weight loss programs in particular, according to a 2012 study. Price said it would be nearly impossible to measure the exact monetary effectiveness for companies who instituted these weight loss programs. “It is extremely difficult to quantify the resulting health benefits caused by weight loss from participants in this particular intervention,” Price said.

Price noted that the deposit contracts were more effective at inducing weight loss, and it was less likely for the companies to lose money. When the companies refunded employees some of what they paid into the program, the mission had been accomplished: employees had improved their health. He said if the employees didn’t lose weight, the company kept the money employees had paid into the program.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, October 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

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Alzheimer’s Smell Test Uses Peanut Butter To Sniff Out The Disease

Alzheimer’s Smell Test Uses Peanut Butter To Sniff Out The Disease

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 10/09/2013 6:59 pm EDT  |  Updated: 10/10/2013 11:38 am EDT

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Detecting Alzheimer’s disease may soon be as easy as testing a patient’s sense of smell.

As part of research into methods for early diagnosis of the degenerative brain disease, researchers in Florida devised anAlzheimer’s smell test capable of confirming an AD diagnosis. The key ingredient? Peanut butter.

Led by Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student at the University of Florida, the team conducted a small pilot study and tested subjects’ smell sensitivity in each nostril while they had their eyes, mouth and opposite nostril closed. Using a ruler, Stamps measured the distance at which patients were able to detect the odor of peanut butter on an exhale. After a 90-second break, the alternate nostril was tested.

At the time of the clinical tests, researchers were unaware of whether subjects had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s — the most common form of dementia — or with another type of mental deterioration. However, once they compared the metric measurements with subjects’ levels of cognitive impairment, the results were striking.

According to the research, recently published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s demonstrated a significant difference between their left and right nostrils in their ability to smell the open container of peanut butter. For this group, the sense of smell in the left nostril was severely impaired; in order to smell the peanut butter through their left side, the container had to be an average of 10 centimeters closer to the nose than it was on the right side.

During testing, subjects with other types of cognitive impairment not related to Alzheimer’s either did not show this disparity between nostrils, or their right nostril was the one that was impaired.

In the past, loss of smell has been linked to Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease that currently affects 5.2 million Americans.

While diagnosis of the disease can be difficult — especially in the early stages, when detection is most crucial to prevent memory damage — a growing body of research suggests that a smell test could be used to identify this warning sign.

Stamps came up with the idea to create an Alzheimer’s smell test in an attempt to design an easy and cost-effective method to detect the disorder. Yet, she admits, the peanut butter test in its current form has limitations.

“At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis,” Stamps said in a statement released by the university. “But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer’s disease.”

Chandler Unified School District Holds Health Fair

The Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) held its annual health fair on October 15, 2013.  Each year the event is well attended by hundreds of people looking to improve their health and wellness.  Vendors of benefits to CUSD are included as well as other health guests and screening staff.  Darlene Kracht of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) helped coordinate and plan the event with the staff of CUSD as part of their ongoing membership.

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“It’s great to see the big turn-out and the commitment on the part of the CUSD administration and employees to supporting each other in their health efforts,” Darlene Kracht stated.  “This year alone several people learned about conditions warranting a follow-up with their doctor.  The CUSD health plans emphasize wellness and early prevention and this is just one of many projects they pursue to that end.”

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Cathy Giza and Dee Ostrowicki were key staff for the event for CUSD.  Congratulations to CUSD for making such concerted efforts to help their employees and their families!

 

Gene Marker IDs Aspirin Response, Predicts Heart Attacks

Gene Marker IDs Aspirin Response, Predicts MI

Published: Jul 3, 2013 | Updated: Jul 3, 2013

By  Todd Neale , Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

A collection of 60 co-expressed genes — called the Aspirin Response Signature (ARS) — predicted both response to aspirin treatment and the risk of death or myocardial infarction among patients undergoing cardiac catheterization, researchers found.

The ARS was significantly associated with platelet function in two groups of healthy volunteers taking 325 mg of aspirin per day, and in a group of cardiology patients taking 81 mg of aspirin per day (P<0.05 for all), according to Deepak Voora, MD, of Duke University, and colleagues.

In addition, among patients undergoing cardiac catheterization, the ARS was associated with a 30% increased likelihood of death or myocardial infarction (MI), even after adjustment for Framingham risk factors, race, platelet count, and presence of angiographic coronary artery disease (odds ratio 1.3, 95% CI 1.1-1.5), the researchers reported online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Clinicians are limited in detecting whether patients are having an adequate response to aspirin, which differs from other drugs used for cardiovascular disease like antihypertensives and statins, Voora said in an interview.

“The main finding of our study is that we’ve developed a whole blood-based biomarker that physicians could potentially use as a diagnostic test to identify those who are adequately responding to aspirin or not, and also to identify those individuals who are at highest risk for MI and death in patients who are taking aspirin,” he said, adding that further validation of these proof-of-principle findings is needed.

He and his colleagues noted in their paper that platelet function assays are available to assess the response to aspirin but that “their widespread use is severely constrained by the need for specialized equipment and trained personnel. Point-of-care tests are available, but require testing to be completed within hours of phlebotomy; thus, they are out of reach for the vast majority of outpatients on aspirin.”

In the current study, the researchers examined the feasibility of using an RNA profile from whole blood — the ARS — as a biomarker for the response to aspirin.

After giving aspirin to 50 healthy volunteers in a discovery cohort, 53 volunteers in two validation cohorts, and 25 outpatient cardiology patients, Voora and colleagues identified sets of co-expressed genes that were associated with platelet function.

Platelet function was assessed using the platelet function score for the healthy volunteers or the VerifyNow Aspirin assay for the cardiology patients. The ARS, which include 60 co-expressed genes, was selected for further study.

The ARS was associated with platelet function in all three groups of patients, even after adjustment for mean platelet volume and count. The relationships were seen only after the administration of aspirin, however, “suggesting that the latent effect of ARS genes on platelet function is unmasked in response to aspirin,” the authors wrote.

In two cohorts of patients who were undergoing cardiac catheterization at Duke University — the CATHGEN cohorts — the ARS, as well as one of the component genes (ITGA2B), predicted death or MI after adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

And the ARS appeared to add some prognostic value to the traditional risk factors. Compared with a model using risk factors alone, adding information from the ARS improved net reclassification and integrated discrimination.

The authors acknowledged that the study was limited by the lack of platelet function or platelet volume measurements in the CATHGEN cohorts; the uncertainty about whether improving certain modifiable risk factors like diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or hypertension can affect ARS levels; and the fact that some of the ARS genes are also expressed in nonplatelet cell types, “suggesting that mechanism(s) represented by ARS genes may involve more than just platelets.”

Also, Voora noted, it’s unclear what the treatment approach should be for patients who are identified as having an inadequate response to aspirin, an area of research that is being pursued by his group.

The study was funded by institutional funds provided by the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, an NIH T32 Training grant, a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a grant from the CDC, and the David H. Murdock Research Institute.

Voora and five of the study authors have filed a provisional patent application regarding the ARS. The study authors reported relationships with United States Diagnostic Standards, CardioDx, Pappas Ventures, Universal Medicine, CellGenex, Amylin, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, the MURDOCK study, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Novartis, Roche Diagnostics, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Navigant, and Daiichi Sankyo-Lilly.

Fish Cuts Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis by Half

Fish Cuts Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis by Half, Study Finds

Researchers have long touted the health benefits of omega-3 rich fish, and now research suggests it could substantially reduce your RA risk.

By Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, Everyday Health Staff Writer | Follow @mbloudoff

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MONDAY, August 12, 2013 – Eating four servings of low-fat fish weekly may cut your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in half, according to a study published today in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects about 1.3 million Americans, causing progressive, often debilitating swelling of the joints, chronic pain and fatigue. Adding large quantities of fish to an already healthy diet could prevent people from developing the disease, Swedish researchers found.

“Something triggers RA, no one knows [what],” said David Cooper, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons who was not involved with the study but is an expert on the topic.“Omega-3s could help prevent or reduce the chance of triggering the condition.”

Eat Fish Today, Keep Symptoms at Bay

The study looked at more than 32,000 women with a median age of 72 who answered an initial mail-in questionnaire between 1987 and 1990 and a follow-up questionnaire about a decade later. The surveys asked respondents to detail their eating habits and incorporated questions about the types of fish they most often ate.

Of the 32,000, only 205 women said they were newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis during the follow-up survey, which researchers credit to a diet high in fish. Those who ate about one or more servings of lean fish every week for the decade reduced their risk of developing RA by 29 percent and eating four servings weekly reduced their risk by 52 percent, according to the study.

“It isn’t anything earth shaking,” Dr. Cooper said. “We’ve known for years that fish oil treats rheumatoid arthritis so this isn’t surprising.”

Scientists and nutritionists have long touted the health benefits of omega-3 rich foods like fish, nuts, and flax. A 2009 study published in the journal Epidemiology, comes to similar conclusions, saying “intake of oily fish was associated with a modestly decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.” However, most researchers balk at setting strict guidelines for nutrient consumption. There are so many different body types that it’s difficult to pinpoint nutritional rules, said Helene Belisle, the executive director of the Arthritis Research Foundation.

The study was “observational,” which means it didn’t assign different courses of treatment to groups of randomly selected individuals, but instead simply observed what happened to women who reported eating different quantities of fish. As a result, it doesn’t permit scientists to conclude that higher fish consumption actually leads to lower RA rates.

It’s also unclear how accurate participants could be when asked to remember what they had for dinner a year ago.

“If they have found that this is a benefit, and it reduces the inflammatory response – great,” she added. “If somebody is predisposed or has RA in the family, it’s not for sure that you’re going to get it, but changing your diet to what the study says is probably not going to prevent you from getting it.”

Another expert said it would be tough to get Americans to adopt the kind of diet suggested by the study.

“Compliance in [the medical] field is notoriously difficult,” said Michael Ormsbee, PhD, assistant professor in the Florida State University in the Department of Nutrition Food and Exercise Sciences. “With something like that, [people] need to start small and work up to it. The habit shouldn’t feel like a challenge,” he said.

Health Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

The potential benefits of avoiding RA would also have to be balanced against the risks of eating fish contaminated with toxins such as mercury, which can cause birth defects, as well as impaired speech and coordination.

“There’s always that question, if you’re eating fish that’s contaminated with other products then there’s a risk of developing problems,” Dr. Cooper said. However, people would have to eat a lot of fish to get the kind of exposure that could cause significant health issues, he added.

Still concerned about toxins? Buy molecularly distilled fish oil capsules and take at least 2,000 milligrams a day, Cooper said. The supplements are not as rich in omega-3s as actual fish, but they’re a good alternative for those who are nervous about contaminates, and people who don’t like eating fish.

“People develop eating habits early in life, and you’re not going to change that so just take the equivalent in capsules,” he said.

Fish as Part of a Healthy Diet

“Even a moderate consumption of fish is sufficient to reduce risk of disease,” today’s study said, however, make sure you don’t rely on fish and neglect diet and exercise.

Staying healthy requires a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, and some fats and carbohydrates.

“Be cognizant of your diet. It’s going to be important that you don’t rely on fish to make or break your health,” Dr. Ormsbee said. “We get so focused on one nutrient – it’s really about the whole diet. If you think about what you’re eating, it’s likely that being a little bit healthy in some places starts to rub off in other areas.”

Newly discovered biomarker can better guide treatment for melanoma patients

Newly discovered biomarker can better guide treatment for melanoma patients

By Loren Grush

Published October 22, 2013

FoxNews.com
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    This image depicts the gross appearance of a cutaneous pigmented lesion, which had been diagnosed as superficial spreading malignant melanoma (SSMM). (CDC.GOV)

Researchers have discovered a new biomarker that can predict whether melanoma patients with mutations in the BRAF gene will respond to certain kinds of cancer medications.

The discovery could help better guide treatment for patients with the disease, as they are often subjected to ineffective therapies to which their bodies are resistant.

The BRAF gene has been found to be an effective drug target for treating melanoma cancers, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two drugs inhibiting this gene.  However, patients with melanomas harboring mutations in the BRAF gene are sometimes resistant to these medications, and most people who initially respond to BRAF-targeting therapies eventually relapse, as their tumors become resistant to the drugs.

While BRAF mutations are present in only 7 percent of all human cancers, they are seen in approximately 50 percent of melanomas.  And there’s no concrete way of knowing which patients with BRAF mutations will respond to BRAF-targeting treatments and which ones will not.

“For virtually untreatable cancers, we’re seeing response rates of 60 to 80 percent with BRAF-targeting drugs.” Dr. Ryan Corcoran, a clinical investigator and assistant professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., told FoxNews.com.   “…But 60 to 80 percent response rate means there are still 20 to 40 percent of patients who don’t respond.  Determining which patients are most likely to respond (to these drugs) and perhaps should be diverted to an alternative therapy could be really beneficial.”

Corcoran said that previous research has identified numerous mechanisms behind the resistance to BRAF inhibitors, but it can be a daunting task screening patients for these mechanisms. So he and his team decided to analyze them further.

“We thought, ‘Perhaps all these resistance mechanisms converge into a key downstream pathway,’” Corcoran said.  “Then maybe we could get a more universal yes-or-no predictor to see if patients respond to the drugs.”

After analyzing genetic models in the lab, Corcoran and his team found that the signaling pathway TORC1 was a key converging point for these mechanisms and that the presence of a protein called S6 could serve as a good predictor of sensitivity to BRAF-inhibiting medication.

“There’s a protein substraight called S6, which is involved in protein translation in the cell,” Corcoran said. “It’s basically used as an indicator of TORC1 activity.  When the pathway is active, the presence of S6 is elevated, and vice versa.”

In their models, the researchers found that melanoma cancers that were sensitive to BRAF inhibitors saw a suppression of S6 after treatment.  In contrast, almost all melanoma cancers that were resistant to the drugs maintained higher levels of S6 post treatment.

To further verify this finding, the researchers collected tumor biopsies from nine melanoma patients, which had been taken before and after treatment with BRAF-targeting drugs.  The found that one subset of patients had an effective shutdown of S6 after treatment, compared to the other patients who had maintained levels of S6 after treatment.  Ultimately, the group of patients with effective suppression of S6 had a more than fivefold increase in repression-free survival compared to the those who had maintained S6.

“That suggests that if we can identify early on these patients who down regulate or fail to down regulate S6, we can predict who is most likely to respond,” Corcoran.

Applying this new knowledge, Corcoran and his team developed a new technique that can rapidly monitor, in real time, the levels of S6 in tumor cells.  Using fine-needle aspiration biopsies from melanoma patients before and during the first couple weeks of their treatment with BRAF-targeting drugs, they could assess the activity of the S6 signaling pathway and quickly determine a patient’s resistance.

“It’s still in concept phase, but …if you have a way of determining (resistance), you can spare (a patient) unnecessary treatment,” Corcoran said. “By identifying this subgroup, you can do that at a much earlier point, rather than waiting two months, as is done, for a repeat CT scan.  So this is really a way to guide treatment more rapidly and divert more patients to more effective therapy.”

The research was presented at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics.

Mellow Music May Help Stave Off Road Rage

Mellow Music May Help Stave Off Road Rage

A quick switch to mellow music in the car may make you a safer driver, researchers say. Promptly changing to soothing music is the most effective way to calm down while driving in stressful conditions that could trigger road rage, found the study published in the journal Ergonomics.

It was already known that music can influence mood and driving styles. More accidents occur when drivers listen to “upbeat” music, possibly because the music is more distracting or because it causes drivers to go faster. Downbeat music is more relaxing and associated with safer driving.

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However, there were questions about whether a quick or gradual switch from upbeat to downbeat music was most effective in changing drivers’ moods. To get answers, researchers had volunteers tackle demanding driving conditions in a simulator while they listened to different types of music.

Participants who switched to more mellow music abruptly or gradually both reached the same levels of calmness eventually. However, those who made the switch quickly became calm sooner and made fewer driving mistakes, according to a journal news release.

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The results show that “during high-demand driving, abrupt changes in music led to more physiological calmness and improved driving performance and were thus safer and more effective,” concluded researcher Marjolein van der Zwaag, of Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven, and colleagues in the Netherlands and at Stanford University in California.

The investigators said their findings could also apply to office or hospital settings to encourage or relax listeners.

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Source: http://www.healthfinder.gov

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, October 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

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