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Yale Lab Discovers New Gene-Based Syndrome

TUESDAY, March 17 -- A new syndrome that features seizures, lack of coordination, developmental delay and hearing loss has been identified by Yale University researchers. The syndrome was identified during a genetic analysis of 600 people for causes of salt-handling defects in the kidney that lead to high or low blood pressure. Five people from four families in Afghanistan, Canada, Great Britain and Turkey were found to have a range of neurological problems, in addition to a salt-handling defect. Further analysis revealed that all five had mutations in the gene KCNJ10, a potassium channel expressed in the brain, inner ear and kidney. In the kidney, the mutation affects the maintenance of the kidney's sodium pump, the major driver of salt reabsorption. In the brain, the mutation interferes with the ability to clear neurotransmitters and potassium from synapses, resulting in seizures. In the inner ear, the mutation affects sound transduction. The researchers labeled the new synd ...

Alzheimer's Drugs Also Treat Behavioral, Psych Problems

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17 -- Drugs used to treat Alzheimer's patients' cognitive symptoms are also a safe and effective therapy for behavioral and psychological symptoms such as aggression, wandering and paranoia, according to U.S. researchers. They reviewed nine studies that examined the effectiveness of three popular cholinesterase inhibitors in managing Alzheimer's patients' behavioral and psychological symptoms, and found the drugs were effective at the same dosage used to improve cognitive impairment. The study was published in the December issue of Clinical Interventions in Aging. About 90 percent of Alzheimer's patients have behavioral and psychological symptoms. Cholinesterase inhibitors boost levels of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which assists memory, thought and judgment. "There is a need for safe alternatives to the antipsychotic drugs currently used to manage the behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The results of the studies we anal ...

For the Obese, Holiday Tables Serve Platefuls of Doubt

SATURDAY, Dec. 20 -- The holiday season can be especially difficult for overweight or obese people as they struggle to control their eating habits and cope with widely held misconceptions, according to a Duke University expert. "Social situations make people feel self-conscious about what they wear and what they eat to the point where they feel they're being judged for every morsel that touches their lips," Martin Binks, director of behavioral health at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, said in a university news release. "Some of the popular misconceptions about obesity are that people bring it on themselves, and that they look forward to the holidays so they can eat more," he said. In fact, overweight and obese people are often nervous and anxious during the holiday season because they're worried they don't have the willpower to resist the many temptations. Some put a lot of effort into avoiding social gatherings or certain foods or eating triggers, and others say they can se ...